Books are Blossoming!

Oh, there’s nothing like lounging in a chair outside, a glass of lemonade on the table beside you, the scent of lilacs in the air, and a book in your hand. Don’t you agree? And, as usual, spring is fragrant with new releases.

On my Just-Read list is Joseph Courtemanche’s debut release, Assault on Saint Agnes. Now this book isn’t for the light romance or cozy mystery reader, rather for those who love a good page-turning thriller. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I highly recommend it.

Assault on Saint AgnesAbout Assault on Saint Agnes ~

When terrorists assault Saint Agnes Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, they expect to find a congregation of lambs: they get Bobby Kurtz instead. An unrepentant Cold Warrior, Kurtz destroys the terror cell with violent finality. Against his will, Kurtz is pulled back into the life he left behind decades before. He reluctantly picks up the burden of hunting the terrorists in our midst. He risks his life, and his marriage, in a single-minded pursuit of victory over evil. Working with a shadowy government agency, Kurtz uses all of his skills and experience to foil a plan that would plunge the Twin Cities back into the Stone Age. The final battle rages across the plains during a Christmas Eve blizzard in a story that will leave the reader pleading for more of Kurtz and his team of experts.

On my Read-Next list is Jennifer Slattery’s latest release, Breaking Free. Word has it, this book is a gritty, meaty read, so it’s perfect for me.

Breaking FreeAbout Breaking Free ~

Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife Alice Goddard appears to have it all. But when her credit and debit cards are denied, she begins an investigation into the family’s finances—and discovers her husband trapped in a downward spiral of lies. Can they break free from his deception in time to save their marriage?

And finally on my Not-Yet-Released-Yet list is Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, book four in her Porter Family series. Since Becky broke out on the not-your-average-Christian-romance-writing scene with My Stubborn Heart, her books have topped my to-read list.

Her One and OnlyAbout Her One and Only ~

When NFL tight end Gray Fowler is threatened by a stalker, his team hires a professional bodyguard to watch him. But when Gray’s “protection” turns out to be a woman half his size, he’s indignant. Will Dru—a former marine and expert markswoman—prove to be up to the job? And meanwhile, who’s guarding Gray’s heart?

Now this blog post would be a mile long if I included every book on my spring reads list, but we’re asked to limit our words here on the Inksper blog so that you have more time to read books. So go pull out your lawn chair, poor yourself a glass of lemonade (or sweet tea if you live in the South), and dive into a book!

What books will be enjoying next?

Not Your Average Romance

While straight romance reads may not be my favorite, I do like a a little romance thrown into stories. Even Steven James’ thrillers have small elements of romance. I enjoy stories with unique protagonists, stories in which the romance is secondary to the main plot, yet still vital. Below are a few of my favorites because of their uniqueness.

JANE EYRE (Charlotte Bronte) – I love the atypical heroine in Jane Eyre. Not the modelesque heroines we’ve come to expect in modern day stories, but someone plain, someone relatable.

A VOICE IN THE WIND (Francine Rivers) – Another unique heroine–Hadassah certainly wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but that’s what makes the attraction between Hadassah and Marcus Valerian so captivating.

THE MISTRESS OF TALL ACRE (Laura Frantz) – I could probably put all of Laura’s books on my favorite romance list, but I’ll stick to one and choose her most recent. Laura’s musical prose and her exquisite settings are enough to draw me in every time, so her multi-faceted characters and page-turning stories are like the cherry on top.

MY STUBBORN HEART (Becky Wade) – This introduction to Becky’s writing made me a forever fan. The story’s a bit edgier than your typical Christian romance, which is, naturally, why I enjoyed it so much. Her Porter series is also very good, but My Stubborn Heart remains my favorite.

DANCE OF GRACE (Stacy Monson) – The heroine is a one-legged dancer, and the hero is an ex-con. Does Christian romance get more unique than that? Seriously, that’s all I need to hear to know that this is a must-read romance.

Have you read any of these romances? What are your five favorite romances?

Discovering New Authors

For the next two weeks, the Inkspers will be sharing what we’re reading. I have my favorite go to authors. When I’m between deadlines, I like the longer length novels. And if you’ve hung around here for long, you know my favorite is Denise Hunter. When I have deadlines, I go for the shorter reads and love Lenora Worth. But Denise and Lenora can’t write fast enough to keep me in books.

