Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Final Episode by Leann Harris

I bet I wasn't the only one who watched Downton Abby's final Episode. I enjoyed how Julian Fellowes wrapped up the different story lines running the the series. Seeing the growth in the characters delighted me. Mary grew the most with helping Anna with her problem pregnancy and how she set up the meeting with Edith and Berdie, trying to undo the break she caused. If that hadn't happened, I would've pitched a fit. That's one of the main reasons I started writing, to put the right ending to a story. For me Downton Abby ended on a high note. I would've loved for the the series to go into WWII, but then that would've required new actors to play the children. The thing that is encouraging is this series has found fans all around the world. What did you like best about Downton Abby?

Thursday, March 3, 2016


When I was learning to drive, a few eons ago, my father insisted that I should know how to drive a standard shift. It only took one lesson for both of us to decide that we'd be far better off if I learned to drive on automatic, leaving standard for later lessons and a different teacher. Eventually I did learn to drive standard shift, thanks to my husband who had more patience than Dad did. I drive it if I have to, but it's not usually a happy experience, especially if I have to stop and start on a hill. And that's unavoidable in Pennsylvania!

The trouble is that my preferred mode is to deal with one thing at a time, in driving and in writing. That being said, you can understand the difficulties I face when I switch from writing 100,000 word novels to 60,000 word novels to 25,000 word novellas and even the occasional 3000 word short story. In fact, I've probably blogged about it several times, not because I want to vent but in the hope my experience will be of use to someone else.

In another life, before I wrote for Love Inspired, I wrote a number of short stories for Woman's World magazine under my married name, Martha Johnson. I found that the most crucial thing in developing a short story was the size of the idea to begin with. That means, given the basics of a character with a problem, that the story begins as close to the crisis and resolution as possible. I knew that, of course, but I still wrote a number of stories that straggled on far too long before getting to the point. Then I hit upon the strategy of getting the character's problem out in the open in the first paragraph of the story. There's no space for a leisurely showing of the problem, so I sometimes resorted to opening with another character saying to the protagonist, "The trouble with you is...". Amazingly enough, the first story I wrote with that technique sold, and I was launched on a decent career in writing short stories.

So, when this winter I was tasked with turning from completing a 100,000 word romantic suspense novel (How Secrets Die, out in July from HQN Books) to writing a 25,000 word Christmas novella for Love Inspired, I had to go back to the basics once more. How do you write a compelling, satisfying story in only 25,000 words? The size of the idea came to the forefront again. While a longer novel might include several subplots and side issues, along with a few red herrings to throw the reader off the track, a novella has to stay focused on the main issue, meaning the love story and those things which immediately impact the hero and heroine on their journey to happily ever after.

As I planned the ten chapters that would make up the novella, I made sure that the heroine's external conflict and her romantic conflict came onstage in the first few pages. That done, I could focus on getting the hero onstage (on page 5 or so) and introducing his external conflict and his reaction to the heroine. Once the story was off and running, I could settle in and make sure that I gave the reader a satisfying trip to The End.

The novella I'm finishing up now, The Midwife's Christmas Surprise, will be out in November from Love Inspired. I hope you'll enjoy it!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bond, James Bond...

the newest Bond book...
Greetings! Lee Tobin McClain here, writing about book titles. Specifically, the titles of my Sacred Bond and Sacred Bond Guardians series... and how I'm running out of them!

When an author starts a series, she rarely knows how long it will go on. That all depends on whether readers love the series and beg for more, or whether reader reaction is more of a "meh, it's okay..." type of thing.

When I started my Sacred Bond series a couple of years ago, I found it easy and fun to come up with titles. The stipulation I gave myself was that every title needed to have the word "Bond" in it. Why? The books are about a group of former delinquents who attend a Christian reform school together. They make a pact with each other as teenagers: to rise above their rough beginnings and help those in need. Each of the boys gets a tattoo on his forearm with the words "Sacred Bond" and a cross, to remind them of their commitment they've made. So I started out with Love Inspired type titles: A Christmas Bond, His Baby Bond, The Bride's Broken Bond, Her Reunion Bond, A Doctor's Bond. Each title tells readers something about the book's premise, and also lets you know that the book is part of the Sacred Bond series.

The Sacred Bond books were a success, and readers wanted more... and I just happened to have a couple of Christian romantic suspense novels just waiting to be brought out. So I planned out the Sacred Bond Guardians, a more suspenseful spinoff of the Sacred Bond series. It starts out with another group of boys from the Covenant School, most of whom want to go into military or law enforcement professions. So now I had The Protector's Bond, A Brother's Bond, A Bond at Risk, A Bond of Vengeance, A Bond Fulfilled... and just yesterday, A Western Bond came out. I am running out of "Bond" titles!
Check out all those "Bond" titles!

So my next projects involve a friend of Mark Stern (hero of A Western Bond), and Esperanza Lopez, a long-lost foster sister of Maria Moretti (heroine of A Bond Fulfilled). PLEASE HELP! I need to find Bond titles for both of these books. Any ideas?

Stop by my website to grab the free short story that starts off the whole crazy series. You guessed it: it's called BEFORE THE BOND.  And thank you in advance for helping me come up with some decent titles... help me avoid naming a book after James Bond!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

For the Love of Words

 Keli Gwyn here to talk about words...

I love words. I have a hunch you do, too. Whether writing them or reading them, they can bring us such delight.
I'm often asked if the heroines of my stories and I have anything in common. Becky Martin, the heroine of my March Love Inspired Historical, A Home of Her Own, and I both love words.

One of Becky's most prized possessions is her late mother's dictionary. Since Becky wasn't able to attend high school, she struggles with feelings of inadequacy. She reads the dilapidated dictionary regularly, memorizing new words and proudly incorporating them into her speech in order to sound more intelligent.

As I researched the story, I longed to see what Becky's dictionary would have looked like, what words it would have included. Imagine my delight when I found this facsimile copy online for a mere three dollars. I snapped it up.

I love reading the entries in this historic dictionary. They were so succinct. Since all type was handset back then, that makes sense.

I enjoy seeing the old text. Note the way the letter S was written more like a lower case F.

I chose to photograph this particular page in the dictionary because I'm excited about the release of A Home of Her Own. I love knowing that readers will soon be reading the words I labored over. It's my hope they will enjoy the experience.

* * *
Do you have a love affair with words?

* * *

 A Blossoming Love

Becky Martin knows that she can’t stay at James O’Brien’s apple farm forever, but she wishes she could. After her brother framed her for arson, she flees Chicago, traveling cross-country to California and finding work caring for James’s ailing mother. Beneath the apple blossoms, it’s almost as if she has a real family…but her secret won’t stay buried forever.

James, scarred from an explosion, didn’t expect to connect to the pretty young traveler. Could she really love someone damaged like him? He knows she’s hiding something. If only she’d trust him. Can she let go of her past and believe in the possibility of a future amid the apple trees?
Click here to read an excerpt.
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