Friday, August 31, 2012

Ask Elnora--About Storms--Again??? Lenora Worth

This has been a strange week for Elnora. Full of storms and those things that make you want to stay in bed under the covers. I can't even muster up anything sassy to say, except "Hold on to your pearls, girls." It started with worrying about our townhouse in Florida. Isaac was making a path right toward the Panhandle. A few days later, Isaac changed his mind and moved a little more Northwest, right toward the state of Louisiana. Which is where Elnora lives, too! Now instead of worrying about my favorite dishes down in Florida, I had to worry about making sure I had my flash drive with me at all times in Louisiana. (As every writer knows, that flash drive goes with us, no matter wind, rain, sleet or snow!)We have a pantry underneath the stairs or as I call it, The Harry Potter room. I used to grab children and my flash drive and the cat and pull all into that pantry each time a tornado threat hovered over us. But all this talk about storms, and all the graphics and live shots I saw on The Weather Channel and CNN, got me to thinking about South Louisiana. I just happened to be reading over AAs for the second book in my LI Cajun series, Sweetheart Bride, which is due out next February. In that book, a hurricane comes through the little town of Fleur, located on a bayou near the Gulf of Mexico. As I proofed those pages, they read with an eerie similarity of what was going on in real life. I didn't plan it that way, but all the emotions I'd poured into that story were now swirling in my own head as I thought about yet another flood down South and many displaced people moving into shelters here where I live. I hated to see that happen again and on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, at that. But this is life. This is a world where anything can happen. When we decided to settle in Florida, some people fussed at us and reminded us about the storms. I told those people that I couldn't worry about things I couldn't predict or change. We live in a beautiful world, but there is no completely safe place to live. You just have to go out there and enjoy life and get through the bad stuff with the help and kindness of strangers, with the love of family and with God's grace covering you. Isaac was a massive storm, full of wind and rain and a dangerous majesty. I'm blessed that I'm safe and dry. What kind of weather do you have where you live? Let's discuss life in an unpredictable world. What do you do to calm youself in a storm?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Best Places to Fall in Love

Hi, everyone! I'm Teri Wilson, a brand new Craftie Lady. Alaskan Hearts, my first book for Love Inspired, was released in June this year and the follow-up, Alaskan Hero will hit the shelves in May 2013. I suspect you've already spotted the connection...both books are set in Alaska, one of my favorite places on earth.

I wrote Alaskan Hearts after my first trip to Alaska a little over two years ago. Alaska is like no place I've ever been before and I was very inspired by the time I spent there. The snow, the mountains...it was magical. Once, when I thought I heard someone's cell phone vibrating in church, it turned out to be a moose call! Someone pointed to the window and I turned to see a moose peeking in the church window during the worship service. I also learned how to mush a team of sled dogs while I was there, something I'd obviously never done in my hometown in south Texas.

Full moon over Alaska, March 2012
I took this photo while standing on a frozen lake,
awaiting a ski plane full of dogs 

To me, settings are crucial for writing romance. There's a fantastical quality to a story set in a place that's unique. Readers feel as though they've been on an exciting vacation, perhaps just like the characters in your book. I also think it lends a sense of legitimacy to the romance of the hero and heroine. How can your heroine not fall in love when she's holding hands with a handsome stranger and watching the Northern Lights dancing over their heads?

As I write this blog post, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Napa Valley, California. I'm here with friends for a 3-day weekend. Yesterday we went on a 20-mile bicycling tour through the wine country. (Take a moment to think about that. 20 miles. On a bike. Yes, I'm sitting on a pillow right now.) Not only had I never seen the wine country before, but I'd also never, ever ridden a "real" bicycle with gears and hand brakes. What can I say? I'm a very girly girl. My bike at home is baby blue and pink, and it has foot brakes.

Me (on the left), with my friend April, standing in a vineyard,
getting ready to hop on our bicycles.
Don't let the smile fool you. I was terrified.

Despite the fact that I kept forgetting how to stop and I was worried I would crash into the person in front of me, I had a great time. The vineyards we visited were breathtakingly beautiful. We ate warm grapes, fresh off the vine and saw a jack rabbit darting through a field of sunflowers. I'm pretty sure I've found a perfect setting for a new romance. What do you think?






Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Excitment is in the air!

Rhonda Gibson, that's me, is going to the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference this year as ... drum roll.... a Love Inspired author!! 



Going to the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference (ACFW) is an event that I look forward to every year. This year I think I am more excited than ever before.

Why?

1. Because I will get to spend some time with my new Love Inspired family! I can't wait to meet so many of the craftie ladies for the first time in person!!!!! Big Squeal!!!!

2. I am also looking forward to seeing Margaret Daley again. She has been a real inspiration to me as I worked toward becoming an LIH author. I've know Margaret for years and I always feel it is a blessing to get to spend time with her.

3. My good buddy, Janet Lee Barton will be there and she and I will get to attend the Love Inspired party together as newbies, I'm way excited about that!

And last but far from least, I get to spend time with my editor, Tina James. I met Tina a few years ago at an ACFW conference and she encouraged me to submit to her. I'm so grateful she sees potential in me. Thanks, Tina.

So, if you are going to the ACFW conference what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aping My Words

Pamela Tracy here and I'm thinking about the power of words.

Sunday afternoon my family - extended plus friends, sixteen of us - went to a baseball game.  The Diamondbacks against the Padres.  Alas, the Padres won .

After the game, we were heading for the parking garage and up ahead was a homeless man.  He was leaning against a wall, his bicycle there too, both scruffy.  He had a sign saying he was homeless.  He pinpointed my seven-year-old and his ten-year-old friend. 

