Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Character By Any Other Name: Cheryl St.John

My stories don't begin to unfold until I've named my characters and named them correctly. How do I know if a name is right? I can't explain it. If their name is right, I can see the person. I can hear them talk. I can create scenes and situations for them. If a name is wrong, there is no story.

Whenever I get an idea for a character or a plot or theme, I grab my binder with my worksheets, a notebook and a couple of fun pens, a cup of tea, and make myself comfy on the sofa. I use a story grid to flesh out my characters' goals and motivations and the points of the story. But I use a stack of books and folders to find their names. I keep lists of everything, so of course I have lists of names I want to use. 

I have at least a dozen name books, a folder, a NY name index encyclopedia and a reverse name dictionary. I am not obsessive. I’m thorough.

Most important for me is that the character’s name sound like a real person—and a real person I'd want to know. It must be a name that I won't mind typing 400 times. I checked one of my books, and I’d used the hero's name 403 times. Sometimes I fall in love with a name, but it's tough to type quickly, so what I do is create an autocorrect for it in Word. For example, if the heroine's name is Elisabeth Ann, I create an auto correct so that each time I type in elsb+spacebar, it changes to the name I want.

Where do I get my lists of names? Lots of places. I'm an avid movie watcher and also check out the new season TV shows. If I sit with a notebook and a fun pen (notice how pens are required to be special?) I can call it work. So I watch every line of the credits and write down names I like. If I'm watching a movie, I'll take notes regarding what worked for me and what didn't. It's research. I save graduation programs, school band programs and baby name books. I’ve come home from many a burial with names from gravestones written on the back of my memorial folder. If you browse the library book sales and Friends of the Library sales, you can find vintage registers and books about county and state officers, townships, etc. filled with names. These type books often include maps with street names and businesses. Ship’s logs are a treasure trove of historical names.

What else is important when choosing a name? Sometimes nationality. Sometimes connotation: I probably wouldn't name a nuclear physicist Tiffany. No offense to any nuclear physicists named Tiffany, but it just wouldn't work for most of us. Tiffany is a teenager's best friend. On the other hand, you can go against stereotype, for instance naming an enormous woman Daisy or a tiny dog Rambo. It's confusing to the reader if two characters' names are similar or their names start with the same letter. Personally, I get lost if a writer does that. I catch that first letter and if they are two similar, my brain doesn't associate it quickly enough, so I constantly rethink and recheck to see who this person is and am jerked out of the story.

Here's how I prevent that confusion and others with names: For each book, I keep a 5x7 index card with all the characters' names handy. At the bottom I write the alphabet. Every time I use a letter in a first or last name I put a strike through a letter. Of course, I often use a letter two or three times, but some are for last names and others for secondary characters that won't be confused. I also create a "style sheet" for each book. This is a page or two that I turn in with the manuscript. It contains a list of all the character names and all the places, streets, businesses, proper nouns. This reference helps me in creation of the story and in turn helps the copy editor. Sure comes in mighty handy when I do a sequel!

Once or twice I've gotten hung up in the creation of my story in the planning stages or first chapters. The story person’s name had been nagging at me, because I never was quite sold on it. So I changed the name and the story took off. Once when I had revised a story proposal, taking out the hero and replacing him, I was completely stumped for a name and couldn't develop the guy. I held a contest on my blog to name him. As soon as I saw a particular name, I knew it was the right one. With his name in place, the character sprang to life.

I’m currently writing another installment to the Cowboy Creek continuity series, with fellow authors Sherri Shackelford and Karen Kirst. This one is Return to Cowboy Creek. We have a lot of fun figuring out the threads and how our characters in each book will interact. The Rancher’s Boomtown Bride is a working title right now, and it will be an April 2017 release. The main characters are Seth and Marigold. 

I don't like frivolous names or names that are difficult to pronounce. Even if I'm not reading aloud, I want to be able to know how to "think" it correctly. How about you? Is there anything you find distracting about a particular name or spelling of a name?

