Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AMISH APPEAL by Marta Perry

Awhile back, in the course of my Flanagans series for Steeple Hill Love Inspired, I introduced some Amish minor characters, wondering what my editor would say about that. She responded, “You know that Amish thing? Do that more.” So, since I’m in the habit of saying yes to editors, probably in reaction to all those years when they were saying no to me, I agreed. It wasn’t difficult to write about the Amish, since I’ve spent my life in rural Pennsylvania, where the Plain sects are very common. I also have several friends who grew up Plain, and I welcomed the opportunity to showcase that world in my fiction.

Next up came a three-book suspense series for Love Inspired, set in Pennsylvania Dutch country with, again, Amish minor characters. The art department did a lovely job—buggies on every cover. Then, through a series of events that had to be experienced to be believed, my agent made a three-book trade-size deal with Berkley books. The first book in the Pleasant Valley Amish series will be out in November, and Berkley has already contracted for another three books. I’m also writing another three-book suspense series for Love Inspired with Amish characters, which I’m working on now. It was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time!

The Amish romance flood started, as these things often do, with a single author. Beverly Lewis has been quietly selling her Amish stories for a number of years, with no one in publishing apparently noticing, until she began appearing on the Times list. In short order, Wanda Brunstetter followed her to the list, and then Cindy Woodsmall. Suddenly every publishing house wanted its own Amish author, and Amish series are popping up like weeds in my flower bed.

Why are they so popular? That’s the million dollar question. Based on the letters I receive from readers, I’d say that the books help feed a longing for a simpler lifestyle. Haven’t you ever wished you could get rid of the constant pressure and demand for interaction posed by e-mail, Facebook, cell phones, twenty-four hour news channels, and all the rest? The books allow readers to live for a few hours in a society which gets along very nicely without all those things.

It’s also a society where families tend to live close together, and one in which there’s an instant support system in time of need. With families in contemporary society spread around the globe, that has its own appeal.

The oddest thing about the craze for Amish books, though, is the fact that this genre has grown up around a culture which does its best to stay out of the spotlight. Maybe that’s why people are so interested in knowing what goes on there. The challenge for me has been to write it real and in a way that I trust will cause no offense to a group of people I admire.

Ramona's Perfect Traveling Weather

Suddenly, late last night, the weather changed here in Nashville. A front moved through, clearing out the clouds that had been hovering for almost a month, and the temperature dropped about fifteen degrees.

Fall. I love it. Crisp air and the brightest blue sky we’ve seen since spring. Perfect traveling weather. I’m celebrating, especially since Thursday morning, I head even farther south . . . to the Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta. It’s one of the few conferences I’m attending this year because my finances took a serious hit in April, when the day job vanished.

This week, the next LIS is due, so it’s a nice convergence for me. Fall, a finished manuscript, a conference that will lighten my heart and inspire my mind. So as I head south, with Brad Paisley cranked up on the radio, I know the month of October has arrived with new ideas and new hopes.

Who could ask for more?

Monday, September 28, 2009

ACFW conference and writer's retreat

I (Margaret Daley) went to ACFW conference a couple of weeks ago and then went to a writer's retreat at Margie Lawson's house. We discussed deep editing and it was great. If you ever get a chance to do this small class (six of us), I recommend it.

The conference was the best ever. I have a picture of some of the Love Inspired Suspense authors (left to right: Dana Mentick, Carol Steward, me, Debby Giusti, Lenora Worth, Leann Harris and Pamela Tracy). A big congratulations goes out to Pamela Tracy for winning the Book of the Year in the short romantic suspense category and Kathryn Springer in the short contemporary romance category. Both were Steeple Hill books. The other picture I have of the ACFW conference is at the booksigning. I'm on the left with Robin Miller and Cheryl Wyatt. The best part of the conference was meeting new friends and seeing old ones.

