Friday, May 28, 2010

A New Face

I am excited to join this group of authors as the newest member of the group. In Jan 2011 my first LI will be out. This will be the first story that I've written that is a straight romance. There are no dead bodies in this book while there were in all my other stories.

I've written suspense up to last year. I saw an article in our local newspaper about equine therapy and how it is used with returning Iraq veterans who have lost a limb. When I proposed the story to my editor, she loved it. I was nervous, but that book was one of the easiest books I've ever written. Sometimes authors have a special story that's just dropped into their heads and hearts. Second Chance Ranch was that for me. The characters spoke to me, and they kept their share of secrets until they were ready to share them with me.

I also felt God's hand making a path. It was a joy to write. I hope others will enjoy reading it. I've also included a picture of some of the Irises in my garden just to say hello.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to Write a Novel in Ten Easy Steps

Allie here. I’m busy putting the finishing touches on my Alaskan historical, and life has forced me to do a lot of writing in public places lately. Which means lots of people have stared at the two-inch-thick stack of papers in front of me and asked me what I’m doing. Which leads to the “I’m an author,” conversation, which leads to the inevitable, “Where do you get your ideas?” question.

I always give the same answer: “I don’t really know. I’m afraid if I thought about it too much I’d ruin the wonder of it.” It’s usually then that I get the “you’re one of those crazy artsy people, aren’t you?” looks, as if fiction should be more scientific. As if you could craft a magazine article entitled “How to Write a Novel in Ten Easy Steps.”

So I got to thinking....

Allie Pleiter’s How to Write a Novel in Ten Easy Steps:

1. Gather chocolate, coffee, a fussy laptop, and about 200 hours of uninterrupted peace. Start typing.
2. Dream up the woman every one of us would like to be. Then give her a few flaws so we still like her, because we can be a catty bunch and we’ll get mean if she’s perfect. Type until you break a nail. Get manicure before going on to Step 3.
3. Discover what she loves most, and then figure out a way to put it all in jeopardy. Replenish supply of chocolate and refuse any familial offers to consider decaf.
4. Dream up the man we all wish we married--mentally, physically, spiritually, and maybe even financially--and ensure he says the perfect thing at the right moment. Then mess him up a bit because every woman still holds to the fantasy that she can fix her man. At this point you will probably be typing faster, so keep your manicurist’s number handy.
5. Have a creative crisis. Throw manuscript across the room in fit of terror that your talent has somehow left the building and the book police will take away your future once they figure out the fraud you really are. Eat any chocolate you may have left.
6. Project aforementioned crisis onto your characters. Figure out the highest cost she’ll pay to reach her goal and then double it. Uncover the last thing in the world your hero wants to do and force him to do it--repeatedly. Make sure, however, to do all this between scenes of unspeakable tenderness and things so romantic they’d barely ever happen in real life.
7. Let your heroine and hero discover their love. Cry so hard your family members (and perhaps your pets) show concern for your perspective. Show spouse where the number of pizza delivery service is because doing something so mundane as feeding the family can’t compete with true love.
8. Have a family crisis. Every author worth her salt has one per book, often several. Really, how would we know what real life is if it didn’t keep sticking its nasty nose into our writing lives?
9. Type until every one of your nails is in hideous condition and the “e” is worn off your keyboard. Make your hero a better man because of your heroine’s love. Let your heroine be forever changed by the love of her man. Resolve their problems in ways that have you reaching for tissues every ten minutes.
10. Type “The End.” Consume much chocolate and more coffee, dance around the house in your sweatpants because who has time for laundry? Make sure your printer breaks just as you need to print it out--this is every author’s badge of honor.
Ha! You thought we could stop at ten? Start all over again, kiddos, now we need to revise.....

If you want to see how well this system works, check out my novella
Bluegrass Easter in the March release, Easter Promises.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning to fly

Kim Watters here. As I walked into my office the other day, I noticed a baby bird on the patio. Even though I don't particularly like birds--a childhood nightmare that would take too long to explain here--this poor thing was kind of cute. I sure hope Mama was around to teach Junior how to fly because the snakes have come out of hybernation and are on the slither.

