Monday, March 31, 2014

Inspiring Creativity In A Novel Series

Welcome to the day before April Fool's Day. That lets you know this post is serious. From Gail Gaymer Martin at

Authors can be inspired by many things as they create a new book, but sometimes ideas sneak up on us. I sent a blog post to the ACFW blog on Inspiring Rejection. Weird topic but it was based on things I’d learned from my April Love Inspired release, Rescuing The Firefighter. As I wrote about the creative ways I dealt with changes I had to make in the final story, I also thought about the way research can also inspire a novelist.

While writing the first book involving firefighters, The Firefighter’s New Family in the Sisters Series, I hadn’t noticed at the time how much I would set up characters for Rescuing The Firefighter. I had submitted a different storyline to my editor, but that idea was rejected and, I had to get creative. As I reviewed the second story, I realized I had already built my third novel hero and heroine into the second book. It had been done unintentionally, and it reminds me how the Lord works in His mysterious ways guiding us to into meaningful themes for our fiction.

Researching, I had learned so much about firefighting from both online research, phone calls and numerous other ways, but mainly, I learned the most important details from two firefighter’s I met on Facebook. Yes, you heard me. I posted that I needed real life information, and I was contacted by two men willing to provide me with practical and real life details on their day to day encounters. One wrote and asked, if I would you like to know the psychological and emotional struggles of a firefighter. Writers will gasp here, since there’s nothing greater than that type of information.

Both men’s willingness to take time and share their experiences and feelings was truly a gift. So don’t pass up the opportunity to seek help outside normal methods. The Internet is very helpful, telephone calls to the local fire station and even a tour of the building helps, but reality details is a gift. And the same men asked if I would like him to read the scenes that involved these incidents so that he could offer suggestions if they were needed. That was a moment that will always stand out in my mind. He was extremely helpful and made very few changes. After my author copies for the first firefighter novel arrived, The Firefighter’s New Family, I sent each man a thank you note and an autographed copy of the novel that included their names in the acknowledgments. The man who'd ask about providing more information wrote back and after expressing his thanks for the book and acknowledgment, this is what he said, “I thought you did a great job of including the technical aspects we talked about. Good details, proper terms, sequenced correctly-excellent work. But what really got to me was the story itself. When I first started reading the story, I was looking to see if the issues you and I talked about ended up being part of the book. Before I knew it, I found myself lost in the story. I was rooting for Devon and Ashley to become a couple. I loved the way you interjected wisdom into the story line. Devon and Ashley are really role models-from the way they respected each other, to the way Devon respected Ashley’s

relationship with her first husband, the way Devon and Ashley related to his ex-wife, the way Ashley and Devon related to Joey and Kaylee, etc. You were able to show the struggles they faced had a solution, and that solution included following God's word. Really nice work. You now have another fan!”

The second book Rescued By The Firefighter is in stores now and received  4 stars from  Romantic Times. The plot, inspired by the research from the first book and the developed characterization, helped me create a wonderful story that entertains readers as well as leaves them something to think about.

Research and rejection can result in unexpected gifts to authors by inspiring new novel ideas that are both creative and meaningful to readers.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Glynna Kaye's "Pine Country Cowboy"

After a super-wet, record-tying monsoon season last summer(which gave birth in my yard to about a billion ponderosa pine seedlings), it’s been a strangely warm, dry winter in the Arizona mountains, with hyacinths and forsythia blooming MUCH earlier than normal and deciduous trees already budding.

A usual winter average of 100 inches of snow is currently registering barely above 30 and springtime winds are gusting, further drying out the surrounding pine forest. Monsoon season 2014 won’t start until early-mid July, so we’re praying for more moisture to reduce the likelihood of forest fires—a constant danger in the Arizona high country.
But it’s early summer in “Pine Country Cowboy,” where Brett Marden and Abby Diaz meet, both having learned the hard way that life can sometimes hand us things that we never “get over”—things that impact the remainder of our lives and we’ll never truly understand. But that doesn’t mean God has forgotten us. He can heal our hearts and bring us peace and hope even in the midst of our reality—if we choose to let Him.
I hope you enjoy reading the story of Brett and Abby’s journey to love as you welcome another Spring!

No Place Like Home. Abby Diaz longs to reestablish a relationship with her father, so she heads to Canyon Springs, her Arizona hometown, with a painful past she can’t share with anyone. But then she’s needed to care for her young nephew. The little boy takes a shine to a happy-go-lucky cowboy, a handsome man who’s everything Abby can never have. The more time she spends with Brett, the more she realizes he’s harboring a heartache of his own. As she works on repairing family ties with her father, Abby knows that opening up to Brett is key to forging a new future...together.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tardy by Leann Harris

I'm tardy.  What can I say.  I looked at the calendar on my desk and saw it was my turn to blog.  Don't you just hate it when you muck up?  And having to sparkle or even just be adequate on the spot isn't something I do. (Besides, it's before noon.)  I can achieve witty, brilliant, or heart touching on the page because I can rewrite.  Have you ever had an argument with someone or a discussion, then 20 minutes later you come up with the perfect line?  That's rewriting.