"Got any change?"

The ten-year-old walked over and handed him the five dollar bill he'd brought to the game but not spent.

I'm walking behind them and not sure how I feel about the ten-year-old handing over money.

When we got into the car, my seven-year-old said, "Why did you give him money?  He might use it for drugs."

My son is aping my words.  He's been with me when people have asked for money and I've offered food - even going into a store to get it or driving through Mickey D's and coming back.

Yet, there was something poignant about the ten-year-old just giving without a thought. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

FAN MAIL


This is Merrillee posting today. I'm going to talk about fan mail. Here is a photo of a path to the beach not far from where I live. So what does a photo of the beach have to do with fan mail? I received the most interesting letter from a lady who read one of my books. Someone gave her one of my books, HOMETOWN DAD. She said, "I enjoyed every minute reading it. I will be looking for other books by you." That is what every author likes to hear. But what made the letter so intriguing was what she told me about herself.

She saw in my reader letter that I lived in the beach community where she spent time in 1943 during World War II, while her husband was in the coast guard. She traveled with her nine-month-old baby from Kansas to Florida, where she shared an apartment on the beach with two other service wives. She sent me photos of the house where they lived and a photo of the beach. I would've loved to share them here, but they were copies and wouldn't scan very well. The photo of the beach that she sent is very similar to the one above, but she would see many, many things that are much different than the place she remembers. She probably wouldn't recognize the island now. One thing that made me chuckle was when she mentioned getting used to drinking the sulphur water. When we first started coming here on vacations we always had to buy bottled water to drink because the tap water tasted so horrible. It is much better now, and I have no trouble drinking the tap water.

I so enjoyed reading the history of her time here and the other snippets of her life that she shared with me.

Have you ever received a letter that made your day? What did it tell you?





I'm going to give away two sets of my Kellerville series to two people who leave comments along with their e-mail address today. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Ask Elnora--About Diamonds??? Lenora Worth

Elnora has diamonds on her mind. And in celebration of my current release "The Diamond Secret" I'm going to give away one book and one very pretty kind-of-diamond-looking necklace. (Since I can't actually afford to give away a real diamond!)All you have to do is tell me about your favorite piece of jewelry. Or what kind of jewelry you'd like to have. I'll draw a name from all the blinging bloggers!
The necklace is lovely. All the talk about diamonds got me to thinking about the real jewels in life. Friends. Some friends are like rubies--they are vibrant, bold and willing to take on the world. Other friends are pretty blue sapphires--dainty, happy and always sparkling. And some friends are emeralds--lush and quiet and strong, earthy. Then there are diamonds--brilliant, shining, multi-faceted, elegant and full of possibilties. What would we do without our friends? Right now, I have a friend who is suffering greatly. She needs our prayers. She is a true gem. It would be good for her to look up and feel the prayers of so many other gems sparkling around her. We can do that, right? We all started out like a lump of coal, but we've been refined by fire, shaped by the Master's hand and formed in His image. Some friends are truly more precious than rubies. Do you have a friend who is a jewel? Let's discuss.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Fabulous Giveaway

Good morning! I'm Renee Ryan and the newest of the Craftie Ladies! So happy to be here among some of my very most favorite authors!!! Like most historical romance authors I love researching the past. Of all the time periods I’ve researched, the American West fascinates me the most. Movies, television shows, books; you name the title, I’ve probably watched it, recorded it, or read it. My two favorite movies are Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma. I’m also partial to High Noon with Gary Cooper, but who isn’t?

I’ve always had a fascination for flawed people with jaded pasts, the men and women most in need of redemption. That’s why I appreciate writing for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical. With the faith element a part of every story, I’m able to walk with my characters through a temporary period of darkness into a life full of love, hope and happily-ever-after.

The road to redemption is never smooth in real life. With that in mind, I’ve tried to avoid using clich├ęd characters in my Charity House series. Although I’ve had a lawman or two, and even a schoolmarm, I’ve also highlighted a rebel preacher, a Shakespearean stage actress, a frontier doctor, an opera singer, a swanky hotel owner and even an artist. Each book in the series is connected in some way to Charity House, a baby farm dedicated to caring for children born to prostitutes.

The latest installment, Charity House Courtship, is the prequel to the other four books or, as I like to say, where it all began. The bad guy might not carry a gun, and the hero is far from a righteous lawman, but I guarantee the good guys win in the end and, yes, he gets the girl. Who could ask for more from a romance novel?

So, here's the exciting part of this blog post. In honor of my "new-ness" as a Craftie Lady I'm going to give away an entire set of my Charity House Books. That's five books to one winner. All you have to do to be eligible to win is leave a comment with your email address.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What would you do?


Tulsa police warn against breaking into a car to save an overheated dog


Hi, this is Margaret Daley. On one of my loops someone posted about this and since I live in Tulsa, I was interested in what the article was about as well as the people's comments. This was on a radio station's blog in Tulsa (http://www.krmg.com/news/news/local/tulsa-police-warn-against-breaking-car-save-overhe/nPjJ3/). It went on to talk about if a person saw a dog in a hot car in a parking lot if they broke the window to rescue the dog, they could be charged with vandalism. The temperature in Tulsa has been well over 100 for many days this summer--some days setting a new high record. In fact, one day in July we had one of the highest temperatures for a city in the world.

So what would you do if you saw an animal in a locked car in the heat? Call 911 and hope someone comes to rescue the dog. Break the window and possibly face vandalism. Walk away. Or something else.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Modern Day Laura Ingalls. Do You Know Her?


