Posts Tagged ‘heroes’
Posted on November 5, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’m celebrating my new release, Rodeo Queen by giving away two print copies. Answer the question at the end of the post or comment daily for the next two nostalgic weeks to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.
No, I was never a rodeo queen. But I’ve been feeling nostalgic about my latest release, Rodeo Queen. Why would my recently released book make me feel nostalgic? Because it formed in my head as a teenager. It was the story that wouldn’t go away until I finally realized it was a book around 1996. Then it took me three more years to get a hand me down computer and write it.
That’s me in 1999 writing my first ever book about a interior decorator with a stalker and the private detective who protects her. My husband took the picture and it’s my favorite. I was so involved in my story, I didn’t even know he’d taken the picture until we got the film developed. Yep, back then the pictures actually got out of the camera and you didn’t know how they looked until you picked them up from Walmart. I love the picture because it reminds me how supportive he’s been of my writing–from day one. He didn’t complain that I was ignoring or neglecting him, he just took a picture of me doing what I love.
Back to the story, after fifty-two rejection letters on that first book, countless others on six more books–I stopped counting at 200–fourteen years, and seven published books later, that first book I ever wrote releases this month. Rodeo Queen is a reworked version of my first story.
The original version was set in rural Arkansas. Rodeo Queen is the 5th title in my Texas rodeo series and is set in Aubrey, the Fort Worth Stockyards historical district, and Medina, Texas. My heroine morphed into the owner of a blingy western clothing store and a rodeo queen–which lent itself well to the stalker angle. The hero became a Texas Ranger. And in the new version,they were high school sweethearts.
The Medina part was originally in there and it makes me nostalgic too. My hero and herione visit his grandfather’s ranch in Medina twice during the course of the story. The ranch is based on my father-in-law’s ranch in Medina, near San Antonio. My father-in-law passed away, but we still visit his wife–Texas mom–once a year.
I’ve heard countless authors say they have their first awful manuscripts moldering in a drawer, that they’ll never see the light of day, and they shouldn’t. I wasn’t willing to let my story die. I didn’t go back and try to fix that original manuscript with all the knowledge I’ve gained from countless writers’ meetings and conferences, I started from scratch.
And I like the new version better. Readers often ask me which of my books is my favorite. I’ve never really been able to answer that question. It’s like picking your favorite child or pet. I love all of my books–otherwise I wouldn’t have written them.
But I think I’ll play favorites now–Rodeo Queen–hands down.
CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN
Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.
Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?
Remember to enter the drawing daily with each new post from all the inkspers. And if you can’t wait or don’t win, here are a few purchase links for your convenience
Question of the day–for readers or writers. Have you ever had a story in your head that wouldn’t go away?
Posted on February 20, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
I tend to be an eclectic reader. I’ll read contemporaries, romance, historical, thriller, fantasy, etc. I’m willing to give anything a try, as a well-written novel will transcend genre. So, when I was considering my theme for this Heroes topic , I perused my bookshelves to see which authors I read regularly.
Here are a few names that stuck out: Charles Martin, Vince Flynn, J. Mark Bertrand, William Kent Krueger, Tim Downs, Steven James, Travis Thrasher, Michael Connelly … Well, I think you get the idea. For some reason, I gravitate toward the male voice.
Part of that could be because I grew up with four bruiser-type brothers and much preferred tackle football to cooking (or most any other typical female pursuit). I’m certain those years laid the foundation for my current reading interests.
While I do have several favorite female authors sprinkled among the guys, it’s books by the authors listed above I won’t miss, perhaps because they obviously know how to write a male protagonist. No gushy stuff from them. Oftentimes the heroes are pure testosterone (Check out Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp). Other times, heroes display a quiet, reflective, raw strength (Charles Martins’ protagonists).
Male authors don’t seem to have a problem in writing flawed characters. Check out William Kent Krueger’s Corcorn O’Connor, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, or J. Mark Bertrand’s Roland March (all cops, interestingly enough). Bosch and March are especially flawed, almost to the point of being unlikable, yet they have some charisma or personality trait that makes you root for them. And then there’s Tim Downs’ bug man Nick Polchak who has an affinity for all things bugs. <shiver> But Nick Polchak is one of the most unique and endearing heroes in today’s fiction.
These authors aren’t afraid of romance either. You won’t find much in their books that’s touchy-feely. You won’t see a lot of batting eyelashes or flushing cheeks, or experience pitter-pattering hearts, and that’s just fine with me. Their romances seem more straight-forward–they get to the point rather than playing the flower-petal game of “She loves me. She loves me not…” Steven James Patrick Bowers is always struggling in the romance department. I’m hoping by the end of the Bowers’ series, he’ll have it figured out.
