Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's a Broken Heart Worth?

This is Janet Tronstad and I’m here to ask what a broken heart is worth?

My question begins in 1288 when Scotland is said to have passed a law that a women could ask any man to marry her on every February 29. If the man refused, he had to pay her a fine that often was nothing more than a pair of gloves.

It does not seem like much in the way of payment for a broken heart. It was about this time, during the 13th century, that gloves began to be worn by ladies as a fashion ornament though. They were made of linen and silk, and sometimes reached to the elbow.

I can’t help but wonder if the rise in the ornateness of ladies gloves was as a result of those fines. If a man had to give a woman a pair gloves for refusing to marry her, I’m sure that she wanted the gloves to be as fancy as possible.

I cannot even imagine how frustrating life was for women in those days. Getting married was likely the only respectable job to be had and they could not directly ask to be considered for the position, except on the day of February 29.

What are your thoughts of living back then? Would you have taken advantage of February 29 to ask some man to marry you? I’m not sure what I would have done. Although I could probably use some new gloves.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What am I Doing, today?

My latest book, Redemption Ranch, will be out in late March. I just got a note from the editor working on my next book to do a reader letter and questions for my October release. Last week I was struggling with the next series of books spawned by a character in Redemption Ranch, as well as blogs for the current book. Sometimes, I have to ask who am I and what am I writing today? If you're a professional writer, you have to shift gears often, working on things from two books ago then go to two books ahead.

Which brings me to my question, what kind of discussion questions do you like? What do you as a reader wonder about? Let me know.

I think I have come up with a novel idea to help my readers. My characters from Redemption Ranch will blog about the inside story--things that didn't make it into the book, like my heroine telling on her two older brothers. That blog is on my website,
What are some of the things you wonder about when you read a book?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Covers do make a difference.

Hi Everyone, Kim Watters here. Today I wanted to touch a bit upon book covers and how they can make a difference in sales. In between projects for Love Inspired, I've been putting my back-list up on the Kindle and Nook. In the beginning, I hired one of my former husband's students to do my book covers because I didn't know what I was doing. They were okay, exactly what I'd asked for given the pictures I'd sent the girl. But these stories weren't selling. Okay, it wasn't like I was promoting them around or anything, but not one sale for two of them. I figured it had to be the covers.

(I can't find the original cover for Evergreen but it was just a park bench.)

Fast forward a year later, and with more research and knowledge under my belt, I knew that had to be the problem. The stories were good, but if you can't hook them with a cover that screams pick me up, you've lost a sale. (I'd love to know how much Harlequin spends on this type of research-just the accountant in me.)

So I downloaded gimp and taught myself how to make covers. It took quite a bit of time and lots 0f trial and error but I'm pleased with what I came up with. I don't think the art department at LI is going to be calling any time soon, though. As soon as I changed the covers, I started getting sales. The first covers did not portray the essence of the romance in the stories. I hope I've changed that.

So what do you think? And what do you think of the covers Harlequin does for us? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Marta Perry talks Nancy Drew

Hi, Everyone,
Camy's delightful post on Tuesday about Grace Livingston Hill brought back such great memories! I spent many hours devotedly reading those books--so many that my mother was always saying, "Put down that book and go outside and play!"

But even more hours were spent with my best friend, Nancy Drew. Was she your best friend, as well? I have a vivid memory of my first encounter with Nancy. My family had moved to a new town over the summer, and I was finding it difficult to make friends without the common bond of school. In desperation, my mother took me to the library, thinking that might give me something to occupy me until school began. Little did she know what she was starting!

The library had a lovely, sunny room for younger children, but it also had some strict rules. Kids were not allowed into the section for the longer chapter books until they had started fourth grade. That sounds so odd to me now, but then I simply accepted it as one of those inexplicable adult regulations that governed our lives. I read my way through most of the picture books that summer, but my attention constantly strayed to those rows of forbidden chapter books.

Finally the day came when I was officially a fourth grader. I roamed through the stacks, gloating over the treasures I found, but the first book I took home was The Secret of the Old Clock. The story mesmerized me. Most little girls, upon reading their first Nancy Drew, wanted to become Nancy. Not me. I wanted to be the one who created those wonderful adventures for her. So, at age eight, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, thanks to Nancy.

