Friday, June 30, 2017

The Man of Her Dreams. Literally.

As a young, widowed, single mom, Arlene James didn't think she would remarry. She was occupied with other things, mostly her baby boy and her anger at God. After the death of her soldier husband, she could not force herself to walk through the door of a church. She couldn't even pray, and she didn't want to talk about it, not even with her beloved grandmother.
Her baby turned into a toddler. Suddenly one evening in October as she put him to bed, she realized that they had it pretty good. Her son was happy and healthy. They had a fine home in Duncan, Oklahoma, and steady income, supportive friends and family. So why wasn't she happy? Eventually she knew that she would never be happy as long as she remained angry with God. At long last she hit her knees and felt an enormous weight lift.
A few nights later, she had a vivid dream. In the dream, a huge hickory tree in the backyard fell on the swing set that her son so enjoyed. Somehow she saw it fall from inside the house and ran to the backdoor in a panic, only to realize that she could hear her son speaking with someone. In the illogical way of dreams, she ran to the window and looked out, seeing her son walking away hand-in-hand with a tall, slender man with long, dark, curly hair, glasses and a beard. Horrified, she darted from window to window in the house, watching this stranger walk away with her son. Finally, they turned to wave and smile at her, and somehow she knew it was okay. Relief overwhelmed her, and that was that, until...
She walked into the kitchen one morning the next week and saw through the window that the tree had fallen on the swing set! Even though she knew her son still slept soundly, she felt the same panic as in her dream and immediately called her grandmother to tell her all about it. Again, that seemed to be that, until...
Not long afterward, she went to visit her friend, Clora. She was sitting at the kitchen table, listening to the kids play, when Clora's cousin walked in. The instant she saw him, Arlene gasped, knocked over her coffee, and burst into tears. He was, literally, the man in her dream. Everyone thought she was upset because she'd spilled her coffee. Panicked, she left as soon as she gracefully could.
The stranger, however, got her phone number from his cousin. At first she refused to talk to him, but he showed up with Clora weekend after weekend, despite living 200 miles away, and gradually Arlene began to speak with him. Jim had finished his bachelor's degree after 8 years in the Navy and was working on his master's while holding down a full-time job in Tulsa.
The night of her son's 3rd birthday, December 26, Jim showed up at her house. Like a bad door-to-door salesman, he stuck his foot in the door and said, "Now, you know we're supposed to be getting married." Again, she burst into tears. Chuckling, he put his arms around her. They talked for hours, and she agreed to marry him.
Everyone who knew them was appalled. They hadn't even dated! So they dated. On their first date, they took her son to see Cinderella at the movie theater. The boy was calling him Daddy by the end of the evening.

They married on April 16, Good Friday, at Arlene's home church in Comanche, Oklahoma. 42 years ago. Arlene will always believe that God gave her this dear man in a dream.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How Do I Come Up with My Stories by Margaret Daley

How Do I Come Up with My Stories
By Margaret Daley

One of the questions I’ve been asked by readers is how I come up with a new story. Honestly, there are times I really don’t know how. Something just pops into my mind—a seed of an idea. I’ll think about the concept. Sometimes, it will grow quickly. Other times, slowly. The last one was for my book Deadly Fires, which recently was released.

In this story, I wanted to tie it to another book of mine—The Knight and the Damsel, part of Rodeo Knights series. So somehow it needed to have ties to the Knight Detective Agency and have something to do with the rodeo. My books in the Strong Women Series are romantic suspense so I need to have a suspense/mystery plotline. Because I wanted to tie it also to the Knight Detective Agency, one of the main characters needed to work for the agency. Once I decided the hero was going to be connected with the detective agency, then that meant the heroine would be running a rodeo entertainment company.

I then sketched out a characterization for each of the main characters. As I dig deeper into the story, that sketch will become more detailed (background information). I start writing with a sense of what the opening chapter or two will be like. I have a framework for my story, but I don’t know all the details. I know what the ending will be, but usually I don’t know who the villain is until I’ve written a good portion of the story. I set up several people with the thought they may be the villain. This last book, I thought I knew who would do it but changed it at the halfway mark when another character shouted he was the saboteur.

The only conclusion I’ve come up with is my muse is God. There are times I’m stumped with no solution to a problem. Then out of the blue an idea pops into my mind. Even I am baffled by my creative process. I wish I had a simple answer to how my story ideas come to me. I’m just thankful they do.

Warning: 3 Sexy Rodeo Cowboys will steal your heart! Get RODEO KNIGHTS Boxed Set FREE at Instafreebie

June 20th the books below that are loosely tied to the Knight Detective Agency will release. The buy links to Deadly Fires are: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hi, everybody! Louise M. Gouge here. I’ve been published by Love Inspired Historical line since 2009. As of this October, I will have fifteen books under this imprint, and I couldn’t be prouder of that association. Because LIH is closing as of June 2018, I’m hoping to make the transition to LI. At present, I’m working on a proposal for a contemporary rancher/cowboy series set in my mythical town of Esperanza, Colorado, where six of my LIH books are set. 

