Conference Tips with Keli GwynI

If you’ve never been to Romance Writers on the Journey, you need to scootdaddle right over there and check it out. It’s the brain-child of Keli Gwyn, encourager -extraordinairre and debut author. I met Keli last year at ACFW, but she’d made an impact on my life well before then. She’s one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met – and her timing is impeccable.

In January this year, right after receiving a pretty scathing critique from a contest, a card arrived in the mail from Keli. It read: 2011 – This is YOUR year.

What a sweet encouragement and reminder that there are people on this journey WITH me – so many cheerleaders. Keli is one of the BEST.

So – I’m extremely happy to cheer her own as her first book, A Bride Opens Shop in Eldorado, California, expects to arrive in bookstores in 2012.

What are Keli’s tips?

1) A willingness to learn
2) Realistic expectations
3) A map with directions to the nearest Taco Bell in case withdrawal symptoms appear
Good stuff here, Keli. Realistic expectations is a tough one  to keep under control because we all want the ‘big dream’ to happen to use while were among the famous and infamous at ACFW 😉
But just as Kaye Dacus reminded us last week, if we remember the root of WHY we  write (what our purpose is), then it helps keep our heads.
And Taco Bell directions? Oh yeah. Just had some today, in fact 🙂
Thanks so much, Keli.
You can learn more about Keli, her blogs, and her upcoming novel at

Spotlight – Coming Soon from Mary Connealy

Well, if you don’t like waiting long between books from your favorite authors – Mary is the author for you. With an incredible list of new books released last year, she continues to keep her fans happy with a new novel about every 3 or 4 months.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

Starting off the year with her novel, Sharpshooter in Petticoats, Mary’s next novel comes out in May. Deep Trouble sounds like another fun ‘ride’ and great romantic adventure. It’s available on May 1, but I’m hoping to find it a week or two early 😉

Mary’s next ‘cowboy book’, Out of Control, is set to be released in August. It’s her first novel released by Bethany House (right, Mary?)

You can learn more about it on Mary’s website at

In October, Mary steps outside her usual genre and enters the world of contemporary suspense. Her novel, Ten Plagues, holds a very different plotline from her usual historical romance genre, but I’m sure the same clever writing and high action will be intact.

To learn more about Ten Plagues visit – since she’s being published under a pseudo-pen name 😉

Do you have a favorite Connealy Classic? If so, which one?

Love at First Thought with Myra Johnson

Well, it’s the last week of Love at First Thought blog series. I hope you guys have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Wednesday, Alley Cat and buddy, Casey Herringshaw gives us a glimpse into her Love at First Thought, and on Friday, I have debut author, Tina Radcliffe.

But today….

Myra Johnson joins us.

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with Myra and Mary Connealy for about half an hour at ACFW. (I chatted with them on other occasions throughout the weekend, but that 30 minutes was mostly just me and them. WONDERFUL – and totally selfish of me, but I’m not sorry 😉

Myra’s Love at First Thought is AMAZING! It’s one of those comments that becomes devotional.

Here it is:

One of my favorite books is Autumn Rains, and the main reason is because of how the idea came about. It was inspired by something that actually happened to my brother-in-law, who at the time was pastoring the church we attended in northwest Houston. Late one evening he and the church council president were at the church discussing some business when a man arrived looking for help. He said he’d just been released from prison (somewhere up north) and was trying to get to a Texas town farther south where he heard there were employment opportunities. 
When the bus stopped for a layover in Houston, he locked his belongings in a bus station locker (this was back when they still had lockers in bus stations), and then he lost the combination. Unable to get to his money or possessions, he asked around for suggestions on where he could get assistance, and someone pointed him in the direction of our community. This was in the heat of summer, and the man walked or hitchhiked some 25 or 30 miles to get to our church.
My brother-in-law was glad to offer the man some money from a church fund set up for such needs, and then he and the church council president drove him to where he could board a commuter bus back downtown so he could catch the next Greyhound bus south. On the way, they asked him what he’d been in prison for, and he answered, “Murder.” By now it was really late and really dark, so it got really quiet in the car at that point. My brother-in-law still chuckles over the experience, though, and several weeks later they heard that the man reached his destination, found a job, and started his new life. Or at least that’s the way I like to remember it.
So that’s the inspiration for my character Healy Ferguson in Autumn Rains, and to this day he remains one of my favorite heroes, a good man who made a mistake and paid for it, determined to become the man God created him to be.
Wow! What inspiration – and food for thought! Thanks, Myra.
What does grace look like in your life? Jesus was the Master at peddling out grace. Especially grace to the people the ‘world’ viewed as outcasts and undeserving. The very nature of grace is just that – showing love, forgiveness, & mercy when it isn’t deserved.
Christ is in the business of blessing beyond expectations or just desserts.
His entire rescue mission was built on this foundation: Save a bunch of undeserving sinners.
And that love, that kind of grace, should spill out of our hearts and into the lives of those around us.
May we become Christ’s hands and feet of grace wherever we are.