Or, more accurately, thanks to Edward Stratemeyer, whose Stratemeyer Syndicate created the series in 1930. Stratemeyer had already launched the Hardy Boys series, and knowing that many girls were reading the books, had the idea of creating a similar mystery series with a girl detective. Stratemeyer initially conceived the plot lines and hired a series of ghost writers to author the books, all under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. Those early ghost writers, most notably Mildred Wirt Benson, were paid the magnificent sum of $125 per book, flat fee. During the Depression, that dropped to $100!

Stratemeyer's two daughters eventually took over the line, with Harriet Stratemeyer Adams adopting Nancy. She created the plot lines and wrote many of the books. I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Adams at a time when my career was just beginning. She spoke at a small writers' event in New Jersey, and I talked a couple of friends into joining me for the trip from Pennsylvania. That was my first writers' workshop, and I was entranced by every bit of it, but the highlight, of course, was listening to Harriet Adams. She was a lovely, gracious lady, and I treasure the signed copy she gave me of one of the books.

What is it about Nancy Drew that has intrigued and delighted girls for over eighty years? Today there are still new volumes coming out, Nancy Drew games, websites devoted to Nancy, and a vibrant market in Nancy collectibles. Maybe the fascination is that Nancy exemplifies the sort of female all of us yearn to be...capable, intrepid, curious, lively, kind, and ready for any adventure life brings.

Cheers for Nancy--long may she reign!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grace Livingston Hill

Camy here, and today I’m a bit nostalgic because I’m reorganizing my bookshelves, which is actually a fun thing for me to do (I think I should have been a librarian rather than a biologist).

I’m on a shelf that has all my old Grace Livingston Hill books, and while I haven’t read all of her books, I’ve read a good number of them.

I’m not sure exactly why I like them. They’re a bit cheesy and more evangelistic than I’m used to, but there’s something about them that’s magical, romantic, and uplifting. They’re a complete escape from real life.

It helped me appreciate them more when I first looked at the original copyright date. Grace Livingston Hill wrote these novels from the late 1910s to the early 1940s (?) so when I saw the copyright date, I knew that the book was set in that time period.

My favorite is the book cover pictured, Crimson Roses. It’s just really romantic and a bit of a Cinderella story. It’s very sweet and something nice and light to make me feel good. It’s set in the 1920s, so I can imagine the characters dressed up in twenties outfits and the dialogue itself is so authentic to the time period.

I also loved The Enchanted Barn a lot. It was another one of those where I finished reading it and felt so good!

Have you read any Grace Livingston Hill novels? If not, why not give one a shot? Crimson Roses is being reissued by Barbour this year and you can preorder it at Amazon or You can also order a used copy. The one I have is this one, with the slightly Hispanic looking girl on the cover.

The Enchanted Barn is actually available for free as an ebook from or from Google Books (the BN version is the same as the Google Books version, which has some typos from the computer software used to scan the book into electronic form) or you can buy a slightly edited version on both Amazon and

If you love GLH as much as I do, which one is your favorite and why?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the third book in her Sonoma series, Stalker in the Shadows. 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. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Writing the End

I just finished my fourth book in The Guardians, Inc Series for Love Inspired Suspense called Christmas Stalking. It will be out in November of this year. What a great feeling to write the end. I feel a weight lifted up off my shoulders that I will make my deadline. I'm excited to see the story come together, but a little sad that I'm through with these characters. I have enjoyed writing this series about female bodyguards. I have been contracted to write two more in the series. When I came up with this series, I wasn't sure I could do more than three books, but three more stories came to me and I proposed them to my editor. They bought the stories.

What I would like to know is what kind of stories do you like to read? Whether suspense, romance or historical. I like to get ideas from others. My favorite stories to read and write are romantic suspense. Next month I have my first longer romantic suspense story out from Abingdon Press called Saving Hope, the first in The Men of the Texas Rangers Series.

Blurb for Saving Hope:
When a teenager goes missing from the Beacon of Hope School, Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan and school director Kate Winslow are forced into a dangerous struggle against a human trafficking organization. But the battle brings dire consequences as Wyatt's daughter is terrorized and Kate is kidnapped.

