Thursday, May 28, 2009

How My Latest Series Came To Be

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at heading for Gideon Film Festival at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. Excited about meeting movie producers and learning to pitch my novels for movies.

My newest series idea came to me after the death of our daughter Brenda who died of ovarian cancer nearly three years ago. She loved animals and had two border collies and two parrots. The dogs, Miranda and Nike, were involved in agility and flyball. Brenda also taught obedience training and fostered dogs. So when I was looking for a new idea, Man’s Best Friend came to mind. The first book Dad In Training, released this September, involves Molly, a teacher of special needs students, who wants to open a dog shelter. Her friend Steph has a border collie, named Fred . Fred and Steph get dragged into Molly’s scheme of finding a building for nothing. It’s full of laughs and some tears too and a romantic hero that I hope you fall in love with.

Steph is the heroine of the second book, Groom In Training, to be released in February 2010. Fred is naturally a major character. Steph runs a doggie daycare in Molly’s building – Time for Paws, and Steph’s story revolves around a helpful man with a grouchy brother who lives next door to Steph. Fred falls in love in this book with Suzette, a Bouvier Des Flanders. You can see why from her photo. She’s rather exotic. Nick, the hero, is far from exotic. He’s playful, caring and often late. I hope the ending will make you laugh. . .and cry a little.

Presently I’m proposing the third and final book which I’m naming, Bride In Training, although I haven’t had a title used that I created for a long time. But maybe this time. The story’s heroine is Emily, a part-time employee at Time For Paws, a young woman with a difficult past but a heart for dogs. A cairn terrier will be the main dog in this novel. And you’ll never guess who the hero is. The grouchy neighbor who learns that self-worth is not measured by success but by love.

I hope you look for Dad In Training this September and have fun with the women who are involved with Time for Paws. They are determined to find happiness and to grow in faith.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lost in the Revision Jungle by Marta Perry

I decided last night that I really shouldn't be blogging this month. I am deep into revisions on a book that is due June 1--so deep, in fact, that I can't see my way out and am slogging my way through, putting one foot in front of the other in the blind hope that I'll get there at last. But I promised I would, so here I am, blogging on the only thing on my mind--revision.

Probably writers are as unique in approaching revision as they are in other aspects of writing. Some writers produce a first draft that barely needs a touch (Snarl) while other produce something that is almost an outline rather than a book. I'm somewhere in between. While I'm writing my first draft, I jot down copious notes of all the things I should do, things I've forgotten to put in, and things I'm not sure of. For reasons known only to my subconscious, I start those notes on the last page of my notebook and work backwards.

When I've reached The End, of course it's not really that. Not yet. Now I must go back and incorporate in the manuscript all those things I've jotted down. Some may be as simple as changing a name; others may involved writing a new scene or moving a chapter. I try not to focus on the whole book at this point, or I might panic, something I do several times in the course of a book anyway.

My backpack feels a little lighter when I've finished that stage. Now I move on to reading the whole thing, making sure it all fits together with no untidy ends sticking out like an ill-made bed. Then it's on to reading for repetitions of words, phrases, or body language. Once I discovered that my characters nodded so much that they must have looked like bobble-head dolls. I check for consistency in descriptions, check chronology, and try to be sure I haven't left any trail of breadcrumbs that will lead the reader in the wrong direction.

Finally, when all the corrections have been keyed in, I give it a last read. At this point, I've lived so long with the story that I've lost the ability to judge whether it's decent or dreck. I take a deep breath, murmur a silent prayer, and hit Send. Then I go in search of chocolate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think my character is lost in that troublesome scene in chapter ten. I'd better go try to rescue her.


Flowers in a Teacup

I was passing by the side of my house and noticed the first lilacs open. Unfortunately, years ago, when I planted this white bush, I did so against my pale gray house, so it doesn't offer much of a contrast. So, I snipped off a few tops and set them in this teacup with a few sprigs of forget-me-nots to enjoy in my office. The scent is heavenly!

"I Will Lift Up My Eyes . . ."

Last week, I spent five days in the mountains of North Carolina at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference. Started by Yvonne Lehman, it’s grown steadily every year, and this year more than 350 people attended.

Many I had seen before; some were old friends. It’s a glorious time of worship and spiritual growth as well as intense sessions to help new and experienced writers grow in their craft.