After that I went to Margie's for a class. It was in the mountains near Denver, and most of the time we were there it snowed. It started the first day of fall and was beautiful. The roads were fine, but the ground was covered. I have two pictures of the retreat. One is of Margie's deck with snow on it and the other is me working in her living room (on the left). Vickie and Angie, two friends, are in the picture, too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Matchmaking Pact

Hello from Carolyne. I just want to let you know that I've got a new book coming out in October that is part of the After The Storm series from Love Inspired - a six book continuity. This series was a lot of fun to do, but at the same time very emotional.

To know that while we authors were writing our stories, people were dealing with the very things we were writing about was both a challenge and a humbling opportunity to tell their stories through our characters. I've never lived through a tornado, but I've lived through other storms that have swept through my life and the life of my family.

Through this all we've had to find our feet again. Find the firm ground that could hold us up. Sometimes we wondered if we ever would. But God has a way of settling our lives and pointing us to Him time and time again.

I pray that if you are dealing with storms in your life, you will know that no matter how strong the winds may buffet you, God is holding you fast.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hi, Pat Davids here.

I had a wonderful time over Labor Day weekend. I went to my high school reunion. This wasn't just any reunion for Chapman High School. This was an all school reunion. It was a fund raiser to help build a new school and I was delighted to take part in this wonderful event. Over 800 people showed up to reconnect with fellow classmates and give to a very worthy cause.

Just over a year ago, the town of Chapman Kansas was struck by a tornado and all but wiped off the map. The grade school, middle school and high school were completely destroyed as you can see by the photo above. Enormous efforts have been underway to rebuild the schools, but so much history was lost. And found.

A time capsule put in the wall of the school build in 1935 was discovered in the rubble. Newspapers clippings and letters gave us a glimpse of the people who lived and taught in Chapman 75 years ago. Is that cool or what?

Now, I have to ask.

If someone asked you to contribute to a time capsule today, what you put in?
I think Lenora would but in picture of her shoes because I know she wouldn't part with a real pair.
I'd love to put my cell phone in. I hate the thing.

Anyone else?
Chapman all school reunion 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm In The Middle of Moving

Victoria Bylin here . . . and there. Right now, "here" is northern Virginia. "There" is Lexington, Kentucky. My husband and I are smack in the middle of moving. We're still here in Virginia, but our stuff is on its way to Lexington.

I'm stoked about the move. My youngest son goes to the University of Kentucky, so we'll be close to him. He's already told us he'll be home for the traditional Sunday "Burger Night." We'll also be closer to my in-laws. I can't tell you how pleased I am to be moving close to family. It's a real joy.

Since we're in the throes of getting the house ready to sell, I'll keep this short. There's more cleaning to do. It's endless!

Is anyone out there from Kentucky? Any tips would be appreciated : )

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life Under Fire

Hey y'all, Stephanie Newton here. Sorry for the late post today. Our house has been hit by the flu, so I've been digging out the thermometers and cough syrup, and had to make a trip to the grocery store for ingredients for chicken soup (and lots and lots of hand sanitizer!)

I've been working lately on a couple of books that I'm really excited about...Smokescreen, coming up in January, and Flashpoint, an August release. I've long been fascinated with everything related to firefighting. When my kids went on the trips to the firehouse, guess who went along as chaperone? Yep, that would be me.

The hero in Smokescreen is Jake Rollins. If you've read my first two books, you'll have met Jake before. He's the pastor of the local church, but he's also the fire chaplain--going on call-outs with the fire department, giving aid and comfort to those who serve the public and to the victims of fires and accidents.

From the Federation of Fire Chaplains, here's a prayer which I find so sweet and inspirational:

The Fire Chaplain Prayer

Dear Lord, I turn to you each day for guidance,
For I know You can supply my every need.
And I want each soul to whom I render service,
To know You are behind my every deed.

As a Chaplain dedicated to the Fire Service,
These are very special people I must Serve,
They have chosen lives of public dedication,
That requires a body strong and filled with nerve.