Now it's personal, and Wyatt finds both his faith and investigative skills challenged as he fights to discover the mastermind behind the ring before evil destroys everyone he loves.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

After the Candy, Cards, Flower and Jewelry

This is Merrillee who is thinking about this day after Valentine's Day. The holiday meant for romance has become rather commercialized with the card, candy, jewelry and flower companies all vying for our money. So how do we show romance the other 364, or in the case of a leap year, 365 days of the year? I think romance sometimes comes down to the "little" thoughtful things we do for the people we love.

Here is a photo of an elevator, not the big fancy kind you find in hotels and office buildings, but the kind you might find in a small apartment building. This looks much like the elevator my daughter got stuck in while she lived in Boston. I'm mentioning this because I want to tell you about it as an illustration of doing things for the people we love. At the time, my daughter was dating a young man who spent a couple of hours talking to her through the closed door of the elevator until someone came to let her out. That fellow is now her husband.

You are probably wondering what the above image has to do with romance. I have another daughter, who has Crohn's disease, and she has a good number of medicines she must take in order to keep the disease in remission. Her sweet husband is faithful to remind her about taking her medicine, even when they were dating.

Here is an image of something we might associate with romance and Valentine's Day, but they can be a real delight when they are completely unexpected. My husband gave me a bouquet of red roses when I received a rejection on the first manuscript that I submitted to a publisher. What a special treat! Another bouquet of roses I'll never forget is the bouquet my kids gave me when I won the Golden Heart at RWA in 2003. They weren't at the ceremony because I didn't think there was a chance that I would win, but my husband called them. They were in NY just so the family could get together while I was there. They showed up at the conference hotel with a beautiful bouquet of orange roses that lasted for nearly two weeks even after traveling on a plane all the way from NY to Florida.

So here are some examples of every day things that on the surface don't spell romance, but they are all about love. Do you have a special memory or incident that spells romance to you? Tell us about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Hello, everyone. Dana Corbit here. Okay, I admit it. Today when my dryer died for the fifth time in three years, I decided that it was time for it to go to the landfill. Hmm. That's not really how it happened. When I texted my husband this morning, calling for repairs before my wet laundry could take on the aroma of Parmesan cheese, he called back with the suggestion I'd given up on making. "Why don't you look for a new one?" he said.

Now you have to understand the significance of my sweetheart's request. He has managed to revive our lovely appliance through EACH of its near-death experiences, even locating outdated parts through the Internet to keep the door from opening during the cycle and sending clothes flying like a Salad Shooter.

Let's just say, I was humming the "Hallelujah Chorus" while searching on-line for a replacement. It didn't take long. With so much information at my fingertips, I compared products and prices, read specifications and customer reviews, located a source for free shipping and free haul away and did the most important research step - I called Mom - before placing the order. Only after receiving confirmation that the shiny new appliance would arrive tomorrow, with its much bandaged counterpart being taken away, did my guilt set in. I am sending another hunk of steel to the landfill. I might speak the pledge of "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse," but my husband is better at sticking to those words than I am, even if he's doing it for another unpleasant word: "Budget."

I say all of this to explain why I have spent much of the afternoon flipping through the Scriptures and "The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible," looking for references to waste and recycling. I didn't have a lot of success other than to learn from Mark 2:22 that one shouldn't put new wine in old skins or they will burst. Oh, and that the word "waste" in the early 1600s of the King James Version was what happened to the land of those who weren't following God's will. My search was a bust. Still, I have to believe that if Jesus were walking the earth today, He would recycle. I believe that God entrusted us with this beautiful planet, and we should treat it as precious. In my favorite passage, Matthew 6, Jesus tells of the lilies, the birds and the grass of the field, and how God cares for them. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" - Matthew 6:28b-29.

Will I send back my brand-new shiny dryer? Sadly, no. My clothes are fermenting as I write. But this exercise has given me cause for thought. It doesn't hurt to try to make things last, choosing repairs over refuse, at least for a while. I guess I'll test my resolve when the washer breathes its last, and I have the chance to make it a matching set.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hi, Sandra Robbins here to tell you I am so excited that Shattered Identity, the second in my Ocracoke Island Series released from Love Inspired Suspense last week.