Unlike most conferences I attend, each day of BRMCWC starts and ends with worship. The music, led by Lynn Deshazo, helped remind us that we’re more than writers. We’re missionaries who use our gift from God to reach out to the body of Christ . . . and beyond. Our words tell wonderful and entertaining stories, but they also reflect who we are as Christians.

Yes, I have a new book out, and I promoted it there. But I teach at BRMCWC even when I don’t have a new book because of the energy, faith, and encouragement I leave the conference with. It’s a time of renewal that always leaves me eager to start the next book.

And it doesn’t hurt that my friend, Eva Marie Everson, and I even got to go to the mountaintop, to pray, breathe deep, and look out over God’s creations, great and small.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer. Yea!

Summer is coming! Summer is coming! Don’t you just love it? School will be out so the grandkids will be able to visit more often. We’ll plan little trips to local museums or zoos and have wonderful days. I love summer.

Summer means golden wheat fields waving in the wind and huge combines like prehistoric monsters gobbling them up. I love to watch the process of the grain pouring out into the trucks. It brings back memories of playing in the grain like a sandpile when I was a kid.

Summer used to mean camping trips to the lake, but thankfully those days are over. I wouldn’t have traded them for anything, but I never was that fond of a sleeping bag. I’m more a Best Western kind of camper.

One of the summer’s best things is coming up soon. The Romance Writers of America’s National Conference will be in Washington D.C. this year. It’s great to meet face to face with writers and publishing professionals from around the world. I’m so excited about going. I hope to see some of you there.

What do you love or hate about summer?

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm excited that my second book, Courting the Doctor's Daughter, released May 12. I love the book's pretty cover!
Courting the Doctor’s Daughter continues the stories of children who rode the orphan train into Noblesville, Indiana and turned lives upside down, as children are apt to do.
Mary Graves is the town doctor’s daughter, a widow with three sons—two from her marriage and one from the orphan train. A handsome stranger blows into town peddling his “elixir of health.” Mary is outraged by the claim’s Luke makes for his phony medicine. Or so she sees his tonic. Worse, she soon suspects Luke has an interest in her foster son, Ben. That’s when the real trouble begins.

The research that’s necessary to write a novel, especially a historical, is both fascinating and frustrating. Especially when I discover a plot element in my book won’t work…though I can sometimes find a way around it.

To write the first book, Courting Miss Adelaide and Courting the Doctor's Daughter, I researched Noblesville, a real town in Indiana, and the “orphan train.” The history behind the orphan trains fascinates me. Between the years of 1853 and 1929, 250,000-some say, 350,000, orphans or half orphans rode trains from New York City to new homes. The idea to place out orphans originated with a Methodist minister, Charles Loring Brace, founder of The Children’s Aid Society. Brace saw children working in sweatshops, peddling newspapers and living on the streets in abject poverty, as many as 30,000 at any one time. He decided relocating these children to homes in agricultural areas would give them a chance for a better life. For some, it did. Others lived more like indentured servants than members of a family.

Courting the Doctor’s Daughter also required researching medical practices in 1898, focusing on the use of herbs or medicinal plants in treating illness. I learned many medicinal plants are dangerous if improperly used. Several plants are used in modern medicines. Digitalis comes from foxglove. Horehound eases sore throats and coughing. Horseradish is a potent diuretic. Licorice was used as a laxative. St. John’s Wort helps mild cases of depression. I was surprised to learn that herbs I use in cooking, such as oregano, sage, thyme, also contain healing properties. It’s been fun to see that God created the first medicines.

I needed an ingredient with medicinal properties that fit the image I had of my hero’s medicine. In Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, I found what I sought—catnip. Not only cats appreciate this herb. Uses for humans include: digestion and sleeping aids that also eases colds, colic, nervous headaches and fevers. Catnip was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1842-1882. In more recent times, Varro Tyler, Ph.D. at Purdue, author of The Honest Herbal found a bit of evidence that catnip may be a sedative. Health food stores carry catnip in capsule form. Today it's mostly used to calm fussy infants.