I’ve been on a search for new authors for the last year or so. I’ve tried a few and liked the first book, but was disappointed with the second. Or the books are a bit more women’s fiction than romance. I like women’s fiction if it has a happy ending, but I love the straight romance where the point of view is strictly hero and heroine and the story centers on the couple.

Luckily, I’ve found two authors who don’t disappoint – Becky Wade and Melissa Tagg. And luckily, Denise had a new release this spring. So here’s what I’ve read lately:

I’d read the first book in the series last year and was looking forward to Jade’s story. I always fall in love with Denise’s heroes and Daniel didn’t disappoint. So sweet, so supportive, such a good kisser. I love stories where the hero has silently loved the heroine for years. And I officially crowned Denise Queen of the Kissing Scene after reading:

Dancing with Fireflies

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

I loved Meant to Be Mine. Loved the characters, the conflict, and the banter. A lot of the times cute banter between the hero and heroine is too cute and gets on my nerves. But the banter between Ty and Celia was funny, sparkling, and electric. The chemistry between these two sizzled. And I loved the hero’s character arc. It was fascinating to watch him turn into the man Celia deserved. Definitely a keeper. And I’m looking forward to the next Becky Wade title. Meant to Be Mine

Meant to Be Mine

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school–irresistible. When their paths cross again after college–still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia’s ready to be Ty’s wife, but Ty’s not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia’s buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty’s achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn’t forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

After I read Becky’s 2nd title, Undeniable Yours last year, I found her debut My Stubborn Heart and loved it to. The achingly hurting hero tugged at my heartstrings. And the patient heroine drawing him out, then watching him go back insideMy Stubborn Heart himself, but determined to stick with him. So sweet, so tender. My favorite line: His gaze sought out Kate first, locking on her for a split second that caused her nerves to sizzle. Wow, I wish I’d written that. And once again, there was great banter. I officially crown Becky Wade the Queen of Banter.

My Stubborn Heart

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate’s grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house. Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded — hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Kate can’t help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.

I fell in love with Blake in the first book of Melissa Tagg’s series, Made to Last, even though he wasn’t the hero. I’ve long been waiting for his story and thoroughly enjoyed Here to Stay. I loved Autumn and she was a worthy heroine for him. My favorite part – the bathtub – funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. The book perfectly explained Blake’s nomad lifestyle and what sent him there. I guess I’m a sucker for wounded heroes. I haven’t crowned Melissa yet, but I’m looking forward to her next book. By the third title, I’ll probably have her crown figured out.

Here to Stay

After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he’ll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he’s stunned at not only a warm welcome from Here to Stayhis hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events. . .

If there’s one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it’s Whisper Shore. For years, she’s been stuck running her family’s inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn’s the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade–she’ll help with the Festival and he’ll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who’s done running away joins forces with the girl who can’t wait to leave.

Have you read any of these titles? Have you discovered a new author lately? Any contemporary romance authors you love? I’d love to find some more new authors to love.

Falling for the Cover

I’ve said here before, I don’t usually buy a book because of the cover. I buy because I’m familiar with the author. That said, the cover sure doesn’t hurt. And a few covers have made me pick up the book. And twice, the cover made my buy.

Covers, I usually pick up: Karen Witemeyer. She seems to have a magic potion for great covers. If I read historicals, I’d read her, based on covers alone. My favorite of her covers: A Tailor Made Bride.

Covers that made me buy: Mary Connealy’s Over the Edge. Mary seems to have the market cornered on hunks gracing her covers. It was the guy that made me buy Mary’s book and his eyes weren’t even green. And yes, it was historical. And yes, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

So here’s my list of covers I’m looking forward to. And yes, part of the attraction is I already know and trust these authors to giveDancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter me a great contemporary romance with a toe-curling happily-ever-after.

Topping my list is Denise Hunter’s Dancing with Fireflies. I read the first book in this series, this summer and I knew the elusive Jade had a story. I can’t wait to read it. And since I’m Facebook friends with Denise, I usually see her covers unveiled and I always love them. I love the fireflies and the peacefulness of this embracing couple.

