Friends in ‘westerly’ places

While at ACFW I have the wonderful opportunity to meet people I’d only chatted with online. Of course, meeting the fabulous FIFITEEN of Seekerville is always a delight – and getting to hug on my fellow Alley Cats from The Writers Alley was another joy.


But I also got to meet marvelous ladies like Susan Ann Mason, a constant encourager and fabulous writer.


A Genesis finalist and magnificent lady, Karen Schravemade (who happens to have one of the coolest accents around)

Authors I want to be like when I grow up – like Ruth Axtell Morren, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Kaye Dacus.


And friends I NEVER grow tired of hugging – like Audra Harders, Laura Frantz, Mary Connealy, and Angie Dicken.


It’s pretty remarkable how God takes all these different people from different places and binds them together with a love for Him and the joy of writing.

I am SOOOOOOO glad He does! Aren’t you?

Conference Tips with Kaye Dacus

Having just read her newest novel, Ransome’s Quest, all I have to say is LISTEN TO WHAT THIS AUTHOR SAYS!

Kaye Dacus has not only written an intriguing historical series in The Ransom Trilogy, she’s mostly known for her wonderful contemporary novels like The Brides of Bonneterre and The Matchmakers series. A few things I personally appreciate from Kaye is her thorough critiques, attention to detail, and wealth of realistic encouragement.

With that in mind, here is what Kaye has to say about conference:

Three necessities for a writers’ conference . . .

1. A plan. It’s important to go into a writers’ conference with a plan in place—not just for what sessions you want to attend and what editors/agents you’re going to request appointments with, but a plan for what you’re going to do if you don’t get the appointments you want—how will you make sure that you get to talk to that publishing professional? Also, make a plan for which editors’/agents’ tables you want to sit at during hosted meals. Even more importantly, plan ahead to meet up with online friends, new and old, to make sure that you find each other—because sometimes it’s hard to find one person out of seven hundred!
2. A purpose. Sure, you have a purpose in attending the conference, but what’s your purpose for why you’re writing? And if your answer is “to get published,” you may need a new purpose. There should be something more to the reason you write than the pursuit of a contract with the “right” agent or the “right” publishing house. What’s your purpose as a writer? Clarify that before you get to the conference. Write it down as a mission statement. (Google “writing a personal mission statement” if you need help.) Carry that mission statement in your pocket/bag with you throughout the conference. Pull it out every couple of hours and read it. Don’t let the craziness and chaos of conference make you lose focus on your purpose as a writer.
3. A perspective. Not only do you need to have a perspective on who you are and what makes you and your writing unique, you need to plan ahead for having a positive, pragmatic perspective on what’s going to happen when the conference ends. What will you do if you don’t hear what you want to hear? What will you do if all of the editors and agents you talk to say, “Thanks, but no thanks”? How will you handle the emotional surge of conference, followed by the inherent crash afterward once you’re back home again and not surrounded by seven hundred other writers? Most importantly, though, is determining your overarching perspective of yourself and your writing and your life and making the decision before you leave for conference that no matter what happens, you aren’t going to let it affect your belief in the calling God has put on your heart to be a writer.
Don’t you love how she just gets to the heart of the matter? What IS your purpose for writing? Some answers will stand the test of time, heartache, and rejection much better than others. It’s important to know your reason. 🙂 AMEN, Kaye! And thanks for sharing these with us.
To learn more about Kaye’s books, visit her blog at
You will find a WHOLE LOT more than just book information and a bio.  Kaye’s Writing Series Index is a MUST READ for aspiring authors- slathered with useful information.
Friday – we have a visit from the cowboy queen, Mary Connealy.
Saturday – it’s the sweet and eloquent historical author, Laura Frantz

Conference Tips Series

Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be hosting a series about conference tips – straight from some of your favorite authors. Each have given 3 top things to remember to bring with you for your future Writers Conference -experience.

So who’s on the agenda for this coming week?

Denise Hunter

Missy Tippens

Kaye Dacus

Mary Connealy


Laura Frantz

It’s gonna be inspirational, educational, and FUN! Stop by and get prepared!

Are YOU Conference Ready?

Stop by for the next three weeks and get some conference tips from fabulous authors like:

Denise Hunter

Rachel Hauck

Ruth Logan Herne

Siri Mitchell

Mary Connealy

Kaye Dacus


Look for the weekend lineup on Saturday so you’ll make sure to stop by for a quick note that will help prepare you for ACFW or any other writers conference you might have in your sights. It all starts on Tuesday, Sept. 6.