I love history and find research fascinating. Thanks for allowing me to share some of the process.
Blessings, Janet Dean

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pet Perspective

We live on a farm at the intersection of No and Where. We've been through many dogs. Some we had to dispose of ourselves, some got run over, some just disappeared. Mostly we had a que-sera-sera attitude toward the dogs. When you live on a farm, most animals have to serve a purpose and that includes dogs and cats and horses and cows. When we got Toby, the dog in the picture here, we chose her for a purpose. Both her parents were excellent cattle dogs. And, we discovered, so was Toby. She was a natural and lived for the days when we had to move the cows to work with the calves or move them from pasture to pasture. But what set Toby apart from all the other dogs that roamed in and out of our lives is the fact that she was smart, loving, cute - and she stayed alive for fourteen years. She was the only dog that we had this long and, as a result, became a part of our family like no other dog had. She was loved and adored and appreciated by our children, by my family and by our own friends. She loved children and was always gentle with them. She let our 18 month old granddaughter sit beside her and put hats on her head. She would go with me on long walks as I untangled twisted story lines, prayed for my children and simply enjoyed being outside. For fourteen years, as I headed down trails and roads, always in my peripheral vision, was the sight of her black tail, waving like a plume, her head up, sniffing the air.

Over the past year she started showing her age. When we went out for a walk she would stay a bit closer to me and didn't go charging out after deer, or running off into the field following the scent of a coyote or scurrying off into the trees to chase down a rabbit. But she as always game to head out no matter how cold or hot. My husband had always taken her to the mountains when he went out on week long trail rides with his horses. This was the highlight of her year, but this year, we knew it wasn't going to be possible. She was just getting to old for eight hour long rides. We started to think that maybe, one day, this dog might not be with us. I started to wonder when we would have to make that fateful trip to the vet, though I knew it wasn't going to happen soon. Toby was still in such good health and I didn't want to contemplate having to make that hard decision.

Then, one night, last month, she and a visiting dog, headed off to check something out in the back field. The visiting dog returned and Toby didn't. I called and called, and when she didn't come bounding up to me, mouth open, tongue hanging out, looking as if she was laughing at some private joke, I knew something had gone horribly wrong. But it was 11:00 at night and cold and I didn't know where to start looking for her in the forest surrounding our home. Neither my husband nor I could sleep that night and as soon as it got light, we went out to look for her. Awhile later, we found her, dead, in the snow only fifty yards from the house. Killed by two wolves according to the tracks we found and the way she had been killed. As I knelt down beside her broken body, I could not believe how deeply I grieved the loss of this dog and how much it hurt. I used to chuckle at people who grieved pets, thinking, how much can you love a dog? Well, last month, I choked on my own words. I found out exactly how much you can love a dog. I found out exactly what kind of a hole they leave in your life when they go. Especially when all the kids are out of the house and sometimes the only conversation I would have was a one-sided one with my dog.

Toby now lays under a pine tree on a sunny hillside overlooking a field. A fitting final resting place for a dog who loved to run up and down those self same hills or sit beside us when we would enjoy the warm sun. My husband and I have had deeper, harder sorrows in my life. We buried a child, each of us a father, grandparents and cousins. We've stood by graves of friends, of children of friends. I know where to put this sorrow for our dog in the grander scheme of things. But it is still a sorrow and I know that anyone who has ever had a beloved pet understands.

Someday I'll find a way to channel this into a story. I'm a writer. That's what writers do. We take the good and bad events of our lives and shift and re-shape them and then put them in a book. It's a way of dealing and controlling events we have no control over. So some day, when you're reading one of my books, you might have the privilege of meeting Toby for yourself. I hope you enjoy her as much as we have.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Wait...

Hi, this is Lisa Mondello and I'd like to talk a little about how much writers wait. We hurry to get that fabulous manuscript written, get it printed off and then wait for the news as to whether or not the book we've crafted will be published.

After a while, writers get used to waiting. It's part of the business. We wait for news, we wait for updates, we wait for our author copies to arrive so we can hold out book in our hands, we wait to see our books sitting pretty on the bookstore shelf. If you can't handle waiting, it's probably not a good idea to be a romance author since it comes with the territory.

Right now I'm in waiting mode again, but this time it's to see the cover art for my December 2009 book Yuletide Protector. My editor sent off my copy edits for the book and I'm really excited about how the book turned out. In her letter she told me she'd seen the cover for Yuletide Protector and in her words it's gorgeous! I'm thrilled. I'm so anxious to see it. The problem is I won't get my chance for another couple of weeks! I have to admit the wait is killing me. To hear this excitement from my editor just makes me want to see the cover all the more. But I promise you, as soon as I have the cover for Yuletide Protector, I'll be posting it on my website and on the CRAFTIE Ladies of Suspense website for you to view.