A few hours later as I'm sitting at my desk, I see Mama bird has decided to show up to take care of Junior. In between processing our daily accounting functions, I see Mama flapping her wings and hopping away. Junior is trying to mimic her. It's so cute to see the struggle and how many times Junior spread his wings. It reminds me of being a writer.

In the beginning we struggled to learn the craft. Each passing day or moment, we honed it, like Junior was trying to do with his wings. A little hop--a paragraph, a bigger jump--a chapter. Then hopefully flight--or a book. And each time, we had our own cheering section in our family, friends or critique group--or in Junior's case--Mama bird.

Flash forward to the next day. Junior is still on the ground, having survived the night, but he's not looking very good. He hasn't learned to fly yet and Mama bird is gone. Not knowing anything about how to take care of him, it's time to call in some help.

I believe at every point in our career, we all need some sort of reinforcement, whether its in the form of a class, workshop or editorial/agent input. Occasionally, I take classes to refresh or improve my knowledge. I also have a critique group, two final readers and a wonderful editor to help me along.

Junior has the local Bird Lady. She swoops down (drives up) and takes Junior home in the hopes of saving him. Is she successful? I don't know. I couldn't bring myself to call and find out since I'd become attached to poor Junior.

As I sit here at my desk again a few days later, I hear a bird chirp. I'd like to think it's Junior, but even if it's not, I know that whichever bird made that sound had his own struggles while he learned to fly. You will, too. The path of a writer isn't easy.
How do you now if you'll be successful? First of all, learn to fly--or finish the book. Don't be afraid to spread your wings and learn new things because the reward is well worth the struggle it took to get there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amazing Grace: Songs that inspire...

Hello from Lisa Mondello. I've been known to cry buckets when a beautiful song comes on the radio. Today I didn't cry buckets, but I did tear up when I flipped through the stations and Amazing Grace was played. I love that song and hated that when the song was done, I didn't find out who had sung this particular version. I think I'll be checking out later to see if I can find it.

It got me thinking of other inspirational songs that are my favorites. One that has stuck with me my whole life is Let There Be Peace on Earth. I still get choked up when I hear that one. Another favorite that one of my best friends from college say for my wedding is Ave Maria. (Bucket alert on that one.) It doesn't really matter who sings it. It's just a beautiful song.

Truth be known, I could go on an on about songs that are inspirational. Lest you think I can't be trusted with a Maytag commercial, don't worry. It's just the inspirational songs that make me weep. What about you? What is your favorite inspirational song or artist?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


All Cari Duncan has ever wanted is family. Yet her late father chose his new young wife's children over Cari. Surprised—and hopeful—when he bequeaths her the old house she grew up in, Cari moves to Knotwood Mountain, Georgia. But she and her stepmother clash the minute she arrives. How can Cari make a fresh start in the small town? The handsome businessman next door, who happens to be the most eligible bachelor, claims to know exactly how. But following Rick Adams's time-tested advice means opening her heart…to faith, family and her very own Prince Charming!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the real Valerie Hansen

The cover you see to the right is from my new, June release, THE DOCTOR'S NEWFOUND FAMILY. I love this artwork, don't you?

The historical Love Inspired is set in 1856 San Francisco.

It will be my last book in 2010 but I already have some scheduled for 2011 so I've been busy, as usual.

Now for a serious warning.

I usually use this forum to discuss my work. In this case, however, I need to warn all my friends and loyal readers that there is someone on Facebook who is pretending to be me. This imposter even took a picture from my website to try to fool everyone. THIS IS NOT ME. I DO NOT USE FACEBOOK. I'm presently working to have the imposter removed but the process is apparently very slow. I just wanted everyone to know what was happening so they wouldn't be fooled.

