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Last Night’s Scary Tornado

All week my daughter took a class in a busy part of the city. Road construction around here is terrible right now, and we were both glad last night was her final meeting. When class let out, the sky turned an ugly yellow-brown on one side and dark blue on the other.

As soon as we got on the highway we knew we were in trouble. Tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings blared from the radio. The sky behind us grew muddy brown as two lines of stopped traffic greeted us. The nearest exit was three miles away. We were trapped.

A huge murky white cloud to our left flashed intermittent lightning. Traffic crawled, stopped, then nudged ahead. Tornado sirens screeched outside. My daughter Googled what to do during a tornado if you were in a car. Naturally, automobiles are the most dangerous place to be in during a tornado! The radio announcers kept saying to get to a safe place.

We wanted to get to a safe place, but how could we? We couldn’t get off the highway!

The weather grew more severe, but my daughter texted friends and learned the weather at home was even worse. Apparently our house was being pelted with hail. A tornado touched down in a town a few miles from ours.

The sky grew darker and darker, but thankfully, the tornado and storm were heading east of us. It took us an hour to get home, but we made it safely.

My brain kept going back to my book. Small-Town Bachelor features a terrifying tornado. I’ve been near tornadoes in the past, but this was the first time we were stuck in a traffic jam with one nearby. I prefer to be in the safety of my basement! Severe storms and tornadoes are scary, and I hope we won’t be anywhere near one again!

Have you ever been stuck in a tornado? What storms scare you?

My friend, the extremely talented writer Beth K. Vogt, is hosting me on her blog today! She features quotables! I love her site. :)

Also, if you’re in the Oakley, Michigan area this Saturday, April 11, pop in at the Oakley Village Hall from 2-4pm for an author meet and greet! I’ll be selling and signing copies of Small-Town Bachelor! See my Events page for the address and details.

Have a terrific weekend!!

Writer’s Life: Varina Denman

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of sweet or inspirational romance.

I’m so excited to have Varina Denman as my guest! I met Varina a few years ago at the ACFW conference. We, along with Jill Lynn, were finalists in the Genesis contest. Varina’s kind smile and witty conversation drew me to her immediately. She ended up winning the Genesis! Her debut novel, Jaded, released in March, and if you sign up for her newsletter (link is below), you’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of Jaded!

Let’s get to it!

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

I know this is going to sound crazy, but I love editing! When I first start a story, it’s total drudgery coming up with the plot. But once I’ve got it all thrown onto the page, I enjoy moving scenes around, tweaking characters, and polishing grammar. And then when I start feeling the scene as though it’s happening to me…then my heart sings.

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

Oh. My. Goodness. That would have to be the deadlines, and the marketing, and attempting to juggle the two at the same time. Wow. For years, I’ve heard authors talk about how crazy it can be, but I really couldn’t imagine what they meant. Until now. I don’t have time to wipe my nose! Not that I’m complaining. All good things, right? I prayed long and hard for this, so I might as well buckle my seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

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

REST. I don’t get enough sleep, so when I do, it makes an enormous difference. It’s almost comical. I can sit in front of the laptop, pondering a problem scene for hours with no hope, but after a good night’s sleep, the answer just pops into my head.

In addition to rest, I fill my creative well with housework, or mindless exercise, or romantic movies. The housework option may sound strange too, but when I’m the only one home, I get involved in monotonous chores and let my mind wander. Then my subconscious starts working on plot holes, and I don’t even have to try.

4. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing up book three in the Mended Hearts series. It’s titled Jilted, and it ties-up all the loose ends that were left hanging in Jaded and Justified. Even after three books, I enjoy working with Ruthie and Fawn and the other characters. And I enjoy the small town setting. Often, I want to go there, just so I can get that rest I need.

Many thanks to Jill, for inviting me to your blog. I’ve enjoyed being here!


Varina, I can relate to everything you wrote! I’m not a multi-tasker. My to-do list scares me! But one-by-one, I get things done. Still, I get panicky at times. Rest is so important. I get more sleep in the summertime, so I’m looking forward to the warmer weather. Congratulations on your books!! The series sounds wonderful!


 Jaded ~

Jaded by Varina Denman


Having been unjustly shunned by the local congregation, Ruthie Turner despises the church members who refuse to speak to her. When the new preacher asks her out, Ruthie’s bitterness is put to the test. Against her better judgment, she falls in love then re-examines Christianity while he risks his reputation to be with her. Their relationship reveals a string of secrets which turn the little church upside down as Ruthie learns to forgive.

