Conference Tips with Cara Lynn James

It’s time for another visit from one of the fabulous fifteen of Seekerville. Cara Lynn James, author of Love on a Dime  and Love By the Book,  has an impressive contest history of winner of The Noble Theme (now Genesis contest) and a finalist in the Golden Heart.  Her stories pack a sweet combination of history, fun, and romance. She’s also a wonderful encourager and expert fish-face maker 🙂

What will Cara always make sure she brings to conference?

I ‘bring’ extra room in my luggage for the books I buy,

bookmarks to giveaway and business cards,

a few good pens,

and my friends’ cell phone numbers so I can get in touch with them in a big crowd.

Cara, I’ve DEFINITELY made sure I have a phone list. There are some people I CANNOT leave St. Louis without having met. You’ll be there, won’t you?

If you all haven’t visited Cara’s website – stop by and learn more about her books.

Conference Tips Lineup

Less than a week left before ACFW, but there is plenty of time to stop by and get some last minute tips from some of your favorite authors.

Check out who’s coming to visit:

Monday – Siri Mitchell

Tuesday – Cara Lynn James

Wednesday – Kim Sawyer

Thursday – Rachel Hauck

And Friday, I’m going to try to stop in and let you know how things are going at ACFW – maybe with a few pics too 🙂

Have you hugged a Seeker in 2010?

Okay, for anyone who has followed this blog – or even knows anything about me – I’m a BIG fan of Seekerville.

What is Seekerville, you might ask? It’s a fabulous, funny, and encouraging site for writers and readers of good fiction. Though most of the authors write inspirational fiction, all readers are welcome to glean from the wisdom and fun of this site.

I became a Seeker-Stalker  in May of 2009 and have been helplessly and happily addicted ever since. Even had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of the Seekers at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in September. It was one of my 2010 goals!!

So – as a tribute to some fabulous ladies of fiction, here’s a look at the 2010 Seekers Publishing list (in no particular order – except Ruthy’s ;-).

Sandra Leesmith – got the ‘Call’ to publication in July and her first novel , The Price of Victory, is set to join the world of print in Spring 2011. Woohoo!!!

Julie Lessman has had a FABULOUS year with the publication of her beautiful novel, A Hope Undaunted, and a wonderful array of awards for her writing. Awards included are #5 on Booklists Inspirational Fiction for 2010, Borders Best for 2009, and finalist for ACFW’s Book of the Year. If you’ve not read any of her previous 4 books, run to the nearest bookstore (or Sam’s) and purchase them. For a review of A Hope Undaunted follow this link.

The  news has been great for Seeker, Audra Harders, whose first novel came out with Steeple Hill, LoveInspired this month. For a sneak peek at her debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, follow this link. What’s happening next with the sweet Audra Harders? Hmmm, maybe she’ll let us know 😉

Along with providing helpful writing tips on her webpage, Myra Johnson’s fun novel, Romance By the Book, and beautiful story, Dogwoods in Bloom, came out through Heartsong Presents. To read a little about Romance by the Book, check out my review here.

Glynna Kaye has great news. Besides the great reviews for her debut novel, Dreaming of Home, she has a new book to release with Steeple Hill Love Inspired in February 2011. Woohoo! Congrats, Glynna, I’m looking forward to finding Second Chance Courtship in the store.

If you’re into books that alternate between life-threatening adventure, male-female banter, and belly-aching laughter – Mary Connealy is the author for you. And with her track record, you don’t have to  wait too long between books, either. 🙂 This year alone, she introduced readers to 5 new books, and had three of her previous books published in a triology. PLUS her 2011 looks very promising – with a bit of a surprise to her faithful reading audience. With three books already on the way in 2011, she’s decided to try out a new genre with a new name too. To learn more about her step outside of cowboys and petticoats, and her leap into suspense, visit www.marynealy.com. I can’t wait to find out more. (oh, she also won The Carol award at ACFW, I shouldn’t forget that 😉

Besides winning the Genesis awards at the ACFW conference and the Maggie’s Inspriational category, Pam Hillman is well on her way to joining her Seeker sisters in the world of finely printed published novels. I can’t wait to see what 2011 has to offer for her.

Cara Lynn James debut novel, Love on a Dime, graced the bookstores in 2010 and now she has TWO MORE coming out in 2011. Wow, what a fabulous start!! If you like historical romances, with vibrant characters check out Cara’s books.

