Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Creating Margins in Your Life

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

When I started writing, one of the rules I’d heard was to be sure there is plenty of white space on the page. As a newbie writer, I wondered what that meant. Then I learned it referred to having a good balance of dialogue and introspection to ensure the reader isn't overwhelmed by all the words on the page. Dialogue on a page creates white space. It breaks up line after line of complete sentences.

Another rule in writing is proper manuscript formatting. Writers were advised to create 1" margins on all sides of their manuscripts. Manuscripts with 1" margins appear clean and uniform, offering space for comments...before Track Changes, of course.

Creating white space and margins in our lives allows us to clean out the clutter and extra busyness that bogs us down. Filling every moment of our waking hours causes extra stress as we struggle with juggling more and more activities and events.

For nineteen years, I owned and operated an in-home business that demanded a lot of my time, including trainings in the evenings and on Saturdays. Additionally, I took care of my family, taught Sunday school, attended school functions for my boys, and if life wasn’t crazy enough, I went back to school. I had to develop better time management skills as I struggled with my daily juggling act. Once I started writing on deadline, something had to change. I needed to be mindful of creating margins in my life.

Instead of constantly adding to my life, I needed to reevaluate my priorities and eliminate unnecessary busyness that was crowding my margins. We’re all in different seasons of our lives, and those seasons will dictate what kinds of margins are maintained. Additionally, I needed to make sure I was making intentional time with the people most important to me.

Creating white space hasn't been easy as I've had to make some difficult decisions, but my life feels calmer and less stressed. And I have more time to enjoy the people and activities I love.  

What are you doing to create margins in your life?

Monday, October 30, 2017

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Faith, Hope and Love, Mary Lizzie Macomber, 1861-1916. [PD-US]

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" 
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Matthew 22:34-40

Friday, October 27, 2017

First Call Friday- Mary Alford

Hello, Mary Alford here. I don’t know about you, but I so love hearing about how my favorite Love Inspired authors sold their first books.
Today, I’m here to share my first call story with you. It’s a story that began many years ago when I was still just a child.
I was about eight years old when I read my first Nancy Drew mystery and knew that I wanted to create stories just like that when I grew up.
Fast forward six more years, I discovered Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and became hooked on the romantic suspense genre.

And so, ready to write my first book, I sat down at my brother’s old typewriter, (yes, I’m dating myself), and began to put the story that was in my head down on paper. At that time, I had no idea that I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Sadly that first story was never finished. Life took precedence over my writing career for a very long time. Yet, throughout all those years, I still continued to write whenever I had the chance, keeping my dream of becoming a published author alive when it seemed nothing more than an impossible desire.
In the beginning, I had no idea all the intricate steps involved in creating a suspense story, but I wrote, I read about my craft, and I found a great network of seasoned authors who willingly shared their knowledge.

For a while, I tried writing other genres, before I came back to my first love, inspirational romantic suspense. A very wise author once told me, write what you enjoy reading and then perfect it. In other words, if you don’t read contemporary romance, then don’t try to write about it.

For me, years of struggling to keep the dream alive would come down to five minutes in the spotlight.

 In 2012, I entered the Speed Dating Contest that editor Emily Rodmell was hosting. I remember reading about the contest on the Harlequin website and going back and forth on whether or not to enter. You see, I’d entered contests before without much luck. In the end, I did enter and was one of the lucky ones who got an appointment to chat with Emily.

On the day of the pitch, I was on vacation in Colorado. At our cabin, internet service is nonexistent. It would have been so easy to say, oh well, better luck next time, but I think God was nudging me not to give up.

And so, my husband and I drove into the small town of Pagosa Springs where I did the entire chat on my laptop in the parking lot outside of the Ace Hardware Store. My fingers were actually shaking so much I was convinced that I’d typed nothing but gibberish.
Emily was kind enough to request a synopsis. I promptly sent the synopsis out to her. Then she requested the first three chapters, followed by the full manuscript. With each request, I tried not to get my hopes up. As I said, I’d been here before.

Yet in December 2012, Emily called to tell me I’d sold my first book to Love Inspired Suspense. To this day, I can’t tell you what she said to me other than that she wanted to buy FORGOTTEN PAST for Love Inspired Suspense. It was a surreal moment. One that still hasn’t fully sunken in. I write for Love Inspired Suspense! It's a great feeling to have your dream become a reality and even greater to hold your own book in your hands.

Since that first call, I’ve sold five more books to Love Inspired Suspense. 

So I would tell anyone who has a dream that seems impossible at the moment, don’t give up. Because with God, all things are possible.'