Do you like names plain or exotic? Did you ever think about how much work goes into naming an entire cast of characters?



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ditch Lilies and Other Thoughts on Summer

For me, Memorial Day is the unofficial launch of summer. Summertime is—as one songwriter put it—"when the living is easy," or at least, easier. And life seems full of possibilities.

Summer means long, lazy days with as little routine as possible. The kids are out of school and in my current season of motherhood, home from a year at school. There's more time to catch up on my TBR pile of books, more time for fun and more time to simply enjoy life with those I love the most. Summer is also when one of my favorite flowers burst into bloom. Nothing says summer like tiger lilies.

I'm aware that these particular tiger lilies—aka ditch lilies because they often grow roadside—are considered common and invasive by professional gardeners.
Yet ditch lilies remind me of the carefree, childhood summers. Except for October, I'm not a big fan of orange—but I can't begin to tell you how exquisite these tiger lilies look next to blue hydrangeas. Yes, they may be old-fashioned. But then again, so am I when it comes to the garden.

It's hard to find these exact species in garden catalogs—because so many "experts" turn up their noses at the lily's ditch water roots. The lilies grow wild along the ditch banks of many country roads throughout the United States.

Ditch lilies also remind me of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a place dear to my heart. I visited the Shore for the first time at the age of twenty-one. The summer I lived there getting to know the wonderful people and unique culture of the Shore was transformational. 

For me, it was an incredible place of fun, nature's beauty and firsts. It was here this city girl first went fishing; first went clamming in a mucky tidal marsh; first learned to eat crab—a labor-intensive endeavor; and fell in love with life attuned to the rhythmic cycle of the moon and tide.

Even after all these years—I’m not going to tell you how many—I revisit this splendid and unique Tidewater destination as often as I can with my family. In the Eastern Shore sanctuary of life, there is truly peace, tranquility and safe harbor.

After writing six romantic suspense books, a contemporary Hawaiian romance and four historical novellas, my Shore friends asked me why I didn't write a book about them. So I did—Coast Guard Courtship, which evolved into a series of seaside romances with Love Inspired, set in a fictional fishing village on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. My fifth ESVA romance, The Bachelor's Unexpected Family releases in August. 

I always find it bittersweet to return home after a visit to the Eastern Shore. But one summer day a few years ago, a beloved Shore friend/father figure dug up a patch of wild ditch lilies so I could take something of the Shore's essence home with me.

And now every summer when they bloom, I can imagine that once again I'm there on the Shore with cherished friends and the hint of the sea on the breeze. 

Here's to beautiful flowers—like the wonderful people who grace our lives. Wishing you dragonfly days and firefly evenings. Have a wonderful summer and happy reading.

What's your favorite thing about summer?

Monday, May 29, 2017

God Bless You This Memorial Day

Today we remember all those who died while serving in our country's armed forces. Enjoy these thoughts from our contributing authors. And please, share your thoughts, memories and experiences with us in the comments! God bless you all this Memorial Day! ~ Jill Kemerer, today's moderator

Photo courtesy of Unsplash. No attribution required, but thank you to Jp Valery for sharing your talents.

A ‘thank you’ never seems enough to say. Your sacrifices bless me today, and will continue to bless me and many others forever. ~ Katy Lee 

Today, I’m remembering with heartfelt gratitude our
military heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice so this great
country of ours could remain "the land of the free and the home
of the brave." 
Wishing abundant blessings to our entire blog community on this
special day of commemoration and sending a huge shout out to all
those in uniform. Thank you for your service to our country. God
bless you and God bless the USA! ~ Debby Giusti
Memorial Day is a time we take to honor and remember the people who have died in service of our country. I want to thank every one who has but especially my brother, father and father-in-law. You all are special to me. Without our veterans, we would not have the freedom we have in the United States. Thank you. ~ Margaret Daley

I am ever grateful to those who gave their lives for our freedom. May we never forget their sacrifice. ~ Louise M. Gouge 

Thank you, Louise M. Gouge, for sharing this photo of W. D. Jacobs, U. S. Navy, c. 1919. (All rights belong to Louise M. Gouge.)