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. 🙂

Catch a Reader by the Hook – great first lines

You’re standing in front of a shelve of deliciously tempting books inside Barnes and Noble or Books a Million…or even the library. The smell of imagination cooking between fresh print pricks your curiosity and you scan the rows looking for a title or cover to push you from temptation to commitment. Finally, something snags your attention and you draw the book from the shelf, the promise of a tantalizing visit to otherworlds tingling through your body. (okay, maybe I’m the only one who gets this feeling, but I also write fantasy so it works for me.

You slide your hand across the silken cover dancing with brilliant colors and a magical picture, finally flipping to the first page.

Once upon a time….

It was a dark and stormy night…

It is a truth universally acknolwedged….

Either the book grips you in the first paragraph and delivers on its’ promises from the back cover, or you realize…this book is not for you.

So what makes a gripping first line…a first paragraph even?

Part of it has to do with personal preference, I know, but first lines have a tendency to draw us in, catch us, and then hook us like a fish in the water.

With this thought in mind, I’ve listed a few ‘first lines’ in books (old and new) as an example. See what you think.

“Scarlet O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm, as the Tarleton twins were.” – Gone With the Wind

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” David Copperfield

“I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.” – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“A gentle breeze from the north-east after a night of rain, and the washed sky over Malta had a particular quality in its light that sharpened the lines of the noble buildings, bringing out all the virtue of the stone; the air too was a delight to breathe, and the city of Valletta was as cheerful as though it were fortunate in love or as though it had suddenly heard good news.” – Treason’s Harbor by Patrick O’Brian

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing among the big trees, and they never saw that little house again.” Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalss Wilder

“There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.”  Holes by Louis Sachar

Now for some Christian Fiction examples How do they compete?

“Oh, to be a calculating woman!” Julie Lessman’s A Passion Denied

“Nice girl gone bad. That’s me: Claire Le Noyer.” Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell

“Nothing like running late to make a wonderful first impression.” Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

“The day was gray and cold, mildly damp. Perfect for magic.” The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

“Breathe not a word of my visit, Jean. not to a soul.” Thorn in my Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

Bran!” The shout rattled through the stone-flagged yard. “Bran! Get your sorry tail out here! We’re leaving!” Hood by Stephen Lawhead

“Dragon riding isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” Ashley grumbled. Enoch’s Ghost by Bryan Davis.

“Belle Tanner pitched dirt right on Anthony’s handsome, worthless face.” The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

“They were coming. They were coming! Christophe shoves his little sister, twelve-year old Emile, through a hidden door in the wall, quickly following her.” Love’s First Light by Jamie Carie

Now, interestingly enough, these examples have something in common: They are out to get your attention BUT they use different means to get it.

– Some draw in the reader with ACTION. You enter the story in motion and are swept into the pages.

– Some use INTRIGUE…something’s ‘not quite right’, so your curiousity is peaked.

– Some use HUMOR and brings you in with a smile.

– Others use the UNEXPECTED – something is stated (kind of like intrigue) which is out of the ordinary so to keep from teetering on the brink of confusion, the reader must read on.

-Finally some capture you with WORDS, magically descriptive, palpable words which ensnare the senses.

Any way you choose to write it, SOMETHING has to happen in that first paragraph which captures the readers attention to keep them reading…wanting more, inescapably attracted…

and then –


You’ve caught yourself a reader. 🙂

Sizzling First Encounters with Kaye Dacus

It is such a pleasure to have author Kaye Dacus visiting today. Kaye’s books range from sassy contemporaries to Austenian historicals. She’s known as an encourager to new writers (of which I can attest personally J and provides a wealth of knowledge and information on her blog at

Her newest series, The Matchmakers, sounds like books filled with wit and romance, much like her Brides of Bonneterre series. Her first published novel, Stand-In Groom, has been my favorite of her books so far. (Of course, the hero was British and you can’t go wrong with that, right Kaye? 😉

Besides the fun contemporaries, her historical series The Ransom Trilogy is definitely worth a read – especially is you enjoy Regency, Pirates, and a bit of Austen flair.

1. What is one element of great romantic tension?

 Intellectual attraction provides the best catalyst for romantic tension, at least for me. While physical attraction can, well, generate heat, it’s when the attraction moves beyond the surface level, sees them for who they really are that the romance sparks.

 2. Would you please provide an excerpt of one of your most dazzling first encounters between hero and heroine?

 While this isn’t actually their first encounter (which happened in Ransome’s Honor), here is a scene from Charlotte’s debut ball in Ransome’s Crossing.