Other than that, everything in my life is fine so I can't really complain. I wrote this in the morning but won't post it till nearly midnight on Thursday so I don't forget my special Friday again! Yes, I have a lot on my mind and sometimes do goof. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised!


Valerie Hansen/ Val Whisenand

Vacation Time!

Janet mentioned vacation earlier this week. Which made me realize just how close that time is getting! This is the last week of school for our county, so soon the kids will be home and my schedule will go haywire. :)

I've learned the best plan is to get up early in the morning while the kids sleep in. That's my peaceful concentration time. The older my son and daughter get, the later that wake-up time is! So maybe my schedule won't be too off track while I'm revising the book I'm currently working on--A Family for Faith (coming out in April 2011).

We plan to go to the beach later this summer. We love to go to Orange Beach, Alabama (near Gulf Shores). It's gorgeous! I believe I shared this photo last year after our trip. Of course, we'll be praying that the oil spill is contained as soon as possible. It breaks my heart to think of the damage it's caused and could keep causing.

What about you? I'd love to hear what y'all do for fun or to get away.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Light-hearted Moment

Linda Goodnight is unable to post today: think end of school year combined with a tornado. So, to maybe help keep the juices flowing, I went to Inkgirl's site and grabbed a cartoon. Go ahead, smile.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Grateful Man Who Loves His Wife

All this month on my blog, Strong Women Brave Stories, I'm giving authors and readers a chance to honor the special women in their lives, past and present.

Today Author Harry Kraus, a medical missionary to Kenya, honors his wife:

His tribute begins:"Sisters, imagine your response if your husband came home one day and said, “Let’s move to Africa.”
Would you be scared? Angry at your husband? Angry at God?..."

To read the rest, drop by my blog

Harry is the best-selling author of The Six Liter Club--

"In 1983, Camille Weller becomes the first black female doctor at Medical College of Virginia. During her first day on the job, she manages to save a patient who lost six liters of blood---enlisting her in a prestigious surgeons "club." But will flashbacks from her childhood in the Congo paralyze her work---and her faith?"

For more about Harry Kraus and his books, visit his website

Monday, May 17, 2010

Missing in Action in Disneyland

This is Janet Tronstad on vacation in Southern California (where I live, but generally work). Today and tomorrow I'm at Disneyland and a resort (great swimming pool and hot tub). My little niece and nephew are here too and so very excited. I sometimes envy them their ability to be so excited about things -- the one part of childhood I think we all miss. When was the last time you were that excited?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


To receive her inheritance and make peace with her late mother, Kelli Jackson must abide by the woman's will. Even though it means working as a zookeeper for six months—with animals that terrify her. How can she possibly explain her fears—and her past—to her handsome boss, Jason Andover? The glimpses of kindness—and painful secrets—she sees in his eyes slowly have her sharing everything. But then she makes a startling discovery—one that may tear them apart forever. Unless she can return the gift of love he's given her.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

5 Essentials for Lifelong Intimacy

Terri Reed here. I wanted to recommend a book to you all that I recently found buried behind several other books on my bookshelf. I remember reading this book and taking the wise words to heart.

5 Essentials for Lifelong Intimacy by Dr. James Dobson

This is a small easy to read book packed with a valuable and relevant message about marriage. Dobson goes deeply into the 5 Essentials.

Essential #1 A Christ-centered Home

Essential #2 A Lifelong Commitment

Essential #3 A Deep and Abiding Trust

Essential #4 A Willingness to Communicate

Essential #5 An Understanding of Love


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May flowers...

This month, it seems May missed the memo and is bringing more showers than flowers. The floods in Tennessee, the oil spill in the's been a pretty bad month in an environmental sense.

But God is still God, and He's still in control!

That is the only hope we have.

Sometimes in our personal life, it seems things are complete chaos. We have floods of tears instead of blooms of laughter. Our daily lives are filled with sticky oil instead of fresh water. But Jesus said He is the living water, and whoever comes to Him will never thirst.