Missy Tippens, with her usual sweet southern flare, ended last year with her lovely novel, A Forever Christmas, and looks forward to new newest release, A Family for Faith, coming spring 2011. I think she’s been doing a bit of book editing on the side too, isn’t that right, Missy?

Well, I’m still dancing for joy about Tina Radcliffe’s debut novel, The Rancher’s Reunion, supposedly released next month – but mine is already read and sitting on my bookshelf for all to see.  Not only that, but her second book with Steeple Hill Love Inspired is set to come out Fall 2011. Oh so happy for you, Tina!!

With a mixture of fun and suspense, Camy Tang writes a little of both. Besides keeping a very busy schedule with her Story Sensei business and coordinating the ACFW Genesis contest, Camy’s newest book, Formula for Danger, came out in September 2010. If you like edge-of-your seat fiction, you’ll want to check out her Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense novels. Learn more at her website- www.camytang.com

To stick with that Love Inspired SUSPENSE theme, Debby Guisti has enjoyed a year of GREAT news. Her novel, Protecting Her Child, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and her novel, Killer Deadline, came out in February. Her new novel (and series) The Officer’s Secret, is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you in May 2011.

Let’s keep up the tension with author Cheryl Wyatt – who reached book 7 in her Wings of Refuge series this year. Book 6 – A Soldier’s Devotion– and Book 7 – Steadfast Soldier– both came out this year. Maybe she’ll catch us up on what’s happening for her in 2011?

Janet Dean writes sweet historical romances. Her novel, Substitute Bride, released in February 2010 and was a beautiful story of heartbreak and new beginnings. Her new novel, Wanted: A Family, is scheduled to release in March 2011 and sounds intriguing. Widowed mother-to-be and repairman (with his own secrets). ooooh, don’t you just want to read it? 🙂

Last – and certainly NOT least, is Ruth Logan Herne. WHAT. A. YEAR!!! I think she’s trying to keep up with Mary. All I have to say about that is…they’re both crazy. 🙂  Her year started with her debut novel, Winters End, and zoomed ahead to end with her third novel, Made to Order Family. They are such GREAT books. GREAT! And there is no end in site for the prolific lady. Besides caring for adorable kids and dogs, cooking like Martha Stewart, and creating snappy replies to anyone who will listen, 2011 looks to be another amazing writing year for her. THREE MORE BOOKS (Er…I stand corrected. Ruthy will be ringing in the New Year with FOUR new books – I forgot her Christmas book 😉 are on the way, starting with Reunited Hearts in April. Oooh, I can’t wait. Check out a review of her novel, Waiting Out the Storm, here.

Whew – WHAT A LIST!!! Are you excited to see what the new year has to offer? I sure am. With authors who love Jesus and love writing, there are going to be some very happy readers out there.

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Janet Dean

Well, you guys already know that I’m a big fan of Seekerville.

And, having just been introduced to Love Inspired novels, I’m so tickled to have Janet Dean back with me. Janet is a beautiful lady, classy, and super-sweet. It was an honor to get to spend time with her last month at ACFW. (see the pic – she’s the blond in the middle of the Seeker gals – me, Audra Harders, Janet, Debby Guisti, and Cara Lynn James).

There’s another picture on the right here of Janet and Myra Johnson. Aren’t they cute? 🙂

Okay, so, Janet, I’m tickled to have you here today.

And for all of you out there – Janet is giving away a copy of The Substitute Bride. So leave your comments for your name to be placed in the drawing!!!

1. What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?

 The hero and heroine are very aware of each other, aware of every nuance of expression and tone, every detail, every characteristic of the other that both charms and sometimes irritates. The slightest touch between them can set off a host of reactions. When they’re apart, they miss each other and look for ways to be together, sometimes justifying the desire to see each other with excuses that are both obvious and touching. Thoughts and conversations center on each other. They’re protective of each other, stand up for one another. The relationship makes them feel alive, gives them a fresh perspective–new eyes for everything and everyone around them.

 But falling in love isn’t always that pretty. The term lovesick is appropriate when the relationship isn’t going well. Falling in love has its highs, yes but also its lows.  Symptoms include an inability to sleep, eat or focus on work. Sometimes jealousy is present and pride that keeps needed apologies unvoiced, adding to the angst.