            The next hour swirled away in a blur of handsome, attentive gentlemen and officers. After a rousing reel with Mr. St. Vincent, Charlotte turned off the dance floor for a respite—and came face-to-face with Ned Cochrane.

            His cool gray eyes burned into hers. She dropped her gaze and bent her knees in a quick curtsey.

            “Might I have the honor of the next dance, Miss Ransome?”

            How could she? What if he then recognized her through her disguise next time they met at the dockyard? But as they would be on different ships, they would likely not see each other at all. “Yes, Lieutenant Cochrane. I would be delighted.”

            Charlotte’s fingertips tingled when they came in contact with Ned’s—even though they both wore gloves. A few steps into the allemande, Charlotte had trouble catching her breath. Every time they separated, she felt cold and abandoned. And she could look nowhere but at Ned. His hair was too dark to be blond and too light to be brown. He had a scar in the middle of his forehead that broke up the lines when he raised his brows, the way a rock broke the flow of a stream. And though he was not as tall and lithe as Percy Fairfax, he seemed lighter on his feet, more graceful, no doubt from years of developing a keen sense of balance aboard ships.

            The dance ended too soon. Had it not been for Penelope’s immediately claiming her and declaring the need for refreshment, Charlotte would have embarrassed herself by asking—begging—Lieutenant Cochrane for another dance . . . and another . . .

            Penelope pulled her into a corner where a tall vase gave them some measure of privacy. “My dear girl, why did not you tell me?”

            “Tell you?” Charlotte glanced around the vase, trying to see if Ned danced with someone else.

            “That you are in love.”

 Oh nice, Kaye. What a great way to start the day! Or end the day! It’s kind of like chocolate. Good ANY time 🙂 And I love the mystery involved, the conflict about Ned discovering her identity. Wonderful!

Thanks for sharing this with us today.

Up Next: Tina Pinson

Sizzling First Encounters – Final Week!!

It’s going to be a very busy week. The final week of Sizzling First Encounters and, boy, is there a great lineup. I hope you guys have enjoyed this series as much as I have. I’m already devising my next series, which won’t start until September and has to do with …er…’fall’ (As in, When I Fall in Love) 🙂

 Monday – Siri Mitchell

Tuesday – Missy Tippens

Wednesday – Audra Harders

Thursday – Jamie Carie

Friday – Kaye Dacus

Saturday – Tina Pinson

ACFW Novel Track: Writing starts on July 1 – and I’m participating. I’ll post tips and tidbits I’m learning along the way.

For some great posts on writing and just fun, check out The Writers Alley or Seekerville.



A Kiss to Build a SCENE On with Kaye Dacus

Menu For Romance…er…Kissing? 

Appetizers – One peck on the cheek

                        A nibble on the earlobe

                        Slight touch of lips with a hint of warmth, but not overdone

                       A hooded eye-gaze might accompany this dish, but isn’t necessary for total fulfillment 

Main Course – Deep prolonged kiss, usually steamed. Can be served medium well or well;

                             with two sides: necking & galloping heartrate

                                    Breathing is optional

                                    Precaution – this dish has a tendency to melt any other items nearby

                                    Best served when angry, desperate, passionate, in need, or ecstatic 

Dessert –         Slow, gentle kissing a la mode

                             Best served directly after the main course to bring the full experience of the  meal to a satisfying conclusion. 

This meal is dine-in only.

So to serve us up our kiss for the day is author Kaye Dacus. Kaye runs the gamut of time periods from her contemporary Brides in Bonneterre Series to her Regency romances The Ransom Trilogy, proving that a beautiful love story can happen during any era. She’s a fellow Tennessian too 😉 To learn more about her books visit her website at 

Now Kaye… 

What do you think makes a great kissing scene? Why?

For me, a great kissing scene is not about the kiss itself—it’s about the emotional and intellectual tension that leads up to the kiss, especially a couple’s first kiss. The best kissing-scene writers create such an air of expectation and anxiety in the reader (and the characters) that the reader sits on the edge of her seat, every muscle tight, every nerve tingling—like a pressure cooker at full steam—waiting for the only thing that can release that pressure. Then, when the characters’ lips meet, releasing the tension, salving the anxiety, and meeting the expectation, it’s a blissful experience. And it’s one of the main reasons why I read and write romance novels! 

PLEASE provide a short excerpt of a kissing scene you enjoyed writing. 

Excerpt from A Case for Love

Setup: Forbes and Alaine have run into each other at a coffee house and are having coffee together, and Forbes just mentioned his upcoming twentieth high school reunion. 