Are you experiencing a storm or peaceful seas today? In your personal life? In your writing life? Maybe your life is sunshine and roses but you're hurting for a friend whose life is incredibly dark and sticky right now. Or maybe you're the one hoping for a ray of light to break the storm clouds, waiting for the endless waters to reside.

I've been on both sides recently, and it's hard. But my hope is in Christ!

As the people in Tennessee are discovering, there is a massive clean up required after every storm. The sun might be out and the waters might be drying up, but there's a damage in the wake. Is your heart hurting from the flood? Do you have wounds that still need to heal? Jesus is there.

Springtime isn't always pleasant. With the beautiful blooms comes threats of tornados. But the seasons always change. I'm hoping this is a season of relief and peace for you. But if it's not, don't wilt inside yourself. Come to the One who controls the waves and instructed the flowers how to grow. He cares for you!

Sometimes, when times are hard, it's good to read and get away, escape a little from our daily trials. This isn't a shameless plug for my publishe'rs novels, but an honest truth. Christian fiction can inspire, encourage, and uplift you. So if you're looking for some encouragement, why not pick up a couple of Love Inspired novels and see if God works in your life in a new way?

And hang in there. Remember, the next season is coming. =)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Precious Words

Pamela Tracy here. My son is five. With five, comes lots of maturity (yes, I'm smiling). The day he turned five, a mere three months ago, he took me by the hand and led me to his bathroom so we could remove all the toys from the tub because "I'm five now."

Yesterday, Mother's Day, I climbed out of bed and headed for the kitchen. After a minute, I heard Mikey's door open and he joined me. Poking his head around the refrigerator, he said, "Happy Mother's Day." I looked in my own bedroom to see if Daddy was up to prompt Mikey in this greeting. Nope. My son, age five, remembered on his own. Wow.

Last Thursday, his little pre-school had a mother's tea (last year I really messed up and thought it was a tea). As we sat at a table in a gym, watching the video chronicaling he and his classmates school year, I opened the Mother's Day card he'd made me for. The card started sentences and Mikey's teachers had filled in how he finished them. Here they are. Mikey's responses are in bold.

My mom looks best after she gets a hair cut.
My mom likes to make breakfast and lunch.
My mom always says we have to go to school.
My mom likes to play trains with me.

Precious words, eh?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hero Interview for Wife Wanted in Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad

Interview with the hero from Wife Wanted in Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad:

1. Conrad Nelson, tell me the most interesting thing about you. I was afraid you were going to ask that. The truth is I’ve led a reserved life. I don’t go sky-diving or anything like that. I always figured there was nothing wrong with being a steady kind of guy until Katrina Britton drove into my service station. She shook up my life and I didn’t know what had happened. I felt like I was sky-diving without a parachute.

2. What do you do for fun? Does it sound boring to admit I like to put engines together? Cars and farm equipment both. Piece by piece, it’s like a puzzle. Maybe we should say it that way – I have fun doing puzzles.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? Well, you can tell by the title of the book about me that I’ve put off looking for a wife until my uncle decided he needed to do it for me.

4. What are you afraid of most in life? Wow, that’s getting a little personal. Not that I mind. I’m trying to be more open about my feelings. It’s no secret anymore anyway. I’m terrified of losing someone I love. That’s why it was hard for me to love in the first place.

5. What do you want out of life? That’s easy. The reason I moved to Dry Creek was because I wanted a home, a place where I could walk down the street and know almost everyone walking toward me.

6. What is the most important thing to you? God. Love. Family. I know those are the usual things for people. I just hadn’t known how hard it would be to find all three.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book? I’m not too much of a reader. Mostly, I read repair manuals. Katrina is trying to get me interested in some suspense books though and I’ve picked up a few I like. In fact, Margaret,I have one of yours.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’ve changed so much since meeting my Katrina that I can’t even think of making any more changes right now.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? I don’t have pets, but I do have a fine collection of garden gnomes. Do they count?