Pamela Tracy here and I've got a question for you.

So, here's the scenario. 

I'm taking an online children's literature class and right now I'm putting together a unit with the theme "Female Adolescents' Roles Throughtout the Ages."  It's not nearly as boring as it sounds.  See, I've started with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Her books represent growing up rural in the late 1800's through early 1900's.  We're looking at great stuff, like churning butter and lots of migrating.  We're comparing and contrasting Pa in the book and Pa in the television series - sometimes Michael Landon overshadowed Melissa Gilbert (opinion here).  Etc.  Biographical.

Then, we're looking at the Grandma's Attic series.  These books, I think, are the christian publishers' secret.  They're wonderful and hardly anyone has heard of them.  The books are about a young girl who often visits with her grandmother Mabel and always finds something, usually in the attic, that causes her to get a story about grandma's youth.  We still have churning, but only for the first few.  These take Mabel through the early 1900's to mid 1900's.  We get the arrival of the telephone to small towns and living in just one place, a farm but close to town, all your life.  We'll be making a quilt in class.  This book is faction.  Lots of biography, the author's childhood, mixed in with fiction for what she can't remember.

Then, we're doing Ramona by Beverly Clearly.  This is mid 1900's.  We will read the exploits and talk about urbanization and having a boy for a best friend.  We will not the role of the television - almost non existant - and how going out to eat is a real treat.  We will write the author (still alive and in her 90's) and then we will interview mothers, aunts, friends to to do comparisons.  While these are pure fiction, they're written in a believable and not sensationalist manner.

Here's my dilemma.  I can't think of a young girl's series for the late 1900's to early 2000's.  So, I'm turning to you.  Can you think of one?  The Princess Dairies are too fanciful.  I need stories that the girls identify with.  I need there to be 6 - 8 books in the series.

Help.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Home for Hannah Interview



How exciting to have Sheriff Nick Bradley the hero from A HOME FOR HANNAH, by Patricia Davids with us. A HOME FOR HANNAH is an August, 2012  release from Love Inspired Romance.

  1. Nick, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I guess you could say my job is the most interesting thing about me. I'm the sheriff of an Ohio county that has a lot of Amish residents. I'm always trying to keep a balance between the Amish old ways and our "English" new ways.
  1. What do you do for fun?
I go fishing. Standing hip deep in rushing water and casting out a line is my idea of the perfect good time. I don't get to do it often. The next best thing is going to the weekly farmer's markets. It gives me a chance to get to know the Amish in my community and for them to get to know me. Mutual respect goes a long way in my business.
  1. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Not much. I believe in doing what has to be done, no matter how I feel about it.
  1. What are you afraid of most in life?
I once made a decision that cost a young man his life. He was my friend. I live my life determined not to make the same mistake twice. I don't want his life and his death to be meaningless.
  1. What is the most important thing to you?
Knowing that God has my back. In my job I know that I may be called to put my life on the line anytime. Faith gives me the strength to face a bad situation without fear.
  1. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I love to read. It helps me unwind after a long day. I enjoy a good mystery as much as the next cop. I like it when the author gets the procedural details right. I hate it when they don't.
  1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about myself, I'd be less devoted to my job. Law enforcement, even in a rural community, can be tough on family life. Of course, I'm single yet, but if things go right, that may chance soon.
  1. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
I didn't have a pet until Miriam Kauffman came back into my life. Her dog, Bella, has taken over a spot in my office and no one's lunch is safe when she is around. She is eighty pounds of couch potato until there is food in the room.
  1. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
That's a hard question. I have several moments in time that drastically altered my life. The first one was when my father was killed in the line of duty. I'd go back to that day and tell him that I love him before left the house. I told him, "See ya later, Dad." If I could just add, "Love ya," to the end of that sentence it would make a world of difference to me.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Ask Elnora--About Setting?? Third Friday Writing--Lenora Worth

It's that time again, bloggerville! Time for Third Friday Writing! Elnora loves the third Friday of each month since we get to talk about--what else--writing! Today's subject is setting. It was a dark and stormy night--in New Orleans maybe? Or what about New York City? Or how about it was raining cats and dogs in Dodge City? Okay, I've got it. It's raining men in Winslow, Arizona. But maybe it doesn't really rain there all that much? Setting is as important to a story as plot and character. When we write a book, we have to decide who, what, when, where, why?? Did I leave anything out? I always add how, too. Just in case. The where is all about setting. We don't want to wrie a whimsical story about flowers with a dark, dead forest kind of setting. Unless of course there is only one flower growing in that dark forest and the prince has to pluck it to save the princess and he knows if he sets foot in that forest, dire things will happen to him. See how the forest becomes part of the setting. I love to use setting like a character. For example, my August release "The Diamond Secret" is set in New Orleans. So it's all about the vibe of this unique place--a saxophone player down the street, the sound of the streetcar rolling by, the smell of the river--part decay and dampness and part fishy and fresh. Or the hiss of a cup of coffee being pulled at the Cafe du Monde and the clop, clop, clop of a horse drawn carriage. New Orleans lends itself to sights, sounds, smells and definitely taste and touch. Setting allows us to build our own world within the world we already know. When we describe a room, a home, a yard, a neighborhood or a town, we want the reader to stroll along with us and see what we see. I love a lush, interesting setting. If the mood of the story is dark, I make sure the setting is a bit dark and menacing. If the mood is lighthearted, I make sure there is a hometown cafe where everyone gathers and that the whole town is bursting with greenery and pretty places. If I'm writing a suspense I try to make sure even the trees are creepy and dangerous. If my setting is near a big body of water, I use that to my advantage even when I'm giving my characters a narrative, as in--her heart filled with a joy as vast and deep as the bay. Setting can add a richness to our stories and give our readers a true journey into a new world. So let's discuss setting. What's your favorite kind of setting?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Jungle Interview with Author Debbie Kaufman, the Newest Craftie Lady

(Author Debbie Kaufman, the newest member of The Craftie Ladies, has traveled to the interior of 1918 Liberia, Africa to be interviewed by her missionary doctor heroine, Dr. Mary O’Hara.)