            “The girls from your high school class like to gossip about you?” Oh to be a fly on the wall at that reunion.  

            “Yeah—about how horrible of a boyfriend I was or how I haven’t been able to have a long-term relationship, ever.” He smoothed out his section of the newspaper and re-folded it. 

             Alaine’s heart gave a trill like a piccolo. “They don’t know what they’re missing.” 

             His eyes, almost as dark blue as his shirt today, snapped to hers. She couldn’t believe she’d said that aloud. She couldn’t do this, could she? Yet if she walked away, would she be giving up the only chance she might have for falling in love? She held his gaze, not caring if her indecision showed. 

             “You know,” Forbes leaned forward and lowered his voice, “falling for your parents’ lawyer isn’t the worst thing you can do. No matter what that woman from Channel Three said to you last night.”

             “How did you—”

             “Meredith called me last night to ask me what was going on. I didn’t tell her much. Just that we’re friends, and that I’m doing a favor for your parents. She doesn’t need to be dragged into the middle of this.” 

             “I agree. But Forbes, did she tell you how truly vulgar Teri’s insinuations were? Other people are bound to wonder the same thing.” 

             “Let them wonder, then.” He reached across the table and took her hand in his.

             Her pulse pounded through her head in dizzying waves. “You don’t understand. As a representative of the TV station, and especially because of the nature of my show and my primary viewers being stay-at-home moms and senior citizens, I have to protect my reputation as much as I can. If a rumor like that were to sprout legs, it could create a scandal; and the last thing we need is negative public attention on what we’re doing.” 

             His thumb made slow, soft circles on her palm. “You worry too much about what other people think. What do you feel, Alaine Delacroix?”

             All she could feel right now was the way her body tingled in response to his rubbing her palm. “I. . .”

            Before she could think, before she could react, Forbes leaned across the table and kissed her. Soft, gentle, undemanding, and too quickly ended. Her hand spasmed in his.

             “Need more time to think?”

 Yep, I’d stop thinking too. Handsome, rich, somewhat mischevious lawyer with a penchant for a kiss??? Wow, sounds like a great main course to me. Oh and btw, Menu For Romance is the second book in Kaye’s Brides of Bonneterre series. To read a review of Menu For Romance follow this link:

For a review of my personal fav of Kaye’s books, Stand-In Groom, follow this link:

 Thanks for being a part of this, Kaye. I can’t wait to get my hands on Forbes’ story.

 Kissing Quote of the Day:

 “The soul that can speak with its eyes can also kiss with a gaze.” – Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

 Inspirational Quote of the Day:

 6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
       like a seal on your arm;
       for love is as strong as death,
       its jealousy [a] unyielding as the grave. [b]
       It burns like blazing fire,
       like a mighty flame. [c]

 7 Many waters cannot quench love;
       rivers cannot wash it away.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Quick note here: A seal is a mark of belonging or even security. An assurance or guarantee. When God chooses us, He places His seal – His mark upon our hearts. He seals our souls with his love – a love as unyeilding as the grave. Wow, nothing is quite as certain as death, but here in Scripture it states that love is ‘strong as death’.

The flame of true love cannot be quenched like a natural fire, becuase it burns fromwithin our spirits, alight by the light of God’s perfect grace. When two people are sealed by the bond of His love the ‘trinity’ braid of bride, groom, and Creator is an unbreakable seal and a beautiful example of Heaven on Earth.

Menu for Romance

Kaye Dacus has cooked up a delightful romance with the ingredients of humor, faith, and true love.

1 – party planner named Meredith Guidry who has been secretly in love with her chef-friend and coworker for over eight years.
1- Chef Major O’Hara who must decide between love, his mother, and the job he’s dreamed of
3 cups of romance – aged at about 8 years
1 ½ cups of uncertainty -(Meredith’s possible boyfriend, Major’s secret/mysterious mom, a few family crisis, and a lovely news anchor )
A handful of misunderstandings
A dash of humor

Blend well, bake for about 317 pages and you have a fun commercial break during the chaos of life.

Though Menu for Romance isn’t as exciting as its’ predecessor, Stand-In Groom, it’s still a pleasant dessert for an escape into the world of cooking, parties, crazy families, and, of course, romance.
To Win a Copy of Menu For Romance, just make a comment about what your favorite recipe is. Leave your email address and a name will be drawn on July 31st. The winner will receive a copy of Menu for Romance and a recipe for a wonderful dessert.menufor