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I’m pretty content right where I am.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Thanks to his uncle posting a prayer request in the church bulletin, all of Dry Creek, Montana, thinks Conrad Nelson wants a wife. A busy mechanic, Conrad is doing just fine on his own. But then the very woman he described as the perfect wife drives into his life. Katrina Britton is in town only temporarily to care for her young nephews—and the worry in her pretty green eyes has him keeping his distance. Until even Dry Creek's confirmed bachelor realizes they're each other's answered prayers

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spring in the Desert

This is Merrillee reporting in after a trip to Tucson, Arizona. The desert air is dry, and this Florida gal certainly noticed, as every part of my body was chapped. I was slathering on lotion and lip balm at every turn. This year has been an unusual weather year for many parts of the country. The desert has had more rain than usual, so the area although not green like Florida is greener than usual. I took a few photos of the some of the vegetation in the area. Many of the cacti were in bloom. Enjoy spring in the desert.

What unusual weather have you had this year?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Pat Davids here.
I almost missed posting today. Goodness, how time gets away from me. I'm deep in new research and I'm having a ball. I'm going to an alpaca farm tomorrow. That's a new one on me. I've only read about these cute camel-like animals. I'm hoping to gather some good pictures and stories I can use in my new book.

I've done a lot of research over the years. It gives me an excuse to travel. I've toured the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard at Fort Riley, KS. (A cavarly reinactment unit)I've spent the day with a small town sheriff. I've helped burn a pasture in the Flint Hills, and stayed at a seaside B&B in Maine all in the name of sharing my experiences with readers through my books instead of making you watch home movies. I've even visited the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson Kansas but I haven't found a way to work that into a story yet.

What are some of the things you enjoy about doing research? One thing I love is dragging my family or a friend along with me. What are some of you pet peeves? I always think of one more question when I'm on my way home.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Conference last weekend

Last weekend I went to Oklahoma Writers Federation's conference in Oklahoma City. The picture is myself and Vickie McDonough at the booksigning at the conference with friends, Myra, Lisa and Erin.

I had a great time seeing old and new friends. Some of the things I learned were to have a platform (a brand), to have an Internet presence and if possible to become a speaker. Yes, you must write a great book, but promoting yourself is becoming more and more important as publishers cut back in promoting individual authors, especially if you are just starting out.

So what are some things you've done that have been successful in promoting your books? Not successful? If you are a reader, what has caught your attention?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Roses and regrets--Lenora Worth

Hi. My miniature rose bush is blooming. It's really a running rose and the brutal winter seemed to make it want to grow and grow. It's gorgeous right now. The previous owner of our house left a huge statue in the yard of two women from ancient days, caring water jugs. I've always called this statue "Ruth and Naomi", because the women are walking and laughing. They seem to be sharing a secret that no one else can hear.

I love my Ruth and Naomi statue. The running roses love it, too. They cling to the two women and circle them in an embrace of roses. I've often stared at the the two, wondering what trials they suffered, what secrets they share. Their smiles are lovely but a bit naughty, as if to say "We'd love to tell you but we can't." I wonder if they've cried together and shared heartache and regrets at times, too. I always feel better, knowing Ruth and Naomi are surrounded by beautiful, tiny red roses. After all, what women doesn't love roses? But the important thing I know about these two is that God's love is all around them as they journey along a dusty road, and promise to always stay near each other. That brings me comfort when I have to come back inside and work while they frolic in my garden. Do you have garden stories or a favorite garden ornament that brings you joy? And do you have a favorite friend you can share both laughter and regrets with? I hope so.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Joining In Is a Good Thing by Debra Clopton

Hi Everyone Debra Clopton here posting late !!!! Wow God has been busy in my life. But even so there are moments where I can get discouraged...maybe its just me but I don't think so :) Life is just built that way. WE have ups and we have downs. THANK goodness for a wonderful church family who can lift you up, give you things to get involved in, be there for you when you need them and you be there when they need you.

