Songs for Christmas – The Little Drummer Boy

The Little Drummer Boy, a more recent Christmas favorite, was written in 1941 by Katherine Kennicott Davis. Apparently it was written as a song for young choirs in celebration of Christmas – particularly since the song is written from the perspective of a little boy who comes to see the newborn King.

It reminds me of a simple Christmas poem written by Christina Rosetti (it’s a poem my children had to memorize in kindergarten)

What can I give him – small as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I’d give him a lamb

If I were a wiseman, I’d do my part.

Yet what shall I give him? Give him my heart.

So, which author chose this song as her favorite?

What a fun question, Pepper. I love Christmas music! I listen to carols and songs the entire month of December and never tire of them. “Silent Night” is probably my favorite carol. I always tear up when I sing it. But I’m choosing a sentimental favorite, “The Little Drummer Boy,” my mom’s favorite Christmas song. She’s been gone for twelve years. I miss her, especially at Christmas, her favorite time of the year. In December her Little Drummer Boy music box sets in a special place at our house. The paint is chipped in a spot or two. The sound isn’t perfect but the message of the song remains strong. The little drummer boy had nothing to give the newborn king except a desire to play his drum—the very best he could–for Baby Jesus. The song is a precious reminder that we don’t have to spend money or wear ourselves out to honor those we love with a gift. Especially Jesus. All He wants is our hearts, to come and adore Him with the simple faith of a child. 

 Merry Christmas!

Janet Dean

Saturday we’ll have a poignant post about the song I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

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 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-

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.


Okay – I love announcing winners, but also hate it, because not EVERYONE can win.

Of course, SOME people win much more than their fair share, no names mentioned (SHERRINDA!!!)

But for last week, let’s celebrate with our two winners.

Barb won Janet Dean’s novel, The Substitute Bride.

Barb, if you’ll send me your snail mail to pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com – I’ll get the info to Janet.

Julie’s newest novel, A Hope Undaunted, goes to …. Sherrinda.

I know, I still can’t believe it. That’s 6 books she’s won from Julie in about two years. Insane – but true.

Don’t lose heart though.

Tomorrow, Myra Johnson visits, with a chance to win her novel, Where the Dogwoods Bloom.

and on Friday, Jamie Carie is here with a chance to win her new ‘wintry’ release, The Snowflake. A lovely story.

Stop by and visit – but also visit Sherrinda’s blog and tell her that she can’t enter anymore Julie Lessman contests, okay? Tell her I sent you 🙂

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Melanie Dickerson

Well, she’s been the celeb of ACFW this month with her debut novel, The Healer’s Apprentice. Not only is she a beautiful writer, but a southern girl, and a friend of mine I finally got to meet IN PERSON at ACFW.

Now, I have to tell this story. I was emailing Melanie about her book when the postman arrived at her door with her FIRST copies of Healer’s Apprentice. So, I have bragging rights to sharing that moment with her – even if it was cyber-celebrating. You can check out more info about Melanie and her novel at

So, Mel, 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?

Sometimes there’s frustration when a hero and/or heroine figure out they’re falling in love. Even exasperation, especially if they have a specific reason not to! I think it’s fun to show their realization, to show them softening to each other—or, on the other hand, becoming hostile to each other. They often will feel confused or afraid. They don’t quite know what’s happening to them, and they don’t want to admit it’s love.

Here’s an excerpt from an as yet uncontracted novel that I call Magnolia Summer. Truett has teased Claire quite a bit and they’ve had some moments of sparring with each other, but now they’re discovering other emotions besides annoyance and anger.

 Truett came around and faced Claire where she stood next to the wagon seat.

She looked away, suddenly feeling the need to express her gratitude for what he had done for Will, but embarrassed as she remembered her silly fainting spell. He seemed to be waiting for her to speak. When the silence stretched out too long, she lifted her eyes to his. “Thank you… for what you did for Will.” She bit her lip and murmured, “And I’m sorry I fainted.”

