Conference Tips with Audra Harders

There are some people God brings into your life at the perfect time for the perfect reason. Steeple Hill Love Inspired author, Audra Harders, was one of those people to me last year at  ACFW.

Besides being a partner in workshop ‘sneaking’, Audra was also an encourager during my nervousness. She took me under her wing and prayed for me right in the lobby of the hotel. It was a beautiful experience – an example of her gentle, kind, and lovely personality.

Audra is another one of the fabulous fifteen Seekers and her novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, debuted in January 2011.

So Audra, what are your conference tips?

 1. Bring your sense of curiosity and adventure. I know writers tend to be hermits, but a conference is no place to bow to those tendencies! Get out of your room and snoop around the hotel, you never know who you’re going to run into at the coffee shop or lobby. Or exercise room. Or pool.

 2. Think about your “brand” and bring a gimmick. It can be as simple as a business card with your picture, your log line, or anything to identify you and your genre. Or maybe something that relates to your genre such as a creative (crafty) bookmark representing the era you set your books, or special chocolate from the region where your book is set. Market yourself as simply, but as powerfully, as possible.

 3. You can’t look confident and relaxed if you’re not comfortable. While workshops and meetings are in session, dress for the image you want to exude. If it’s western, pack a jean skirt; if it’s urban, try stylish trousers and flats. Comfortable does not mean frumpy. Don’t leave your sweats at home if you like to relax in them, but make sure they’re publicly acceptable before you pack them. But don’t get too comfortable. I remember a conference I attended a few years ago where one of the authors was lounging in the lobby. This isn’t a bad thing…except she was wearing an old ratty t-shirt, dollar store flip-flops, and couldn’t have slumped down deeper into the overstuffed chair if she tried while she typed away on her laptop. Unfortunately, that is the image now burned into my gray matter of this author.

 Remember: Comfortable, not sloppy!

Thank you! Thank you, Audra.

And Audra brought the ‘brand’ word! Whew….tought stuff. What’s your brand?

To find out more about Audra visit her website, or stop by Seekerville.

And Audra – SEE YOU IN ST. LOUIE!!!!!

Conference Tips with Ruth Logan Herne

For the unpubbed author, there is nothing better than finding people who support and encourage you.

People who teach and guide you.

People who tell you the truth, critique with love, and have a snarky sense of humor.

Ruth Logan Herne has been one of those people for me!

One of the fabulous fifteen of Seekerville, Ruthy has made an amazing hit into the published world since her first book Winter’s End came out in March 2010, Ruthy has successfully released  FIVE more books with many more to come! Her novels have consistently received excellent reviews and Winter’s End is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards this year (I plan to CHEER in person!!! Probably annoyingly loudly. Go, Ruthy!!)

So, without further ado, what are Ruthy’s top three conference tips?

Oh, honey, that one’s easy.




Everything else is extraneous.




Can’t make a cake without flour…

Writing’s your flour. THe basic ingredient.

Simple, yet profound. Thanks Ruthy.

Without words on a page, there’s little chance of publication – so….we have some work to do. 🙂

To learn more about Ruthy’s books, visit her website at or stop by Seekerville!

Do you have someone or more than one someone who encourages you along this writing journey?


photos courtesy of

A Week Review with Ruth Logan Herne – Winters End

I just love Ruth Logan Herne.

Sure, I enjoy her books – they are filled with small-town romance, humor, fun family, real conflict, super-sweet kisses…

but I just have to say, I love Ruthy, because she’s Ruthy. She’s actually my adopted writing mother – if she’ll claim me, that is.

This week I’m featuring Ruthy’s books and we’ll start with her debut novel, Winters End. Leave a comment this week and you’ll be in the running for a Ruthy book or your choice!

So, let’s take a peek at Winters End

What is one of the best ways to welcome in this lovely spring weather? Read Winter’s End by debut author, Ruth Logan Herne.
Simply put, it is one of the BEST Love Inspired novels I’ve ever read. Grit, humor, romance, and characters that stick to your memory like the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
This story keeps you guessing about a happy ending all the way to the final chapter.
Filled with wonderful emotion, heartwrenching wounds, and a surprising twist, Winter’s End follows the journey of two souls who will not be complete without facing the unforgiveness and fears of their pasts – and trusting in a Savior who mends broken hearts.