Jaded is a love story, not only between a man and woman, but also between the church and the lost.

Purchase Jaded HERE!


About Varina ~


Varina Denman


Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She has five children, teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local homeschool cooperative, and boasts sixteen years as a home educator. She resides with her family in North Texas. Her first novel, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award.

Connect with Varina Denman: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


Click on the box to sign up for Varina’s newsletter! You’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of Jaded!

Sign up for Varina's newsletter!



Do you get enough rest? Any tips you can share?

My extremely talented critique partner and one of my best friends–Wendy Paine Miller interviewed me on HER BLOG today!

She’s also part of a huge giveaway with nine authors of women’s fiction!! Click here, Spring Giveaway, for her post with the easy entry options!!

Have a terrific day!!

New Tricks and the Blog Tour Continues

I hope you enjoyed your Easter Sunday! We had a beautiful sunny day, and we’re still eating leftover ham and snacking on Easter basket goodies. Rain moved in. I’m hoping this means our yellow grass turns green. I am SO ready for spring!


April is always hectic around here, and I’m not home in the evening much. Add a growing to-do list of small writing-related tasks, and I decided to try a few new tricks.

1. I got the Google Docs app for my phone. I can add a few paragraphs to short stories, work on interview questions or outline a handout on the go. I’m loving this!

2. Ever since I hopped on the scale at the doctor’s office a month ago, I’ve been determined to get my health back on track. I’m using the free MyFitnessPal app to log workouts and my food intake. It might not work for everyone, but it’s working great for me.

Today I’m at Jennifer Major’s blog talking about What I Wish I knew When I Started Writing. Hint: it involves the first draft! Stop by and join the conversation!

Up next:

Wednesday: Wendy Paine Miller’s Thoughts That Move

Thursday: Candice Sue Patterson

Friday: Beth K. Vogt

Saturday: The Pink Heart Society

Also, on Saturday I’ll be in Oakley, Michigan for an author meet & greet! If you’re in the area, stop by Oakley Village Hall from 2-4pm on Saturday!

What tricks are helping you meet your goals? I’d love to hear them!

Have a fantastic day!


What Sin Is Too Big For God?

What Sin is Too Big For God?

I co-teach our church’s preschool Sunday school class. The other teacher and I take turns, so we each lead the class about twice a month. I love it. Little children bring so much joy to the world!

Last week, we talked about Peter’s denial and how sad he was after denying Jesus. Then we discussed how Jesus still loved him and forgave him. I asked the sweet children a series of questions.

Would God forgive you if you murder someone?

They all shook their heads no.

I assured them that if they were sorry and trusted in God, He would forgive them.

What if you stole something, would He forgive you?

Again, a lot of serious head-shaking!

I assured them that this too would be forgiven.

What if you hit your friend? Lied about something?

A few started to catch on, but the concept of forgiveness is tough to understand.

We, as adults, can be so like these precious young ones. Too often, we hear the message that God hates sin and will judge the world. Yes, He does hate sin and judgment will come, but God is love! He’s mercy! He forgives!!

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Yes, we all have sinned. God hates sin, but He loves us. There is no need to be separated from God’s great love–if sin is eating at you, repent. Give your guilt to Him who overcame sin and death, and rejoice in the peace of forgiveness!

John 3:16 (NIV) “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

No sin is too big for God to forgive! Give it to Him!


In lighter news, I’m chatting about my love of coffee over at Coffee Cups and Camisoles (linked) today. Stop by! I’m giving away a copy of Small-Town Bachelor!

And Heart-Shaped Glasses (linked) interviewed me today! They had some terrific questions. I hope you’ll stop by!

What is your favorite Easter hymn?

Mine is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!!

Writer’s Life: Susan Crawford and a Giveaway!

Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with Christian romance authors. Today, inspirational contemporary romance author, Susan Crawford, joins us, AND she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Saving Justice! I met Susan a few years ago at an ACFW conference. She is beautiful, funny and makes you feel right at home when you talk to her. I’m so excited to have her here!

Let’s get to it!