Becky Wade cover

 

My interest in Becky Wade’s Undeniably Yours is totally based on the cover. I haven’t read any of Becky’s books. And Brenda actually got me hooked on this cover in a previous Inkspirational post. I love the color. I love the pink shoes. It’s my firm belief that every female should have a pair of heels in every color she can possibly find. So of course, those shoes grab me. Other than that, I love the embrace that promises fun romance and I love her kicking up her heel. And it’s set in Texas which I love. I haven’t bought this book yet, but I will.

 

Beth Wiseman caught my attention because she usually writes Amish, but while browsing IThe House that Love Built by Beth Wiseman found a not Amish book with her name on it. Huh? I bought Need You Now and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I saw another not Amish title by Beth, it got my attention. The House that Love Built intrigued me again with the colors. I love the aqua summery dress. The guy looks good. And the house in the background–I’m a sucker for big old houses that have stood the test of time.

But the cover I’ve waited for–for fourteen years? Wait for it. Back in 1999 when I started writing, I dreamed of seeing my book on store shelves. In 2001, I got a book published Print on Demand. I didn’t even know what that meant. I soon learned it meant there were no books in stores–anywhere. Only online.

In 2010, my dream of traditional publishing came true. But again, Heartsong Presents were sold in very few stores–mostly through the book club or online. In 2012, Heartsong was acquired by Harlequin and Walmart agreed to carry the line for six months and see how it went. I got to see one of my titles on Walmart shelves and it was a dream come true. But I guess Walmart wasn’t happy with the sales and no longer carries the line.

Arkansas Weddings by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

All this time, I knew–someday, my titles acquired when Barbour owned the line would be compiled into a three in one collection and sold WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD. And finally, my waiting has paid off. Arkansas Weddings releases September 1st. This collection includes my first three traditionally published titles: White Roses, White Doves, and White Pearls. You can find it–I have to say it again–WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD.

And I love the cover. All three stories are set in Romance and Rose Bud, Arkansas. These real towns are seven miles apart, tiny, and about twenty-five minutes from where I live. Couples go to Romance to get married and mail their Valentine cards, and wedding invitations with a romantic hand-stamped postmark.

There is a natural waterfall there which I incorporated into all three books. Each couple has a pivotal moment in their relationship at the Romance Waterfalls. I was thrilled to see the waterfall on the cover. The online copies have my name wrong. But the real thing includes Taylor in the middle.

And remember, you can find Arkansas Weddings WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD. Sorry for the shouting–but I’ve really wanted to say that for a looooooonnnnnnnnnngggggggg time.

 

 

 

Toe-Curlin’ Cowboys

I’m rip-roarin’ excited to hold Shannon Vannatter’s new release, RODEO REGRETS in my hand! As her critique partner, I’m privileged to see her books in their early stages, so it’s always fun reading that polished version.

(You can order a copy of RODEO REGRETS at Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble, or at Amazon.com. And don’t forget, if you’d love to win a copy of RODEO REGRETS, see the contest rules below.)

For those of you who haven’t checked out Shannon’s toe-curlin’ cowboy romance, here’s a teaser:

NATALIE WENTWORTH’S PAST IS ABOUT TO CATCH UP WITH HER

Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.

Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie’s forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?

Undeniably Yours

Doesn’t that just make you want to run down to your local store and lasso a copy? And if you want to read about more toe-curling cowboys, here’s a title you have to check out: UNDENIABLY YOURS by Becky Wade. Becky Wade galloped onto the  Christian fiction scene last year with the widely successful MY STUBBORN HEART. She followed that up with the first of her Texas cowboy series (the Porter Family series). Sneak a peek at this fun romance:

When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?

Now doesn’t that sound like a book you’d like to rustle up? Can your recommend any toe-curlin’ cowboy novels? If so, I’d love for you to share their titles in the comments below.

Rodeo Regrets

*** Book Giveaway ***

Shannon has generously offered to give away two copies of Rodeo Regrets to readers who comment during this two week series (beginning July 1, 2013). The contest ends on Friday, July 12, 2013 at midnight. Be sure to stop by every day for a rip-roaring good time, and remember, every time you comment, you’ll get another entry in the drawing. Yee-haw!

Spring Reads – The Final Four

*Book Giveaway – See below*

Oh,  my favorite topic again! Books! It’s so much fun reading all the other posts these past couple of weeks, seeing what everyone’s reading, adding titles to my overfull list. The problem for me is, deciding which book(s) to talk about.