“Nothing to be sorry about.” His voice was soft. “You were just upset about your brother.” His throat convulsed slightly as he swallowed, his eyes never straying from hers. He bent and lifted her hand. “It was my pleasure,” and he kissed the back of her hand, “to be of help.”

Claire stared back at him. Not a flicker of humor passed over his face as he held her gaze with his, his lips slightly parted, his eyebrows set low over intense blue eyes.

All words escaped her. She turned toward the wagon seat. His hands clasped her waist and he hoisted her up.

As she flicked the reins, Claire looked back. Their gazes locked again. She quickly turned away.

Lord, what just happened here? She could still feel his hands around her waist. A warm tingling spread through her. She looked down at her hand, half expecting to see the imprint of his lips.

What was wrong with her? Perhaps she had just spent too much time away from her books. As soon as she got back to the house, she planned to pull out her thickest, most detailed history textbook and not look up from it for at least three hours.

If that didn’t drive Truett Beverly out of her thoughts, nothing would. 

* * *

            Truett couldn’t get Claire Wilcox out of his thoughts. Especially the way she looked when she fainted, as she started to crumple to the floor, so pale and helpless. It had scared him and turned his insides to mush to see her that way. But he certainly liked the way she felt in his arms, soft and warm and … perfect.

            He shouldn’t be thinking this way. After all, wasn’t she the woman who had insulted him by suggesting his brother was dangerous?

Although he had to admit she did have a point.

But wasn’t she also the woman who had gotten mad at his teasing and yelled at him, saying her family didn’t need him?

            The unfortunate truth was, he liked the feeling of her in his arms, and he wanted her to like it, too. But she wasn’t likely to faint in his arms again any time soon. How …?

            The Fourth of July was coming up, which meant his mother was probably organizing a dance. A dance would afford a perfect opportunity to get her in his arms again.

            If he had any sense he’d forget about Claire. She didn’t even like him. Although she hadn’t exactly looked at him with hate in her eyes just now. As he recalled, she had looked plumb addled when he kissed her hand and lifted her onto the wagon seat.

            She was definitely coming around. And he felt compelled to help her along. He wanted her to admit she was wrong about him, to admit she had completely underrated his worth, his abilities, and his charm.

 Oh my what a sweet, tempting glimpse into your story, Melanie. And I’m dying to know what your next novel is about? I know there’s one in the works, can you give us an idea of what’s coming up for you? Another fairytale…

Inspirational Note:

 3-5There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Did you get that? “He doesn’t wait for us to get ready” – He sweeps in, even in our weakness, rebellion, and inability, and he  died for us. Why?


And the knowledge of that type of love should shake us to our feet. It’s mind-blowing, but more importantly, it should be our comfort, our strength, and our courage to rest in His care.

WINNERS announced tomorrow!!!

Stop by Wednesday for a visit from author, Myra Johnson.

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.


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!

Seasons Change and WINNERS!

Well, well – it’s another wonderful week of authors and excerpts and moments of revelation.

I took this picture last weekend, just as the leaves are starting to change. What a view! What a GOD!

So – before we get to the weekly lineup – let’s announce some winners.

Winner of Mary Connealy’s new release Wrangler in Petticoats, is Cindy Martin.

Casey Herringshaw is the winner of Patti Lacy’s book, What the Bayou Saw.

Please send me your snail mail address to pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

Congrats to the winners!!

Okay – so what’s happening this week?

On Monday, we welcome author Margaret Brownley. Margaret taught a wonderful class at ACFW on writing historical fiction. LOTS of resources.

Wednesday, Janet Dean joins us. (she’s the lovely lady in middle of this picture)

Friday brings the Queen of Kisses, Julie Lessman.