LOL – I don’t think I’ve considered the negative impact of falling in love. Hmm, I’m taking notes, Janet 🙂

 I can show the realization that the hero and heroine are falling in love by showing their thoughts, physical reactions, actions in an emotional, even dramatic way. Or I can show that realization with a touch of humor. What I chose to do in The Substitute Bride, my marriage of convenience story. Ted married Elizabeth to give his children a mother. Elizabeth married Ted to escape wedlock to an unacceptable old man and to give her brother, Robby, a home.  

 In this scene where Ted realizes he’s falling in love with his rebellious wife, Elizabeth has holed up with her brother in the New Harmony Ladies Club, hoping that Robby will share why he hasn’t adjusted to life on the farm. They’ve been gone a week while Ted cares for his two children alone. Tired of waiting for his wife’s return, Ted enlists his pastor’s help, but things go downhill when other disgruntled husbands join Ted as he crashes the ladies club meeting determined to fetch Elizabeth home.

Ted had given Elizabeth a week to come to her senses but she and Robby hadn’t returned. He’d handled his household himself. To ask his in-laws help would expose his wife’s defection and give Lily another excuse to harp on raising his children, like he couldn’t handle the job.

He dropped Anna and Henry at Rebecca’s on his way in to town, hoping she’d give them a decent meal while he dealt with his wife. Elizabeth shouldn’t play socialite while he worked himself into an early grave. And, while she was at it, make him the laughingstock of the whole town.

His children had capsized his even-keel boat. Henry tested his patience. Anna opposed his authority. Only by the power of prayer had he met the challenge. Each day left him exhausted. His respect for mothers multiplied. Especially for Elizabeth, who’d managed his children and his household without the benefit of experience or the connection of blood.

When she’d married him, she’d taken on a momentous task. And now she’d run away, leaving him to handle it alone.

He’d planted the rest of the garden—taking on her chores as if he didn’t have enough to do—and attended to his children, feeding them…something. Each day things had gotten worse around the house, more disorderly and chaotic.

Now standing outside the parsonage waiting for Jacob to join him, hands hanging limp at his side, he faced the truth.

He missed Elizabeth the way Adam must’ve missed his rib. Something essential had been ripped from him, draining him of vitality. Every word out of his mouth took supreme effort. If he’d thought he had trouble sleeping with Elizabeth at home, he’d found it impossible now that she’d gone. His decision to act, to enlist Jacob’s help, wasn’t just about his children.

Jacob opened the door, plopped his hat on his head and strolled toward him, his gaze somber. “Not sure Elizabeth is going to appreciate my interference.”

“Probably not, but I’m hoping your presence will carry some weight.”

“Have you forgotten she insisted I add try to the obey vow?”

“Hardly.” He sighed. “I must’ve misunderstood God’s call. How can I pastor a church when I can’t handle my wife?”

Jacob laid a hand on Ted’s back. “All in God’s timing.”

“I hope God’s timing includes my wife’s return. Today.”

Jacob chuckled. “You and Elizabeth are an exact match for the other.”

“Match? Maybe as in struck and in flames. A man can get burned.”

“I suspect this situation with Elizabeth is providing something you need to learn before you lead a congregation.”

“Her absence is teaching me plenty.” He stopped in his tracks. “You won’t believe this. The gossip must’ve reached Agnes. She drove to the farm yesterday, bringing my favorite cherry pie and offering her condolences on my broken marriage.”

Ted would’ve liked to refuse the pie but it meant something edible for supper. Besides he couldn’t blame this disaster with his wife on Agnes.

Jacob shook his head. “Shame on Agnes for trying to tempt a man when he’s down.”  

“Worse, Henry toddles around the house, looking for Elizabeth, calling ‘Mama.’ Anna cries at the slightest provocation. Even Rose’s hanky no longer consoles her.”

Well, he wouldn’t let his children continue to suffer. He strode down the street, itching to settle things with his wife.

LATER IN THE SCENE:

Ted edged closer to his wife. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes shining. His stomach knotted. Maybe keeping her on the farm was unfair. “Can I speak to you alone?”

Her eyes softened. 

Around them couples argued. Ted could barely think above the din. A piercing whistle shrilled, shutting down every sound. All eyes swiveled toward his wife.

Elizabeth removed two fingers from her mouth. “Let’s adjourn the meeting and serve refreshments,” she said demurely. “Mrs. Johnson made dessert.”