All the best…
Mary Alford

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Love Inspired Ladies at Bouchercon 2017

Katy Lee / Sandra Orchard

This past month I was Canada bound for the World Mystery Tour known as Bouchercon. This was my first conference where the main focus wasn't on the romance of writing, but rather on the body-count. There were all kinds of talks on forensics, private investigators and amateur sleuths from all backgrounds.

But first, I would love to know if you have a favorite mystery series and/or mystery character you love to read. How dark and dangerous are you willing to go? And do you like a little humor in your mysteries to break up the tension?

I ask these questions because the five-day conference covered a wide range of mysteries. From the terrifying horror genre to the sweet cozy, from the twisted psychological thriller to the amusing comedy. I had no idea the gamut of sub-genres existed in the mystery world. I'd decided to make the trip to garner a better grasp of the mystery genre, but instead came away with more questions on where I fit in.

And more importantly, where a Katy Lee books fit in.

As an inspirational romantic suspense writer, my name carries with it an expectation to fulfill a certain kind of book. When I wrote Blindsided my editor warned me not to go too dark. It's a story on human trafficking. How can that not be dark? I had thought. To express the weight of the issue, I thought it had to show an accurate representation of this very dark world. But looking over the many sub-genres at the conference, I began to see why my editor curtailed my pen. Each book I looked at held a promise for a certain emotion. Some books made me smile. Some I dropped as though they burned me. But then, there were the ones that called to me with messages of hope and of purpose--even with a bit of blood spatter on the cover.

That's when I knew my editor had only been considering my readers when she had warned me to keep the story light. She knew a Katy Lee book held a promise to readers of a higher purpose story, and I would never want to surprise my readers into dropping my book as though it burned them.

So, knowing this I was able to concentrate my focus at the conference on the workshops that would highlight my style--while still giving me ideas on ways to bring in the danger--and maybe a few dead bodies. After all, my characters do have to fight and overcome the evil deeds the villain has in store for them, and not everyone will make it out alive.

But I promise, I will keep it light!

So, tell me, do you have a favorite mystery series and/or mystery character you love to read? And what emotion do they promise you?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Crazy Releases and No Sleep!

Whew! Thanks to Pamela Tracy for emailing me to remind me I'm supposed to blog today. I lost my calendar, and I am still struggling to figure out all the things I forgot. :(

The fall has been a blur for me, with so much going on, and I've had a lot of trouble sleeping. Fortunately, my nutritionist found me some things to help me sleep, but I'm still catching up. Is anyone else in that season? I'm excited for the next week or so to be over, because then things will be winding down and I can catch up on sleep. And... my favorite day of the year! Fall Back Day! You turn your clocks back an hour, and you get an extra hour of sleep. Of course, they steal it back from you in the spring, but I will take my hour now, thank you very much!

This fall, I have a crazy new release schedule. I thought I'd share them with you all (and now you know why I'm so crazy!), so take a look and tell me what appeals to you.


Widower Luke Jeffries needs a mother for his three young children, whether or not they agree. When he meets Nellie McClain at the mail-order-bride agency, Luke thinks his problems are solved, but they’ve only just begun. Though the beautiful widow awakens his grieving heart, Luke won’t betray his cherished wife’s memory.

A marriage of convenience is exactly what Nellie wants, since she’s been wounded by love before and doesn’t plan to risk her heart again. But despite her chilly reception at Luke’s family’s simple Colorado cabin, her feelings for Luke and the children grow deeper every day. Can Nellie and Luke heal the pain in each other and finally make their family whole again?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gHn1dw

Memories + Mistletoe = Love

Featured in Cowboys Under the Mistletoe (Look at the familiar Love Inspired authors!)

Mallory McPherson’s act of desperation in accepting a long-lost relative’s Christmas invitation brings up difficult memories she doesn’t expect. Cowboy Nolan Masters knows what it’s like to come from a painful past. Can the lessons he’s learned bring healing- and maybe a happily-ever-after- to Mallory?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2yNjfEb


 Love's Crazy Dream

Part of the First Street Church Kindle World

Rachel McCarthy is trying to build a new life after her ex-husband is sent to prison for embezzlement. Easier said than done, when everyone thinks she’s guilty, too. Kyle Andrews is on a mission from his grandfather to find their foundation’s missing money. Undercover as a school janitor, he learns there is more to Rachel than the accusations. Working together to help kids in need get school lunch, will their crazy dreams come true- or will their secrets ruin everything?

Coming November 15th No preorder info yet, sorry!


 The Sound of Romance

Book 2 in the Legacy of the Heart series

To salvage her lavender farm, a young entrepreneur must team up with her high school nemesis.