God bless our country and all who serve. Freedom is paid for with the price of blood and I hope we never forget the sacrifice our armed service and their families have paid so that we can live free. ~ Leigh Bale
Many blessings to our military, both past and present, especially those who lost their lives so that we could be free. And a special shout out to the wives, mothers, siblings and other support, without whom our military couldn't be what it is. ~ Deb Kastner

To everyone who has served in the military. There's no way we can ever repay you for all that you've done. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ~ Mary Alford

I send my deepest thanks to those who have served our country in peace time and war time. I thank their families and the sacrifice they have made to keep our country safe and secure. May God bless them. ~ Merrillee Whren

Thank you, Merrillee Whren, for sharing this beautiful photo of your parents. They were married while her father served in the army during WWII. (Photo courtesy of Merrillee Whren.)

As we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us, let us not forget that we are immensely blessed to live in a country where fellow citizens are willing to put their lives on the line to maintain our safety and freedom. Be they military, law enforcement, firemen or emergency personnel, may their sacrifices never be forgotten. ~ Arlene James
On this day we remember those honorable men and women who have sacrificed so much to serve our country. You and your families have my deepest respect today and always. ~ Laura Scott

May we honor those who’ve sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our country. May the Lord bless those serving now and in the future. ~ Terri Reed

Thank you, to all the men, women, and their families who have made sacrifices to serve our great country. May the blessings of the Lord overtake you. Blessings. ~ Christina Rich


Do you have a Memorial Day greeting or story to share? We'd love to hear it!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day Prayer

On this Memorial Day weekend, may we join our prayers with all those around the country as we remember our fallen men and women in uniform. We are a grateful nation. 
Lord, protect those currently serving in the Armed Forces. Keep our country safe from aggression and from acts of terrorism. Continue to bless the United States of America and allow us to remain "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
God bless our military and God bless the USA.

- - - - - - - 
Memorial Day is our Nation's solemn reminder that freedom is never free.  It is a moment of collective reflection on the noble sacrifices of those who gave the last measure of devotion in service of our ideals and in the defense of our Nation.  On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights.  
This year, we commemorate the centennial anniversary of America's entry into World War I.  More than 4.7 million Americans served during The Great War, representing more than 25 percent of the American male population between the ages of 18 and 31 at the time.  We remember the more than 100,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives during "The War to End All Wars," and who left behind countless family members and loved ones.  We pause again to pray for the souls of those heroes who, one century ago, never returned home after helping to restore peace in Europe.
On Memorial Day we honor the final resting places of the more than one million men and women who sacrificed their lives for our Nation, by decorating their graves with the stars and stripes, as generations have done since 1868.  We also proudly fly America's beautiful flag at our homes, businesses, and in our community parades to honor their memory.  In doing so, we pledge our Nation's allegiance to the great cause of freedom for which they fought and ultimately died.
In honor and recognition of all of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.  The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer.  I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance.
I further ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.  
I also request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control.  I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Checking Out A Future Husband

What is the most interesting thing you've ever checked out at the public library? 

Rhonda Gibson here and I confess I checked out my husband at the library. He was a senior in high school and I was a sophomore. I spent every afternoon, at our local public library waiting for my mom to get off work. The library was across the street from our high school so it was an easy walk for me. But, not so much for my darling future husband. He'd had a knee operation earlier and because of the cast on his leg wasn't allowed to drive. Lucky me, he decided to start spending his afternoons at the library too while he waited for his mother to get off work. See? We already had something in common, waiting for mothers.

I noticed him the first day he walked in. But, I wasn't visible to him. I'd sit with my friend and admire him across the room. To me he was soooo cute! His light blue eyes were the prettiest I'd ever seen, but they didn't look in my direction. Sigh.