Stop by and join the 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 Conference 2010 MORE PICS

Alright, two lovely ladies from Seekerville to the right. Janet Dean and Myra Johnson. Absolutely SWEET!! I had a great time getting the chance to know them better, and as I’ve noticed on their blog at Seekerville, they both are wonderful encouragers. That seems to be a trait of all those Seekers over there. Must be why I like them so much 🙂

Next is a pic with me, Audra Harders (Seeker) and newbie writer, Angie Dickens. Angie was there for the day and such a sweetie – her one sheet was FABULOUS!!! Before the end of the day, I found out that an agent had asked to see more of her work. Let us know what happens with that, Angie. Congrats.

Audra was WONDERFUL!!!! I can’t tell you how much she just took me under her wing and showered me with God’s grace. Even prayed with me before my editor meetings. Thank you, Audra. I will NOT forget – and I’m busily working on those proposals for the editors. Wanna read? 😉

Oh my goodness, author Patti Lacy was So. Much. Fun. She just welcomed me into her friendship like she’d known me forever. See that hug! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. A real hug. Another fantastic encourager and so funny.

The Genesis coordinator and author, Camy Tang, is pictured here between me and Winter Peck. So – Between Winter and Pepper. Two seasons. LOL

Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes.

At least our names make for some very good character names. Winter, I’m stealing your name for a book – just so you know. Think I’ll name all four sisters after the seasons 😉

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!

Sizzling First Encounters with Janet Dean

Oh it’s such a great pleasure to have Love Inspired author, Janet Dean visiting us today. Her stories are as sweet as her personality – and they’re definitely not lacking in romantic tension or conflict. Thanks so much for joining the blog series, Janet.

Pepper, I love this blog, the depth of your faith and the beauty of your writing. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share one element of romantic tension with your readers.

It’s my pleasure, Janet. And I’m so glad you’ve chosen Courting the Doctor’s Daughter as your scene today. It’s my favorite of your books. So much internal conflict and spiritual depth. Any interested reader can learn more about Janet’s books at

So, let’s get on with the questions. What is one element of great romantic tension? 

With each story I write, I try to bring the hero and heroine together in that first encounter with emotions that ramp the romantic tension yet ring true. For my excerpt today that element is anger. Anger and tension go hand in hand. Though it might appear to be an easy way to add tension to the opening, anger has to come from who these people are. In other words it has to come from what matters to them, from what they experienced in their pasts that make them act and react as they do. When those elements feel real, the clash of a first encounter will feel appropriate, not contrived. For that tension to be romantic, the anger must be accompanied by equally strong attraction. Strong attraction that is contrary to the character’s wishes, yet undeniable. I hope you can see the romantic tension in this excerpt from the first encounter of Mary and Luke in Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, May, 2009.  I hope you see clues as to what motivates Mary’s reaction to Luke. And yet see how much the hero has affected her, even against her will. If I’ve succeeded then the scene will sizzle.   

Mary Graves couldn’t believe her eyes. And the gall of that man. A stranger stood on the seat of his wagon holding up a bottle and making ridiculous claims for its medicinal value with all the fervor of an itinerant evangelist. His Eastern accent grated on her Midwestern ears.

She slipped through the gathering crowd to sneak a closer look. Gazing up at him, Mary pressed a hand to her bodice. The man didn’t resemble any preacher she’d ever seen. Hatless, the stranger’s dark hair lifted in the morning breeze. He’d rolled his white shirtsleeves to his elbows revealing muscled, tanned forearms. He looked more like a gypsy, a member of the marauding bands tramping through the countryside stealing chickens and whatever else wasn’t nailed down—like the Noblesville residents’ hard-earned dollars.

Well, she had no intention of standing by while this quack bilked the town of its money and worse, kept its citizens from seeking legitimate treatment.

Not that her father needed more work. Far from it. Since Doc Roberts died in the spring, her father often worked from sunup to sundown—and sometimes through the night. With the exception of those folks who’d profited from Noblesville’s natural gas boom, most patients paid with produce or an occasional exchange of services.

