Monday, June 30, 2014

New Beginnings with Sherri Shackelford

Sherri Shackelford here today! I'm working on a new book this month, and it's such a delight. Some people dread the start of a new project, for me, the beginning is my favorite part. There's always something in a story that an author falls in love with initially.

The process of writing a book can be long and arduous. Losing track of that spark can easily happen when an author is immersed in the middle of the book.

The same is true while brainstorming. These days an author needs a backlist of books in order to build an audience. When writing two or three books a year, it's often good to brainstorm with other authors.

Here I am at a retreat with Cheryl St.John and author Ann Stephens. I'm always amazed at the incredible creative process that happens when authors get together!

This was the luggage THREE of us brought! I know, but a lot of those bags are filled with notebooks and writing books. Cheryl St.John put together a folder of popular writing worksheets for us as well. 

*lizzie Starr, Cheryl St.John, Ann Stephens

One of the things Cheryl taught me earlier on in my career was that an author should always cling to the idea that made them excited about writing the book in the first place. Which is why it's so important to find excellent brainstorming partners who respect the process.

Sometimes I think people assume that a story is all in an author's head, fully formed, and we simply sit down and write out the narrative. (I'm sure that's even true for some authors!) But for those of us with more enthusiasm than talent, plotting a book can be an exacting process.

I do a little of both. Books follow a three act structure with the second act separated into two parts. There are natural points of escalating conflict. I make notes on those points which gives me something to aim for while I'm writing each day.

It's a combination of writing by the seat of your pants, 'pantsing' and plotting. Sometimes I fill in the chapter cards ahead of time, sometimes after. That way I can see if my conflict is escalating, if I'm challenging my characters' emotional growth and maintaining the story structure. I can also check my POV scenes because they are summarized in different colors for the Heroine/Hero.

When I started out, this process was completely overwhelming - now I find the idea of structure comforting. Some authors have a better natural rhythm and abhor this kind of organization. Not me! Now that I've gained some knowledge as a writer, I'm much more comfortable and less overwhelmed by the process.

Check out the book I'm using: Cheryl St.John's, Writing with Emotion, Tension and Conflict. Working with the author who actually 'Wrote the Book on Writing', it doesn't get much better than that. Cheryl even used an excerpt from my book, The Marshal's Ready-Made Family, as an example.

I'm also excited to announce that The Cattleman Meets His Match is coming in August!


Cowboy John Elder needs a replacement crew of cattle hands to drive his longhorns to Kansas—he just never figured they'd be wearing petticoats. Traveling with Moira O'Mara and the orphan girls in her care is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Yet despite Moira's declaration of independence, the feisty beauty evokes John's every masculine instinct to protect, defend…marry? 

Moira is grateful for John's help when he rescues her—and she can't deny that his calm, in-control manner proves comforting. But she is determined not to let anything get in the way of her plans to search for her long-lost brother at journey's end. However, can John show her a new future—one perfect for them to share?

Susan Mobley of Romantic Times Magazine gives The Cattleman Meets His Match 4 1/2 stars, saying: The characters are delightful and play well off one another.

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance. A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. You can email her at, visit her website at, or if you're feeling nostalgic, send a letter to: PO Box 116, Elkhorn, NE 688022.

Sherri is currently working on three more books for her Prairie Courtship series. Her current books include Winning the Widow’s Heart and The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family. The Cattleman Meets His Match releases in August of 2014.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lone Star Heiress Interview

How exciting to have Ivy Feagan, heroine from Lone Star Heiress, a June 2014 release from Love Inspired Historical Romance, written by Winnie Griggs.

1.  Ivy, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
Well, I can’t say as there is much about me to interest other folk.  Except recently.  I’ve just learned I might have an inheritance waiting for me over in Turnabout.  It’s all real mysterious - I don’t even know what this inheritance is, but I sure intend to head there and find out.

2.  What do you do for fun?
I love to garden.  There’s just something about planting things and watching them grow that’s so satisfying, don’t you think? And I’m good at it, if I do say so myself.  Nana Dovie says I have the greenest thumb she ever did see.

3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I don’t believe in putting things off, especially those things that you dread.  As Nana Dovie always says, the sooner started the sooner you can put to rest.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?
Ending up alone

5.  What do you want out of life?
To be accepted for who I am.  But the gossips and rumor mongers in my hometown have made that nigh on impossible.