Each and every time the fire alarm is sounded,
Please, look down and of my movements take control,
Guide my footsteps as I go to join my comrades,
As their ladders they set up and hose they unroll.

Open wide my eyes that I might see each problem,
Let my ears be tuned in case someone should call.
Let my lips deliver words to lend compassion,
Let my hands assist if some firefighter falls.

If it falls my lot to take a saddened message,
To the family of some badly injured person,
Give my tongue the words to speak for consolation.
Let my words give hope and comfort when they can.

Let me gain the confidence of each firefighter.
Let them speak of any problem they desire.
Let them understand each talk is fully private,
May each answer that I give them hope inspire.

Guide my conduct as I labor for You daily,
May each image that I cast reflect of You.
Let my light so shine that each and every person
Will know it’s Your hand that guides each deed I do.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Family Fun

Merrillee here. This past weekend we had a house full of company. Our two daughters were home for a visit as well as one son-in-law and our granddaughter. One daughters lives in Chicago and the other in Baltimore, so we don't get to see them as often as we would like because we live in Florida. So when they come to visit, we cherish that time together.

Here I am with my granddaughter as we ride the noodle in the pool. She loves going in the pool, but she was also trying to take a big bite out of that noodle. Next summer I hope we'll get to have some fun at the beach.

And here I am with my daughters and granddaughter.

What kind of things do you like to do with your family?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Okay, when did they make the day shorter?

Last night I was lying in bed wondering how I was supposed to start that new exercise regime my husband made for me. He bought a Bowflex, and did everything to get me started, but yesterday my day went like this:
Up at 6:30, wiggled painfully into support hose, off to work at 7:45. AT some point in the day, I met with our youth pastor who asked about meeting with the children's Sunday School helpers Thursday night.
At three, I was going to the grocery store, then to a friend's house to drop off the Tom Tom I had borrowed, then back home. I peeled off the support hose with a great sigh. I made supper, ate supper, cleaned up after supper then off to a meeting with my hubby at the school for seven. Teacher said, "I've booked two hours for this, but if we're good, we'll get out by 8:30."
After the meeting, my pastor, also at the meeting, intercepted me like the football fan that he is, and asked about the upcoming Christmas concert. I was home by 9, showered, then fell back onto the bed, exhausted.
And thought, when was I supposed to find time to write and exercise?
Somedays, it just doesn't happen.
I need to write. I need to get done everything I had promised my editor. I also need to exercise, or I'll turn into a bowl of flab with glasses.
Now, I'm not complaining. (All right, I am complaining, but only in the nicest possible way.) But it gets hard, doesn't it? My kdis are older, so I don't need to babysit them, but with that comes other issues. Four people in one house, two cars, four different itineraries.
I keep screaming, "Make me stay home!! Make me Stay home!!!"
How does everyone else cope when cloning isn't yet available?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gifts of Wonder-- look for them--Lenora Worth

Hi. My Love Inspired book that was out in August is titled "Gift of Wonder." It's about a man who never had a true family and a woman who loves her family dearly. When they meet, Alice has to show Jonah how a real family gets through the good and bad of life. The book is set during Thanksgiving, a time when we always reflect on our blessings and God's good gifts. So that got me to thinking about all those little "Gifts of Wonder" we experience each and every day. Our minister preached about this on Sunday. He said we should look for those "God surprises" each day. We might miss them if we aren't looking. I thought I'd make a list here of some of my recent gifts and surprises and then ask you to share your own little blessings here.

So ... butterflies. I love seeing butterflies. They're like this little treat for your eyes and your senses as they flutter by at the most unexpected times. I always tell myself that a butterfly is God's way of reminding us that our loved ones in heaven are still nearby. That little flutter of amazing beauty teaches me that beauty comes in small packages of endearing strength. I'm blessed to see butterflies.