The peddler raised the container high above his head. “Just two capfuls of this medicine will ease a nervous headache and an upset stomach. It’ll cure your insomnia, but most importantly, this bottle holds the safe solution for a baby’s colic.”

This charlatan attempted to take money out of her father’s all but empty pockets with a potion no doubt containing nothing more than hard liquor or flavored water. Imagine giving such a thing to an infant. But her neighbors nodded their heads, taken in by his nonsensical spiel.

“Imagine, folks, getting a good night’s sleep and waking refreshed to tackle the day,” the peddler went on.

Around her, John Lemming, Roscoe Sullivan and of all people, Pastor Foley reached in their back pockets for their wallets. Even her friend, Martha Cummings, a baby on her hip and two of her youngsters clinging to her skirts, dug into her purse. And everyone knew Martha could squeeze a penny until it bled.

Mary clenched her jaw. Such foolishness. Why couldn’t these people recognize a sham when they saw one?

“Step right up folks, for the sum of—”

“Whatever you’re charging is disgraceful,” Mary called, the words pouring out of her mouth. She turned to her neighbors. “Have you forgotten the swindler who came through here last year, promising his tonic would do all that and more? Not one word of his claims proved true.”

The townspeople stilled. Her gaze locked with the frauds. Suddenly cool on this sunny October morning, Mary tugged her shawl tighter around her shoulders. “You’re preying on these good folks’ worries, knowing full well what’s in that bottle can be found for less money over at O’Reilly’s saloon.” Her deceased husband had hidden his drinking behind the pretext of using it for medicinal purposes.

The man shot her a lazy grin, revealing a dimple in his left cheek, giving him a deceptive aura of innocence. Then he had the audacity to tip an imaginary hat. “Pardon me, Florence Nightingale, but without testing my product, you’ve no cause to condemn it.”

Florence Nightingale indeed. No one in the crowd chuckled as the man had undoubtedly intended. They all knew her, knew she lent a hand in her father’s practice. Knew what had happened to her mother.

Mary folded her arms across her chest. “No right? I’ve seen your kind before….” A lump the size of a walnut lodged in her throat, stopping her words. She blinked rapidly to hold back tears.

Though his smile still remained, the stranger’s eyes darkened into murky pools and every trace of mirth vanished. Good. Maybe now he’d take her seriously.

He leaned toward her. “And what kind is that?”

She cleared her throat, determined not to be undone by this rogue. “The kind of man who instead of putting in a hard day’s work, earns his living cheating others. That nonsense in your hand isn’t worth the price of an empty bottle.”

His eyes narrowed. “Your assessment of my remedy—of my kind—is hardly scientific.”

He jumped to the street and bystanders stepped back, giving him a clear path, a clear path leading directly to her. He stopped inches away from her skirts, his features chiseled as if from stone, his dimple gone. The starkness of that face put a hitch in Mary’s breathing. Her hand lifted to her throat.

“This isn’t a bottle of spirits as you’ve alleged.” He unscrewed the cap and thrust it under her nose. “It’s good medicine.”

She didn’t smell alcohol, only peppermint and honey, but couldn’t make out the origin of another scent.

“Let’s hear what he has to say,” Roscoe Sullivan said.

Roscoe’s rheumatism had been acting up and he probably had trouble sleeping. The poor man dreaded the onset of winter, and no doubt hoped to find a miracle in that bottle. But miracles came from God, not from a peddler with a jarring accent. 

John Lemming, the owner of the livery, waved a hand toward the remedy. “Our baby cries all evening. I’d give a king’s ransom for something to soothe him.”

“If it worked.” Mary exhaled. How could these people be so easily fooled? “Don’t you see, John, he’s in this to fill his pockets and then move on before you folks discover his claims are meaningless. Just like last year’s peddler.”

