Did you know I’m a contributor to Michelle Lim’s group blog, Thoughts on Plot? We have themes for each day, and Thursdays are All About Love. Today I’m talking about this romance novel I read when I was in college. I’m still mad at the heroine!! Come on over and join the conversation!
Today we have a special guest blogger, Kariss Lynch, and she’s sharing her thoughts on love. Please join me in welcoming Kariss!
We are closing out the month of love, but for me I think it has been a month of recognition and discovery. Recently I was asked to read and review several mainstream romance novels, so this month I’ve spent my nights giving them due diligence to provide an honest opinion.
I could tell you how well the authors painted scenes and used strong verbiage. I could tell you the characters were intriguing and attractive (every guy had washboard abs because that’s realistic). Or I could tell you how I felt when I closed the final page.
In one word: broken.
While everything about these novels met a good standard of writing technique, the romances fell short. Why? Because each author made romance about physicality rather than about relationship.
Somewhere along the way, our culture twisted romance into something superficial. So this month, I have been searching the scriptures to counter what I saw portrayed about culture in these novels. As we wrap up a month of hearts and flowers and an explosion of pink, I want to take it back to the basics.
This is love…
It protects rather than demands.
It seeks to meet a need rather than an expectation.
It is more concerned with the person than their performance.
It is lasting rather than passing.
It expands past feelings.
It trusts rather than responds defensively.
It fights rather than flees in difficulty.
It celebrates wins rather than responding in jealousy.
It asks what I can do for someone else rather than what they can do for me.
It begins and end with Christ.
I remember distinctly the moment last month when I wrote about Kaylan Richards and her boyfriend, Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael as I finished up my third novel, Surrendered, and prepared for the release of Shadowed on March 3. Kaylan realizes that she loves a warrior called to something greater than himself, and he is asking her to join him on that journey. She wrestles with fear that he won’t come home, fear of being alone, lack of trust in his ability and training, and lack of trust in the men around him as he leaves her to fight for his country.
But then she pauses for a moment and begins to think of all the times when Nick pursued her when she was unlovable, when she was struggling, when she was trapped in fear. She realizes that even when she can’t trust circumstances, she can trust him because he has faithfully loved her in spite of herself. It hit me. This is love. It pursues. It sacrifices. It seeks to be like Christ.
I don’t know how Valentine’s went for you, but I can tell you that there is a love deeper than you have ever experienced and the One offering it desires a relationship with you. It is a love that will transform all your other relationships. And like Nick, this One willingly sacrificed for you. Not because He had to, but because He wanted to know you.
This is love. This is the gospel.
Thank you, Kariss, for this beautiful message. I started out writing sweet, mainstream romances, but I felt something was missing–my faith. Your post really strikes home with me.
Nick Carmichael faces the demons of his past on a Navy SEAL mission to catch arms dealer Janus. Meanwhile his girlfriend, Kaylan Richards, must come to terms with loving a man who is often gone and in harm’s way. She is adjusting to life in a new city with new friends, new neighbors, and an internship. But she still wonders if she will ever find her place and wrestles to develop the strength for the future she wants to have with Nick.
As Nick and the SEAL team chase Janus, she turns the tables, attacking their families, which places Kaylan in harm’s way. When Kaylan begins receiving threatening notes and items begin to disappear from her home, Nick must learn to trust God with her life as he and his team fight for justice and answers to his past. Will light shine in the darkness, or will Kaylan and Nick’s love forever be stalked by shadows?
Want to win a copy of Shadowed?
Visit karisslynch.com/contact and sign up for my newsletter. I will choose one person to receive a free, signed copy of my new release, Shadowed, coming March 3!
About Kariss ~
Kariss Lynch writes contemporary fiction about characters with big dreams, hearts for adventure, and enduring hope. Shaken, her first book in the Heart of a Warrior series, released in 2014. Her second book, Shadowed, releases March 3, 2015. A former freelance writer, she now works as the writer for a communications ministry in Dallas.
Welcome to another edition of Writer’s Life, my interview series with authors of inspirational romance.
I’m so excited to feature Courtney Walsh!! Courtney is the best-selling author of A Sweethaven Summer, and she has a new book, Paper Hearts, that I’m dying to read! I met Courtney at an ACFW conference a few years ago, and I was instantly charmed by her down-to-earth, creative personality. The world would be a better place if everyone could sit next to Courtney for an hour. :)
Let’s get to it!
1. What about writing makes your heart sing?
Sometimes when I’m writing, it feels like work. I struggle to say when I’m thinking or to make the point as clearly as I want to. But then other times, I get completely lost in the story, especially when I know where a scene is going before I sit down. Those moments, when you feel like you’ve literally just visited another place, are the ones I love most of all!