Since my book is out now, what I like to do on my blog is post as the characters and show you the pictures of them I used while writing the book.  They're talking now, so if you'd like to pop over and take a look, I'd love it.  Or if you have a question you want to ask them, just leave it in the comment section.  They'll answer.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Allie Pleiter diggs in her heels

Persistence.  Grit.  Stick-to-it-iveness.  Pick your term for the trait of just "keeping on" when things get hard.

Writers need it.  Marriages need it.  This winter, Chicagoans need it.  We’re all bone-tired of winter in these parts.

This week as I slog through some revisions, shovel my driveway yet again, and celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary, I’m reminded that the ability to keep on is a crucial skill in many areas of my life.  The rewards are waiting behind the effort.

After all, Spring has got to be somewhere under all that snow, right?

What is demanding your persistence today?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Good Morning, Jenna Mindel here, arriving a little late and wondering when Spring might arrive where I live. The last two days in Northern Michigan have been lovely - with temps climbing into the mid 40's. But this morning? We plunged right back down into the single digits. Brrrrrrr. It's been a cold winter, and I think the critters are getting tired of the cold as well. The picture above was taken last week while two deer stood in my driveway after helping themselves to my birdfeeder seed.

Personally, I love winter. I love to snowmobile and snowshoe and walk in the snow, but this winter has been bitterly cold making it difficult to get outside. It's been a good year to stay inside and write, so I really can't complain too much. Even so, I look forward to the warmth of spring and the flowers and even the yard work ahead.

What plans do you all have for Spring?
Stop by my website to check on what's out now at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saying Goodbye is Hard To Do

Susan Sleeman here with a happy yet bittersweet moment. This past week my latest book, Dark Tide released, but it's the last book in my Justice Agency series, and I'm sad about that. For the last few years I have been working on this series about five adopted siblings all working together in a private investigation agency and I've enjoyed every moment of it.

Though I'm happy to have the final book release so readers have the last sibling's story, I think of my characters in a my books as friends. That means I'm saying goodbye to the Justice family and  it's so hard to do.

What about you? Are you sad when a favorite series ends? Do you think of the characters as friends, too, or is that just something an author does?

Family and Law Enforcement Go Hand In Hand

Justice Logo

Double Exposure featuring Ethan Justice - June-2012
Dead Wrong featuring Kat Justice - November-2012
No Way Out featuring Cole Justice - May-2013
Thread of Suspicion featuring Dani Justice - October-2013
Dark Tide featuring Derrick Justice - March-2014

Susan Sleeman
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Her first book, High-Stakes Inheritance was an ECPA bestseller. Award nominations include The Christmas Witness for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and Thread of Suspicion for the 2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website She currently lives in Oregon, but has lived in nine states. Her husband is a realtor and they have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To connect with Susan outside of her – Website visit any of these social media sites-

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Writing A Romantic Novella

It's almost spring from Gail Gaymer Martin at

I love the opportunity to visit our Love Inspired Author's website and talk about things I love--writing, romance and the Lord. Spring is a time of blossoming flowers as well as budding romance and love. It's a great time to talk about writing romantic novellas.

Many historical and contemporary novellas are in the romance genre and are popular among readers. Novellas are short novels, running from 20,000 to 40,000 words, yet are complete stories with goals, conflicts, resolution to reach a happy ending. Novellas are often in anthologies thematically based on holidays, location, interests, such as camping, chocolate, and quilting, and are enjoyed by many people. They are good books read in a shorter time period.

Novellas Differ From Novels
Some of the major differences are:
The hero and heroine often have some connection from the past—old friends, childhood playmates or familiarity through friend or family.
The plot line use mainly minor subplots that enhance the hero and heroine relationship.
The setting descriptions create a sense of place but can also reflect the mood or emotion of the story or characters.
The story covers a shorter period of time than a novel, no longer than a month or two.
The story does always lead to a proposal or wedding, but allows the reader to assume as time passes the couple will make a life time commitment.