I urge each of you if you don't have a church family that you find one. Don't just go on Sunday and leave, but jump in and get involved with the people--claim it for your own and you will be amazed at how it will bless you!!! But also how you can bless others. I spent yesterday with about 40 youth playing volleyball in the horse arena at our church (Cowboy Church of Leon County) and there is just no way not to feel uplifted after that!!! Yes I'm using a few exclamation marks cuz I'm excited :) If that wasn't enough to get my "happy" going then I stayed and went to the women's Bible study after that...yes I had to rinse off outside at the faucet because I was really covered in sand but the ladies still let me come. It was awesome. SO the moral here is don't let a bad moment, a bad morning, or any other thing Satan throws your way discourage you from joining in at your local church. Someone there needs you and you need them. Hey, and if any of you are in the Centerville area on Saturday May 15 stop by our church for a benefit we are having for Willie Perry one of the dear men in our cowboy band who is fighting lung cancer. Its going to be a great day of music, a roping of some sort--check out Cowboy Church of Leon County's facebook page to get all the details. There will be many silent auction baskets and some great BBQ. I'm just sayin...come have some fun--and do a good deed at the same time :)

Also, keep your eyes posted the 2nd book of my Men Of Mule Hollow series hits the shelves June 1 COWBOY FOR KEEPS I hope you grab a copy and enjoy !

Until next time, live, laugh and seek God with all your heart!

Debra Clopton :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hero Interview for The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight

Hero Interview from The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight:

1. Sloan Hawkins, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

My job is a lot more interesting than I am. But the good citizens of Redemption, particularly the gossips and the cops, always seemed to find me fascinating. That’s why I don’t live there anymore. I’m sure they’d be disappointed to discover I didn’t turn out quite as bad as they expected.

2. What do you do for fun?

My Aunt Lydia took me in when I was a kid, so when I can, I take her on trips. Anywhere she wants to go. I get a kick out of doing things for her.

I’m pretty fond of zipping around on my Harley, too, especially if it riles someone I don’t particularly like.

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

Going back to my hometown. The memories there are all bad, except for Aunt Lydia. Well, and for Annie, too, the only other person that ever gave me hope. But that ended badly like everything else so I stay clear.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

You’re joking, right? I’m a security expert. I’m not afraid of anything on a professional level, but it scares me to death to think about losing Aunt Lydia. The woman’s a saint for putting up with my bad attitude and giving me a home when I was nothing but a troubled kid bound for nowhere.

5. What do you want out of life?

I want to find my mother. She ran off with some trucker when I was eleven. Anyway, that’s what I was told. I want to know where she went and why she didn’t take me along. She still owes me a fishing trip.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

My reputation as one of the best security experts in the world. I worked hard to build that company. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I’d stayed in Redemption, if I’d married Annie and had kids. But life didn’t work out that way thanks to Annie’s dad, so I’m married to my business now.

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

I like a little intrigue to keep my mind sharp. International espionage, that sort of thing.

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

I wouldn’t be the son of Redemption’s most reviled criminal. In my case, the sins of the father were visited on the son. People couldn’t forget. When they looked at me, they saw Clayton Hawkins and expected me to be like him.

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

No pets. I travel a lot.

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

It’s a toss-up between two times. I’d like to go back to that last night with my mother. I know I could have convinced her to take me along where ever she went. But I’d also like to go back to high school and the last year with Annie. That was the happiest time I can remember. Ever.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


"Are you my dad?"
The young boy's question shocks Sloan Hawkins. Until Sloan realizes he is this child's father. Years ago, the former bad boy was run out of Redemption, Oklahoma, where, ironically, he was thought unredeemable. The only people who believed in him were his beloved aunt and Annie Markham, the girl he loved and left behind. Now Sloan is back to face his past and help keep his aunt's cherished garden thriving. But when he discovers his secret child—and that single mother Annie never stopped loving him—he's determined that a wedding will take place in the garden nurtured by faith and love.

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