Debbie mumbled to herself as she swatted her arm for the umpteenth time. “Ack! The mosquitos are vicious here by the stream. If Dr. Mary O’Hara doesn’t get here soon, I’m signaling the porters, climbing back in that hammock chair, and heading back for the coast. Of all the places to meet for an interview, Liberia, Africa was not my first choice. I was thinking more like my living room. I guess that’s what I get for writing a missionary jungle doctor.”

(Twiddles thumbs, observes the monkeys chattering overhead in the canopy, nods off in the afternoon heat.)

“Mrs. Kaufman? Wake up, Mrs. Kaufman.”

Debbie stared up to see a fiery red-head in jungle safari dress with an amused smile plastered on her face. “Oh, my! I must have dozed off. I might still be napping if it weren’t for those monkeys. So, sorry. You must be Dr. O’Hara. You look exactly like I pictured you!”

Dr. Mary laughed. “Well I should hope so. After all, you wrote me in the first place.”

Debbie stood to her feet and cast a wary eye at the mid-day sun. “Yes, I guess I did. And I wish we were going to have more time together, but I’m going to have to head back soon if I’m to make the steamship back to the States.”

“Sorry. Jungle travel is unpredictable…as you well know.”

Debbie smiled. “Ah, yes, you must be referring to the river scene when you lost your footing on that dangerous crossing. I guess I should apologize for making it so hard on you.” “Oh, no. I have to thank you really. It was after that scene that I finally began to see Pastor William Mayweather in a new light. Until then he’d seemed too stuffy and unapproachable, even for a missionary of our times.”

“Good. I was worried that you hold that against me. Are we okay on the cannibals, too?”

Dr. Mary nodded. “Such an amazing thing that God did in that scene. “ Her tone turned serious. “Just don’t ever write me in another one. Once is quite enough.” “I agree. Now, you have some questions for me?”

Dr. Mary sat on the log beside Debbie. “Yes. Let’s get to it. First, I should thank you since I’ve come to love this place and its people. But my biggest question is why did you write me in this jungle in the first place? To take me from a field hospital in WWI France and plop me down in the middle of the Liberian jungle, and with a widowed missionary who wanted nothing to do with another woman he might endanger? What ever inspired you?”

“That’s a long story, Dr. Mary. A lot of people assume I’m just fascinated with cannibals. But the inspiration for The Doctor's Mission literally walked in my front door one evening in the guise of a visit from one of my married children. As kids piled in the door, my daughter handed me a small paperback authored by my son-in-law's great-great uncle. It had a rather provocative title, Before We Kill and Eat You. This book, the story of pioneering missionary, H. B. Garlock and his wife Ruth, sat on my dining room table for months before I picked it up and finally read it.”

“So a real missionary inspired my creation?”

“Yes, but your story is nothing like theirs. You’re more a complilation of many missionary tales put together with a romantic story line. See, I found the story of how God worked in the Liberian jungle with the Garlocks fascinating, probably because missions have always been my heart. The subject and the country grabbed hold of me after reading that book, and wouldn't let go. Before long, I had read what seemed like a library full of Liberian pioneering missionar stories, and names like Bishop William Taylor, Rev. Adolphus Clemens Good, Miss Amanda Smith and many others. I knew I had to bring their struggles to life and set a romance in Liberia.”

“Well, that explains a lot. I have so many other questions, but I know you need to get back.”

“Yes, I can’t afford to miss that ship. I’m anxious to get home to my husband. Our thirty-fifth anniversary is next month! And the kids, grandkids, and dogs…well, I miss them like mad. Besides, I might have a message from Love Inspired Historical with word on book two, The Miner’s Treasure. You make a small cameo appearance in that one.”

“Ah, so it's another jungle missionary love story. Can't wait. But I guess I should keep you any longer. Perhaps we could correspond so you can answer my other questions.”

“Sounds like a plan. Afterall, I wrote you once…”

“Ha, ha, Mrs. Kaufman.”

Debbie climbed into the hammock chair and waved. Before she was out of earshot, she hollered back, “You know, it’s too bad there’s no Internet yet. You could visit me at my website,www.debbiekaufman.com or on Facebook and twitter (@debbie_kaufman) to keep up with my next adventures.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Navigating the Way


Good day, Crafties! Christine Johnson here today to chat about the joys of getting lost. Recently I took a road trip to Detour Village in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River.  That required a drive of several hours. Now, I’m old-school when it comes to navigation. No GPS for me. Maps? Love them, but I don’t want a computer telling me where to go. I especially love directions from people who’ve been there before. You know, the kind that say to turn left when you reach the giant plastic rooster.  For this trip, the “in the know” instructions said to turn a little past the park with the big buoys (yep, on land, not in the water). Simple, right? How many parks have huge buoys in them? I felt pretty confident that I could find the place.

Ah, over-confidence!  I saw the park but went zooming past my turn and had to backtrack. But that little detour (no pun, honestly) showed me things I might not have noticed had I turned exactly where a GPS voice told me to. I might have missed the old wrecked sidewheel steamer near shore. Hm, maybe that captain could have used better charts. Or the little museum with the ship-viewing station. 