6.  What is the most important thing to you?
The question is ‘who’ not ‘what’ and that would be Nana Dovie.  She took me in and raised me when I was orphaned as an infant.  And more importantly, she has always loved me as her own.  I’d do anything for her.

7.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d like to have known my parents.

8.  Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Actually I have two critters that are special to me - my dog Rufus and my mule Jubal.  I’m taking both of them with me on this trip to Turnabout.  Not only will they be good company, but they’ll provide a measure of protection since I’ll be making this trip using a backwoods shortcut on my own.

9. Can you tell us a little interesting tidbit about the time period you live in?
Well I don’t know much about what goes on outside our little town of Nettles Gap.  But I do know that back at the first of the year Utah officially became the 45th state in this fine country.  And I heard tell of a big earthquake that happened over St. Louis way last month.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Rescuer Turned Husband? 
Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower's heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn't dare try again. 
When Turnabout's gossips target Mitch and Ivy's friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn't want to marry for honor, and she doesn't need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love's sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer? 
Texas Grooms: In search of their brides…

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Sisterhood with Linda Goodnight

Family Status: married with grown children, two adopted still at home, and grandchildren
What Is Your Favorite Beverage:  Water! 
What Is Your Favorite Food:  Fried okra
What Is Your Favorite Thing to do During Free Time:  Read
Who Has Been the Most Influential Person in Your Life:  Jesus
First Book You Fell in Love With:   Something by Victoria Holt, probably Morning in Manfreya 
A Book You Wish You’d Written:  Artistically,  On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah. Monetarily, I wish I’d written a lot of other books!
First Book Published:  For Her Child
Most Recent Book:  The Lawman’s Honor
Out Next:  Cowboy Under the Mistletoe in November, 2014
How Many Have You Written:  45 or 50, not sure and too lazy to count
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You’d Known Then: I wish I’d known the ebook revolution was coming so I could have been better prepared.
What is Your Favorite Bible Story:  Joseph in the Old Testament who suffered so much but rose up to save the very ones who’d betrayed him.
What is Your Favorite Bible Verse:  The very profound and simple message of Jesus in a nutshell -  John 3:16. For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
What is Your Favorite Hymn:  I have so many, depending on the circumstance, but Amazing Grace and Beulah Land stand out this morning.
What is an Ongoing Prayer Request You Have:    My late son's wife and kids, Missy, Lexi, and Kade as they adjust to this new season in their lives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Terri Reed here.  Recently a friend gifted me with a little pink leather bound copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  This daily devotional has been so encouraging and uplifting.  Though nothing can compare to reading the Bible, the daily devotions have spoken into my life as if Jesus were talking directly to me in simple, understandable and related ways.  I like that at the end of each devotion the author provides scripture to support the devotions premises.  The past few days have been about trusting Him through my circumstances.  A repeated theme in my life.  I know, I KNOW, to trust Jesus regardless of what I'm facing. I know He is working in my life for my good.  But why in the middle of a hardship do I doubt and flounder as if He isn't here? Am I the only one?

The theme of trusting God despite the troubles we face is 
a reoccurring theme throughout most of my novels. 
 In Undercover Marriage both Serena and Josh have trouble trusting each other and trusting God. 

 You can still pick up a copy of book six of the Witness Protection continuity series at a store near you or at   

Monday, June 23, 2014

Landline: Keep it or Get Rid of it????

It's summer, which means I, Pamela Tracy, am home during the day.  That is when I'm not carting my son to dive team, rollerskating with friends, public swim, or one of the million of things to occupy a mom during summer. Have I mentioned I have contracts for five books.  Yup, lots of writing.

Today, son is rollerskating and I'm home doing my to-do list.  And, writing.

So far, the home phone has run twice
1)  My credit card company - computer voice - no problem with account but they have an important message for me about refinancing.  Easy to hang up on robot voice.
2)  Autoglass company - real person - who I told "No, my windshields are fine."  After I said that, I added, "Just like I told you last week when you called."

Yesterday, I fielded five calls.  Two were computer voices; three were dead air.

I've started to rethink being nice.  See, I've worked on phones.  In college, I worked for MiCor, loved the job.  It was a perfect summer job.  I answered when someone called the 800 number.  "Quality Inns, what city and state can I help you with?"

My birth mother worked customer service for a phone company.  She often bemoaned how rude people could be.  "How hard is it to be nice?"

So, here's the truth.  I rethought being nice, and now I'm annoyed.

Now that I'm home days, and I'm answering my home line, I'm realizing that the landline is not for friends and family, it's for sales people.  And, my nice has segued to annoyed and is escalating to irritated.