Speaking of CRAFTIE Ladies of Suspense, make sure you stop over there and post a comment. Every month the CRAFTIE Ladies give away 4 FREE Love Inspired Suspense books to a lucky reader. I'll be blogging on Friday over at the CRAFTIE Ladies site so make sure you stop by. I may even have my cover by then!

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Graduation Time

Sandra Robbins with a few thoughts about graduation:

My town only has one high school, and I didn’t even realize last Friday night was graduation. When my sister asked me on Saturday if I’d attended, I had to confess I didn’t even know the date this year.

Maybe the relief that I didn’t have to attend made me put the whole thing from my mind. For the past three years, I’ve fought the crowds for a seat to see a family member graduate, but not this year. In the two hundred member graduating class, we had no relatives receiving a diploma.

However, I’m not getting off that easily. In two weeks I travel to Texas to see my granddaughter graduate from her high school. Her class has about nine hundred graduates, so it’ll be even more crowded and much longer. I remember when her brother graduated, we all cheered wildly when the last student, a young man whose name started with Y, walked across the stage to receive his diploma.

One might think I’m complaining, but I’m not. I’m thrilled that she is graduating as an honor student and has achieved her goal of being accepted into the film school at USC. I must admit that I’m apprehensive about her going to California to school just like I was for her brother when he went to New York to college. Now they’ll be on opposite sides of the country, experiencing two totally different college environments. She’ll be studying film, and he’s studying naval engineering and ship design. Their schools are very different from the state school I attended, but I’m thankful for the opportunities they have and the experiences that await them.

Over the next few weeks, thousands of students will be receiving diplomas, and their families will be just as proud of their children’s accomplishments as I am of mine. So, I congratulate all the graduates this year and wish them well as they step out into the real world. We who love them have laid the foundation. Now it’s their time to follow their dreams.

Do you have someone graduating this year? What are you wishes for them?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creativity--What is it?

Hello, Leann here.
Lately I’ve been cooking a lot. My husband is on Weight Watchers and doing a great job. Frankly, I hate cooking. My husband’s the cook. And a good one. I cook because we have to eat. It surprises me that my children have favorite meals I cooked while they were growing up. (They also have memories of mother at the computer writing.)
My son-in-law is also a great cook. When he reads a recipe in the newspaper or cookbook, he sees how he can adapt it, change it or add to it. This is something my husband does, too. It’s a wonderful creativity which I don’t have, nor do I wish to have. Now put me in front of a computer with a murder, a hero and heroine, and I get jazzed up thinking how I can tell their story.
I remember hearing a famous designer talk about where she got the inspiration for her latest fashion. She was looking up at the sky through the canopy of leaves and came up with the pattern for the material and what she wanted to do with that pattern.
Creativity comes in many forms, but there is a catch. You have to use it. What are you creative in? Have you put the gift to use?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Knitting and reading

Camy Tang here, with another weird combination. :)

I love the feel of a book in my hands—I love the smell of the paper, the pretty cover.

I also love knitting. The only thing I don’t like about knitting is that it takes up both my hands so I can’t hold a book (although knitting is a good way to stop snacking at night, since I can’t knit and shovel food in my mouth at the same time!).

So what a knitting reader to do?


I love electronic books. I don’t yet have a Kindle ebook reader from, but I love reading ebooks on my computer.

Some people’s eyes have a problem with the computer screen, so this might not be an option for them—they will probably need an ebook reader that has the eye-easy screen like a Kindle or Sony Reader.

The best part about reading ebooks is that you only need to hit a button (on my computer, the down arrow) to turn the page. I also don’t need to actually hold the book in my hands.

So guess what I can do??? I can knit and read at the same time!

Granted, I need an easy project that only calls for stockinette or garter stitch, so I don’t need to stare at my knitting. No lace patterns or intricate cables.

But socks with self-striping yarn are great! I can knit stockinette stitch in the round AND read an ebook on my computer at the same time!!!!

Am I using enough excited exclamation points??!!!!!!

Seriously, I love this. I go online, buy and download the Love Inspired novels every month on ebook. The cost is comparable to the Steeple Hill subscription service, but I can choose to buy which books I want from the three different lines (Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical, and Love Inspired Suspense).

The best part about ebooks is that they have a longer shelf life than the books at Walmart. So if I want to read a book that was published a few months ago, it’s available at ebook stores and I can download it in a jiffy.

