Thursday, February 26, 2015

Allie Pleiter on Giving Things Up for Lent

Many people give up things in Lent.  It's a time of pairing down, of simplifying, of making room so that the wonders and victory of Easter have space to show up in our lives.

There was a time when I gave up the usual luxuries--sweets, spending, etc--but in the past years I've focused my lenten “giving up" on something a little less tangible.  For the past four years, it's been the same thing:  I've tried to give up complaining, judging, and negativity in my life in preparation for the Easter season.

I don't do it over and over because it's powerful or effective.  I repeat it because it hasn't yet worked. 

Every year I try it, and every year I fail.  I've used prayer, visualization, post-it notes, and hourly reminders on my cell phone. One year I even wrote a minus sign--the universal symbol for “negative”—with one of those “NO” circles with the diagonal slash through it on the back of my palm every day.  I figured not only would I see it all the time, but when people asked me what the odd symbol on my hand was, I'd have to explain it to them and it would be an additional reminder.

Nope.  Didn't work.  I can still gripe with the best of them, no matter my good intentions.

It's our human nature--we're quick to proclaim what's wrong and slow with valuable praise.

You would think 2010--the year where we spent Lent shepherding our son through a cancer diagnosis and the related chemotherapy--would help me remember to value what's good in life.  In that year everything pared down to the bare essentials and the fostering of hope wasn't just a personal development ideal, it was a survival skill.  We spent Easter weekend that year in such a drastic battle for his survival that it was two years before I could manage to celebrate Easter at all.  I still can't quite drag myself to a Good Friday service.

There I go again, focusing on the negative.  It makes no sense.  Easter is about life, rebirth, salvation.  We’ve got a wonderfully healthy, fully recovered boy and a happy family this year, and I should reinvigorate my positivity goals. 

I figure I'll have to keep at this until I get it right—I may be drawing on my hand for a few more years.

How about you?  Have you given up anything for the Lenten Season?  Is it the same thing as years past or something new?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Does "Local Pride" influence setting?

I'm my case, you betcha!  Jenna Mindel here, wishing you a good morning from bitter cold Northern Michigan.  This February may go down in the record books as the coldest month in years.  If not, I imagine a few days will make that list. Last week, I woke up to -24 degrees. YIKES!

I grew up in Upstate New York, so I'm used to winter.  But since moving to Northern Michigan 16 yrs ago, I've fallen in love with this area.  Winter and really, all the seasons, are treasures of outdoor activity.  There's just something about this area that I'm enamored with.  The local agriculture and general pioneer spirit are things I really admire.  There's also the motto of keeping it local that gives the area a provincial sort of feel.  Of course, so much of it is wrapped up in luring tourists to the area as well.

I have set most of my Love Inspired books in fictional Northern Michigan towns near the Great Lakes.  And the area where I live was the inspiration for my upcoming new series set in Maple Springs, MI that debuts this September.  For me, knowing the area well has helped develop my setting, but will that appeal to readers?
Hmmm, I sure hope so. 

And that leads me to ask if there are favorite locales or settings that lure you in to read the book?  If so, what are some of those favorite settings?

Have a blessed day, and stay warm!!

Jenna :) 

Check my website for updates on my Maple Springs Series at



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Story Ideas From Many Places

Welcome to the Love Inspired Authors Blog from Gail Gaymer Martin at

Most writers gather story ideas from similar places—Bible verses, newspaper and magazines articles, tried and true story themes, observing life, and many more. One way authors become creative is to hear a friend or family’s story and take part of the idea, twist it, add new elements and come up with a totally different idea but one stimulated by a real event. Sometimes real events trigger story plots—the Civil War, 9/11, Jack the Ripper, sinking of the Titanic, the depression, and a zillion other real life events. Occasionally the event is local and is not well-known, but it too can elicit an idea.

My ideas often come from locations. I visit a town, and it arouses my to imagination, thinking of the kinds of people who live there and a problem they must face. Other times, I take a true event such as a small group’s hiking mishap or a woman’s death of her two babies and the stigma that follows. These events fall into my mind and connect with other pieces of story ideas and eventually connect into a novel.