The stranger smiled, revealing even white teeth. “Since you’re so sure of yourself, Miss Nightingale, why don’t you pay the price of this bottle and investigate the medicine yourself?”

Lifting her chin, she met his amused gaze. How dare the man poke fun at her? And worse, ask her to pay for the privilege of disproving his claims? “And line your pockets? Never!”

He stepped closer. If he intended to intimidate her, she wouldn’t give ground, though her heart rat-a-tatted in her chest.

“Well then, stand aside for those folks who are open-minded enough to give it a try.” He pushed past her and lifted the bottle. “For the price of three dollars, who wants a bottle of my remedy?”

Mary gasped. “Three dollars. Why, that’s highway robbery!” She grabbed his arm, then watched in horror as the bottle slipped out of his hand and hit the ground, shattering the glass. Her neighbors’ gasps drowned out her own.

The man pivoted on a booted heel. “I believe you owe me three dollars,” he said, his voice low, almost a tease.

The liquid trickled between the brick. She lifted her gaze to lock with his. “I’ll pay your price—if you’ll move on to another town.”

His mouth thinned into a stubborn line. “I’m not leaving.”

Perhaps she had a legal way to get rid of this menace. She planted her hands on her hips. “Do you have a permit?”

With that lazy grin and irritating dimple, he reached inside his shirt pocket and retrieved a slip of paper, waving it in front of Mary’s face. Her hands fisted. This rogue had thought of everything.

Nearby, Roscoe and John exchanged a glance, and then both men ran a hand over their mouths, trying to bury a smile and failing. Apparently, her neighbors found the exchange entertaining.

Mary dug into her purse and handed over the money. “You’ve made a handsome profit on this bottle alone, so move on to fleece another town and leave us in peace.”

“I like it here.” He tossed her a smile, as arrogant as the man himself. “I’m staying.”

Though he deserved it, she had no call to give this scoundrel a sharp kick to his shin, but oh, how she’d love to give in to the temptation. Mary closed her eyes and said a quick, silent prayer to conduct herself like a God-fearing woman, not a fishwife. “Well, I don’t want you here.”

John Lemming pulled out three dollars. “If it works, it’ll be worth every cent.”

The peddler gestured to the knot of people crowded around them, opening their purses and wallets. “Looks like you’re in the minority, Miss Nightingale.”

He returned to his wagon and the good citizens of Noblesville started forking over the money, purchasing the worthless stuff the man had undoubtedly concocted out of peppermint and honey. How could they trust him?

Why had her mother befriended such a man? Her stomach knotted and tears stung her eyes. Even five years later, grief caught her unaware, tearing through her like a cyclone. She bit her lip, forcing her gaze on the hawker.   

Surely he didn’t mean to stay. If he did, everyone would discover the worthlessness of his remedy. No, he’d depart in the middle of the night, having a good laugh at the town’s gullibility.

Handing out bottles of his so-called remedy, the stranger glanced her way, shooting her another grin. Obviously, he took pleasure in swindling her friends and neighbors right under her nose. Like a petulant child, she wanted to stomp her foot—right on his instep. That ought to wipe the grin off his haughty face.

As if he read her thoughts, he turned to her. “Best remember the exhortation in the Good Book to love thy enemy.”

How dare he mention the Bible while he duped her neighbors? Still, she had let her temper get the best of her. Love thy enemy was a hard pill to swallow.

Then of all things, the man gave her a wink, as bold as brass. A shimmer of attraction whooshed through her. Aghast at her base feelings, Mary turned on her heel and stalked off.

Behind her, the man chuckled. 

Cheeks burning, Mary strode down Ninth Street and then turned right on Conner. Permit or no permit, she’d find a way to run that peddler out of Noblesville. He represented the last thing she and this town needed—trouble.

 Thank you again, Pepper, for the opportunity to share with your readers. Your blog is a favorite of mine!

Come by tomorrow for another Seeker, Cheryl Wyatt.