Or this bunch of geese who’d commandeered the street and were in no hurry to go anywhere.



It got me to thinking that maybe the most direct route isn’t always the best. What do we miss in life when we’re so intent on following the quickest route? Are we just looking at the path ahead or do we notice what’s off to the side and who else is traveling with us? I’m far too guilty of the former, yet when I take the time to look around me, I’m always blessed. So, in this rush-rush world, I’m going to do my best to stop and look around. And maybe even take a detour or two.  How about you?  What fascinating things have you seen when you had to navigate off the direct route?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Refilling the Creative Well

Hi Everyone, Sandra Orchard here, and I’m so excited to be back. I've missed all of you.

I took a cyberspace break for the past two months to give my full concentration to my writing, and have time to spare to refill my creative well.

And wow, what an experience that has been!

Of course... that had a lot to do with the fabulous Alaskan cruise hubby and I took in celebration of our 25th anniversary. Nothing like a great vacation to re-energize that creativity.

Not always in the ways you might think, either...

Would you believe I became suddenly ill just before bed the night before our flight? And our cab was due at 4 am!

Let me tell you, watching people from a lying positioning in the airport offers a whole new perspective.


Thankfully by the time our flight arrived for its connection in Vancouver, I felt much better. In fact, by the time we boarded the plane to Alaska, I was well enough to pick the brain of the passenger beside me who happened to be a pilot.

As I started to ask him how someone might sabotage his plane, my husband elbowed me and hissed, “Do you want to get us kicked off?!”

The pilot laughed. I had, after all, told him I was a romantic suspense writer!

He graciously pulled out his cell phone and showed me pics of his DC10 and what I’d have to do to down it. Hee! Hee!

Then we arrived in Alaska. Wow! God blessed us with spectacular views like this to fill our hearts and minds!

This was our first time on a cruise, and that in itself was an amazing experience. Since I was working on a story proposal set on a cruise ship, I spent a great deal of time chatting with staff, from waiters to cabin stewards. We even had a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship.

Admittedly, the captain looked a tad nervous when I asked what he’d do if someone went overboard. Hubby assured him I didn't plan to jump. Although there was that occasional gleam in hubby's eye that he might be tempted to push me if I didn't stop asking so many questions.

I arrived home brimming with renewed writing energy and... to a new contract!!! Such a lovely anniversary gift from my editor, don’t you think? <grin>

So… now I’m working on two books.


The first is a trade-length romantic suspense/mystery for Revell Publishing that features a herbal researcher as the heroine and a cop as the hero. The novel is the second book in a three-book series called Port Aster Secrets, and I’ve learned that writing a book where the romance arcs three books is VERY different than writing a single book romance.

The other book I'm working on is my new Love Inspired Suspense, in which an antique Cadillac figures prominently. So of course, it was essential that I experience what riding in one would be like. <grin>

Hmmm, I wonder where I should set my next novel… My daughter is planning a trip to Australia next fall… <wink>

Your Turn: Where would you like to see a novel set?

P.S. Please join me tomorrow at my blog, Conversations about Characters, where Love Inspired author Lisa Jordan will share the inspiring story behind her characters in her new release, Lakeside Family


Garden Path image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blessings and Rainbows at Niagara Falls

 Debra Clopton here--hoping you are all having a wonderful day! Chuck and I were in Canada this last week and our last stop was Niagara Falls--this is a shot of a rainbow over the falls, one of many we saw on Friday and Saturday. It was supposed to be mostly rain on these two days, but we ignored the declaration and headed there hoping to just hear the roar of the falls if nothing else.

We were ten minutes away, having driven across Canada from our last working destination of Lake Huron, when the sun came out! We'd driven through rain most of the way and could only hope God would give us a window...He did more than that--He blessed us with two absolutely perfect days to see the falls. The clouds were there on Friday, but so was the sun and the fight was on in grand fashion as they put on a show about who would win out in the end. Their fight made Friday a beautiful day for rainbows. It was an awesome treat. Then Saturday dawned with the sun so bright it was crystal clear. Gorgeous in every way. Just look at the color of that water! I have so many photos that I could drive you crazy with them, and never finish this blog post so I'm just putting up a few. And all of this to say...that if Chuck and I hadn't taken a chance and gone ahead and driven to the falls we would have missed out on the blessing of all of this beauty. We felt so blessed to have the opportunity to be there in the first place.

 My August release HER HOMECOMING COWBOY  is on shelves right now. Earlier in the week of this trip to Canada I got to see it on sale there at Walmart  (checkout my facebook post )and also at the Chapters Book Stores (they are like the Barns and Noble of USA) where I visited with a few of the sales people and signed books that were on the shelves. This was just a side benefit to traveling in the month that I have a book out.

This was actually a working trip for Chuck (he travels almost every other week) and I tag along when he goes to really cool places--such as Canada. I did a lot of writing in hotel rooms while he was meeting with his customers--it was a very productive week for both of us while also giving us time together as we saw the country driving from Toronto to Lake Huron, beautiful farming country. Then, when he was done, we retraced out steps with a stop at Niagara Falls before catching a plane home yesterday. I've blogged a bit about it on my blog at debraclopton.com

On my trip I learned a few things about Canadians...I learned that they love french fries. Everywhere I turned there was an advertisement for fries! Or there was a little bus setup on the side of the road selling fresh cut fries. I also learned that Canadians love Rotisserie chicken...I do too so we were well matched. I learned that Canadians have fabulous salads made from locally grown produce. And that they must adore ice cream and chocolate because every town we were in was filled with shops proclaiming specialty chocolates and ice cream--Chuck and I were good and resisted the urge to stop at each and every one of these places and taste test. We were there for each other--isn't that what couples are supposed to do--be there for each other! Yes, we kept each other out of trouble.
Most of the time...sigh, yes, I can not tell a lie. We have a lot in common with the Canadians we love ice cream and chocolate too!