An irritated author really does black moment well.  But, hey, I write romance.  Instead of sales calls, I need a Brad Pitt or Bobby Sherman kind of call.

One of the cable choices - not saying which one -  put me on their call list.  They called almost every day.  I'm not kidding.  I said no nicely a hundred times; I hung up a thousand times; I asked nicely that they stop calling at least ten times.  Once, my family went out of town for four days.  When I came home, my landline had nine messages from them (not really, but call waiting identified how many times they'd called.)

The next time they called, I asked for a manager and told him about the - nicely said no, hanging up, stop calling me - scenario.  Then, I mentioned the nine missed calls, over a four day period, I had on my phone.  I also said the words "Harassment and Lawyer."

I'm finally on the do-not call list for them.

My next goal is to get on the do not call list for auto-glass, solar panels, refinancing, home security systems, and insurance.

I've still got a nine year old at home.  I want to keep the landline because of him.

Am I the only one who no longer gets excited when the phone rings?

Pamela's book, Holiday Homecoming is a November 2014 release from Harlequin Heartwarming (no phones were harmed during the writing of this book)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Unexpected Reunion Interview

How exciting to have Ruthie Chandler, the heroine from Unexpected Reunion, first in the Southern Blessings series and a June 2014 release from Love Inspired Romance, written by Carolyn Greene.

1.  Ruthie, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
My mother died unexpectedly when I was sixteen.  Shortly afterward, my stepfather and stepsister were packing up to move back to New Jersey from our home in Virginia, and he turned to me and said, "Where are you going to live?"  Needless to say, I was distraught, because I had no other family to turn to.
It was at church the next day that an elderly couple, Bill and Naoko Bristow noticed me crying during silent prayer.  They were very kind and asked what was the matter.  When they found out I had no place to live, they immediately took me in and arranged for guardianship.  They call me their "honorary granddaughter," and I love them as if they were my own family.
Better yet, I met and fell in love with their grandson, Gray Bristow, and we were engaged to be married.  All was perfect until that fateful day when something had happened in Afghanistan to shatter his faith in God.  Soon after, I received a "Dear Jane" letter from him, calling off our engagement.

But thank God for his family, because that's eventually what helped bring us back together again.

2.  What do you do for fun?
Professionally, I love to shop for old and quirky items to sell in my antiques-and-collectibles shop called Gleanings.  And on a personal level, I love to hang out with my friends, Savannah, Paisley, and Nikki.  (Psst!  I hear Carolyn is working on Savannah's story now.)

3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Well, there was this incident that happened at my house one night, and for a moment I thought for sure Gray had gotten stabbed.  Turned out he rescued this darling brown mutt that got injured (hence, the blood), so I took her in and named her Cali, short for Calamity Jane.  Savannah taught her a cute trick that she'd do before eating.  Who wouldn't fall in love with a dog like that?  Anyway, Gray warned me not to get too attached to her, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit I didn't exactly want to give her back to her owner.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?
Of being all alone.  That may be one reason I have such a strong faith in God.  He's the one constant I can always count on.

5.  What is the most important thing to you?
In a word, family.  My blood relatives are all gone, but I've found family with my friends from college who share a house with me, and of course with the Bristows.

6.  Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
As with the antiques I buy and sell, I'm eclectic when it comes to my reading choices.  But I do have a special fondness for romance novels and mysteries.

7.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wouldn't mind having feminine curves, like Savannah.  But she tells me she likes my streamlined look.

8.  Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Well, there was Cali the brown mutt for a short time.  It was fun having a shop pet during that time, so I'm thinking about going to the animal shelter to find another companion.

9. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I'd love to go back to the time of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible and see if their relationship was anything like my relationship with Gray's grandmother, Naoko.  And of course, I'd want to meet Boaz who shares the qualities of kindness and protectiveness with Gray.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


A Soldier's Return 
For four years, Ruthie Chandler avoided the man who broke their engagement—and her heart. But when her antiques shop mistakenly sells his ailing grandmother's doll, she comes face-to-face with the man she never forgot. Teaming up with Gray Bristow on this important mission won't be easy, but Ruthie suspects it's exactly what the disillusioned veteran needs. The doll is the key to Gray's family's past—and possibly his future. And it may be what finally brings the ex-soldier home to faith…and to Ruthie. 