It goes without saying that I’m very excited for my fellow bloggers who have new releases or coming releases (WHEN LOVE CALLS by Lorna Seilstad, WEDDING ON THE ROCKS by Rose Ross Zediker, and RODEO REGRETS by Shannon Taylor Vannatter), but we’ll hear more about them later.

So, I had to make a decision and whittle my To Be Read list (37 books on my wish list at Christianbook.com) down to a nice square number like 4. Just because. 🙂

Just finished reading:

WISHING ON WILLOWS by Katie Ganshert

Description:

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.

The sophomore work from Katie Ganshert is even better than her brilliant debut last year, WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER. (Read my review of Wishing on Willows here: ) If you’re looking for a romance that’s redemptive, unpredictable, and heart-tugging, pick up this one.

Reading Now:

WHEN THE MORNING GLORY BLOOMS by Cynthia Ruchti

Description:

Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancé Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not the ramblings of dementia. They’re fragments of Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life. Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? Becky, Ivy, Anna–three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.

I just started this book, and can’t put it down! Once again Cynthia Ruchti has created a page-turning story woven together with beautiful prose.

Next On My List:

UNDENIABLY YOURS by Becky Wade

Description:

Winsome and Romantic–the Perfect Summer Read!

When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?

Becky Wade’s CBA debut last year, My Stubborn Heart, was a Favorite of mine in 2012. I have little doubt that Undeniably Yours will make my Favorites list for 2013.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger

Description:

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

William Kent Krueger is known for his Corcoran O’Connor series about a half Irish, half Ojibwe Sheriff in northern Minnesota. While those novels are not Christian, Krueger has always had an element of faith to them, so I’m very curious how he’ll deal with grace here.

***Contest Reminder***

Every time you  leave a comment on posts dated April 8, 2013 through April 19, 2013, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of When Love Calls plus a $10 Starbucks card! Contest ends Friday, April 19, 2013 at midnight. Winner will be posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Also, be sure to hop over to Lorna’s Facebook Fan Page and *like* it. She’s having a Likefest. After she reaches 800 Likes, her publisher (Revell) will have a giveaway for a complete set of her Lake Manawa Series! Drawing will be held April 30.

Dazzling Debuts in 2012

There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding new, gifted authors, and 2012 has introduced several who have earned a second look. There’s something for every taste, so if you’re clueless about what to get that special someone, try one of these books and support a new author.

Becky Wade, in her first novel for the Christian market, My Stubborn Heart, set a new standard for romance authors. I love her gritty story and authentic characters! Her next novel, Undeniably Yours, comes out in April and is available for pre-order. I will be first in line to get this one!

Another author who reset the level for romance writers is Katie Ganshert. Her Wildflowers from Winter was poetically written and the characters were true to life. I also loved the small town, Iowa farm setting. Having grown up on a farm in Minnesota, the setting really resonated with me. Katie’s next work, Wishing on Willows, also comes out in April of 2013 and is available to pre-order.

Kellie Coates Gilbert took a gritty look at life in her debut, Mother of Pearl. The story is about a mother who finds out her high school-aged daughter has been having a relationship with a football coach. It’s not easy reading, but Gilbert deals with the topic with a gentle, yet instructive hand. You’ll want to read this book with tissues handy.

Women writers weren’t the only ones with dazzling debuts. Todd M. Johnson, a Twin City attorney, delivered a fascinating legal thriller, The Deposit Slip. I especially liked that his courtroom scenes weren’t long and drawn out as legal fiction has a tendency to do. And Johnson deftly developed likable characters we could root for.

M.K. Gilroy is not a stranger to the publishing world, but Cuts Like a Knife is his first venture as a novelist, a successful venture at that. Gilroy introduced us to Detective Kristen Connor, a dedicated, sometimes cynical cop with a quirky but close family. Gilroy even throws in a hint of romance. Gilroy followed up Cuts Like a Knife with another winner that came out this fall, Every Breath You Take, which again stars Kristen Connor.

Did you discover any debut authors this year?

Talking Romance with Becky Wade

Brenda here: I discovered Becky Wade this past spring when her debut novel in Christian fiction, My Stubborn Heart, released. Her book hooked me from the enchanting prologue and kept me fascinated until the end. I love her authentic characters and situations–they come across as very real. This is one of those rare books that should appeal across genre lines. My husband even enjoyed it. 🙂 It’s become so popular that it made August’s CBA Bestseller List! I cannot wait for Becky’s next book!