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

I think the beginning and the end of the novel-writing process are the most exhilarating pieces. I love the spark of a new story, the way a character forms into this multi-dimensional friend in my head, researching and discovering interesting places or scenarios that would fit just right into the storyworld. I also love the final editing phase, where the whole mess starts to come together and I can spend time searching for that perfect word or phrase. And finishing, of course, is the most majestic feeling because most of the time in the middle feels like a struggle. To come to the end and see what you’ve accomplished is pretty sweet.

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

Balance. As someone newly published, I’m still trying to learn how to navigate all the different demands that have suddenly dropped into my life. It took me two years to write the first book in my series, but the second book had to be done in six months. Learning to plot more efficiently and write faster has been a pretty steep learning curve for me, but I’m working on it. And once the book is finished, there are still lots of other things that have to be done (don’t even talk to me about marketing because I might hyperventilate). The task list is endless, and I have this constant feeling that I’m behind and will never catch up. There’s always something I could be working on. But I have a family that I like to see sometimes and a day job thrown into the mix, too, so I’m trying to figure out how to balance everything and keep the most important things (hi, family!) at the top of the list.

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

I read lots of books, do crafty things with my daughters, or paint something. Usually if I’m stuck or feeling empty, getting up to do anything besides staring at the computer screen helps, even if it’s just starting a load of laundry or getting a snack (chocolate makes everything better!). And if all else fails, it might just be time for a nap. I’ve found that getting enough rest helps to keep me from being depleted creatively.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m revising Book 2 in the Heart of the City series and working on a new novella, as well. Book 2 features Cade McGuire, the brother of the hero in Saving Justice. He captivated me when he showed up in the first book, and I knew he had to have his own story. He has a broken past, but finds grace, redemption, and something completely unexpected in a feisty blonde politician named Darby Phillips.


Boy, Susan, I can relate to everything you just said. I love the final, final edits of a story when you know it’s as close to great as you’re going to get it. I always feel behind, too. As soon as one thing is checked off my list, ten more are added. I am NOT a multi-tasker! Yikes!! Your new book sounds fabulous! Thanks so much for being my guest today!


Writer's Life: Susan Crawford


Saving Justice ~

After losing her brother to gang-related violence, elementary schoolteacher Kinley Reid is on a mission to help her at-risk students. When one of them, Justice, is caught in an act of vandalism, she intervenes.

Entrepreneur Nash McGuire has gone to great lengths to overcome the poverty he grew up in. When working on a renovation project in his old neighborhood he collides with a juvenile delinquent and his do-gooder teacher.

Kinley believes Justice can overcome the influence of his environment; Nash knows the odds and has little patience with Kinley’s naivety. But as the boy’s mandatory community service forces Justice and Kinley into Nash’s life, he can’t help but discover a boy searching for love and purpose–a boy very much like he once was.

Then Justice is accused of another crime. And Kinley’s stubborn belief in the boy’s innocence is just too much for Nash to accept…

Purchase Saving Justice (linked)!!


Susan Crawford

About Susan ~

Susan Crawford is an author of inspirational contemporary romance, published by Redbud Press. Before publication, her debut novel Saving Justice was named a finalist in the 2014 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis writing contest. Susan lives in Oklahoma City, where she happily crams writing in between being a wife, mom, and small business owner. Visit her online at to sign up for her email newsletter and be the first to hear about her writing news and upcoming releases.


Enter to win a copy of Saving Justice!

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Are any of you artistic? I occasionally sketch, and strolling the halls of our local art museum always fills my creative well!


My blog tour continues. Today is the official release of my debut novel, Small-Town Bachelor!! There are THREE ways to win a copy of my book. The following stops on my tour are all offering a free copy, so stop over!!

1. I’m over at Seekerville! I’d love it if you stopped by for “Tricks to Keep Your Eyes Fresh When Revising.

2. I’m also talking about my new-to-me hometown over at Gabrielle Meyer’s blog! Come on over to “My New-To-Me Hometown“!

And  Margaret Daley interviewed Claire, the heroine of Small-Town Bachelor. It’s really fun! Check it out at “Heroine Interview from Small-Town Bachelor.”

Thank you!!

Cold Queries and Contests DO Pay Off

If you’re a writer, you know how difficult it is to land an agent. And even with an agent, it’s difficult to sell your books!

I’m at The Writers Alley today sharing my experience. Yes, I signed with my agent after cold querying her. And, yes, I sold my debut novel, Small-Town Bachelor which officially releases tomorrow, through a pitch contest. Stop by The Writers Alley to learn more!!