This year, my own harrowing experience has stimulated more than one story idea. When we arrived in Sedona for our three month stay to get away from Michigan’s winter, my husband fell ill to a rare blood immune system with a 90% mortality rate. Close to death, this healthy strong man fought to live and his battle was covered by prayer from thousands of friends, family, readers and fellow authors who followed his journey. From this experience which is still going on but as an outpatient, ideas have dropped into my mind and has stimulated more than one theme that can be used to create meaningful plots and novels that can touch readers and help them through their difficult times.

Today, the power of prayer and God’s love is shown by my husband’s amazing steps toward total healing. We’ve experienced visiting nurses, occupational and physical therapists. Their occupations have also fallen into my story niche that is gathering from this live-changing event. Seeing my husband Bob unable to speak due to sedation and a respirator, bed-bound by twelve IVs dripping into his system, a constricted by a catheter and dealing with ICU psychosis has impacted my emotions and my creativity.

Authors can dig through their experiences and life situations, hang on to the interesting pieces and find ways to put them together like a puzzle to form an amazing story. Sometimes the stories sit for years, but one day they will come to life and touch others who are struggling with a similar situation. They can provide hope and sometimes help dissolve the feeling of being alone. Our novels can change lives.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love Inspired books on Scribd

Camy here! I’m super excited about all the Harlequin ebooks now available on Scribd!

For those of you who don’t know, is a website and smart phone app where you can pay for a subscription and read tons of books, just like Kindle Unlimited, except there are different books available on Scribd as opposed to KU.

I just got a subscription this past November (subscriptions were on sale during Black Friday) and a month or two ago I found out that a ton of older Harlequin books were now available to subscription holders.

Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to search for Love Inspired books. I could find them if I searched for titles or if I searched for authors. For example, if you search for Camy Tang, you can find my author page that lists all my books on Scribd. My newer Love Inspired books, Narrow Escape and Treacherous Intent, are not yet available on Scribd but I’m hoping they’ll become available to subscription holders when the books are a little older.

As another example, Margaret Daley has a whopping 57 books available for Scribd subscribers to read (and a few books listed but not available to subscribers, only available to buy). Cheryl Wyatt has 8 books available for Scribd subscribers, which includes all 7 of her Wings of Refuge series.

It’s mostly older books that are available on Scribd for subscribers, but that’s great because all of them are out of print and some of them are hard to get copies of. If I want to read an old mini-series, such as the Fitzgerald Bay or Texas Ranger Justice series, I can find all the books on Scribd and read them one after another!

Are any of you subscribed to Scribd? How do you like it? So far, I’ve read a lot. I mostly read on my phone or tablet using the Scribd app, which makes it really handy if I’ve got a few spare minutes waiting in line or something.

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her romantic suspense, Treacherous Intent, released December 2014, and her romantic suspense novella, Necessary Proof, is available for free. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Sign up for her newsletter to hear about new releases or sales on her backlist.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Valentine's cards gone wrong... Roxanne Rustand

Here we are, a few days after Valentine's Day, and I am still smiling.  Have you ever received a card or gift that was...well, perhaps not quite what you expected?  A couple years ago, our oldest son grabbed a last minute card for his wife on his long commute home from work.  She was perhaps a little surprised to open his romantic missive:  it was a Spongebob Square Pants card--and the verse said "Happy Valentine's Day--from your SON."

She's a wonderful gal and just chuckled about it.  Then this year, a Twin Cities radio station decided to have a contest to find listeners with the least romantic Valentine's experiences. She called in, they loved her tale and asked her to repeat it on the air, and she and her husband became finalists! 

So just before Valentine's Day, the fifteen finalists met for the big finale at the Mall of America. The guys  were blindfolded, spun around three times, and aimed for fifty sheetcakes  spread out on the floor in which a single, tiny red plastic heart was hidden.  It was an absolute melee--cake and frosting flying--and our son found it!  And with that, they won a more romantic celebration than his wife might have ever imagined when she opened the Spongebob Squarepants card a couple years earlier:  A Valentine's Day dinner at a nice restaurant, a dozen roses...and a seven-day trip to Cancun.

Silver linings, unexpected endings to a funny story about a card grabbed too quickly from a rack....and this happy grandma isn't only celebrating their exciting adventure, but looking forward to going north to take care of the grandkiddies when they go!

I'm also celebrating because I recently signed a new contract to write more books for Love Inspired, a line I love.  It's great to be among the wonderful writers here on the Love Inspired blog...and to be writing for the wonderful readers who read our books!

Before I sign off I'd love to ask if any of you have ever received (or given) an unusual, unexpected or just plain funny gift?  