Soon the men joined their wives, sipping tea. Ted took a chair at an empty table. Elizabeth finally made it to his side, carrying a slice of cake and cup of tea. She set them in front of him then took a seat.

He cleared his throat. “Where’s Robby?”

“Over at the mercantile, helping unpack supplies.”

“How’s he doing?”

She smiled. “Oh, Ted, Robby’s better. He’s been afraid the farm, the dog, everything would disappear like our house in Chicago. I reassured him. He still misses Martha and Papa and grieves for Mama, but he’s talking about his feelings now.”

“I’m glad.” He took her hand. “You were right about that. Right about a lot of things.” He sighed, hoping he could make her understand how her leaving had turned his world upside down. “Anna and Henry miss you. A lot.”

Moisture gathered in her eyes. “I miss them too.”

Hope for his marriage swelled in his chest until he wanted to shout with the joy of it.

“What about you, Ted? Do you miss me too?”

He missed her all right. More than parched ground missed rain and the grass missed the morning dew. He missed her like he’d lost a limb, a piece of his heart.

But he couldn’t tell her that with Oscar and Cecil at the next table hanging on his every word like hungry dogs waiting for a scrap to fall.

“Of course, I do. Last night’s dinner was a disaster, worse than any meal you fixed.”

She pursed her lips. “I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel.”

“I’m sorry. That came out wrong.” He lowered his voice, “I miss you. More than you could imagine.”

Jacob appeared at their table. He clapped a hand on Ted’s back. “Well, looks like you two are working it out. I’d better get back before Lydia sends out a search party.”

In accordance with the pitiful help the pastor had been, Ted felt like subtracting a chunk from Sunday’s offering.

He took Elizabeth’s hand. It felt right in his—soft, feminine. Inside that delicate frame resided a strong, intelligent, vital woman. Already she belonged to the town more than he. He knew she could do anything she set her mind to.

He drew little circles on her palm with his thumb. “Hubert said you’re doing an excellent job managing his books.”

“He did?”

“Yes.” He chuckled. “He also said you bartered with him over the price of eggs.”

“It wasn’t all that hard. He’s a softy really.” She flashed a smile. “He likes you.”

“That’s nice but I only care what you think of me.”

“I think you’re a good man, Ted Logan. A good father. A good citizen. But you don’t know much about women.”

“I know I’m proud of the job you’re doing for Sorenson. I know I’m proud of your plans to improve this town. I know I want you to come home with me.”

I know I want to hold you in my arms. But he wouldn’t admit that when Elizabeth showed no sign of readiness to hear it.   

She studied his face then rose. “I’ll go with you.”

The weight on Ted’s shoulders vanished. Leaning back in his chair, he watched his wife promenade around the room, speaking to her friends. He liked the way she moved. He liked the tendrils of hair teasing against her neck. He liked her smile, brighter than the summer sun.

The front two legs of his chair hit the floor with a thud.

His heart pounded inside his chest. He was in love. Deeply and totally in love with his wife. The knowledge scared him silly.

He watched Elizabeth chatting as if nothing of consequence had just transpired. Oh, how he loved her. Nothing and no one would keep him from his wife.

She went into the back room and came out carrying her satchel then stopped in front of him. “I’m coming home with you. Robby’s doing better. We both miss Anna and Henry. And that cot’s killing my back.”

Not exactly the reasons he wanted to hear. Yet the softness in her eyes gave him hope she hadn’t told the entire truth.

“But I’m not giving up this club.” She raised her voice. “We’ll meet every Saturday. You ladies can count on that.”

Cecil hung his head. Oscar toed the floor. “You, too, Oscar and Cecil.” The brothers’ heads snapped up and smiles took over their faces.

“I’m ready, Ted, to pick up Robby and head to the farm. I hope you’re up to having me around.”

Ted opened the door. As she marched through, he glanced back at his neighbors. They grinned at him, as if he’d lost the battle. His wife was coming home with him.

He’d won, hadn’t he?

 I hope readers can see some of the elements I discussed earlier and enjoyed the humorous perspective of Ted when he first realizes he’s falling in love with his wife.

 I loved reading this novel, Janet. GREAT story. I’m sure readers will love this tease J Thanks so much for being here today. 

 Thanks for having me, Pepper! It’s always a joy to be on your blog.