One day, my friend dared me to say hello to him. Even back then, I didn't have a shy bone in my body. He was holding a very large, 1980's, calculator in his hand. In my rush to "meet" him, I asked him if I could play with "his thing" meaning his calculator. It was a match made in embarrassment for both of us.

He overlooked my awkwardness with words and we started dating that summer after school. Two years later, we married on May 27th, 1983.

James Gibson was my hero back then and he's still my hero today.

What's the most interesting thing you've checked out at the library?

Until next time, Rhonda

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Our Military Heroes!

By Debby Giusti

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend dovetails perfectly with the recent trip my husband and I took to Northern Virginia to visit our son and his family. Joseph recently retired from the military and completed his Masters of Science Degree in cyber security. The graduation was held May 13. The University of Maryland campus is beautiful, and the whole day was so special.
Congrats, Joe, on your 4.0!
Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day, and Monday, my husband--also retired military--and I drove to Arlington National Cemetery where my parents are buried. Their gravesite overlooks the Pentagon where my father worked when I was a child.

On each trip to the cemetery, we always stop at the Tomb of the Unknowns for the changing of the guard, which occurs on the half-hour. The remains of service members from World War I and II, as well as the Korean War and Vietnam are buried at the site. The inscription on the central, white marble sarcophagus reads, Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

Arlington Cemetery was established in 1864 on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s estate and covers 624 acres with approximately 400,000 gravesites. Visiting the cemetery is always poignant and a powerful reminder of the valiant men of women who have sacrificed so much for our country so we can remain “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

God bless our military heroes and God bless the USA!

Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti


Miriam Miller barely escapes the ruthless attacker that killed her mother and kidnapped her sister. Running deeper into the woods, she’s running out of hope…until she falls into the arms of an unlikely bodyguard—a peaceful Amish farmer. Something about Abram Zook inspires her trust, but even in bucolic Willkommen, Georgia, Miriam faces danger. Both from the men pursuing her and from her growing feelings for the caring—though guarded— widower who protects her. Because if she falls for Abram she’ll have to embrace his Amish faith as her own—or lose him. With each minute, her abductor creeps closer, pushing Miriam to an inevitable choice: stay and risk her heart…or leave and risk her life.

Order HERE
 Proceeds from the signing benefit
Pregnancy Aid Clinic

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mom Loves to Read - by Angel Moore

I fell in love with romance in the fourth grade. Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s happiness captured my young heart. I still remember the green library book with thick pages and the sweet teacher who assigned the book report.

But my mother was the biggest influence over my love of reading. Every morning before she left the house, she’d sit on the side of the bed and read her Bible. She graciously gave me that Bible several years ago. I can’t look at it without thinking of her love of Jesus and His Word.

Mom also loved to read romance. Clean books with sweet heroines falling in love with rich men who rescued them from mundane lives and gave them an amazing happily-ever-after life.

I’d read Nancy Drew and Scholastic books while Mom read her romances. I loved it when I got old enough to read her books. From the time I was about twelve, I carried a novel to school with me every day. I’d finish my class work and then read. I loved to dive into a story about a Greek millionaire or a nurse on holiday in Holland who’d fall in love with a rich doctor. If the doctor held a fancy title and owned a mansion, all the better.

This love of reading still lasts. Mom brings a bag of books to me on every visit. Now that she’s retired, reading time is readily available. And she loves it.

Reading is a gift Mom shared with me. It makes us closer. I hope you’re sharing your love of inspirational fiction with your children and grandchildren. We all need a good story to help us escape sometimes – or a book that teaches us to dream.

The thing I love about writing inspirational fiction is that I can share my love of Jesus as I write stories of faith and hope.

Want to share your love of reading? Share the posts from this blog – and Facebook pages and posts from your favorite Love Inspired authors – on your social media.

Thanks for reading our blog today. Leave a comment below. All the Love Inspired authors love to hear from our readers.