So, I’m very excited that Becky agreed to an interview. And she’s offered to give away (1) autographed copy of My Stubborn Heart to one lucky commenter. I’m also throwing in a small box of See’s Candy, Becky’s favorite. To enter, leave a comment below. The contest ends this Saturday, August 25th at midnight. The winner will be announced on Sunday, August 26th.

Now, without further delay, here’s Becky Wade.

Hi Becky, thank you so much for stopping by Inkspirational Messages today. We’re excited to get to know you! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?

I’m a California girl who attended Baylor University where I got a degree in business (Ha!  Never used that.) and met a college boy from Texas.  After graduation, I married the Texas boy and he and I lived overseas for four years in the Caribbean and Australia.

When we returned to the U.S., we settled in Dallas.  My husband is the Athletic Director at a racquet club.  We have three children (a daughter who’s 11, a son who’s 8, a daughter who’s 3).  I spend most of my time keeping the planet of my household spinning.  This includes glamorous tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, driving kids places, chasing my toddler in circles, and nagging my older children until they finish their homework.

Oh, I can relate to the job of keeping that household planet spinning, albeit my children are a tad bit older. Somewhere amid your household planet spinning, you found time to write. I love hearing about authors’ journeys. Could you describe your path to publication?

I’d always been a reader, but it was during my years abroad that it first occurred to me to try my hand at writing.  From the start, I loved it.  I loved the creativity it demanded, the challenge inherent in the work, the joy of dreaming up people, conflicts, settings, dialogue.

Like most beginners, though, I wasn’t any good at it.  Not at all!

What I did have?  Determination.

I wrote, went to conferences, solicited critiques, wrote, sent off query letters and proposals, wrote, entered contests.  I completed four long historical romance manuscripts in four years and compiled a towering stack of rejection letters until — on one magical day — a New York city editor called and told me she wanted to publish my novel.  I eventually released three historical romances for the general market.

I understand your historical releases were published several years ago.  Why did you take the time off between writing them and My Stubborn Heart? And Why did you change to the Christian market?

I’d been writing for six years straight, the last two years under the pressure of deadlines, when my first child arrived.  Well!  That threw me for a loop.

In those early weeks of caring for a newborn, I felt overwhelmed, sleep deprived, frazzled, and burned out on writing.  When my publisher declined my proposal for a new contract I knew that God was telling me that He didn’t want me to write any more secular novels.  I also knew, in that season, that He wanted me to concentrate on mothering.

I quit writing. On the one had, to let go of that responsibility came as a relief.  But on the other, a heartbreak.  I’d abandoned my career as an author, with all it’s early hope and promise, on the side of the road.  Broken.

For seven years, I didn’t write a page.  It was all I could do, usually more than I could do, to take care of my little ones.  I was certain I’d never write again. But God has the authority to bring things back to life, does He not?

Gradually, over time, the Lord began to move in my heart during church services.  I’d be standing, singing praise songs, and I’d sense Him telling me, It’s time, Becky.  It’s time to try to write again.  You’re not done.  I have plans for you.

So I cleared my schedule during the hours when my kids were at school and pre-school.  I sat down at my computer, kicked off the rust from all those years away, and wrote.

This time, I knew for sure that God meant for me to write for the Christian market.  What’s wonderful to me is the way that He equipped me.  Once He called me back to writing, He met me faithfully day after day at that computer.  He assured me that my past mistakes were forgiven and that He delighted in giving me a second chance.  He supplied everything, including a renewed passion within me, for the work.  He let me know that my job was to pen the novel, and that He’d take care of the rest.

Sure enough, when I finished My Stubborn Heart, the first agent I sent it to agreed to represent it.  And the very first editor she sent it to bought it for publication.

After reading My Stubborn Heart, I’m not surprised that you had immediate success with it. I absolutely loved it! Could you tell our readers what the story is about?

It’s about a single girl (Kate) who sets out to renovate an old and charming estate that’s been in her family for generations.  When she meets the contractor for the project (Matt), she learns that he’s an ex-pro hockey player still devastated from the death of his wife three years prior.