A Bit About the Story:
Kayla Doherty faces her job as a hospice nurse with determination and hope, unfortunately her ‘hope’ doesn’t seem to hold out for Marc DeHollander’s surly personality. Marc sees Kayla’s presence in his life as a tangible sign of his father’s disintegrating health, but both Kayla and Marc need a good dose of a miracle. Not so much in the healing of Marc’s father, but in the healing of their hearts.

Ruthy’s personality, complete with her fantastic wit, shines in this book. A definite must-read that will both break and warm your heart.

Check out Ruthy’s site at

A Family for Faith by Missy Tippens

Down here in the South, we have very high standards for our sweetened iced tea. I can have too little sugar or too much (but rarely too much ;-). It can be seasoned with mint or lemon. It can be brewed by hand or by machine. But the important part of it all (besides the perfect location to drink it) – is that it has just the right
amount of sweetness for the one drinking it.

Well, Missy Tippens has delivered a story with Southern charm and just the right amount of sweetness for the reader’s pleasure. Her newest release, A Family for Faith, is a beautiful story about second chances, letting go, and trusting God.

A cloud of failure hides behind Faith Hagin’s smile. Despite the fact that her coffee shop is doing well, her church family love her, and the handsome police chief, Gabe Reynolds, sent her heart into an adolescent pitty-patter, Faith is haunted by poor choices that alienated her son from her. Now, with the possibility of new romance, and a second chance, Faith can’t get past her feelings of failure and insecurity. Instead of focusing on the amazing opportunities God’s providng, fear forces her in the opposite direction. How could she ever be a good mother for Gabe’s daughter when she’d destroyed the relationship with her own son?

Gabe Reynolds still misses and loves his deceased wife, but raising a preteen daughter forces him out of his comfort zone to seek help. He never expected Faith Hagin’s help to transform his entire life. Her generous and joyful spirit tugs him away from his self-imposed isolation, tempting his heart to open in ways it hadn’t in a long time.

Will Gabe’s daughter succeed in finding the perfect match for her Dad? Can Gabe and Faith overcome their own wounds to see that God specializes in second chances?

Well, pick up Missy’s book to find out. It’s a beautiful story at the perfect price.

And Missy, I have to tell you that though the romance was absolutely lovely, one of my FAVORITE scenes in the book was the reconciliation between Faith and her son. I thought you wrote it in a touching, realistic, and fulfilling way. Beautiful! I cried (but don’t tell Mary I did) 😉

To learn more about Missy’s books, check them out at

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Audra Harders

Sometimes great things happen.

And then there are times when God just sends you for a loop with plans so MUCH better than you could have planned. That’s what meeting the Seekers at ACFW was like for me. I didn’t go with grandiose visions of publication – but I had one primary objective: Meet as many Seekers as possible! Why? Because they have been such an encouragement to me for the past year and half. Ever since Mary Connealy suggested I take a peek at Seekerville.

And the rest is obsess…er…history.

So among the amazing people at ACFW, God provided the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Audra Harders.  And let me just tell you. She. IS. WONDERFUL!!! She didn’t mind my obesess…my interest in the Seekers, or my need to…visit with them often. She even encouraged it. Taking me under her wing, so to speak, and giving me advice. She even endured my jigsaw-puzzle-genre-hopping with a longsuffering smile. Oh, I just LOVE her.

Do you see that picture? Doesn’t she look SWEET?!? Lovely and sweet!

And BEST OF ALL- her debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, comes out in JANUARY 2011. YIPEE! Check out this cover! And in celebration of this momentous occassion, one lucky commenter will win an IOU for the book as soon as it is released! So leave your email along with your comment. VERY EXCITING!

Okay, okay, time for the juicy stuff. Thanks for being a guest, Audra.

What do you think makes a great experience where the hero & heroine begin to realize one is in love with the other?

When the hero and heroine first realize they’re falling in love with each other, each character questions the reality of their feelings. After all, they come into my books absolutely certain they’ll never find a kindred spirit, much less a soul mate. In the past, love opportunities that looked promising for them have fallen short when weighed on the can-I-grow-old-with-this-person meter. Physical attraction alone makes for a very shaky foundation. They subconsciously know the cornerstones of a good relationship need to be in place — friendship leads to trust leads to support leads to caring. They’re so busy denying their fascination with each other, they are completely blindsided when the truth of love lifts the veil from their eyes.

 And then the fun starts!

And by ‘fun’, of course she means a sneak peek into Rocky Mountain Hero.  (giggle)

Melanie glanced at her watch again. Five minutes. Grace sat across the room, her head bowed in prayer. Gabe stood at the window, his shoulder propped against the mullion and arms crossed over his chest. He just stared out the glass.