On Monday of this week, we pointed to other books by our Love Inspired authors, so today I’d like to tell you about one of mine. Hannah Rose was published in 2005 by David C. Cook (formerly Cook Communications) and was the recipient of the IRCA first place award in historical fiction, plus other awards. Out of print now, it is still available as an ebook for any device. It’s available here at a special promotional price of $1.50. Although this is the second book in my Ahab’s Legacy series, it is also a stand-alone story.

Louisburg Square
So what’s this story about? Hannah Oldweiler married an attractive, wealthy older man who turned out to be far different from what she’d thought. His pride and foolishness led to his death. Now Hannah must forge a way in the world for herself and her son. She moves to Boston’s Louisburg Square, hoping for a quiet life. Although she has no plans to remarry, she meets two attractive men who might change her mind: kind and warm Captain Lazarus and dashing Captain Longwood. But before she can consider remarrying, Hannah has another encounter that shakes the very foundation of all she believes: slavery. Before she can go on with her life, Hannah must face her own convictions. Will she choose a life of ease and luxury? Or will she choose to join the abolitionists and risk her safety and the future of her beloved son? (I took this photo of a Louisburg Square townhouse when I was on my research trip for Hannah Rose.)

Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a print copy of Hannah Rose. Or you can choose a print copy of my current LIH release, Cowboy Homecoming. For your comment, please tell me what settings you prefer and why. Historical? Contemporary? European settings? American West? We authors want to know!

Disclaimer: I need at least ten people to comment before my drawing, so tell your friends to drop by. Also, due to exorbitant mailing costs, the winner must be a U. S. resident. Sorry!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

National Sunglasses Day by Merrillee Whren

This is a crazy photo of my hubby and me while we were sitting in an ancient privy at the ruins of Ephesus on one of our European trips. We were good tourists because we were wearing our sunglasses. Today in the United States it is National Sunglasses Day. This isn't just another frivolous holiday. The Vision Council is promoting National Sunglasses Day to bring attention to the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes against ultraviolet light, which can do damage to your eyes.

Many of us are quick to put on sunscreen to protect our skin against UV rays, but are we as quick to protect our eyes?  If you spend a whole day outside without sunglasses you can have immediate or temporary problems such as swollen or red eyes, and hypersensitivity to light. Years of unprotected eyes can result in cancer of the eye or eyelid. UV exposure can also accelerate the growth of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

For the health of your eyes, put on your sunglasses. Since we can't post photos in the comment section here. Please go to our Facebook page and post a photo of yourself in your sunglasses. I will give away a copy of one of my Love Inspired books to anyone who posts a photo. The giveaway ends on June 28, 2017 at 9PM MST.

Do you make a habit of wearing sunglasses when you are outside?

Today through the end of June, the first book in my Front Porch Promises series, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, is on sale for 99 cents. Be sure to get a copy. You can find buy links on my website.

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.

Monday, June 26, 2017

More books to read!

 Hi Terri Reed here, today were highlighting the other projects page of our blog. Many of our others are very prolific and write books for other publishers or are Indy published. You can check out their latest releases by clicking 'other projects' tab at the top of the page or you can click this link, it'll take you right to the page.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Summer Prayer

 Christ the Savior, Pantocrator,  c. 6th century icon from 
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.

A Summer Prayer

Lord, on this the first Sunday of summer, we lift up to you
all those who visit this blog. Shower our online community with abundant blessings and let all who visit this site know how much we appreciate their encouragement and support.

In the days ahead, help us to recognize your presence in the warmth of your sunshine, in the soft caresses of your gentle breezes, in the majesty of your beaches and lakeshores, and indeed, in all the breathtaking beauty of the world you have created for our pleasure.

Fill our hearts to overflowing with love for you, Lord.
Direct our steps that we may give you honor and glory through our work and recreation, through our interactions, through our outreach and ministries. You are the source and summit of our lives, and we give you praise, 

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

Matthew 10:32

Friday, June 23, 2017

How I Met My College Sweetheart Husband by Belle Calhoune

Let’s go all the way back to the late nineteen-eighties.  Neon was popular along with spandex shorts, big hair and black rubber bracelets.  I was a college co-ed at Syracuse University, a very large college in upstate New York.  I was an English major with a minor in French. 

The first time I laid eyes on my husband was when I saw him on a local television commercial featuring Syracuse cheerleaders.  A cheerleader you may ask?  Yes, indeed.  My husband was a tall and athletic guy.  And an avid sports watcher.  His goal was to attend all the basketball and football games for free.  If he had to throw a few girls in the air and catch them to do it, it was fine.  He was in!

As I watched the commercial I turned to my friend, Alice, and we both agreed that he was very handsome.  But in a college as huge as Syracuse, what were the chances of my meeting him?  

The next time I saw my husband was during a night out with my friends at a college bar called Bugsy’s.  My friends and I used to love to dance to the latest hits and socialize.  At the end of the night I saw him—my crush from the commercial.  Cue the romantic music.   It suddenly came to a screeching halt.  Sadly, he wasn’t alone.  He was walking with a co-ed who my friend Jay informed me was my crush’s girlfriend.  She was even wearing his Syracuse letter jacket.  At this point I realized he was taken.  But that night I did find out his name was Randy.  He even had a great name.  As I watched him walk off into the evening with his girlfriend, I remember feeling a tad deflated.  Clearly, it wasn't meant to be.