If you've followed my posts about this series, you know that several years ago my son, granddaughter, and I took a trip to Ocracoke Island, a barrier island twenty-five miles off the coast of North Carolina. I fell in love with the island and decided to set a book there. The idea for following the adventures of an island family turned into a three book series. Dangerous Reunion released last July, and Fatal Disclosure the third book in the series will release in May.

Shattered Identity is the story of Lisa Wade, dispatcher for the Ocracoke sheriff's office, whose mother supposedly jumped to her death from the widow’s walk of the island lighthouse twenty-five years earlier. When Lisa and Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Michaels find her mother’s journal, they discover clues that someone had a reason to want Lisa’s mother dead, and they suspect she was murdered. As they inch toward the truth, a killer is waiting in the shadows, determined to keep some secrets buried forever. Romantic Times Magazine gave the book 4 ½ stars and called it “a thrilling story about seeking peace from past hurts.”

As I wrote this book, the hero Scott Michaels became very real to me. In Dangerous Reunion Scott was reunited with the family from which he was abducted by a aunt when he was a child. As he struggles to make up for the lost years, he must also face the memory of the military missions he has experienced and the men who didn’t come home. My favorite scene is when Scott tells his sister Betsy about an experience he had one morning when he led a military convoy through hostile territory down a dusty desert road in a faraway land. The story Scott relates is a true one that happened to a friend of mine. He allowed me to use his true-life experience of a reminder of how much God loves us, and the book is dedicated to him and all the men and women who serve our country in the military.

Scott and Lisa both are trying to learn to live with the traumatic experiences that have affected their lives. They find out, as all of us do who seek the Lord in our lives, that Christ's grace is sufficient to bring strength to our weaknesses.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Love Inspired

I recently realized that the Love Inspired imprint is celebrating its fifteenth birthday this year. It's hard to believe that the time has gone by so quickly. I still vividly remember meeting with the editors to hear about the proposed new line at a Romance Writers of America conference. That's where I met my dear friend, Carol Steward, one of the first writers for the line.

I had been led to try writing an inspirational novel some time earlier, and when I heard what was planned for Love Inspired, I felt that not only had God opened a door for me, God was pushing me through! I submitted my manuscript, and it sold that first year and came out in 1998. A FATHER'S PROMISE wasn't my first published book, but it was one I especially loved, and it opened a new writing career for me. Now, many, many books later, I'm happy still to be writing for Love Inspired, with my new book, HER SURPRISE SISTER, coming out in July.

As part of the celebration, there's a lovely short film available that you can view here:

It will also lead you to a link where you can download a free Love Inspired book. I hope you'll check it out and take advantage of the offer!

So Happy Birthday, Love Inspired. May you continue to bring stories of family, faith, and love to readers for a long time to come!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fifteen years of writing what I love--Lenora Worth

I'm so excited! This year marks the fifteenth year anniversary for Love Inspired Books. I was there at the beginning and I'm still here. I'm also still amazed that I get to write my stories every day! This is a dream and a blessing and the best job ever. Of course, this is a job and some days, it seems exactly that--work. But most of the time I feel as I've been set loose to play away in a fantasy land. I love creating my stories and learning about my characters. I love hearing from readers and knowing that I've given them some entertainment and food for thought. It touches all of us to hear from readers who have turned back to God because of our books. So ... this post won't be long and drawn out. Just a big "Thank-you" to our publisher Harlequin, our editors at Love Inspired and our readers who have remained so loyal for all these years. We are truly blessed to be a part of the wonderful world of fiction. C'mon, readers, tell us what you love about our books. Tell us what you'd like to see in the future. We so appreciate the support. And I for one hope to continue writing my little love stories for a very long time to come.

Friday, February 3, 2012

More about Heroes...and Conflict

Missy Tippens, here. I saw that y'all had a fun discussion the other day when Jenna posted about different types of heroes. I love all of the many types you discussed! Jenna mentioned bad boy heroes, and that describes my hero is in my February release, A House Full of Hope.

Mark Ryker got in a heap of trouble (and dragged the heroine's sister into trouble with him!) when he was in high school. He was grieving and miserable and finally just left town. Now, years later, he's a changed man, successful, a new Christian...and he heads back to town seeking redemption.