Looking lost.

            She folded her hands and bowed her head. Almost before her eyes closed, her mind stilled. Peace washed over her. Lord, comfort these people.

            An elbow poked her in the side. She opened her eyes and saw Jason frowning at her. “Mom, don’t fall asleep.”

            She reached out and smoothed back his blond hair. “Just thinking.”

            His frown lifted and his shoulders relaxed. “You were grinning.”

            “I was looking for a happy place.”

            “The ranch is a pretty happy place.”

            She lifted her eyes and looked across the room at Gabe. “I think it is, honey.”

            Gabe shifted his weight and settled beside the window. Chin tucked into his shirt collar, he stared with a vacant look.

Unable to sit a moment longer, she walked over to him, reached out and touched his arm. “C’mon, let’s walk.”

Stark pain reflected in his beautiful brown eyes. She slid her hand down his sleeve and into his rough palm. As his fingers interlocked with hers, the sharp edge in his gaze softened. Melanie gave a feeble smile, the best she could manage at the moment, and tugged on his hand.

            He followed her out of the waiting room. The late afternoon air cooled her skin and cleared her head. “I love the evenings up here. The day wrapping up and getting ready for bed.”

            They strolled in silence, their shoulders bumped as they followed the path that meandered around the commons area of the medical center-slash-hospital-slash-clinic. The range of medical care available in such a tiny community surprised her as she’d passed it earlier in the week. Now with Martin’s health in question, she thanked the health facility for being well staffed. She pressed her knuckles into his palm, savoring the warmth of his skin. They finished the entire loop and started a second.

            “I like watching the sun come up.” Gabe spoke in a bare whisper beside her.

            So did she. “Best part of the day.”

“You’ve got the whole day to work, and sometimes, you work into the night.” The heels of his boots clicked on the cement walk, his pace easy to keep up with. “It’s all gotta get done.”

            She loved the sound of his soft, strong voice. Even in the midst of a crisis, he maintained an even tone, a gentle calm. “I imagine there’s a lot to do to keep a ranch the size of the Circle D organized.”

            “Cattle, hay, fence, equipment–it all needs attention. Dad knows how to do it all.”

            She stole a peek, the brim of his hat cast a shadow across his cheek making the lines at his eyes appear deep. “You run the place, too.”

            “Right now, I can’t think of a thing to do.”

            “There isn’t anything more important than being here for your family.”

            Gabe shook his head. “Dad wouldn’t have let a little thing like someone getting sick stop him from finishing chores. Zac came down with pneumonia one winter. We all stood around his hospital bed praying for the fever to break. Waiting. Finally, Dad had enough. He told Mom the cattle needed feed. He took Nick with him and told me to stay with Mom so she wouldn’t have to drive home by herself. Dad didn’t shirk responsibility.” He looked straight down as they followed the path, the very bleakness of his words etched on his face. “I can’t think of a single chore that needs to be done.”

            Melanie squeezed his fingers and rubbed her shoulder against his sleeve. “Your dad hates feeling helpless. He needs to fill time with physical activity; he needs to fix it. Not everyone is like that.” She stepped closer beside him. “Offering comfort with your presence is a gift you have. Gabe, you’re a different man than your dad.”

            A growl rumbled deep within his chest. “You got that right.”

            “It’s not a bad thing. When your dad is out of danger, you’ll collect your thoughts and finish what needs to be done.” She nudged him. “I’m sure whatever chore you think of will still be waiting for you when you’re ready.”

            He leaned closer. “You’re right. No one’s racing to go muck out stalls for me.”

            “No, but people like being around you.”

            He threw her a sideways glance. “Do you?”



            Why? She’d been asking that same question for days now. She walked along the path, careful not to step on the lines, a childhood habit. Why did she look forward to seeing him in the morning, or talking to him through out the day, or wanting him to push her on the swing again just to feel his touch? Why did she trust him with her son?

            Why did she want to trust him with herself? “You make me feel safe.”

            Steps slowed and he came to a stop. His eyes grew round as he tipped back his hat and stared at her. “Safe?”

            Her cheeks burned as she scrambled to call back the truth she’d unwittingly blurted. “Well, you are a stranger after all.”

            “Hard to remember that.” He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “Seems like you’ve been here longer than a week.”

            She took a step back. He held firm and tugged her closer. A surge of panic raced through her until she recognized the vulnerability in his rich, dark eyes. “This has turned into the most bizarre vacation I’ve ever experienced.”