So, blog readers, what’s your verdict? Am I nuts? Or a genius?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and her Love Inspired Suspense novel, Deadly Intent, releases in July this year. She runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Taking The Challenge

I’m Victoria Bylin, and I write westerns for Love Inspired Historicals. I’m not the least bit shy when talking to people one-on-one or in small groups, but put me in front of a microphone and I lose my bearings. Considering how God often works in my life, it’s not surprising I ended up in that situation a few weeks ago.

Halfway into a Bible study I recently took, the leader challenged us to name something we couldn’t imagine ourselves doing. I wrote down, “Public Speaking.” The next day I received an email asking me if I’d like to speak to a writers group in Northern Virignia. I felt as if God had heard my reluctance and decided it was time for a quick cure.

As things turned out, I agreed to do a short program on historical research for NVCA, the Northern Virginia Christian Writers. It’s a small but active group of authors in various places on the road to publication. I was nervous when I first arrived, but the leader, Johnese Burtram, immediately put me at ease. When she introduced me, she told the group I was on my “maiden voyage” as a speaker. People smiled, and I knew I was among friends.

I don’t think my presentation will make the history books for anyone except me, but I hope people came away with a nugget or two, something new for a writer’s tool box. I know I did . . . I learned that I actually like to speak to groups. I also learned not to tell God what I don’t want to do! With this foray into public speaking, he gave he a chance to grow. I’m glad I took it and look forward to growing even more as both a Christian and an author.

For more about that journey, visit

Monday, May 11, 2009

Play that Funky Music

Hi, Stephanie Newton here. When I'm working on a story, I make a soundtrack of songs that have meaning for those characters. A lot of writers do the same, I think. For me, it's an auditory cue as I start work. It reminds me who my characters are and taps into my emotions.

A few weeks ago, when I was finishing Smoke Screen, my January book, some friends generously offered their carriage house for a writer's retreat. They live in our old neighborhood so when I drove in, the sights of my hometown were a welcome home. As I sat writing, though, I realized how familiar the sounds were. So different from what I hear where I live now, yet I didn’t realize I even missed them.

The boats buzzing and grumbling on the international waterway. The ocean so close that when the south wind blows, I could hear the surf. Above my head, I heard the orange and white T-38 trainer planes that the Navy uses to train their fighter pilots. Where I live now I hear planes, but it’s not the tiny buzz of the T-38’s, it’s the roar of the F-22. I don’t hear softly lapping water of the Santa Rosa Sound, I hear the chorus of a million frogs that have grown from tadpoles in the pond behind my house.

It’s funny, I think. The sounds of home are so comforting and they’re so familiar that most of the time I don’t even notice them. You could add to mine the sound of the X-box in the greatroom and the guitar from my daughter’s room. The soccer ball hitting…something. The kids laughing—or arguing. Barking dogs as the squirrel comes to the window to taunt them.

It is a kind of music, I think. It’s the soundtrack of my life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Novel Settings

Hi! Merrillee here. When I start a new story, I usually have the hero, the heroine and a problem. The next thing I need is a setting. Where do these people live? What setting will enhance the story? How will the place the characters live affect their lives? These are all questions I have to answer.

My goal is to write at least one book for every place I have lived. So far I have a series set in the small fictional town of Pinecrest, Washington, which I set near Spokane, Washington. I lived there when I was in high school. I took this photo of a sunset when I was visiting in Spokane. In all three books, my characters watch a sunset. Some of them see God's beautiful creation, while others find the array of colors an expression of their feelings. I especially like to use settings to convey character traits or feelings.

I also wrote one lone book set in Dallas, Texas, where we lived when my kids were in high school.

My next series of books is about three brothers, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but two of them have found homes in different parts of the country. I loved writing the first book because it is set at the beach in Florida. I live near the beach, so I could easily imagine my characters frolicking in the surf. I could feel the sand between my toes and the sea breeze cooling off a hot afternoon along with my characters.

The second brother lives in South Dakota. How did he get there? Starting when he was twelve, he went to visit his uncle's farm in eastern South Dakota and he fell in love with small-town life and farming. Numerous readers, who either lived in South Dakota or visited there, wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed reading about places with which they were familiar.

The third brother, who is a big-city business man, finds himself with a new job in the mountains north of Atlanta. He has to learn to adjust to living in a small town. Instead of looking at skyscrapers, he's looking at mountains and lakes.