Weeks passed by and I happened to see Randy again on the college bus that I took every day to bring me back to my campus housing.  By this time I knew he no longer had a girlfriend.  He was sitting with a group of guy friends and seemed totally engrossed in a sports conversation.  Nope, he didn’t even look away from his conversation with his guy friends.  Foiled again!

I attended a dance weeks later where at the end of the evening I sat down on a bench to put my boots on.  Did I mention that Syracuse is one of the snowiest places in the United States?  A few moments later a guy sat down next to me and began complaining about the loud music.  He was also putting on his brown Timberland boots.  One glance over and guess who it was? Randy.  We had a brief conversation which ended abruptly as the organizers began flashing the lights on and off indicting that the dance was over.  Was it my imagination or was I inching closer to officially meeting him?

This is probably sounding rather sad.  But I promise you, it wasn’t.  The truth is, I was living a good life.  But for some reason, every time I saw Randy I felt something spark inside of me.  It was almost as if a part of me knew that he was going to be someone very important to me. 

My life went on—I dated, had fun with my friends, attended concerts, went to church, spent time with my family.  Life was glorious.  I was happy.  My best friend Lisa and I had gone to high school together and then attended Syracuse together.  We were roommates and joined at the hip.  It was Lisa’s birthday and we went out to Bugsy’s with a group of friends to celebrate.  It was a fun evening with music, friends and joyful celebration.  Things came to a crescendo when I saw Randy walking in my direction.  I think I might have heard harps playing. 

We locked eyes (seriously!) and I said hello and kept walking.  A few beats later I felt a gentle tapping on my shoulder.  It was Randy!  He was asking me my name and then leading me to the dance floor where we danced to Prince.  We talked up a storm that night and he wrote my phone number down in his notebook.  I thought it was pretty funny that he had his backpack with him, but as a serious Engineering student he spent a lot of time in the library.  From that night on, we were a couple.  We would talk for hours on the phone, meet for lunch, go dancing and we even signed up for a history class together.

Five years later, we walked down the aisle.  Lisa was a bridesmaid.  We’ve been together for almost thirty years, married for twenty-four.  Randy went on to become an engineer for the FAA, then a patent attorney after three years in law school.  I was a Federal Investigator for thirteen years and I was the breadwinner during Randy’s law school years.  Things haven’t always been easy.  The law school years were tough as I was working full time and Randy was doing the law school thing.  We had our first child during that time.  Ultimately, we moved as a family to Connecticut when my youngest daughter was two days old.  It was finally time to reach out for my dream of becoming a published author.

No matter what challenges have been thrown our way, we’ve stayed together.  Still in love.  Still dedicated to one another.  We still understand that sacrifice is a part of marriage.  I like to think Randy and I were meant to be.  After all, I write romance novels for a living.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

He was determined not to have a girlfriend. But a wife on the other hand…

Maggie K. Black here! It’s my very first blog post and I’m remembering a fierce battle of wills I witnessed twenty years ago.

I’d never seen a young man teased so badly! Or handle it so calmly. I was twenty-one and I’d gone to a comedy club with a large group of fellow students. For some reason, the terrible stand up comedian decided to pick on the rather dashing and clean cut young man named Michael at the far end of our table.

Poor Michael. No matter how hard he tried not to get lured into a fight, the comedian goaded him, relentlessly, about the fact he went to church, was involved in politics and wanted to become a teacher. Time and again, the room would hold its breath waiting to see what jab would make Michael lose his temper. But instead he held his cool. And even though some of his views were very different from mine, I respected the way he handled himself with strength and respect. It even captured my heart.

At least, until the comedian asked him the fateful question, “Michael, do you have a girlfriend?”

“No Sir,” Michael replied. “And I’m not looking for one.”

My heart sank. Mutual friends introduced us after the show and we started talking. 

“I don’t want a girlfriend,” he said to me, earnestly, his green eyes wide. “I really mean it.”

But that was okay. We could be friends. We went to a movie a few days later and then I invited him over for dinner. He was fascinating, funny and kind, with the wonderful ability to discuss interesting topics while respecting the fact we didn’t always agree. I seem to remember our biggest fight was over the fact I wanted dogs and he didn’t.

Three months later, to my total shock, he proposed.

“I still don’t want a girlfriend,” he said. “But I want you as my wife.”

I told him to wait six months and ask me again. Which he did and I said yes! 

It definitely confused some people that we got married so young and so quickly. But, after almost twenty years together, I’m so very thankful for all the adventures we’ve been able to share. 

Now, he proofreads all my Love Inspired Suspense books, and says that when my heroes and heroines spar and argue in the face of danger it reminds him of us!

He’s been the perfect, steadfast hero for me to face down each challenge and battle that life threw our way. And while we each won and lost our fair share of disagreements, I did finally get my dogs.

Do you agree that opposites attract? Do you like the kind of book where the hero and heroine who have major differences, but love brings them together?

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