Stop by my Facebook page for a giveaway at I’ll be giving away two copies of my latest Love Inspired Historical release, The Rightful Heir, over the weekend.

God bless you,
Angel Moore
Stories of Faith and Hope

Find all my latest news, plus links to my books and social media, at

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

From Blurb to Book to Besties

Hi, it’s Donna Gartshore here with Laurel Blount. We’re a couple of Love Inspired Newbies and thrilled to be here!  Today we’re going to talk a bit about our experiences with getting contracts and forming a lasting friendship through the From Blurb to Book Pitch.

I remember that after we had both made it to round three and had submitted our full manuscripts, we started chatting on Facebook, along with other contest participants, as a way to deal with the nerves of waiting to hear from the editors. In fact, I was online with Laurel the day she got THE CALL! Now, here’s an inside scoop – she hung up on her sister to take that call! But I’ll let Laurel chime in here and tell her side of the story …

Hi! Laurel here, and listen, ya’ll. When you’re in the final round of a writing contest for Love Inspired, and a New York editor’s number shows up on your caller I.D., your sister just has to understand! Seriously, all my family members were thrilled for me, which made my special moment even more special.

But you know who really understood the scope of what had happened? The online writing buddies I’d met during the contest—like Donna! When I typed in my news with shaking fingers, Donna instantly began celebrating with me. I think I heard her squealing all the way from Canada! Her congratulations were even more meaningful because she really “got it.” I’m delighted to say that I was celebrating her book sale to Love Inspired shortly afterwards. We discovered that selling our books wasn’t the “happily ever after” ending but instead was the start of a new, exciting…and bewildering…chapter—one we’re thankful to travel together!

Oh, there goes Laurel with the `y’alls’, but what can you expect from a good Southern girl? I’ll just have to toss out a few Canadian `ehs’ to even things out!

 Laurel said she celebrated my sale with me a short time after. But my journey had an extra step.  I didn’t get a contract right away but instead received an opportunity to revise and resubmit. While I was relieved that it wasn’t a rejection, I felt overwhelmed by the requested changes and worried I wouldn’t pull it off. I was so grateful to have writing friends who encouraged me, and pushed me, and believed that I could do it even when I wasn’t sure myself. The day I got THE CALL, I told my daughter first, and Laurel second.

As Laurel says, we’ve discovered that this is only the beginning of the journey. We are so glad to have each other to talk to – not just about writing, but about our college-aged daughters and work challenges too. It’s great to have LI friends that share our love of writing and our love of God. I can’t wait to make friends in person at the RWA Conference in July. Which reminds me, Laurel, tell them who’s going to be your roommate, eh?! (couldn’t resist!)

 I’m so excited! I finally get to meet Donna in real life! I’m amazed at how close we’ve become via a computer connection, especially given how different we are. We don’t share a country, a climate, or even a writing style—Donna is primarily a pantser, while I am a plotter! Donna started out writing short stories, which might explain why she perpetually worries about meeting her word count, while I’m usually cutting words!

However, Donna and I are here to tell you that crossing the gaps of geography and personal styles has been well worth it! Writing can feel so competitive that sometimes it’s hard to truly connect with other authors, to make yourself transparent and vulnerable. But when you make those connections, you tap into wonderful resources that will help you weather both the successes of this journey (like being a finalist in the HOLT and the New England Reader’s Choice awards, yay!) and its challenges (like the dreaded sophomore slump…when IS that next book coming out? Boo!).

I couldn’t agree with Laurel more. We want to encourage anyone who has a dream to write for Love Inspired to learn from all the tips available and not give up. Speaking of stories – Don’t miss Laurel’s debut book A Family for the Farmer, a wonderful story full of heart, humour and hope.

And definitely watch for Donna’s fabulous, heart-catching romance Instant Family, which will be released December 2017. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Another Side to the Ladies of Love Inspired Romance

You may not know, but many of the  Ladies of Love Inspired Romance write books other than Love Inspired Romances. So we're taking the last Monday of each month to tell you about those projects starting here, now, with the release tomorrow (May 23) of my novella "A Match Made in Williamstown" in The Matchmakers anthology.