2. What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?
Probably time. We own a business and we work with kids in the performing arts. The things we do with them are so important to me, but writing is so important to me too. I just have to find the balance with each aspect of my life.
3. What do you do to fill your creative well?
I pray a lot. I find that helps me stay on track. Also I LOVE to browse Barnes and Noble. I just walk through and collect pretty things then sit down and read. Sometimes it overwhelms me because I get lots of ideas that way but usually I am just filled up when I leave!
4. What are you working on now?
I’m about to dive in to the edits for my second book in the Paper Hearts series. :) And this weekend we open our production of The Wizard of Oz. :)
Courtney, I love to browse Barnes and Noble too. I’ve gotten sucked into their magazine aisles on countless occasions. There’s something really soothing about the store! And I love your answer about praying. It all comes from Him, that’s for sure. Congratulations on your new release and your production of Wizard of Oz!
Paper Hearts ~
Could the loss of her dream lead to her happily ever after?
Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into her dreams of expansion… and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark. When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice. As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man who seems intent on crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams… and her heart?
About Courtney ~
Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Paper Hearts is her fourth novel. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two additional books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.
Is there a store that instantly relaxes you? For me, it’s any coffee shop or book store!
One of the more daunting tasks in the writer’s life is revising a rough draft. It’s not that I don’t like revising–I actually enjoy it–but it’s a lot of work.
Anyway, I got to thinking about my very first manuscripts. I laugh now, but back then I honestly didn’t have a clue what revising meant. I thought my it meant you go in, make sure everything is spelled correctly and the commas are where they need to be. Done!
How wrong I was…
I didn’t know that what I’d written was the basic story pouring out of my head. It wasn’t fully formed. Dialogue took over. Introspection suffered. Scenes felt choppy. Key story elements arrived too soon or too late or not at all. The voice was there, but a book isn’t just voice.
Writing a good book doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s easy to assume talent is all you need. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it’s just as easy to assume you have NO talent when your first book gets rejected. Studying, writing book after book, revising over and over, getting rejected on your fifth, seventh, thirteenth book–that must mean you don’t have talent, right?
It takes time, practice, studying, analyzing, and revising to write a good book. Talent is developed by these habits. Just as elite pianists practice day after day, writers must too. Don’t assume talent is all you need.
I spent three and a half hours revising two chapters today. Yes, it’s a slow pace, but I don’t take shortcuts anymore. I want my books to be the best I can possibly make them. It’s okay to learn the hard way like I did. But to grow as a writer, you need to accept that writing is a process. When I accepted it, I felt so free. The weight of “talent” lifted, and I embraced myself as the writer I really was–raw, eager and ready.
What did you learn the hard way?
There’s still time to enter the Valentine’s Giveaway! Entry form is below!!
The story behind Valentine’s Day, like many good old stories, is shrouded in the fogs of myth and legend. Some sources say that St. Valentine was a rogue priest who performed Christian marriage ceremonies for young soldiers and their sweethearts, breaking ancient Roman law. There are other hagiographies that say that he healed the blind and defied the emperor.
Even though there are many stories about Valentine (and even many stories about many different Valentines!), the oldest and most reliable account is clear about the important details: there once was a man named Valentine, and he loved the Lord Jesus, and he died for that love.
It’s a strange story to focus on in the midst of all the chocolates and roses and hearts that decorate our stores and our schools and our news sources during February.
Or is it?
At first glance, the sweet little crayon’d Valentines that my kids give me and the bloody story of the first Valentine feel like they don’t exist in the same world. The first belongs to my clean, easy, first-world life and the second to a life more primal, more real.
But the stories of our saints and martyrs aren’t disconnected from our day-to-day life.
The truth is that Valentine loved the same Lord Jesus that I do.
And the truth is that it is that great love, the Lord Jesus’ own love (because we only love him because he first loved us), that is behind all lesser loves – yes, even my love for my own children, for my own husband, and their love for me.
And so, when we look back through the mists of time at that first Valentine, the man who died for the Lord he loved, we shouldn’t dismiss the little, lovely trappings of his holiday, like declaring our love with cards and flowers and chocolates. Loving one another, after all, is what the Lord who Valentine served commanded us to do: Love one another. As I have loved you, so ought you to love one another.
Romantic love, in all its delight, is the good gift of God. So is the warmth of maternal love and so is the joy of true friendship. And love cannot keep quiet. It overflows in our actions and speeches and our smiles – and sometimes it also overflows in crayon-marked construction paper hearts made by seven-year-olds.