Romantic Connection
Romance moves through stages from awareness to attraction but a novella doesn’t allow time to explore these stages fully. Having a past connection between the couple allows the relationship to develop faster yet be believable.
In “An Open Door” Steffi travels to Milan for a fashion magazine feature where she meets Paul, a new photographer working for the same magazine.
Another new collection from Barbour out this month, The British Brides Collection, includes my novella “The Apple of His Eye, set in Victorian times, and is the story of a young woman from a manor who becomes intrigued by the estate’s apple orchard keeper and landscaper and a forbidden romance ensues.
  Whether old friends or familiarity, the hero and heroine’s relationship is more realistic using a past connection technique.

The story in a novella remains focused on the hero and heroine’s relationship, so a subplot is a minor element and serves the outcome of the hero and heroine’s relationship.
“Yuletide Treasure” introduces a wooden heart-shaped box which becomes the catalyst to help Livy understand the meaning of love and opens her eyes to wait for God’s timing. This novella will be available again in September 2014 in a Barbour release called An Old-Fashioned Christmas Collection.
The Barbour anthology Once Upon A Time offers modern-day fairytales including my novella “Better to See You.” Lucy, visiting her ailing grandmother, enters a wood-crafting shop in Germany and finds an old friend. These two are led into a mystery subplot.
Subplots are woven through the romance yet are significant when they affect the characters relationship or emphasis the story’s theme.

All readers want a sense of place to know the location and the time of year. This can be provided in simple ways with limited word count. In “Yuletide Treasure,” the time of year and story location is made evident in the opening paragraph and sets the time period as historical.
A cloud of black smoke curled past the window of the Chesapeake and Ohio locomotive. As the shrill whistle sounded, Livy Schuler snuggled deeper into her travel cloak and studied the changing winter scenery and watched an occasional cow wandered onto the tracks.

Time Span and Romantic Expectation
Because the novella is shorter, the time span is also shorter. A month or two is long enough to develop a relationship into one that is headed for a deeper commitment. Although some novellas end with the promise of marriage, some don’t. The decision is whether the hero and heroine have had enough time in their relationship to make a marital promise. Old friends brought together or a failed relationship renewed could prompt a marriage proposal by the story’s end as long as the past issues have been resolved.
Whether you write a novel or a novella, the important element is to leave your readers with tears in their eyes and a smile on their lips. Give them a story that grows from awareness to interest to attraction in a realistic manner, and then give them a happy ending.

To enjoy romantic novellas, please drop by your favorite bookstore or online bookstores and pick up a copy of The British Brides. The cover is lovely and you'll read nine novellas written by a variety of novelists.

Explore English gardens, London ballrooms, and Scottish castles as nine brides-to-be experience all the legendary drama and epic romance that British literature is known for. Each of the nine short stories will sweep you away to a different era of time spanning over 500 years of history in the British Isles. Penned by an exclusive selection of Christian fiction authors including Gail Gaymer Martin's The Apple Of His Eye, this collection will become a cherished favorite for fans of faith-based romance.

Click to Order or For More Information

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ta-Da by Leann Harris

Hallelujah.  I'm done.  Chemo. Radiation.  And losing my hair.
Yesterday, I had my last radiation treatment and tomorrow I'll have my final meeting with my oncologist.  I am ready to get on with life.  I'll approach this normal life with joy and gratefulness.  In the darkest valley, the Lord was there walking with me. There was never a doubt.

If you're facing a situation you don't see your way through, don't see the dawn, trust in the Lord.  I had a verse, Psalm 118:17 - I will not die but live and proclaim what The Lord has done.   I held onto to that verse and had peace through the entire journey. I would encourage you pray for a verse that you can hold close to your heart and rest in.

On a different note, here's a wonderful video I saw on Facebook.
   Joseph Pedersen-morud's video.

On a lighter note, my daffodils came up without me having to do anything but watch them.


Monday, March 3, 2014

What's in a Name

Susan Sleeman here. I need your help. I'm challenged with naming a Christmas themed book without using the words Christmas or holiday in the title.

Which means I had to get creative and am seeking reader's opinions in a poll. And for your help, I'm offering you a chance to win one of 10 copies of the book.

I've posted a list of titles on my BLOG and hope you'll stop by to vote for one. Or suggest your own. Either way, your vote enters you to win one of 10 copies I’ll be giving away a month before the book releases to retail. But hurry. You only have until March 3rd at midnight to enter!

So help me out and enter for your chance to win the first book in a 6 book series titled First Responders – Sworn to Protect and Serve. 

Susan SleemanSUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean-read romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her first romantic suspense title, High-Stakes Inheritance earned a spot on the ECPA bestseller list, The Christmas Witness was named a finalist in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and Thread of Suspicion is a finalist in the 2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. In addition to writing, Susan hosts the popular internet website She currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a realtor and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. To connect with Susan outside of her – Website visit any of these social media sites-