How will you celebrate publication?

Okay, so I’ve complained about my lack of time to write.

Now I’m going to jump to the very opposite thought. Getting published!

It’s a dream every aspiring author has, and those who are already published KEEP dreaming about staying published.

But that very FIRST time, is a moment of wonder and celebration. I loved having the opportunity of celebrating with Melanie Dickerson when she found out about her book, The Healer’s Apprentice, and more recently with Keli Gwyn, who just signed a contract with Barbour. WOW!

How would you celebrate publication?

I believe in shooting BIG!!

My best friend, Jessica, and I have a plan to go to England within the next two years. We’re both moms of five and before our oldest kids start college, we want to take one whole week and just spend it together in England. We both have even started saving for it.

Now, I don’t know what the future holds, but I’ve told Jess that if I get published before we go- the room is on me. A piece of England is in almost every story I write, and if…er…when I get published – I want to go back. And going with my best friend of 18 years would make it the ULTIMATE celebration for me. The only thing that would make it better – would be if my Mom could come too.

So tell me, have you thought about publication? If you are published, how did you celebrate The Call?

Here are a few pics from my trip and the inspiration for many of my novels. Hope you enjoy.

These last few pictures are of the Bed & Breakfast where I stayed – and where I plan to return with my friend Jess. It’s called The Manor Farm Inn in Dethick. The hosts are WONDERFUL, the food is fabulous, and the atmosphere is simply lovely. I can’t wait to return!

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

Yep, it’s another fabulous book by Mary Connealy. That woman can write books faster than Scarlet O’Hara can get into trouble…or maybe I ought to say, faster than Belle Tanner can fire a Winchester. Because when it comes to Mary’s books, it’s about cowboys, tough-as-nails women, romance, and loads of humor.

And I’m NOT talkin’ sugar-sweet romance either. I’m talkin’ the kind of romance where you’re not sure whether the two are going to kill each other or kiss each other. It’s that simple – and that funny.

Mary’s ramped up the adventure to full-throttle with her newest novel, Doctor in Petticoats. This book takes one of the daughters from her first book, Petticoat Ranch, and allows us to follow, no wait, we’re kind of dragged along on a fast-paced journey. From the first scene which ends in a stage-coach accident to the final scene in a fort prison, and all the near-death experiences in between, it’s nonstop action with a few kisses smashed in between.

One thing I appreciate most about Mary’s books (besides the humor) is how deep into the character point of view she gets. She’s brilliant at writing deep point of view, and allowing the reader to ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ the book. Fabulous. It’s why I keep coming back for more 🙂


About the book:

When an unlikely pair have an electrifying connection, sparks are bound to fly.

All Beth McClellan wants to do is get home for her sister’s wedding. After spending four years out East training to be a nurse (with a physician as her mentor), she’s ready to put her hard-earned skills to practice. Unfortunately, no one will believe she’s the doctor, and the one guy who IS a doctor, doesn’t have the spine enough to use his gifts…unless she’s right beside him.

Alex Buchanan’s past as an army physician, and now deserter, leaves him frozen with the memories of the atrocities he saw on the frontier. Determined to leave his skills and memories as far in the past as possible, he hides within his own depression, but Beth McClellan won’t let him stay there. The bossy blond nearly drags him from his stupor and forces him to be the man he really is.

Now if they can just survive a bounty hunter and death sentence, all should be fine. Right?

You’ll just have to get the book. Buy it, borrow it, visit a library. It’s worth the effort to read the newest Connealy Classic.

And you won’t have to wait long for the next one. Wrangler in Petticoats comes out in October. Woohooo! Go Mary – the more the merrier.

To learn more about Mary’s books, visit her website at