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Plotting Ridiculousness!

If you tracked my brain process when plotting, it would look like one of those flight path maps–all over the place.  Since I’m plotting a book right now, I started trying on possible story directions. I couldn’t narrow them down, so I figured, hey, I’ll at least cast the actor I’ll use for the hero.

This led me to Pinterest, which led me to Google, and I ended up on YouTube watching a Days of Our Lives clip. It was a beauty! The user who uploaded the video added some wild violin music. It really added to my enjoyment. You can view it below (you’re welcome).

 

 

I decided to take a break and rest on the couch. Well, a truckload of backstory dumped in my brain before my head hit the couch pillow. Yes! Back upstairs for more research. Two hours later, I had a new understanding of my heroine’s motivations, her career and her story direction. Back to Pinterest to find the actress she looks like. Then to Google. You get the idea. 🙂

I have a lot of plotting to do still, but I love it when the story is headed in the right direction. To have a large block of time to research, explore possibilities, and, yes, to watch Days of Our Lives clips is a huge blessing. This is one of my favorite parts of writing.

Did you ever watch soap operas? Did you have a favorite?

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Writer’s Life: Carla Laureano

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of sweet or inspirational romance novels! Today we have a special treat. Carla Laureano, one of my fave authors, graciously agreed to answer the big questions. I recently read Five Days in Skye, and I’m still swooning. What a terrific book! It had everything I love, a sassy, hardworking heroine, a hunky, loyal hero, an exotic location and oodles of romance. The second book in The MacDonald Family Trilogy, London Tides, releases June 1! Yes!

Let’s get to it!

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

 

I usually get inspired by a character idea—whether it be appearance, job, or quirk—but it can take a while to dig into the details of what makes them tick. When I finally get to the heart of a character in a really specific way—hopes, dreams, and biggest fears—it’s an “aha” moment that makes the rest of the book fall into place around it. There’s no better feeling than when that list of traits on the page becomes a living, breathing person.

 

2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

 

Balance is always my biggest challenge as a person, not just a writer: trying to keep all the balls in the air without dropping anything important and without neglecting my family. 2015 is an extremely busy year, because I have three book releases: two fantasy novels and one romance. That means I’m doing a ton of promotion alongside writing my next book. Plus, I have two elementary school-aged boys who have busier schedules than I do! Some days I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going.

 

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

 

Anything creative that doesn’t involve books! Cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, looking at good art, watching dance performances. And music is always a must. I get more inspiration from music than anything else in my surroundings. I’m always upgrading the memory on my phone because of my ever-expanding collection.

 

4. What are you working on now?

 

I’m putting the finishing touches on the last book in my MacDonald Family Trilogy, which will be off to my editor in a few days. Serena MacDonald finally gets her chance at love…and if you read London Tides carefully, you might catch a glimpse of the final book’s hero!

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You write romance so well, Carla. It’s clear you dig deep to find the heart of the characters. I hear you on trying to balance everything. I’m terrible at it! It’s funny you avoid reading to fill your creative well. I read a lot of non-fiction when I’m writing a draft. Then, when I’m revising or plotting, I fill up on fiction! Thanks so much for being my guest!

 

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London Tides

About London Tides ~

 

Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace … only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together … or tear them apart for good this time?

 

Buy your copy at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com

 

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Carla Laureano

About Carla ~

 

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

 

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Do you love it when a book is set in another country? (I do!!) What country would you like to visit?

 

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Writer’s Life: Julie Jarnagin

Writer’s Life: Julie Jarnagin

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of sweet or inspirational romance novels. I’m hooting and hollering today because Julie Jarnigin is my guest! Years ago, Julie and I met online, then we hit it off in person in 2012. She’s witty, funny, and loves the same television shows I do! We’ve also been “water buddies” since last December. We both strive to drink a ton of water each day–I guzzle 3/4 of a gallon, while Julie drinks even more. She’s pretty amazing. 🙂 Julie’s new series, Taste of Texas, kicks off this month with Kiss the Cowboy!

Let’s get to it! 