 Inspirational Moment:

Ephesians 3:16-18

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”

It’s amazing to me that the longer I know Jesus and the more I learn about him, the more amazing his love becomes. Being ‘rooted in love’ is the foundation to help us ‘see’ the greatness of God’s love. Until we delve into the beauty of who Christ is, we cannot get a better perspective on who we are, and how much we are love. The massiveness of Christ’s love for us becomes clearer the more we recognize His sacrifice. Oh what a Savior!

*** Julie Lessman joins us on Friday. Stop by for more fun!

Last ACFW pics – I promise (mostly)

Okay, I’m going to get back to blogging after today, but I wanted to post a few more pics from my time in Indianapolis.

It barely feels real now – especially since I returned back to my nonfiction world at full throttle. Got home at 8pm Monday night and back up at 6am for kids’ school and my job on Tuesday morning. I cannot tell you ANYTHING about my Tuesday 🙂

Highlights of  the trip?

(to the left is a pic with Kim Vogel Sawyer and Kaye Dacus (said DAY-cus – I learned the hard way 😉

Meeting Cyberpals in person, such as the glorious Seeker gals, Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Audra Harders, Janet Dean, Cara Lynn James, Debby Giusti, Cheryl Wyatt, Camy Tang, & Pam Hillman.

Seeing Mary Connealy win a Carol (Mary doesn’t mind if I keep showing this picture. She’s kinda proud of that award 😉

Seeing Pam Hillman win a Carol

Meeting other clients who share my agent, Les Stobbe. (Hi guys, you are SOOOO wonderful. Go, Ben. GO!!. Waving to Barry & Jeff too)

Having Caramel Hot Chocolate with Siri Mitchell

Hugging and praying with Cathy Marie Hake.

Getting stuck in an elevator with Rachel Hauck 🙂 Fun times.

Chatting with Dan Walsh – what a GREAT guy!!

The list could go on and on.

Jeff Gerke’s class (FABULOUS presenter and really cool guy. Did I mention his book is great too)

Meeting Revell editor Andrea Doering.

Laughing with Patti Lacy

Gleaning encouragement from Patty Hall.

Dining with Melanie Dickerson and Linore Rose Burkard

Working the registration desk!! I met Carol Voekel there AND Janette Oke.

Rooming with my FABULOUS writing buddy, K. Dawn Byrd, even though the toilet exploded in our room and we had to move to a different room. LOL. By no fault of our own, mind you.

Seriously, it was wonderful.

So – I’m done. I know I’ve forgotten to list a few things, but I’ll try to keep you in suspense. A little. 🙂

ACFW MORE pictures

I know, you might be getting tired of these – but I’m devoting the whole week to pictures. Pictures of people I’ve been wanting to meet for sooooo long. And first off, here’s a picture of a lady who has just been an encouragement to so many aspiring and published authors. She gave me my very first online interview. Woohooo!  Keli Gwyn. She was delightful to meet.

Siri Mitchell to the right. We enjoyed some Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate together. She is wonderful!!! Encouraging and kind. We talked shop. How she writes. How I write. And what’s up next from her brilliant brain. I have two words: Italian Immigrants.

There’s no one else I would rather make a fish-face with than Cara Lynn James, whose debut novel Love On A Dime just came out. It’s a very fun and beautiful story.

I have a brand new friend in author, Patti Lacy. She was hilarious and so much fun!! I LOVED meeting you, Patti.

More to come tomorrow. I could call it Revell Day – with Julie Lessman & Laura Frantz. WOOHOOO!!!!

ACFW Awards Banquet Pics #1

Okay, I have to post this picture of Mary “Extraordinary” Connealy with her Carol Award for Historical Romance – book Cowboy Christmas. She’s hilarious!! Truly, one of the top 5 highlights of my trip. Mary, I like you even BETTER after meeting you. This could mean trouble for your inbox 😉

Another pic?

Well, here is another historical comedy writer, Cathy Marie Hake. Like Mary, she’s been a fabulous source of encouragement to me – with a personal story even more amazing than her fictional ones. If you have a chance, pick up Cathy’s book Forevermore. HILARIOUS!!!! My favorite one of hers so far.

And here’s a pic of some of the Seekers from Seekerville. Audra, Janet, Debby, and Cara.

 I’ll post more tomorrow. Like one of the fabulous Julie Lessman!