Next, nature. Nature all around us. It's always good to watch the changing of the seasons. Yesterday, I stared out my bay window at my backyard, lamenting the end of summer. The pool would soon be too frigid to enjoy. But then, I watched as a few early leaves gently danced down to earth and reminded myself that while summer is nice, so is fall. That crispness in the air, football blaring away on the television, a cup of hot chocolate and a good book--those are tiny blessings that bring me joy and comfort.

Of course, friends are part of the surprise that God sends our way, too. Just a hug, a phone call, a visit can mean so much and make us realize that friendship is part of the fabric of God's love.

And last but not least, unexpected news on a day when you're feeling blue can show us that even when we think we're all alone and taking a wrong turn, God will provide the answers we seek. I had some unexpected news this morning--good news about a book I'd written a couple of years back that had been moved from pillar to post trying to find a home. It has found one as of today. So I rejoice in that and I thank God for that "surprise". And even though I'm a bit late with this post, I always tell people that showing up counts as a blessing in our lives. So I'm here, showing up, to say that I love what I do--I get to create stories in my little brain. And that truly is a gift of wonder. What are some of the little "surprises" you celebrate each day?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day and thinking of careers

This is Janet Tronstad here, working on Labor Day on another of my Dry Creek books (which I love writing by the way). This one prompted me to think of the whole working woman issue in romance novels. I know for a few decades there the push was to give really interesting careers to our heroines. That's what readers wanted then. Now though (at least in my books) I'm trying for careers that are closer to the heart (by that, I mean, closer to people). I've had a woman who owns a small cafe, a Sunday school teacher, a woman who inherits a small farm. The heroine in my book releasing in October, "Silent Night for Dry Creek," is an auto mechanic. And also an ex-con (if that can be a career). In my life, I've done many jobs as well over the years -- I was a waitress (for a day - not for me), a janitor (liked that better), editor of a small newspaper, telephone interviewer on a research study, manager, editor again. I'm sure I've forgotten a few from the years. I find as I grow older, I care less about titles and more about whether I enjoy the job I'm doing at the moment. How about you? What kind of jobs have you had? Which ones did you like?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


September. Where did it come from? I'm still looking for summer and it's nearly autumn. Greetings from Gail Gaymer Martin, an LI author since 1999 when I sold my first novel, UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. Whew! That was exciting.

But then every book is exciting. DAD IN TRAINING is a special book to me, and I loved writing it. I grew up with dogs and cats in my life and, until a few years ago, rotated my pets between two dogs and a cat to two cats and a dog, then one dog and one cat, then one cat. My pets tend to live into their 20s so they become family to me, and the heartbreak of losing them is difficult. But my animals have left me with wonderful true stories that I've been able to weave into the Man's Best Friend series. In fact the second book, GROOM IN TRAINING, acknowledges my dog Jinx whose true story plays out in that book.

The idea to write a series about dogs began after the death of our daughter, Brenda, three years ago. We suffered the horrendous emotion of losing a tremdnousl daughter to ovarian cancer, but from her death, we learned so many wonderful things about her we might have never known. Learning them, we could grasp those things and hang on, and we know that she's out of the world of suffering and I think she's in heaven taking care of dogs that need obedience training. (Chuckling here).

Brenda loved animals, first fostering dogs and training them to be adoptable, and later owning two border collies of her own. They participated in agility and flyball, and she delighted in her pets. A series on traiing and adopting dogs seemed so appropriate to write in memory of Brenda.
This photo was taken during her chemo treatments, hugging her two border collies--Nike and Miranda--and wearing a sweatshirt with Miranda look-alike image.

Check out this eharlequin link to read the full Story Behind the Story DAD IN TRAINING

In February 2010, you can enjoy Steph's story in GROOM IN TRAINING and in July, BRIDE IN TRAINING will finish the Man's Best Friend Series. If you're an animal lover or not, I hope you enjoy these three novels from Steeple Hill Love Inspired