So the true story of St. Valentine doesn’t mean our paper hearts and pretty flowers are inappropriate. Instead, the story of St. Valentine can just remind us that those little signs of love have a far deeper source: in the love of God himself.
Thank you so much for being my guest today, Jessica! I tend to live in a clean, happy, hearts & paper world, so this was a good reminder of how much people sacrificed over the centuries for their faith. Thank you!
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What makes it meaningful for you?
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Nothing throws me into a tizzy faster than a big project gone wrong. Who has time for that? No one!
Most of January was like that for me. A big project consumed all my time and frustrated me in the process. Then the project ended (it turned out terrific!), but the backlog of items on my to-do list overwhelmed me.
I was terribly embarrassed to realize I missed my scheduled day on the group blog I contribute to. And I’d dropped the ball on a few emails I’d promised. Enough was enough. I had to get my workday under control. I promptly ordered a time management book I’d seen reviewed in a magazine.
Work Simply by Carson Tate came into my life at just the right moment.
Every year brings different challenges. And, unfortunately, my old time management system wasn’t working for me.
I was in a time management rut.
I’ve only read half of Work Simply, but I’ve already incorporated several suggestions with good results.
1. Approach email in a new way.
I had a bad habit of reading an email and telling myself I’d take care of it later. This resulted in me not writing down important dates, forgetting to respond to two people, and leaving me in a constant state of feeling that I was missing something (which I was!).
New approach? Deal with email as I read it. Write down any important dates. If a response is necessary, respond promptly. Move important emails to a special folder for safe keeping. I also created folders for key emails to automatically be delivered to. This way I know if my editor, agent, or group blog administrator emailed me. No more wading through dozens of emails!
2. Identify themes in my daily tasks.
As soon as I read this concept, it grabbed me. The bulk of my day is always spent on a writing project, whether I’m plotting, writing, revising or whatever. But I also spend a lot of time on promotion via social media and administrative details like emails and planning. I also write short stories to submit to publications, but I struggle to find time to do this. I value keeping my creative-well filled, yet too many weeks go by without me taking much-needed restorative time.
So I brainstormed my typical week and saw that several themes stood out.
4. Other Writing
5. Family (chores, sports, errands, homework, etc…)
6. Creative Time
My schedule NEVER lacks 1, 2, 3, or 5! But 4 and 6 slip by all the time. I’m designating a few hours a week to them, and I’m writing them on my calendar!
3. Always make the commute to my office.
I’ve been doing this for months, but it’s worth repeating. If you work from home, find the place where you feel most professional and do your work there. My commute is up a flight of stairs. Not hard! But it makes all the difference in my attitude.
Now that I’ve made these adjustments, I’m back in control of my day. I’m still overwhelmed at times. I still have a to-do list way too long, but it no longer makes me nauseous. Important things aren’t slipping through the cracks anymore, and I’m spending my time where I should.
Have you ever been in a time management rut? Do you have any tips on how to make your work life smoother? I’d love to hear them!
I’ve switched blog homes and will no longer be posting on my Blogger site after March 1, 2015. Please take a moment to subscribe to this blog. You can either subscribe via email (form is near the top of the sidebar) or type my URL https://jillkemerer.com into your preferred reader such as Feedly. Thank you!!
I’m SO excited to have Jill Lynn on the blog today! I met Jill at an ACFW conference two years ago. Someone referred to us as “the Jills,” and I loved it! Jill Lynn is hilarious, super cute, nice AND a fantastic writer. Her debut novel, Falling for Texas, is available now! It’s delightful! Jill is giving away a copy to one blessed reader, so be sure to enter the contest below!
Instead of a guest post or interview, Jill and I are imagining what it would be like if we were the stars in the International Coffee commercials from the eighties. If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing these masterpieces, I’ve embedded a few below. You’re welcome!
Chatting with the Jills:
Jill K: Thanks for coming over and chatting with me today, Jill. Let’s go out to my jungle of a backyard. Go ahead and have a seat on my wicker loveseat. I just love these oversize shirts! My orange sweatshirt is approximately four sizes too large for me, but it still looks good. My husband said so.
Jill L: (Insert fake laughter) Oh, Jill, I do love the feel of wicker. They just don’t make a more comfortable seat, do they? And your orange sweatshirt is stunning, though I’m partial to my… (am I wearing a one piece outfit under this blue monstrosity? I think I am.) It doesn’t compare to my flowered full-body ensemble and blue tent sweater. I really prefer my clothing in one large piece so that it doesn’t complement my body whatsoever.