Perhaps my love for writing from a male perspective stems from my enjoyment of the male author’s voice. Perhaps that’s why my men are typically more fully developed than the female characters. And, according to my male beta-readers, my guys happen to be right-on (okay, so I had one dude saying burgundy three times in a scene–that’s gone now, all right?)
Yeah, sometimes their heroes are a mixture of Adonis, Hercules, and Einstein, and I’ll roll my eyes at that, but I’ll forgive them that little flaw. Wouldn’t you?
Are there any male authors you regularly enjoy reading?
Posted on February 19, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
I am not the typical standard romance reader. Much like Dawn described in her post a few days ago, I’m not drawn to typical stories with typical heroes.
For most women, the point of reading a standard romance is to live vicariously through the heroine to win that perfect man. In most of these stories, the hero is self-confident, uber successful, swooned over by many, distrustful of women until the heroine comes along, wears only stylish clothes, can do anything he sets his mind to (fly planes, run large companies, ski only diamond runs in the Alps, cook seven-course meals), and basically never fails. Not only do I not know anyone like that, I find myself rolling my eyes as I read about them.
I do enjoy reading romance stories but I read them to make the journey with characters I come to love, rooting for them when they mess up, cheering when they succeed, and sighing in delight when they finally fall in love. I like unconventional heroes – real guys who are doing the best they can with what life hands them. Even if it means they face the day unable to find socks that match.
And like their socks, these guys can be difficult to find. But that’s okay – it just means I have to work harderto find my kind of hero. And usually I love the book because of the hero.
One such unconventional hero is Ragnar from Michelle Griep’s book, Undercurrent. There are two heroes in this story. The first one we meet is Alarek (the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, and funny to boot). But it’s his cousin, Ragnar, who captured my heart. This tale of a modern-day woman stuck in the Viking era is interesting, funny, and poignant. Ragnar, the wounded, reluctant hero is a Christian amidst his Viking contemporaries which sets him apart from the beginning. The fact that he was brutally disfigured by his own father sets him apart in another way.
He struggles on so many fronts – trying to protect and clear his cousin, Alarek, from murder charges; protecting the strange, foreign heroine with whom he falls in love; protecting his countrymen from the evil that threatens to overtake them all. Yet his stoic demeanor, steadfast faith and unwavering loyalty make him a true hero.
Another of my favorites, in a very unconventional way, is Pastor Alex Armstrong in Judy Baer’s Forever Hilltop series. He’s a single guy, ditched by the love of his life. A city guy trying to figure out how to pastor in a farming community. He’s cuter than he realizes, funny enough to make me laugh out loud, and sweet enough that he manages to win over the congregations of both churches by the end of the series. You can’t NOT fall in love with this unassuming, sometimes bumbling guy who loves deeply, goes out of his way for others, and is determined to let his faith lead – even when it’s to an unexpected place like Grassy Valley, North Dakota.
Do any of your heroes wear mismatched socks?
Posted on January 15, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Every writer has the story of their heart. The one that pulls and tugs at them until they write it, even if it’s something unsellable or hopelessly out of vogue. From the time I was fifteen, I had this story in my head. It played over and over. I’d change it as I went along, add new complications, try different endings. Sometimes late at night, I’d even act it out in my bedroom. I didn’t tell anyone about it. They’d think I was weird.
I watched a lot of detective shows then, mostly Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, and Vegas. My story was a girl in jeopardy and the detective who moved mountains to keep her safe. Of course, along the way, they fell in love. I thought it was a movie, but I wasn’t going to Hollywood. So what to do with it, other than play it over and over in my head, act it out, and tweak scenes?
After I met the guy of my dreams and had my own romance going on, I left the story in my head deep in the recesses of my brain. Until my new husband worked nights and I worked days which left me a lot of thinking and TV time. A short-lived detective series, Wolf, starring the yummy Jack Scalia got me thinking about that story again. But I still had no idea what to do with it.
About ten years later, when searching the library for a clean romance and not finding any, I finally realized–Hey, that story in my head could be a book. But I didn’t have a computer. And I wasn’t a very fast or accurate typist. I set the story aside again, but promised myself if I ever got a computer, I’d write it.
Three years later, my father-in-law got a new computer and gave me his old one. As soon as it was hooked up, I started the book. The words flowed from my fingers. A funny thing happened as I wrote. My characters started talking to God. I’d set out for clean romance and ended up with Christian romantic suspense.
Three months later, I had it completed. Now, what? I headed to the library and learned about the Writer’s Market Guide. I had no clue my book was badly written, that writing is a craft you learn and hone, that you have to show the reader your story instead of simply telling it. And I thought I was starting a new trend. I had no idea there were Christian romance novels since I always hung out in the music section of the Christian book store. Imagine my amazement, when I found fifty-two Christian publishers looking for books just like I’d written. Not necessarily the suspense part, but maybe I could still start a new trend.