Okay, I'd better cut this blog short and let you all go. I hope you've checked out HER HOMECOMING COWBOY's cover and blurb and the interview with Colt Holden, the hero of the book. Both are in the post below this post. People are telling me they loved the story. I'm thrilled about that since it was on my mind and in my heart for two years before I got the chance to write this story. It's about redemption, love and blessings when you least expect them. Colt needs a rainbow in this book and his rainbow comes in the form of a little boy and his aunt Annie.
Check out my website http://debraclopton.com and join my newsletter by entering my monthly contest! It will change from month to month.




Her Homecoming Cowboy Interview



How exciting to have Colt Holden the hero from HER HOMECOMING COWBOY by Debra Clopton a August 2012 release from Love Inspired Romance .

1.     “Colt tell me the most interesting thing about you,” I asked the well known bull rider. He’s a little cocky looking with a twinkle in his eyes that always drew the ladies and the kids. No so today, it was hard to get this interview. I had to corner him at Sam’s Diner in Mule Hollow, Texas where he’s been hiding out since the horrible accident last month. He’s lost weight and his eyes are dull.
He shrugs his shoulder. “I guess that would be that I love rodeo--riding bulls to be exact,” he says without much emotion. “It’s always been my life, driving from one rodeo to the next, racking up points to be the World Champion…at least that was the most interesting thing, now, since the accident none of that matters anymore.”

2.     I feel bad for him but have to ask the questions that I’m paid to ask him. “Can you tell me what do you do for fun?” Yeah, it was a stupid question and his scowl tells me so.
“Right now,” he said, staring at his cup of coffee for a minute. “I’m just holed up at my cabin trying to figure out my life. I killed a family. I don’t deserve to have fun.”

3.     I was supposed to ask him what he puts off doing because he dreads it, but I just can’t do it so I skip that question.

4.     “What are you afraid of most in life?” I ask him, feeling the pull to this man who is obviously in deep emotional pain.
He lifts troubled eyes to me and my heart clutches. “Living,” he says, flatly. “I don’t deserve it.”

5.     I have no words for a moment, caught up in his pain. Wanting to make things better for him but not knowing how. So I continue my interview. “What is the most important thing to you?”
“Finding a way to make things right. But I can’t see how I can ever do that.”

6.     “Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?”  I’m hoping he tells me the Bible because I know that’s the book where he can find the peace that I know he needs in his soul. He shakes his head. “Can’t concentrate on them right now.”

7.     I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this question before I ask it. “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”

His hand balls into a fist on the table beside his coffee. “I’d change my life. Because if I hadn’t been rodeoing so hard and heavy I wouldn’t have been on that road that night when that drunk came out of nowhere and slammed into my truck and…a family would still be alive if I hadn’t been on the road between rodeos.”

8.     Not exactly the answer I was thinking but somewhat. I skip the next question about if he has a pet and make up my own. “What do you need?” I ask, wanting to know myself.
He takes a long breath, his chest rising then falling. “I don’t really know. I don’t feel like I deserve to need anything. But I guess I need a miracle. I need…God—if He’s listening, to help me find my way. More, I need to find a way to help ease the pain of the family of the ones I killed.”

9.     I pray that God would send him someone, or something that would show this honorable cowboy that he has something to live for. Looking hard at him I ask my last question. “If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?”

Colt’s sandy eyebrow hikes. “I wouldn’t have been on that road that night. Look,” he says standing up. “I’ve got to go.” He tips his hat and strides from the diner.

I close my notebook and watch as he goes.
Sam, the diner owner ambles up on his short bowlegs and stuffs a fist to his hip.
“At thar boy is in a world of pain. I shor do hope the good Lord steps in soon.”
I nod. “Me too, Sam. Me too.”
Sam fills my coffee cup. “God needs to sends Colt someone to help him laugh again…” the old man straightens and grins. “Yup, that’s it. He needs a reason to smile again. I think I’ll pray on.”
I watch Colt back his truck from the drive out front. His handsome face troubled and know that I’ll be praying for him to smile too. And I wonder…just how is God going to make it happen?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Featured Book: Her Homecoming Cowboy by Debra Clopton

After losing his mother, Annie Ridgeway's sweet six-year-old nephew thinks he's an orphan. Turns out the father he never knew is bull rider Colt Holden—the boy's hero. Before bringing them together as father and son, Annie has to make sure Colt is as good a man as he is a cowboy. When she arrives in Mule Hollow, she finds the handsome, honorable man guarding his burdened heart against caring for anyone or anything. Will a little boy's devotion be the fighting chance they all need?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ask Elnora--About Tenacity??--Lenora Worth