            She wanted to bury her face in his shoulder, to feel his arms wrapped around her. She wanted to hug and be hugged in return. To offer comfort more than words. She wanted to know what safe and trust really felt like.

Copyright 2011 by Audra Harders

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.          

Oh dear – how beautiful. Anyone else REALLY want a hug? Like Right NOW!! Thank you for sharing this excerpt, Audra, and I plan to start looking for your book by the third week of December (just in case)

Inspirational Moment

Oh my goodness – check out this wonderful paraphrase of Psalm 119:73-76

With your very own hands you formed me;
      now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
   When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
      those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
   I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
      your testing has taught me what’s true and right. 
   Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
      just the way you promised.
   Now comfort me so I can live, really live; 
      your revelation is the tune I dance to.

Did you know that God hugs you with his love? Sometimes he uses the hands and arms of his servants on this Earth, but even when there aren’t people with ‘skin on’, He’s still there. Everpresent. Ten times better than the worlds coolest cyberhug.

It’s an internal comfort and knowledge that you are loved.



and Treasured beyond your wildest imaginings.

The hug that squeezes out the doubt and insecurities.

That envelopes the pain and deepset wounds with a ceaseless comfort.

That enfolds you in the truest love you will ever know.

Wow – He made us. He loves us. WHAT A SAVIOR!!

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!

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 😉

A Kiss to Build a SCENE On with Margaret Daley

Romantic kisses are usually born out of some intense emotion. Fear of loss, attraction, love (of course), need, desperation, or…longing.

A few synonyms for ‘longing’ (from The Synonym Finder that Julie Lessman recommended I buy – GREAT purchase, btw) are: yearning, hope, wish, desire, sighing…

Basically, it’s a heart-gnawing dream or memory that we truly want to become a reality. Longing can be a great source for a kiss and Margaret Daley is here to give us a glimpse into that type of scene. Margaret is a Steeple Hill author who writes both suspense and romance.

 She has an entire boatload of books to check out on her website at

Her newest book, LoveInspired Suspense Cowboy Protector, is coming out next month.

 So Margaret, what do you think makes a good kissing scene and, please oh please, provide an example J

 I think what makes a good kiss is the emotional connection between the man and woman

 The below kissing scene for me was special because this was the first time the hero kissed the heroine in the story. They had been in love as teenagers but parted ways. Zachary is leering of trusting Jordan again. They share a ten year old son who wants to see them together. The kiss takes place at the football stadium where he first told her as a teenager he loved her–it was the place he went to as a teenager to think.

 Excerpt from Heart of a Cowboy, Love Inspired, July 2010:

 And he wanted his arms around her–not his coat. He stared at the dark field below then lifted his gaze to the nearly full moon in the clear sky. Its radiance gave them enough light to see by. He inhaled a deep breath of the recently mowed grass. Silence surrounded them, except that his heartbeat throbbed in his ears, drowning out all common sense.

 He shouldn’t be here with Jordan.

 He should leave–he shifted toward her. Their gazes bound across the few inches that separated them. His throat went dry. Thoughts fled his mind. His blood rushed to his limbs. 

 He leaned closer and brushed his lips across hers. Drawing her totally to him, he fenced her against him and deepened the kiss until he became lost in the sensations bombarding him–her heady scent, the feel of her mouth on his, the little gasp of surprise that had come from her when he first made a tactile connection.

 Oh my, how lovely, Margaret…and such longing in there. Longing for the past and the future all wrapped up in one kiss. As one of my youth girls said, “Ya just gotta love those kisses.” No matter how it’s packaged or what the source of the kiss, they’re ‘oh so easy to love.’ Thanks for being my guest today, Margaret.

 Kissing Quote for the Day:

 Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
Albert Einstein

Inspirational Quote for the Day:

You will find as you look back upon your life
that the moments when you have really lived,
are the moments when you have done things
in a spirit of love.

~ Henry Drummond

I know I got away from my Biblical quotes on this one, but there was something beautiful about it…and very true. Life, real life, isn’t made up of moments when we’re isolated and receiving. It’s made up of moments where we give to others, without a return policy. Selflessness. Our human natures are prone to selfishness and the ultimate expression of true love is complete selfless giving. Jesus was the ultimate example of true love. The Bible says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that he’s the embodiment, the flesh-form of God’s love. That’s what it looks like  with hands and feet. And because of Him, we can truly love others.

Stop by tomorrow for a wonderful visit with Denise Hunter.