I really thought that all I had to do was write a book, send it to publishers, and the right one would publish my baby. Everything was by mail then. I sent out ten proposals. With each rejection I received, I sent out another submission. Imagine my amazement, when all fifty-two rejected me.
But my story ends well. Eight badly written books later, I finally attended enough writers conferences, took enough workshops, and joined ACFW to learn to hone my craft, show the reader my story, and draw them in. I managed to polish one of those badly written books and interest a publisher. Three years later, six published books later, and a contract for three more books later, the Christian romantic suspense genre is thriving and I’m polishing the book of my heart. With some tweaks, that is.
My original story was set in a fictional small Arkansas town. The heroine was an interior decorator, the hero was a detective. But once my three book rodeo series turned into six books, I dusted off old ideas and manuscripts. The story of my heart is now book 5 in my rodeo series titled Rodeo Queen, the heroine owns western clothing stores at the Fort Worth Stockyards and the Galleria Dallas and serves as the rodeo queen at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo. The hero is a Texas Ranger.
I learned two things a long time ago: 1. I stink at fight and shoot em up scenes. 2. I don’t want to learn ballistics and deal with dead bodies. This version of the story of my heart is less suspense, heavy on the romance. The suspense basically just brings them together. I started from scratch on the manuscript. That’s another thing I’ve learned: It’s easier to rewrite than to polish a very badly written book.
Brenda recently critiqued the first sixty pages for me. She commented that she loved my voice and characters. This book has been a breeze to write. I know exactly what happens and I’ve known these people since I was fifteen. God is good!
Question: Based on what you know about me, who was I in love with–Starsky? Or Hutch?
Posted on November 27, 2012 - by Stacy Monson
Even at my age (a closely guarded secret – although my love for Trixie Belden books might be a dead give-away), I still love the feel and smell and look of a brand-new, untouched book. Fiction or non, an author I love or one I’m about to meet – a new book is a treasure. Here are some books that will make great gifts – for yourself or for others (preferably both!).
I rarely pick books from the mystery/suspense genre, but I have a new favorite author thanks to the ACFW conference in September – Davis Bunn. I am currently reading his 2011 release, “Lion of Babylon.” Talk about on-the-edge-of-your-seat action! While I don’t prefer to bite my nails off while I’m reading, that’s what I’m doing with this book. It’s a fast-paced, well-written story that pulls you in from the start.
“Marc Royce worked for the State Department on a variety of clandestine assignments – that is, until personal issues led to his dismissal. When Alex Baird goes missing in war-torn Baghdad, State comes calling again. Alex is an intelligence agent – and a close friend of Royce. Three others have also dropped out of sight – a nurse, an aid worker, a wealthy young Iraqi. Are these cases linked? Rumors circulate about a kidnapping conspiracy, yet both American and local officials refuse to pursue it. Blocked at every turn, Royce eventually unearths a trail of secret encounters between sworn enemies. What he discovers could transform the course of rivalry and reconciliation through the Mideast. As the human and political drama escalates, can one man summon the courage to make a difference?”
When I finish “Lion of Babylon,” I plan to read the next book in the series, “Rare Earth,” (July 2012) which continues the escapades of Marc Royce. If ever you want a hero to swoon over, root for and fall in love with – this is the guy! These books, however, will truly make great gifts for women and men alike from teens on up.
A book that I’m waiting for with bated breath (whatever that means) is Katie Ganshert’s second novel, “Wishing on Willows” (March 2013). I truly loved her first book, “Wildflowers in Winter,” and have impatiently looked forward to the follow-up.
This story follows Robin, one of the characters in the original story, as she tries to move past her grief and build a future for her fatherless son. Katie’s characters are deep, wounded, multi-layered and yet still easy to connect with and care about.
“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.”
So this is what I’m reading now and what’s on my wish list for future reading. Also on my list is time – free time to read these and all the other great books out there.
Posted on October 23, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
Naming characters is one of my favorite things about writing a book. I’ve used several names I circled in the baby book when I was pregnant, before I knew my son’s gender.
Laken, Shell, Kendra, Lacie became heroines in published books. Paige and Lexie lurk in unpublished works. Jenna and Caitlyn will soon see the light of day. All these are circled in my baby name book. Rayna—another published heroine—I invented. Hers is the only heroine name I’ve ever come up with on my own.
From real life, I used to work with a woman named Adrea (AdrEEuh) and loved her name. I used it in my first published book. Another coworker had a daughter named Devrie (DevrEE). Her story hasn’t been published yet, but she’s waiting in the wings.