Of course, no one, not even his own father, wants to welcome him. Especially not the heroine, Hannah, who holds a grudge against him.

I had so much fun writing this story! A tortured hero. A woman with a grudge who's four children fall in love with the guy. How can Hannah ever forgive him and admit she's falling for him herself?

Sometimes it's hard for me to write conflict in stories since in real life I tend to avoid conflict at all costs. :) But I really had fun writing this story. What do y'all think about conflict in the books you read? Do find yourself really rooting for a character who comes up against trouble at every turn?

A House Full of Hope is Missy Tippens' fifth book from Love Inspired.

Read an excerpt by clicking here.


Before becoming a Christian, Mark Ryker ran with a bad crowd and broke hearts. Including his father’s. Now a successful businessman, Mark has come home to Corinthia, Georgia, to make amends. But no one will forgive him. So when the widowed mother of four renting his dad’s run-down house needs help fixing up the place, Mark gets to work. Pretty Hannah Hughes and her sweet kids have him longing to be part of the clan, but Hannah isn’t ready to let go of the past. Still, they are working together on a house full of hope—and that’s all Mark needs.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winter Adventures And Story Ideas

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin at

What is more inspiring than a setting like this? Although we know the Lord surrounds us each day, the grandeur of His natural beauty is awe-inspiring.
I've wanted to winter in a place that would offer adventure and rest, and Sedona, Arizona is one of those perfect settings.

Usually a computer potato--never a couch potato since I'm always writing and I use a mouse--I find myself walking daily and hiking up the sloops of the red rocks when I have the courage and energy. A hiking stick helps, and I've enjoyed seeing the views from higher up. 

We've had the frightening thrill of running into wild animals on our journeys, and my husband had the good sense to bring along his camera.  Our first encounter was a bobcat who looked up at us while he lounged in the shade and then decided his nap was more important than lunch.  We were grateful.

Our next adventure was running into a javelina who was not with the usual herd or pack but was alone.  We were grateful because they are wild and can be dangerous. Though the javelina looks like he'd be from the pig family, he is a peckery and if you look closely you'll see he has hair.

We've seen mountain lion tracks but that's one adventure I'll pass up.  I'm still longing to see a roadrunner. 

The setting, hiking, and wild animals has naturally stirred my creative juices and I can feel a novel budding in my mind. I've been here before but never for more than a week, so this extended trip---away from Michigan's winter---is both inspiring and exciting.  One of these days (more likely years), I hope to offer a series or a novel set in this magnificent location.

This is not all fun either. I'm working on a novel to come out months from now which I've titled Waiting for You. It will be the first book in a new series. So for now from our deck with a view of castle rock and bell rock, think of me, and if you enjoy my novels, look for the next LI, A Dream of His Own (the last in the Dreams Come True series) that will be in stores at the end of May through June. If you wondered who is the donor for this wonderful foundation, you may just learn the secret in the last novel.  :  )

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seed Catalog Time

Ruth Axtell Morren

Heirloom tomato medley
This time of year is seed catalogue season! For those of us who love to watch green things grow, there’s nothing more fun than looking at all the luscious vegetables, fruits and flowers in those catalogues. It gives us a little taste of spring long before we can actually experience it. It makes us start to think of our own gardens and what we may or may not do this year. Any new vegetables we’d like to attempt? I’ve been trying different types of heirloom tomatoes for the past few years. Believe me, growing tomatoes in northeastern Maine is a hit or miss affair. With a short growing season, cool or foggy summers and frost sometimes hitting as early as the end of August, we count ourselves very fortunate if we’re able to harvest a few tomatoes. The last couple of summers have been quite good, with no frost till sometime in September. And there’s nothing like a homegrown tomato, so I’ll keep trying!
            Here are a few photos of last season’s vegetable garden. I love bulbs and other perennial flowers as well, but the vegetable garden is the real challenge!
Sugar snap pea blossom
Peppers, miniature eggplant, heirloom tomatoes & pineapple tomatillos
How does your garden grow?
            My Love Inspired Historical this month is about a Downeast Maine farmer, Gideon Jakeman. His quiet strength and patience are what first attract the heroine, when she returns to Maine destitute and friendless.
            Hope you enjoy it!