Elnora is fashionably late this morning. But with a not so fashionable headache. But don't cry for me, Bloggerville. I took a migraine pill. I think the headache came after a few of my "church lady" friends and I cleaned up our class room just in time for the church's fifty year anniversary. The dust in our classroom must have been that old, too. And most of it went into Elnora's dainty little nose! So ..... headache in the middle of the night and the realization that alas, I didn't pre-schedule this blog! But not to fear. I already had my subject planned. Drumroll please.... The subject of today's post is TENACITY!!
This potato vine has tenacity. I posted a picture of this on Facebook a few days ago. Since then the potato vine has grown even more. It all started last summer when I placed a dish garden by the pool. It contained several different thrillers, fillers and spillers. The potato vine outlasted all the other plants well into fall. Big Daddy cleared and emptied the pot and moved it. This spring, however, a little bud began forming in a crack between the pool rim and the cool deck--literally between a rock and a hard place! And the picture you see is the result of that little bud. Potato vines have tenacity. This vine has become a symbol to me during this long, hot summer. Durng this long, hard year, too. Elnora is strong and determined and hard to break, but this year I came very close. The BIG move and packing for that, the BIG backache and trying to either ignore that or get well from that, and a lot of other life things had all gotten me down. But seeing this tenacious vine every day and watching it grow and thrive in the hot sun, well, that taught Elnora a valuable lesson. We can't give up. We can't let go. We have to hold tight to God's love. We have to draw from our own strength and the strength of our faith. I love that word, tenacity. It sounds tough and sure and confident. So, my little tator vine bloggers, let's discuss tenacity. What does it take to cling to the vine? What does it take to get out from between a rock and a hard place. Do you have tenacity?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Winning the RITA

Pamela Tracy here.

I imagine most authors have a "Dream" list.  I know I do.  Winning the RITA is number four on my list.   See, the RITA is the Oscar for romance writers.  It's the "Hey, she really can write!" seal of approval.  This year, 2012, an author named Serena Miller won the award.  Her book The Measure of Katie Calloway sounds awesome. 

Serena's words after winning we awesome, too. 

She said on her website, "It has taken a couple days to write about this–a couple days to believe that it is true."

Boy, can I imagine that.  I remember the day I sold my first book, how I walked around pinching myself because it was real.  I'd written a book.  Someone besides my mom was going to read it.  I imagine winning the RITA is the same.
Serena also wrote, "I was up against such strong writers, I didn’t think I had much of a chance. Still….I watched the tweets of those who were at the awards banquet in Anaheim with a small flicker of hope in my heart.  Then I saw my name come up as the winner of the inspirational genre and I will never forget that moment as long as I live. I screamed, and my husband came running. Then he realized what had happened and threw his arms around me and we hugged and cried and laughed and sobbed."

Serena, you weren't there when they read your name, but many many inspirational writers were.  When they read your name, we applauded.  Congratulations, Serena.  Your book sounds awesome!
On her website, Serena ended by saying, "Saturday night I learned that The Measure Of Katie Calloway truly was a winner. I am so grateful. It is no small thing to be allowed to make a living—while living a dream."

If you want to read the journal entry where Serena tells about winning the RITA, not the abbreviated version I've just cut and pasted here, please go to http://serenabmiller.com/journal/

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Research is fun!


Elnora mentioned the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in July. What an enjoyable experience it is to attend workshops, connect with other writers, and enjoy that camaraderie for an entire week! 

This year was the fourth time that I've brought my daughter (a fledgling writer who is an RWA member, too) to an RWA conference, and we have a great time together.  This year, we both attended the Kiss of Death Mystery Suspense Writers day at the LAPD training facilities.  What an amazing experience!

We met  Montana the police horse, shown in the photograph, and the officer who rides him.  






Sage the bloodhound who is--of course--used for tracking was exceptionally friendly! :)    One of the most exciting moments was our chance to don helmets, buckle into a five-point safety harness, and then ride in a police car driven through a serpentine track at a high rate of speed, sirens blazing.  All great research for creating more realistic scenes in a book, and it was great fun as well.
 What are some of the more unusual--and fun--things you've done in recent years?

Wishing you all the best,
Roxanne Rustand

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pat Davids here with a question.
What's better than a rodeo?

Answer:
Not much.

Yes, the Olympics are fine and fun to watch, but no one in London is getting on a ton of angry bull and trying to stay on board for eight seconds. Only at the rodeo can you see such raw courage or foolishness depending on your point of view.
I had the privilege of attending the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene, Kansas this week. I grew up near there. My family has been going to the rodeo for almost as long as they've had a rodeo in Abilene. I'm serious. There's just something wonderful about watching the skill displayed by the pick-up riders as they slip a cowboy safely to the ground from the back of a running, bucking bronc. That takes some very fine riding, I'm telling you. Okay, those boys look good in the chaps, too, but I do admire their horsemanship.

And talk about courage! When a bull rider is thrown and a clown rushes in to draw the bull away, you know that takes real guts. It's no video game. There's no reset button on a bull's nose. Those men lay it all on the line.

Is it any wonder that cowboys have captured our hearts and imagination in romance novels for generations? I certainly see the appeal. Don't you?

For me, the only thing better than watching a bull-dogger throw a steer with his bare hands was watching the little kids in the mutton-busting competition. It might have been a sheep that they were riding, but those kids put their hearts and souls into it. I saw some future rodeo stars in Abilene last week.

Kids and cowboys.
You just can't get much better than that.
Cowboys have made some wonderful heroes in our Love Inspired books. Which one has been your favorite cowboy and why?

Me?
I like them all.
Pat





The Colonel's Daughter Interview




Today we're welcoming Jamison Steele, the hero of THE COLONEL’S DAUGHTER, written by Debby Giusti, an August Love Inspired Suspense. 

Wow, you've just had quite an adventure. 

1.  Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. 

I’m a Special Agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, currently stationed at Fort Rickman, Georgia.  The CID handles felony crimes against military personnel and crimes that occur on military property.  When Michele Logan found a woman dead in on-post housing, she called me for help.