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

I love when something in the story surprises me. I used to be a full-fledged plotter, but I recently started writing quick drafts without much planning. It has been so much fun and my creativity has increased! It’s neat when a story takes a turn in a direction I’d never anticipated. I’ve learned to trust my instincts more.

 

2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

My biggest hurdle is definitely a limited amount of time and energy. I work full-time in marketing for a home builder, I have a 1-year-old and a 6-year-old, and we’re currently building a new home and selling our current home. Our family is busy! But writing is important to me, so I figure out how to fit it into my life.

 

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

As crazy as it sounds, the thing that has been energizing me recently is de-cluttering. It started as an innocent task to help us stage the house for selling. It has turned into a mission to simplify our lives. Our house is still full of toys and normal family messes, but I’m finding that less stuff helps me stay focused on my priorities. Other things that fill my creative well are playing with my boys, reading, and listening to my Pandora station (which is mostly alternative with a little Taylor Swift thrown in for good measure).

 

4. What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing Book 2 in my Taste of Texas series. I’m so excited about this series! It has been a blast to write. The novella, The Art of Falling, and the first novel in the series, Kiss the Cowboy, are available now.

 ***

Julie, I’m always impressed with how much you juggle–small children, a demanding job AND writing. How exciting that you’re gearing up to move into a new home! As someone who has moved often, I can honestly say you’re doing the smart thing by de-cluttering now. It will make it much easier when the big move day comes. I’m with you, too, on letting your story take over in a first draft. That’s part of the wonder–being surprised by our characters. 🙂 Congratulations on your new release and the series!

***

Writer's Life Julie Jarnigin

Kiss the Cowboy ~

What if your competition for your dream job…was your dream man?

All Lucy Pickett needs to become executive chef in one of Dallas’s finest restaurants is to pull off the high-profile wedding she’s catering. So what if she’s forced to share duties with Dylan Lawson, a modern-day chuck-wagon cook? So what if he’s got rugged looks and cowboy charm? None of that is going to knock her off her game. Until she learns the restaurateur is considering Dylan for the position she wants. Game on–and it’s a winner-take-all event!

Dylan Lawson finally has the opportunity he’s been waiting for to prove he can do more than just be a ranch hand. The only thing standing in his way is the fiery chef fighting for the same position. Will the heated competition scorch any chance they have for love?

Interested in purchasing Kiss the Cowboy? Buy Here!

Interested in purchasing The Art of Falling? Buy Here!

 

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Julie Jarnigin

About Julie ~

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Julie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Sign-up

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Do you dread de-cluttering your home?

(I need to drop off a ton of stuff to charity!)

Have a terrific day!

Giveaway! A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Giveaway! A Love Like Ours By Becky Wade

About a month ago, I received an ARC (advance copy) of Becky Wade’s new contemporary Christian romance novel, A Love Like Ours. This is book #3 in the Porter Family Novel series. The book sat patiently on my end table until I finished writing my own book. Finally, last week I was able to dive into Jake Porter’s story.

I read it in two days. I laughed. I cried. I sighed at the end, sad for it to be over but thrilled to have experienced it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Becky’s novels since devouring My Stubborn Heart. Her books just hit every mark for me–fun characters, deep emotions, truly lovable heroes and heroines, gut-wrenching spiritual journeys and, most importantly, fan-yourself romance.

A Love Like Ours is her best yet. Lyndie is as sweet as can be, but she’s so strong and determined, too. She does not let life drag her down. And Jake–oh, my!! Jake is so tortured and wonderful–I’m in love with him. Can’t help myself!!

This is a five stars and then some for me!

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A Love Like Ours

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

***

 

Becky has graciously agreed to give away one autographed copy to one of my readers. The entry form is below (open to US residents 18 years and older). If you want to buy a copy, she’s giving a percentage of her earnings to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on every copy of A Love Like Ours sold until May 17th. How cool is that?? Here’s the link to her Book Page where you will find links to the major retailers.

Here’s the entry form!

 

Thanks so much, Becky, for the great read and for the giveaway!

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Becky Wade

About Becky Wade ~

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn HeartUndeniably YoursMeant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

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Do you love tortured heroes? Have you read Becky’s books? If not, you are in for a treat!!