Jill K: Good tip! Whew, it’s muggy out here. Why am I wearing so many layers? *fanning myself* What does the coffee remind you of?
Jill L: Gas station cappuccino. You?
Jill K: Watered down instant coffee. Hey, scooch over! I always sit two inches away from my friends. Hope you don’t mind me leaning in and giggling. Do you ever wonder what Jean Luc is doing now?
Jill L: I don’t mind you leaning in and giggling! Let’s sit as close as possible! And as for Jean Luc… we still keep in touch. What? You don’t?
Jill K: *bites lower lip” No. He got mad when I called sixty-three times in one day. He didn’t need to threaten me with a restraining order. But I’m sure he’s over his tiff by now. Men! Hey, Jill, since we’re reminiscing and I’m having a midlife crisis, why don’t we go to your house and find your old prom dresses?
Jill L: *Squeal* Yes, let’s! Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will smell like it’s been stuffed in a trunk all of these years!
Jill K: Like my new wig? I Googled “Mrs. Garrett’s hairstyle on The Facts of Life.” She’s my style icon! Anyhow, I found your hot pink prom dress! Pour me a cup of that Suisse Mocha and try that bad boy on!
Jill L: I’m sorry my voice sounds so much like a man. Before I try to squeeze into that old dress, let’s consume some fake sugar together that our body has no idea how to process!
Jill K: Yes! Although the last time I drank fake sugar, let’s just say I was in the bathroom A LOT. Remember Steve? Didn’t he wear a white tuxedo with matching hot pink vest and tie? And the hair…how did he wear his hair?
Jill L: I think it was similar to mine. In fact, we might have the same haircut! Maybe I can get some pointers from him on handling these curls.
Jill K: Just spray a can of Aqua Net on it. It’s like glue. Look, your dress still fits! I’m calling Steve! I’m sure he still has that sky blue Chevette he picked you up in!
Jill L: Call him! I can’t right now because I’m too busy twirling in circles while you smile, laugh, and break into dance with me. Oops! Sorry about that invasion of your personal space! I’ve seriously got to learn to keep my distance from people!
Jill K: I love twirling and dancing and twirling…
Falling for Texas
Educating the Cowboy
Raising his orphaned teenage sister isn’t easy for Texas rancher Cash Maddox. The girl tests his parenting—and patience—at every turn! But when he asks new teacher Olivia Grayson for help with his sister’s grades and attitude, Cash realizes he’s facing the toughest trial of all. He made a promise that he wouldn’t date and get distracted from his mission of being a good father figure. Yet Olivia’s quick wit is drawing him unexpectedly closer to the caring beauty every day. Could it be time to make a new vow…one that’ll last a lifetime?
About Jill ~
Jill Lynn lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children who make her laugh on a daily basis. She writes the kind of stories she likes to read—ones filled with humor, grace, and happily ever after. Jill does far more dancing in the kitchen with her family than she does cooking, and she has a thing for coffee, books, boots, and thrift stores. Connect with her at Jill-Lynn.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
My Review ~ 5 Stars!!
Falling for Texas had me falling for Texas. Cash’s morals, work ethic and the dedication he shows to his sister had me swooning, and did I mention he’s a cowboy? And Olivia was so relatable. She truly cared about her students and friends, and I found her inner dilemma to be compelling. This is such a fun read, but it will have you reaching for the tissues too. A wonderful debut! I’m adding Jill Lynn to my must-read list!
**I received an advanced reader’s copy with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own.**
Thank you so much, Jill, for being a great sport and for making me laugh until I cried!! And congratulations on your terrific debut!!
What commercials make you groan or giggle?
You may have noticed a new look to my blog. Yes, my blog moved! It’s now part of my brand new website. Please take a moment to subscribe (via email or in a reader such as Feedly.com: the sidebar has these options) so you won’t miss a post! I’ll be cross-posting to this blog and my old blog all of February, but starting in March, my old blog will no longer be active. Thank you!!
It’s Sunday and snowing, and I’m really excited about watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet! I’ve been enjoying this delightful program for years. Seeing puppies romp around a tiny indoor room set up to look like a football stadium makes me smile.
I think my Sophie would make a good Puppy Bowl receiver, even though she’s way past the puppy years. Just look at that face!
She spends a lot of time napping, too. :)
This year Animal Planet is featuring goat cheerleaders (how cute is that??) and Catty Purry for the halftime show. I’m melting!
I just love cats! We’re without a kitty while we have our dog, but someday I expect to have another feline furball. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy pictures of kittens. ;)
Do you have any pets? Is there a pet you’ve always wanted to have?