Coming early December! Preorder info to come!

My Secret Project!!

Super excited about this one. What can I tell you? It's with a group of 11 other authors, and we've had a lot of fun putting it together. We're having a party to announce it on November 9th, so come join us and learn my secret!


So I think I might have a good reason to be exhausted, right? Five books in three months!

How do you juggle all your balls when you have too many going at once? Share your tips and I'll choose a winner to get a copy of Mistletoe Mommy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Slipping Through the Back Door - Twice

I thought it would be fun to share how I stumbled through the back door of Love Inspired. Many moons ago, after over two hundred rejections, when Heartsong Presents still existed, I submitted a book to both LI and HP. Because let’s face it, if I hadn’t double submitted books, it might have taken me nineteen years to get published instead of nine and a half.

After LI rejected the book and HP didn’t respond, I went to the American Christian Fiction Conference where I had an appointment with the HP editor. She hadn’t read the proposal I’d sent her yet. After I pitched the book, intrigued with my contemporary romance set in Romance, Arkansas, she asked for the full.

Thankfully, at that conference I took a class that finally taught me how to edit my work. I revised the book and sent it to her. Seven months later, I signed a contract for a three book series set in Romance, which is a real town where couples go to mail their wedding invitations and get married.

There wasn’t a cowboy in sight in my first series. But years before, I’d been inspired to write a rodeo book set in Texas. Since my dad used to announce at our small town rodeo and I married a Texan, the story was right up my alley. I ended up signing a contract for another three book series set in the Fort Worth Stockyards with a rodeo theme. LI had rejected this series also.

Shortly after I turned in book two of my rodeo series, Barbour decided to end the Heartsong line. I wailed and flailed in the floor, certain my career was over, then went to ACFW with my heart in the pointy toes of my high heel shoes. At the conference, one of the Barbour editors told me that another publisher was in the process of buying HP and asked how soon I could have book three finished. I blubbered all over her and my critique partner, then came home and wrote the book.

Just before it was time to turn it in, I learned that Harlequin had bought the line. I’d stumbled through
the back door. Once I completed my contract, my agent asked if I had anything similar. Since I had three dangling characters at the end of the series, I asked if I could continue it. I got a new contract with HP and the rodeo series morphed into nine books plus another three book series. But history repeated itself. Just after I turned in rodeo book eight, with four books left in my contract, Harlequin decided to end the HP line.

This time, I didn’t wail or flail or blubber. I knew God had it handled. I wrote a longer length book that had been bugging to get out for a long time and thoroughly enjoyed writing what I wanted to, just for fun.

Soon, I learned from my editor that LI wanted to continue my contract. Because I write cowboys and LI readers can’t get enough of them. So HP and cowboys helped me slip through the door at LI and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Monday, October 23, 2017

An Early Christmas Idea

Louise M. Gouge here with you today. When we authors create our characters, we try
 to make them likable and relatable. So, since most of us have more than one thing we’re interested in, I like to give my heroes and heroines extra pastimes readers might relate to or appreciate, such as hobbies or talents beyond their job or career.
In my October release, Cowboy Lawman's Christmas Reunion, my hero is a no-nonsense small town sheriff who can cause outlaws to quake in their boots. But he also has a talent for carving. Having enjoyed a Grand Tour of Europe as a young man, he took particular notice of the German displays of toy Christmas villages. In my story, he sets out to delight the hearts of his hometown’s children by carving a similar village for them.

It’s quite an ambitious project, and all the while he’s working on it, he has an ongoing conflict with the beautiful widow lady who was once his fiancée. So, of course, I had to give her a talent for painting the delicate houses, church, trees, and people he has carved. The village must be finished by the annual Christmas pageant and party at the church, so this puts them together quite a bit, even though neither of them wants to be. Will they finish the project in time? And will they discover being together is not such a bad thing? I hope you’ll read  Cowboy Lawman's Christmas Reunion to find out.

In trying to find pictures of very old toy villages, I ran into the usual problem of copyrights, but I did find this lovely little village that offered free use. Isn’t it a delight? The lights that brighten it would not have been available in 1887 when Sheriff Justice Gareau carved his small town, but I know the children and adults were just as delighted in their time. Perhaps if they were careful, they could use candles, as they did on Christmas trees back then.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Decorative_Christmas_village_3.JPGJulian Colton: I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

Here are links to other lovely villages: http://alfa-img.com/show/lemax-christmas-village.html and http://vitalsignsblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/perfect-place-for-christmas-village.html. If you click on the links, be sure to check out the details of these beautiful creations.