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

Writer’s Life: Pepper D. Basham

Writer’s Life: Pepper D. Basham

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of inspirational or sweet romance novels. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Pepper D. Basham! I met Pepper at an ACFW conference a few years ago, and I was instantly charmed by her down-to-earth personality. Her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, just released! It looks amazing, and I love the cover! Congratulations, Pepper!

Let’s get to it.

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

Two things: The entire creative process of watching a story grow! That is always amazing to me. You know that phrase from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddel says “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure” – well, that’s how I feel when I’m creating a story. When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.

Second thing – I really enjoy watching the characters grow from beginning to end. I’m a happily-ever-after girl for sure, as seeing the struggles overcome, the insecurities calmed, and the fear braved in my characters reminds me of what God is doing in my life from start to finish.

2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

Time! I’ve always had to etch out time to write, but now that I’ve added deadlines and marketing to my daily dose of writing time, it’s really become more of a challenge to fit everything in. I work a full-time day job and then have my wonderful fam – so the added time crunch makes for a little more stress and whole lot more creativity in etching out the time I need to finish what’s on my to-do list.

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

I’m sure this is a common answer, but it’s true for me. I pray and read the Word. I usually find verses that pertain, not only to me, but also my characters journeys as I read the Bible. I also find music inspiring, good movies, and re-reading some of my favorite novels. Add a nice, beautiful walk to the list and I have a perfect bag of creativity-inducing activities.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m working on two different novels right now. I have my first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, debuting in December 2015. I’m also furiously writing book 2 in the Penned in Time series, my historical romance. It’s title is The Thorn Keeper and I’m really enjoying the characters in this novel.

***

You sound busy, busy, Pepper! I love the happy endings, too, that’s why I read so many romance novels. If you have any creative time-crunch tips, we’d sure love to hear them. I’m not a multi-tasker! Your inspiration list makes me smile. Looks perfect to me. 🙂 Thanks so much for being my guest!

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Pepper Basham

About Pepper D. Basham ~

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. You can connect with Pepper on her website, Facebook  or Twitter.

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The Thorn Bearer

The Thorn Bearer

When Ashleigh Dougall’s fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman? In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.

Sam Miller is always making up for his younger brother’s mistakes. Determined to help his friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend.

As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.

When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of the trenches of Europe and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.

Interested in purchasing The Thorn Bearer? Amazon | Barnes and Noble

 

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Confession: I’ve never watched Chariots of Fire. What famous movie have you never gotten around to seeing?

Have a terrific day!!

Did Your Brain Shut Down? Brewing Story Ideas

I’m blessed to have an overactive imagination. Yes, blessed! Ideas clang and roll around in my brain all the time. Most of them are tiny snippets, not worth exploring, but some burrow in and won’t leave me alone.

About six years ago, I learned something extremely valuable. If I don’t give my imagination the freedom to go wild, the ideas trickle. My brain has shut down after too many “not nows.” There is nothing worse than wanting to write a new book but having no idea in mind. That’s why I always have the next story brewing in my head while I’m actively writing the current one.

Brewing Story Ideas

Brewing Ideas:

1. Get an idea. It might be the teeniest thing. WRITE IT DOWN! I keep an idea journal, but in a pinch, I type it into the Notes section of my phone.

2. Ask questions about the idea. Ask more questions. Realize the problems with it. Find ways to work around the problems. Let it grow.

3. I DO NOT WRITE the beginning of the story for the new idea. Many writers easily switch between writing projects. I often work on three books at once, but they’re at different stages. I don’t write two books at the same time. If I started writing the new story, I wouldn’t finish the current one. My first rule of thumb is to always finish one book before writing another.

4. If the idea is worth developing into a book, I figure out basic plot points. I also mentally picture the characters and find photos on Pinterest of celebrities they may look like.

5. I bring a notebook or a stack of used printer paper and drive somewhere to jot notes. For some weird reason, I do my best plotting when I’m watching birds, sitting in a coffee shop, or hanging out at a park. I need at least fifteen minutes, and I like to zone out and just feel the possibilities.