The Matchmakers started as a response to a publisher's call for novellas for a series of anthologies it was planning to release. I wanted to give it a shot and posted on a couple of Christian author online loops/groups for co-authors to join me. That connected me with Lisa Belcastro (who I knew slightly) and Terri Weldon. We clicked, and we went to work. But because of other commitments, we weren't able to meet the publisher's submission deadline. So we prayed on it and forged ahead on the project as an indie release. We had such a good time working together that we're planning to do a Valentine's Day anthology. Ellie Alexander is in love. And the only thing sweeter would be if Libby, Natalie, and Stephanie, her three unmarried, unattached granddaughters, could find the same happiness. Maybe with a little help from her and her beau Blake Parker . . .

A Match Made in Williamstown by Lady of Love Inspired Romance Jean C. Gordon — Libby Schuyler has avoided dating since her break-up with college-sweetheart Jack Parker. Out of nowhere, Jack shows up claiming Ellie is swindling his grandfather, Blake, through a travel agency partnership they’ve formed. Libby and Jack team up to protect their grandparents and get to the bottom of Ellie and Blake’s business and romantic relationship. While Libby and Jack fight their reignited attraction, Ellie and Blake conspire to bring the two together.

A Match Made in Sheffield by Terri Weldon— Natalie Benton bounced from one foster home to another until she landed on Ellie Alexander’s doorstep. Natalie’s vagabond childhood caused her to yearn for a secure life, which led to Natalie’s five-year plan: complete her law degree, marry the perfect man, become a partner at Montgomery, Haynes, and Preston, and produce one child. Getting arrested wasn’t in Natalie’s plan. Needing a public defender wasn’t in her plan. Falling for Grady Hunter, her public defender, definitely wasn’t in her plan. Can Grady convince Natalie there is more to life than her five-year plan? Is Ellie the only one who sees a future for Natalie and Grady?

A Match Made in Freedom by Lisa Belcastro — Stephanie Gould loves life on Martha’s Vineyard . . . until she runs into Kay and Tim, her former business partner and her ex-fiancé, who just returned from their honeymoon. Surprised by the heartache she thought was gone, Stephanie heads to the Berkshires to visit family and friends. Arriving in Stockbridge, Stephanie meets Captain Henry Lewis. Little does Stephanie know, her grandmother has already met Henry, and Ellie thinks Henry is perfect. Stephanie has no interest in dating, Henry included. If only Henry didn’t turn up everywhere Stephanie goes. When he walks up beside her at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stephanie can’t deny her attraction, but she’ll do her best to fight it.

Amazon Kindle (release date May 23) and Print (available now)
Nook, iBooks & Kobo (release date May 23)
Barnes & Noble Print (available now)

And you can keep up with all of my future releases by following me on my Amazon Author Page, BookBub, or signing up for my Readers Group Newsletter.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Blessings

PSALM 42:2-3; 43:3-4

As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.

Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!

The Love Inspired Authors are praying for you 
and your families.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in
His care.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Falling for the Hometown Hero

Jolene here. Checking in from the Texas Hill Country. We were asked about our own love story.

God gave me a clue how my future would unfold the first night I saw the man that would be my husband. It was August as I drove my sister and a couple of friends over the hill country from Leakey Texas to Junction to watch a high school football game. (there would end up being countless of Friday night lights in the years to come).  One of my friends was dating the  Leakey quarterback.
After the game, we all met at Dairy Queen. (How small town is that?) I thought the older brother was cute.  We asked if David, my friend's boyfriend, could ride back with us. Fred said no. You see, he’s a rule follower, and he had signed that his brother would be riding home with him.
So we followed. We would pass him then fall back. I guess it was some sort of flirting. BUT Fred just thought I was a bit crazy…I liked driving fast back then.
So a few months later at another football game, Homecoming.   I love fall. The bonfires, cool air, and football are in full swing.