Finally, my daughter-in-law has this lovely carved church she sets out each Christmas. Notice the details inside. This was an inspiration to me as I wrote about my carving sheriff.

At our house, we love Christmas and all of the trappings. We have about fifteen Nativity scenes we display, but I’ll save those picture for another time. Do you have any special decorations you put up for Christmas?

Tell me about your Christmas decorations in the comment section below, leave your email address, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a copy of Cowboy Lawman's Christmas Reunion. Sorry, U.S. residents only.

Cowboy Lawman's Christmas Reunion is my fifteenth novel to be published by Love Inspired Historicals. Here’s the story:
Sheriff Justice Gareau can make outlaws quake in their boots…yet coming face-to-face with Evangeline Benoit once again takes away all his composure. She broke their engagement, and his heart, to marry a wealthy older man. Despite his reluctance, Justice can't avoid the widowed single mother of two when they're collaborating on a Christmas village for the town's children.  

The loving boy Evangeline once knew has become an unyielding lawman. Forced to flee New Orleans over false allegations, Evie doubts Justice will take her side when the past follows her to Colorado. Especially when he and her troublesome son butt heads. But perhaps the spirit of Christmas will soften his heart and give them a second chance at love.
Copyright © 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises. ® and  Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction romances. She received the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in 2005 and was a finalist in 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2017; and placed in the Laurel Wreath in 2012. When she isn't writing, she and David, her husband of fifty-plus years, enjoy visiting historical sites and museums. Please visit her Web site at https://Louisemgougeauthor.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMGougeAuthor/, Twitter: @Louisemgouge

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Caesar's Coin (1790), by Domingos Sequeira. [PD-US]

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. 
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" 
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 
Show me the coin that pays the census tax." 
Then they handed him the Roman coin. 
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" 
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
Matthew 22:15-21

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Perfect Writing Jeans

Heather Woodhaven, here, wondering if you enjoy shopping for clothes.

If so, please share the secret because I have always disliked the hunt for a new outfit. As such, I have a minimalist wardrobe. Not on purpose.

 I have to gear myself up to go, which is what I did a few years ago on a cold January day.  I’d been particularly melancholy that day, so since I was already in a bad mood I thought I should get the shopping done as I really needed a decent pair of jeans.

While I browsed my local Maurices, I wondered what was next for my writing.

I’d always wanted to write novels but after umpteen rejections, I’d found marginal success in writing non-fiction articles for websites and magazines. A few months prior, author Lisa Phillips dared me to enter a Love Inspired Suspense idea to the Happily Editor After contest. 

So I did. 

And received yet another rejection. 

Going back to my non-fiction felt painful. It wasn’t until my friend, Becky Avella, also received a rejection from the same contest that my eyes were opened.  The feedback from the editors to both of us made me realize that these editors really did want to publish us, but we weren’t giving them what they needed. Yet.

So I’d studied the twitter feeds of the editors for the line. I read the books and took notes. I essentially wrote a synopsis for the books I'd read  to see what they had in common and then…I completely rewrote my own manuscript, submitted, and waited. 

There’d still been no news. So, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to work on next. Would it be a waste of my time to keep writing fiction until I heard back?

Two employees—one in training—eagerly helped me pick out some jeans to try and showed me to the nice dressing rooms. My phone buzzed. The caller ID simply said New York. Normally I ignore numbers I don’t recognize, but New York? I couldn’t stop myself from answering. “I have some good news,” the editor said.

 I started jumping up and down in my socks while the editor spoke about what to expect. I tried to sound nonchalant and cool, but I said “thank you” at least a half a dozen times. After I hung up, I let out a whoop and opened the dressing room to find the two employees eager to see the perfect pair of jeans they assumed I’d found.

I don’t know if they’re the perfect pair, but I did buy them. They're my "writing" jeans. In fact, I’m wearing them now, almost four years later and trying to ignore the holes developing. 

Sigh. It’s probably time to go shopping again. But first, I think I’ll finish writing another book.

Available for Preorder here.
Someone wants accountant Rebecca Linn—the granddaughter of a federal judge—dead, and it’s Deputy US Marshal Kurt Brock’s duty to figure out why and protect her. But her powerful family insists Kurt keep his relationship with Rebecca strictly professional…no matter how much he’s drawn to the feisty, fast-thinking beauty. Rebecca is sure the suspicious evidence she uncovered in her latest auditing case has put a target on her back. But staying ahead of those out to silence her is bringing her dangerously close to Kurt—and putting both their careers on the line. With the attacker closing in, can Rebecca and Kurt survive long enough to reveal the would-be killer’s secrets?

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