Settings are important. They often make the characters who they are. It influences the way they think, the way they talk and the way they view life. What kind of settings do you like to read aboutthe big city, a small town, the seashore, the mountains or the wide open spaces of the prairie?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

chatting over chocolate

Someone once said chocolate stops the aging process.  Now it may not be true, but do you want to take a risk?  Of course not!  That's why we eat chocolate, right?
Well, tonight we set our aging clocks back a decade or two.  And I was glad to be a part of it.  The ladies at Main Street Church, in Sackville New Brunswick, invited me to their 'Chatting over Chocolate' ladies' night out.  I was one of the guest speakers, and with table strewn with chocolate chips, chockie pretzels and little Dove chocolates about, AND chocolate trifle for dessert, am I one to turn that down?
Duh, of course not.  I decided to talk about Mythbusting The Romance Novel.  You see, my brother narrates for the Mythbusters show and so I 'borrowed' the idea a bit.  I wanted to set them all straight on romances.  I had to give my spiel twice, once on Monday night and the next Tues night.  
I think it turned out well.  I pulled no punches.  Romance writing isn't easy, and Harlequin, Love Inspired, esp. sets the standard high.  You think that Christian romances are easy to write?  You think that because Harlequin owns the line that they can't be wholesome Christian stories that touch our hearts and encourage our readers?
I wish you could have heard me, then.  Harlequin sets the bar high and is by far one of the most professional organizations I've worked for.
And, because I am who I am, I coloured my talk with a bit of fun and humour.  Things like my editor just asked me to move my island.   Apparently, it's not going to work where it is.  Other stuff like getting a 19 page contract in full blown legalese and the only thing I understand is the very tight deadline and the amount of money they're going to pay me.  (I flipped to that first)
I'd like to tell you the ladies enjoyed every minute of my talk, but the Bible says something like Speak not thine own praises, but let other men speak it.
So I'm not going to tell you they laughed and congratulated me on my talk.  (You didn't hear it from me, okay?)
And if you quote me, I'll deny it!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where do the ideas come from anyway?

Hi. I’m Renee Ryan. I write for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals. One of the first things people ask me when they find out I’m a writer is some version of “Where do you get your ideas?” The short answer is, “I don’t know.”

The long answer is: I get my ideas from everywhere—movies, the mall, restaurants, airports, seminars, workshops, driving in my car, a song on the radio, all sorts of places. Often the crazier the situation the more I start the “what if” game.

For instance, my idea for THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE came to me at an Old West exhibition in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A group called The Shady Ladies gave a talk on prostitution in the Old West. You might wonder what a nice Inspirational writer was doing at a seminar like that. Long story, one that involved a series of wrong turns. But once I was there, I decided to stay. What fascinated me most about this presentation was the instant sadness I felt for the women who chose that profession. Or rather, for the women who “fell” into that profession. There weren’t a lot of options for unmarried ladies in the Old West, ladies who, say, found themselves without money or skills or a man to protect them.

At one point in the presentation, The Shady Ladies discussed birth control. Obviously, there weren’t many reliable methods back then. Mistakes happened.

But what did these women do with their mistakes? There were options, of course. One was to raise the child in a brothel or mining camp or wherever the mother conducted her business. Another option was to send the child to a baby farm. Baby farms were homes usually run by former prostitutes who took in their sisters’ mistakes.

By the way, don’t you hate the word, mistake? Me, too!

Needless to say, the “what if” game took off in my head.

What if…a daughter of a prostitute vowed never to fall into the same life as her mother? What if…that same daughter decided to help other children avoid a similar fate? What if…this woman was a big thinker and wanted to do things right, even if that meant taking on a large debt? What if…she wanted her baby farm to be located in the richest part of town? What if…

Well, you get the idea. Bottom line, Charity House was born in that seminar and now I have a series of books about the men and women who live and work at this unique orphanage. From the start, I could see countless opportunities for God’s mighty work with these people. In fact, the possibilities are endless. And, Praise God, they keep coming to me as I sit down to write.

The heroine of THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE is the schoolteacher at the Charity House School. She’s trying to raise her little sister she had no idea existed until six months prior to the opening of the book. The hero is a lawman bent of seeking vengeance for his wife who took a bullet meant for him. His wife was the sister of the owner of Charity House and thus has a tight bond with the orphanage.

My July 2009 release, HANNAH’S BEAU, has a rebel preacher with interesting connections to Charity House. You can find out more about both stories and my other upcoming releases at