Kate quickly realizes that Matt needs even more restoration work than the house.  So she determines to help bring him back to life and to hope.

Matt has no intention of leaving his prison of grief.  Nor does he want to open his heart to Kate.

But as we all know….

God’s will is unavoidable.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves My Stubborn Heart as it made CBA’s August 2012 Best Seller List! Congratulations!

Thank you!  My Stubborn Heart’s placement on that list came as a wonderful surprise.

To what do you attribute its success?

God’s grace, first and above all.

I think the book appeals to readers for two reasons:

1) It’s a Love Story.  Capital L, capital S!  In My Stubborn Heart the romance isn’t a sub-plot.  It is the plot.  I believe that there are lots of women out there who are (like me) crazy about emotional, gripping, and satisfying love stories.

2) It’s a faith story.  God’s role in the book gives the book whatever power or depth it possesses.

Aside from it’s success, My Stubborn Heart has been the target of some controversy as some reviewers claimed it used mild expletives. Plus you had poker-playing adults and Halloween celebrations (gasp!). Having read the book and finding nothing wrong with it, the controversy took me completely by surprise. Did it surprise you?

Yes, the controversy completely surprised me also.

I knew that I had a humorous, modern, and blunt author’s voice.  But I didn’t imagine that anyone would find what I’d written offensive.  In my opinion, the book is very clean.

I would agree, Becky. Do you attribute some of your sales’ success to the controversy?

Yes, I do. But only because God has the power to redeem any situation, no matter how negative, for good.

Several bloggers who wouldn’t have otherwise looked twice at My Stubborn Heart suddenly decided to feature it on their blogs.  Discussions, comments, and opinions flew.

To be honest, it was hard for me.  I tried to stay out of the fray.  And I prayed.

Sounds like you responded with wisdom. I’m curious, what are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on what will be my third book for Bethany House.  It’s tentatively titled Worth The Wait and it’s about a single mom and a professional bull rider.

Fun! Our own Shannon Vannatter has written a rodeo series and it’s proven very popular. I’m sure Worth the Wait will excite readers too. But before your bull rider book, you’ve another novel coming out. When does it release, and what is it about?

My next book is called Undeniably Yours and it’ll be out in May.  Bethany House has been incredibly good to me.  They’re allowing to me do something I’ve longed to do for ages — write a series! Undeniably Yours will be the first in a group of four novels.  Each one will tell the love story of one of the four siblings in the Porter family, a group of larger-than-life Texans.

Undeniably Yours is about an heiress who takes over control of her father’s Thoroughbred racehorse farm.  If only she could control the (very hunky) cowboy who manages it as easily!

Oh, I can’t wait to read it! When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to read in the tub, play tennis, get a pedicure, eat out, watch romantic movies, and lie on the sofa enjoying So You Think You Can Dance and other cerebral TV shows.

As a mom with young children, you deserve that break with the cerebral shows. 🙂 Now for a fun question. What is your favorite food?

Well, I’m a chocoholic and adore See’s Chocolates.  But since I’ve divulged that secret in other places, I’ll tell you that I’m also fanatical about homemade biscuits.  Love love love them with butter.  I put jelly on some, honey on some and I eat them alongside eggs, bacon, coffee.  MMmm……

That sounds delicious! Now I’m hungry.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Becky! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

~*~*~

Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and one adoring (and adored) cavalier spaniel. Her inspirational contemporary romance, My Stubborn Heart, has just been released by Bethany House.

Web Site: www.beckywade.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorbeckywade

MY STUBBORN HEART description:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can’t help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can’t quite put her finger on. He’s clearly wounded–hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

 

 

Author Interview Sneak Peek!

Our next two weeks here at Inkspirational Messages are so exciting that I just had to give you a glimpse!

Once again, it’s author interview time, and we have a wealth of gifted authors visiting us.

Let’s see, we’ve got Julie Lessman, Judy Miller, Becky Wade, and Rose Ross Zediker! Woo hoo! Excited yet?

Wait–there are more!

Also visiting us is Julie Klassen, Shelley Shepherd Gray, Christine Lynxwiler, Kathy Rygg, and our very own Shannon Vannatter! Can you say WoW?!

PLUS we’re going to have a bunch of contests–books and chocolate! You won’t be able to resist returning each day to discover if we’re giving something away.

I can’t wait! What about you?