6. Struggling with plot issues? I click on the Voice Recorder function of my phone, and I talk through whatever is bothering me. It’s amazing how many dead-ends get bulldozed this way.

7. When in doubt, I get help. If I love a story idea and I just can’t figure out how to work through a major plot problem, I ask a writer friend for advice. Even my husband solved a huge plot problem for me recently, and it took him all of three seconds to do!

8. Write a brief summary of the story. I’m talking three sentences. This will help you keep the overall story in mind as you continue to expand the idea.

 

Now that my brain percolates a new story as I’m writing a different one, I never run out of ideas. I’m also excited to work on the new story when I finish a book. My brain never shuts down anymore, because I’ve found a system to develop ideas as they come. Works for me! What works for you?

 

How do you deal with ideas? I’d love to hear!

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Writer’s Life: Patricia Johns

Writer’s Life: Patricia Johns

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of sweet or inspirational romance novels. Today I’m giddy to have Patricia Johns as my guest! She has another Harlequin Love Inspired out this month– A Firefighter’s Promise! *swooning* One of these days, we will meet in real life. Until then, Patricia, congratulations on another gorgeous cover and on your upcoming Harlequin American Romance, Safe in the Lawman’s Arms!

Let’s get to it!

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

Being able to write full time is a dream come true! I’ve always been a writer, but being published has got to be the best high! The offer of a book contract really never gets old.

 

2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

Taking a break! I am doing my best to keep my writing within my office hours so that my family gets me during evenings and weekends, but it’s not easy. When my brain is firing ahead, it’s really hard to tell it to wait until Monday.

 

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

 

I watch TV. I know that sounds so counterintuitive, but it just lets my brain swim for a bit. My days are pretty busy with writing, parenting, wifing… so having an hour to watch a show on TV is nice way to recharge.

 

 

4. What are you working on now?

 

Right now, I’m working on a proposal for a book for the American Romance line. It’s already contracted, and now it’s my turn to show them what it will look like! This is a fun stage. I like having so many possibilities.

***

I love zoning out to HGTV’s Fixer Upper or to a Detroit Tigers Baseball game. It’s good to have creative downtime. I try to keep business hours, too, but some months are too busy. It’s hard! Thank you so much for being my guest!

 

 

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A Firefighter's Promise

A Firefighter’s Promise ~

 

When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.

Purchase A Firefighter’s Promise Here!!

 

 

 

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Patricia Johns

Patricia Johns writes from Alberta, Canada where the winters are long and cold–a perfect recipe for writing! She lives with one husband, one child, and two birds. She writes for both Harlequin Love Inspired and Harlequin American Romance. For more information, visit patriciajohnsromance.com.

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Okay, readers, be honest! You love a good fireman, right?? I know I do!

Have a terrific day!

Recipe Fail

So I decided to try something different. Instead of merely pinning food photos to my Pinterest Recipe board, I figured I would actually make a few. Shocking concept, I know!

Follow Jill’s board Recipes on Pinterest.

We’ve been super busy here with track, baseball, and writerly things (yay!!), so I needed quick and healthy meals. I opted to try a casserole-inspired meatball sub bake along with Asian coleslaw.

Things started out fine. I remembered to buy all the ingredients except the shredded cabbage. A last minute dash to the store got me back on track. The casserole was simple to put together and only needed thirty minutes of bake time. The Asian coleslaw had a little more prep due to chopping veggies and whisking together dressing ingredients, but it was easy, too.

Unfortunately, easy and yummy did not go hand in hand.

The bread portion of the casserole was way too crunchy, and the taste only so-so. The coleslaw? Every member of my family asked if we were having it again, and they did not ask with anticipation. No, that look in their eyes was DREAD. I assured them I would destroy the recipes.

I’ve had plenty of success with Pinterest dishes. There’s a Slow-Cooker Enchilada Stack my family raves about, and we all love Spicy Sausage Pasta. I’ll be attempting Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars to take to our baseball double-header this Sunday. Hey, not every recipe is a home run, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying!

Do you enjoy cooking? Do you try new recipes?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

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