2.  So, during the book you met Michele.  Tell us a bit about her.  What was your first impression?  When did you know it was love? 

Michele and I had dated previously, but ten months ago, she left Fort Rickman without saying goodbye.  As Colonel Logan, her dad, was preparing to bring his brigade home from Afghanistan, Michele returned to Fort Rickman to help her mom with the Welcome Home celebration on post. That’s when Michele called me.  I tried to pretend I had gotten over her, but I was fooling myself.  I still loved her and had to guard my heart so I wouldn’t be hurt a second time.
    
3.  What strengths/skills do you have?  What is your greatest weakness? 

I’m a good CID special agent and work hard to protect soldiers and their families from folks who want to do them harm.  In the past, people who knew me said I was a workaholic because the job came first.  Of course, all that changed when Michele came back into my life.
         
4.  What scares you? 

The thought of losing Michele scared me.  Hopefully, we will never go through anything as frightening again.
      
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would have told Michele I loved her right from the start. I waited to ensure she was the one, but she left post before I had a chance to tell her the way I felt. 


6.  Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? 

I had a great chaplain when I first enlisted.  He helped me through some problems from the past and taught me about God’s love and forgiveness, which is what I tried to explain to Michele.
    
7.  Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

My faith is stronger than ever. God blessed me abundantly when he brought Michele back into my life.
 
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  Matthrew 7:24-25

Since I joined the military, the Lord has been my rock. No matter what happens, I can put my faith in Him.
    
9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

I like all-American desserts so I would probably be homemade apple pie ala mode.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Featured Book The Colonel's Daughter









A ruthless killer is targeting the families of soldiers in a U.S. Army colonel's brigade. Special agent Jamison Steele, of the Criminal Investigation Division, vows to stop him—because this time, Jamison's heart is involved. The colonel's daughter, the woman who loved and left Jamison without a word, came face-to-face with the murderer. Protecting Michele Logan means constant surveillance. And solving the mystery of the serial killer's motive requires asking Michele the questions she least wants to answer. Questions that may lead them both into a deadly trap.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ask Elnora--About RWA 2012?? Lenora Worth

Hurrah for Hollywood. Elnora had a fine time touring California. The sunshine, the wonderfully delicious breeze, the palm trees, the stars' homes, Rodeo Drive! Need I say more. Oh, and the Romance Writers of America conference! So much to see and hear and absorb and learn. The conference buzz seemed to be that, yes, we can have it all. We can write for traditional publishers (Elnora hates that word trad--what kind of word is that, anyway?)But let me start over--Yes, we can write for traditional publishers and those new-kids-on-the-block e-publishers. (I hate that word e-pub. What kind of word is that?)
But bad short words aside, it is a relief to know we have so many possibilities in publishing these days. Exciting and scary, this stuff! The best advice I heard was if you're happy with your publisher then keep writing for that publisher. If you want to branch out and dabble in e-publishing, then go for it but learn the tricks of the trade and have your book edited properly before hitting send. The good news for those of us who write for Harlequin--two new lines are opening up (actually more like three or four). We have Heartsong--a good strong line that has move in with Love Inspired, coming in at 50,000 words of sweetness and faith that goes directly to readers. Heartwarming--at 70,000 words. Sweet and simple. No love scenes and no faith element. What Elnora calls a good old fashioned love story. Then we have KISS--fun and flirty and sensual. Not sure about the word count on those. Then we have Digital First, which will give authors a chance to write anything from mystery, fantasy and fantasy romance to Sci-Fi (one short word I can tolerate) and Sci-Fi Romance, Contemporary romance, steamy, Teen romance and YOUR BRILLIANT IDEA.
The road ahead is wide open. Because there is more: Harlequin and Mills and Boon are launching a contest called SYTYCW. So You Think You Can Write!!! You can check this out online at sytycw.com It starts September 17th. And it involves a contract and about fifty editors and all kinds of cool things. So we have much to discuss today. See, I did do more than chase stars and walk the beach and shoe shop. I listened and learned and thanked my lucky stars I get to write books for a living. And while Elnora will always stay true to inspirationals and sweet romances, the road is open to the rest of you to follow your heart. We all did. And we each write in different lines but with our own voice. Writers, picture yourself here. Readers, picture yourselves lucky. You get to see what we come up with next. Hurrah for Hollywood. Let's discuss the possibilities!
Winnie Griggs, Liz Talley, Connie Cox and Lenora Worth

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Allie Pleiter - What's a book to you?


What’s a book to you?

Escape.  Inspiration.  To slow down.  To learn something. To pull my brain out of life’s everyday.  For entertainment.  To fight boredom while waiting.  There’s a million reasons to read.  And a million ways to devour the books we love.

Of course, those who don’t cherish books will tell you TV or music can do many of those things.  They can, but not like books.  Stories spun with words in the confines of your imagination have a particular power, don’t you think?  Books offer a kind of companionship I don’t get anywhere else--and not just because a book or an e-reader fits in my handbag or on my iPhone.

I was stuck waiting in the car the other day, pulled out my iPad, and was transported to Regency England for fifteen minutes. Yesterday, I dropped off more copies of my WWI historical HOMEFRONT HERO to a relative because more of her friends wanted to read the book.  After that, I drove an hour to meet some friends and the audiobook coming out of my phone educated me on how to build a better blog.  Then I came home and spent time with the characters from my upcoming book FAMILY LESSONS (April 2013) in 19th century Nebraska.  

Only my beloved Doctor Who can pull off better travel and time and space!

What about you?  How many places do books take you in a single day?  A single week?