Roxanne is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty-five traditionally published novels for Harlequin's Superromance, Heartwarming, Everlasting, Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense.  She also has self published three novels, a novella, and also part of a multi-author anthology on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Take a Poll and Win a Love Inspired Novel!

Update:  Joan Arning, you won! Please email me,, with your street address, and I'll send you your book! Congratulations . . . and thanks, everyone who participated.

Lee Tobin McClain here, and I’m giving away a free copy of my upcoming Love Inspired release, Engaged to the Single Mom. But there’s a catch:  you have to take a poll first. I’ll choose a winner on, of course, Valentine’s Day.
Or just grab your copy here!

You see, I’m planning to propose a second series to the good editors at Love Inspired, and I want your input.  So look through the options below and then post your answers in the comments section, like you're writing the story yourself. For example:  Colorado, old ski resort, runaway bride.  

Reader Poll, Love Inspired Series

Would you rather read a Love Inspired novel set in:
a)   Colorado mountain town
b)   Rural Pennsylvania
c)   Hills of West Virginia
d)   Beachfront community in Florida

Would you rather see a series based on:
a)             an old ski resort that’s been made over into a rehab facility for young wounded warriors
b)            A tourist town with lots of cute shops and restaurants, focusing mainly on the people who live and work there full time
c)             A “Main Street” type, tight-knit small town
d)            A bunch of foster siblings, now grown up but intensely loyal and protective of one another

Which is your favorite type of romance story line?
a)             girl/boy next door
b)            single dad falls in love with the nanny
c)             runaway bride . . . or anything to do with brides and weddings!
d)            baby on the doorstep

Remember to post your answers in the comment section before February 14th to enter the drawing.

If you like stories about rugged, honorable men with challenging pasts, check out my Sacred Bond series of romance novels.  You can download book one for free. And by signing up for my newsletter, you can get a Sacred Bond Short for free as well! 

Connect with Lee: 
Blog:  Flawed. Christian. Woman.

Free with newsletter signup!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Appeal of Romantic Suspense by Marta Perry

What is it about romantic suspense that fascinates those of us who love these kinds of stories? Is it the suspense, or the romance, or the pleasantly shivery feeling of knowing the characters in danger will receive their happy-ever-after? I don't know--I just know that I can never resist a book cover that includes any of the hallmarks of the genre--the lonely house with a single light shining, the hero sheltering the heroine from harm, or the woman fleeing a terror we can't see.

There are some classic story types we all know and love in romantic suspense: the heroine hiding from a danger in her past, the nameless threat that turns everyday life upside down, the death that looks like accident but might be murder, the danger the heroine perceives but everyone else ignores, the heroine thrust into a new environment by circumstances beyond her control or actively seeking out the new environment on a mission to learn the truth...the list goes on and on. One of my favorite kinds of stories involves the protagonist who is a "fish out of water" in a new place which turns un-accountably dangerous, and that's the theme I explore in my latest romantic suspense from HQN Books, WHERE SECRETS SLEEP. The first in a new three-book series, it will be available on March 1st from the Harlequin website, other web bookstores, and your local bookstore. Here's a bit of description to whet your appetite:

After a romantic and professional betrayal, interior designer Allison Standish flees Philadelphia to the small town of Laurel Ridge in the Amish countryside, where she must claim an unexpected inheritance from the estranged grandmother she never knew. She intends to settle the estate quickly and start a new life in another city, but all is not so simple as that. She discovers she is partners in a quilt shop run by an Amish woman, Sarah Bitler, and the landlord for several other businesses, including the cabinetry shop run by antagonistic, attractive Nick Whiting, who challenges everything she thinks she wants.

Strange stipulations soon bring distant relatives and seething townspeople to Allison's door. As anonymous threats escalate, Nick grows protective of Allison. But her grandmother's death may not have been natural, and it begins to seem someone in town wants Allison gone. Permanently.

Publishers Weekly says, "Abundant details turn this Amish romantic thriller series launch into a work of art. Perry's an excellent beginning to what promises to be a series of rewarding, satisfying novels." Starred Review!

What's your favorite type of romantic suspense? Are you seeing enough of it? Or are you, like me, always waiting for new stories from your favorite authors?

Marta Perry writes Amish fiction for Berkley Books, Amish romantic suspense for HQN Books, and inspirational romance and romantic suspense for Love Inspired.