In the small towns of Texas, homecoming is a big deal. (when I say small town we are talking population of around 400). My parents came back (my father had been the quarterback 20 years before),  my grandparents were there, and the population doubles.
 After the game, it’s time to cruise main. Somehow I got separated from my friends and ended up around the truck bed with a bunch of guys. One was trying to flirt, I think. Not very good at it and I started feeling uncomfortable. That’s when Fred showed up. Like a Knight on a white steed.
He was great, and we talked about so many things. I found out that  not only did he have the three younger brothers, but he had seven older siblings. He was a senior at Anglo State and was studying kinesiology and English.  We talked about our horses – he grew up on a ranch. I think I fell in love right then. 
About two years later in a pure act of love,  Fred, this small town ranch boy got a job in Houston just so we could be together as I finished art school.
It's amazing to look back and see how one night paved the path I wasn’t even looking for.  A little over thirty years later, four kids and many miles across Texas, we still love talking about life.

When I develop my heroes, I think they all have a small piece of Fred. You can see if this is true in the new anthology that was just released. Sweet Summer Nights.  You might recognize some of the other authors - it's six sweet stories for .99  cents   Sweet Summer Nights

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heroines that are Stronger than they know.

Hello, Jolene Navarro here and I have a question.

Do you have a certain type of heroine you like? I have always loved the stories of the old west, stories of the women in my family.

Strong, independent and leaders. Women of faith that rode horses, took care of the land along with raising children and caring for a home.

The part of history we don’t see as much is the woman that mastered the tools of the cowboy trade such as ropes, spurs, knives, rifles and branding irons.  They rode beside the men of Texas. Some even before Texas was Texas.

Life was not easy as they carved out a home from the rock of the Texas land. They didn’t back down and they didn’t give up.

I was just reading about Bess Colemn.
She had a dream but as a daughter of a Cherokee father and an African American mother no one expected her to achieve them. Coleman defied all odds when she became the first black woman aviator (as well as the first Native American woman aviator).  It didn’t come easy. It was during World War 1 and she couldn’t find any one willing to teach a woman or an African American to fly. Undeterred, Coleman took a language course in French, and then sailed to France where she earned her pilot’s license at the age of 29. Unfortunately it would be just five short years later she was killed in a plane crash. She was a passenger when the plane malfunctioned in mid-flight.

But she changed the way people thought of women as she traveled across the country as a “barn stormer” or exhibition pilot. She didn’t follow the script someone else gave her.

Women in my family loaded up and headed to the unknown land of Texas in the mid-1820s. They ran ranches and farms, faced booms and years of devastation.

They loved their families and the possibilities in this wild untamed land. The heroine of my upcoming historical (My first with LIH and my last) LONE STAR BRIDE was influenced by stories of the women that helped build Texas.

She wanted to help her father – growing up she was allowed to work with the cattle and excelled at the cowboy skills. After the death of her mother and brother she thinks it is a perfect time for her to step up and become a partner in the ranch.

But her father has other plans for her, to prove to her father she is more than capable, she dresses up as a boy and help drive the cattle to New Orleans.

To call her feisty and stubborn might be an understatement. She was inspired by the history I read of my own family. I loved writing her and as we get word that the LIH is being discontinued I think about the determination I put into her to success and live out God’s plan even as other events and people try to stop her.

She perseveres and stays true to herself and God’s plan for her, a plan only she can fulfill.  It didn’t go the way she planned, but it rarely does. Our characters come from us, from our experiences or from the people that inspire us. We create from deep inside us. The characters I develop never seem to know how strong they truly are until they are forced to change and find their essence.

Finding your essence is never an easy path. When I look back, I see that some of the scariest moments of my life ended up taking me in a new direction I would have never even know – a direction that was greater than anything I could have planned.

Have you had a time that didn’t go as planned but looking back you wouldn’t change a thing? Reminds me of the Garth Brooks song: The Dance. 

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