Here’s the link, “Cold Queries and Contests DO Pay Off.”

Congratulations, Laurie T., on your blessed new baby!! Woo-hoo!!

Have you entered a writing contest or queried an agent you’ve never met? Tell me about it!

Gift Package Giveaway

Today is the LAST day to enter my Gift Package Giveaway for Small-Town Bachelor!! Click on my HOME page (linked) and scroll down for the easy entry options!

Today’s Blog Stops and Giveaways

My blog tour kicked off last week, and this week I’m hanging out at seven blogs! Pinching myself!!

Today’s stops:

The fabulous Annette M. Irby invited my to share a few scene tips over at Seriously Write. Here’s the link:

“Is This Scene Necessary?” (Seriously Write)

And prolific Christian romance writer, Margaret Daley, interviewed Claire from Small-Town Bachelor in a two-part blog! Look for the actual interview on Wednesday!

To enter giveaways for my book and for Diann Mills’s Double Cross, go to “This Week Jill Kemerer and Diann Mills with Giveaways.” (Margaret Daley)

Tomorrow I’ll be at The Writers Alley! Stop by tomorrow morning for the link!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Have a terrific day!

Revisiting Favorite Books

I remember when I fell in love with historical romance novels. My youngest had just turned one. My sister-in-law mentioned Jodi Thomas, and I decided to try one of her books. Oh, my! I was hooked! Most of Jodi’s books at the time were set in Texas in the late 1870’s. The heroes were strong and tough but had a tender side underneath all those ranch-hardened muscles. And the heroines were spunky and caring. The Texas setting did something to me. I still love those books!


Soon I found Regency romance. Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn became my go-to authors. I also loved Elizabeth Boyle. But about eight years ago, my tastes changed, and I began reading more and more inspirational (Christian) romance. I still do. I read many other genres, too.

During our last move, I donated 90% of my book collection to our library’s book sale. I kept several of my absolute fave books, and the other night, I cracked open a vintage Stephanie Laurens, Devil’s Bride. This is not a Christian romance! It’s pretty spicy–warning you now! But I just love the hero and the heroine and their interactions. Plus the suspense thread kept the story moving.

Another book I revisit from time to time is Mary Wibberley’s Man of Power. This is a vintage early 80’s Harlequin Romance. It’s classic! A modern (at the time) Cinderella tale with a twist. It made a huge impact on me because of the mouthy heroine (virtually unheard of in earlier Harlequins), the awesome settings, and the hunky hero. Mm-mmm! Love that book!

Do you ever revisit a favorite book? Please share the title!!

The super-hilarious–and one of my best friends–Jessica R. Patch had me and the characters from Small-Town Bachelor play a game of Would You Rather (linked) on her blog today.

And my author crush (if you remember, a few years back I got overly excited to meet her at a conference!), Becky Wade, is hosting me on the fabulous, Inspired by Life and Faith blog today! I’m sharing my love of Michigan lakes.

Both blogs are hosting giveaways of Small-Town Bachelor, so stop by!!

Have a terrific day!!

Random March Stuff


I lost track of time yesterday. I was reading my work-in-progress, taking notes on how to revise it based on the new direction it’s taking, and the day ran away. It just trotted right away from me! Figuring out major revisions is always daunting, but I made it through. Phew!

This was my breakfast on Sunday. The donut was actually BIGGER than it appears, if that’s possible. The thing was ginormous. And delicious. :) I really love baked goods.




It snowed Monday. Snowed.

It’s raining today. Gray sky. Sophie didn’t want to go out this morning. She shivered on the porch, staring up at me with the most pathetic eyes. I wanted to tell her I’m not a mean lady, but I kind of am! Poor little dog. Who wants to be out in this yucky weather?

In important news, I got highlights in my hair last week. Much brighter! Don’t you love getting your hair freshened up?

The Easter candy in stores has been tempting me, but I haven’t bought any. I have a feeling Cadbury Mini-Eggs will be coming home soon, though. They are the best.

The wonderful Kristina Knight invited me to hijack Word Wranglers today. Stop by to find out what writing rules romance writers should break! Here’s the article, “#WriterWednesday: Jill Kemerer.”

Tell me your random March stuff! I love hearing what’s going on in your life!

Have a terrific day!

Remember, the Gift Package Giveaway for Small-Town Bachelor is still going on. Go to my HOME page and scroll down for the easy entry options!!


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