Southern Blessings: Three friends find hope and love in Virginia

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Sisterhood with Leigh Bale

Meet Love Inspired Author Leigh Bale 
Family Status: Happily married to the love of my life since 1981
What Is Your Favorite Beverage: Diet caffeine free Pepsi over a full glass of ice, with a straw - manna from heaven!
What Is Your Favorite Food: Roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, and homemade rolls - I'm a traditionalist!
What Is Your Favorite Thing to do During Free Time: Cook a Paula Deen recipe
Who Has Been the Most Influential Person in Your Life: My parents and my husband

First Book You Fell in Love With: The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen Woodiwiss
A Book You Wish You’d Written: Edin's Embrace, by Nadine Crenshaw
First Book Published: The Healing Place, 2007
Most Recent Book: The Forest Ranger's Return, February 2014
Out Next: A Forest Ranger's Christmas, October 2014
How Many Have You Written: 25, but I've only seen 14 of them put into print so far...give me more time.  :)
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You’d Known Then: I wish I'd known about critique partners and Romance Writers of America so I could network and attend workshops to learn the craft of writing good commercial fiction.
What is Your Favorite Bible Story: Daniel in the Lion's Den.  I named my son Daniel, after his grandfather and the prophet in the Bible.  I wanted my son to have great examples of faith, standing up for what you believe in, and relying on God even at peril of persecution, to look up to all his life.
What is Your Favorite Bible Verse: Luke 9:56 - "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
What is Your Favorite Hymn: I Need Thee Every Hour
What is an Ongoing Prayer Request You Have: That God will give me the courage, faith, and strength to face whatever trial comes into my life.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Naming the 4 legged characters in my books

Hi, Winnie Griggs here.

Most of my books include an animal of some sort, usually a cat or a dog, a pet of one of the main characters.   And I always spend every bit as long finding just the right name for the animals as I do for any of my two-legged cast members.   I usually come up with an discard any number of names until I find one that just ‘feels’ right.

As a result, some of the names I have come up with have been rather mundane, some on the unique side.  Along the way I've had dogs named Kip, Jasper, Buck, Cookie, Poppy and Skipper.  Horses have carried names like Cinnamon, Homer, Cocoa, Licorice, Monarch and Scout.  I even had a pet bird in one of my stories named Sweetie Pie.  I got really creative with the cats, and they ended up with names such as Mustard, Daffy, Tully, Patience and even Othello.

In my latest book, my heroine has a dog that I had to try out about a dozen names for before I finally settled on one I was happy with.  The name I came up with was Rufus and as soon as I found his name he came to life for me.  Ivy also has a mule, the first one I’ve featured in a book, and unlike with Rufus, his name came to me immediately.  As soon as he popped on the page I knew his name was Jubal.  I even tried out a few others to see if something else would work better, but no, it had to be Jubal.

So what about you?  Do the names of the animals in the books you read play at all into how you picture them?  And if you have a pet of your own, how did you go about selecting the name for him/her?


And to celebrate the release of Lone Star Heiress this month, I’ll give a copy away to one person who leaves a comment here.

Book 4 of The Texas Grooms series

Rescuer Turned Husband? 

Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower's heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn't dare try again.

When Turnabout's gossips target Mitch and Ivy's friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn't want to marry for honor, and she doesn't need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love's sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer? 

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides… 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Birthdays by Merrillee Whren

Today we are celebrating two birthdays in our family. Sharing birthdays runs in our family. I was born on my mother's birthday. Our two daughters were born on June 18th, but they are not twins. Some folks call them Irish twins because they were born on the same day a year apart. They were also born on their great, great grandfather's birthday.

Have you ever wondered about the traditions surrounding a birthday celebration? Birthday cakes are believed to have originated in Germany during the fifteenth century, but they didn't become popular in western culture until the eighteenth century because only the wealthy could afford them in earlier times. The song "Happy Birthday to You" became popular in the early twentieth century. There are a number of theories about the use of candles on birthday cakes. You can read about it here.

Does anyone in your family share a birthday? What is your favorite way to celebrate your birthday?

After serving six years in prison for the false charge of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Kurt Jansen must overcome a world of bitterness if he wants to start a new life. But his first priority is securing a restoration job to pay a private investigator to find the real killer and a lawyer to get his kids back.
Hiring a convicted wife-killer isn't what kind-hearted Molly Finnerty bargains for as part of the prison ministry she supports. However, she begins to believe Kurt's claim of innocence and gradually finds a great deal to like about him—perhaps more to like than she should. 

Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes inspirational romance. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. Please visit her Web site at or connect with her on Facebook at

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