My next heroine is Natalie. I’m not happy with her name. She was a side character in all three rodeo books. And I don’t take as much care with my side characters. In my books, heroines and heroes get unique names, side characters more common. When I got the chance to continue the series, I knew Natalie’s story needed to be told. I wish I’d named her something more unique now. But since she’s been in three books already, it’s too late to change her name. It’s not that I don’t like the name, it’s just not unique enough.
I did change a child’s name. In book 1 and 2 of my rodeo series, there was a child whose father died before he was born. The child became Little Mel after his father. In book 3, the story of Little Mel’s mother, the child was a little older and it was getting old calling him Little Mel. In the very first chapter, I showed his mother thinking about how she used to call him Little Mel. Readers learn the child’s name is really Maxwell, his mother’s maiden name, but she called him Little Mel after his father. After her friend told her the boy needed his own name, he became Max.
Grayson, Hayden, Clay, Quinn became heroes in published books. Braden and Reece lurk in unpubbed land. All came from potential names for our son that my husband didn’t like as much as I did. Okay, a few, he really hated.
Stetson was the only hero name I came up with on my own. It hailed back to the TV show, Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Remember that one? Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson. He was a spy and his name was Lee Stetson. I decided Stetson would be a great first name and thought it would be a great name for a son if you married a cowboy. I didn’t, so I christened my rodeo clown with the name. For my rodeo series, I looked up a lot of bull rider names too. Guess what, there’s a bullrider named Stetson. Guess I wasn’t as creative as I thought.
From real life, we know a young gospel singer named Ryler. I thought it was such a cool name and asked if I could use it. Ryler was sixteen when the book came out. It’s a running joke in his family the way I described my hero–Ryler as a big brick of a man.
I also have fun with last names sometimes. Ryler Grant because my husband’s name is Grant. Besides being a rodeo clown, Stetson Wright is a virgin/youth director committed to true love waits. I had fun with the formerly promiscuous heroine
thinking of him as Dudley Do Wright. Grayson Sterling is the preacher with sterling character and the heroine’s Prince Sterling.
Garrett Steele—a hardened country singer, Lane Grey—a rodeo pickup man (the kind who pick up the cowboys out of the bronc’s way, not the kind who pickup women). I named Lane after Lane Frost, but I thought it was fun for his name to rhyme with western author Zane Grey. Mitch Warren—a Texas ranger rounds out my next three heroes.
I’ve also gotten names out of the phone book. I love using last names for first names—like Miller for a first name. I got the name Holland Fleming for a powerful businessman in an unpublished work from a writer’s conference brochure—the last names of two speakers for the event.
I just finished up Denise Hunter’s Big Sky Romance series. I love her cowboy names: Wade Ryan, Travis McCoy, and Dylan Taylor. I wonder if Denise looked up bullrider names for the series. From her Nantucket series, I loved hero–Lucas Wright. I fell flat for Lucas. He was such a great guy. He’d loved the heroine from afar for several years and was there when she needed him most. In my defense, I wrote Stetson Wright’s story before I read Denise’s book.
Writers—where do you get your character names? Readers—what are your favorite character names that have stuck with you over the years?
Posted on September 25, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
I was torn between two super heroes. On the one hand, I love Captain America. I mean he’s so American, he’s a soldier fighting for right, and I especially love his line in The Avengers when he says there’s only one God.
On the other hand, I love Thor. He’s so. . . cute. And since I’m shallow when it comes to good-looking men, in the end, I pick Thor. He’s not usually my type. He’s blond. Anyone who’s hung around the inksper blog for very long knows I’m a dark hair type of gal. On top of that, I hate cocky men.
So I pondered on why I love Thor. First I found out, the actor who plays him, the totally yummy Chris Hemsworth, isn’t really blond. His hair was bleached for Thor. That leaves his cockiness. Why do I love a cocky superhero? Because he doesn’t stay that way.
My favorite scene in the movie is when Thor goes to reclaim his hammer. He beats up numerous security guards in his quest and finally ends up fighting the huge guy in the mud. It takes a while, but Thor comes out on top. Then he struts to his hammer, thinking he can just pick it and be on his way.
But he can’t.
Only then does Thor realize he’s unworthy. Because of his brashness, his cockiness, he’s lost the one thing that gave him power. He’s broken and surrenders, doesn’t even flinch when they cuff him and take him away. It’s then that Thor is humbled and becomes a true superhero.
When I initially watched Thor, I was uncomfortable because I’ve always squirmed at the idea of numerous mythical Greek gods. I’m with Captain America—there’s only one God. But we have a ten year old. He loved the movie. Of course he knows there’s only one God and we were careful to reiterate the fact and point out the mythical part. We ended up buying the movie and we’ve watched it at least fifty times.
About the thirtieth time, my son said something profound I’d never thought of. He said that Azgar is kind of like heaven with it’s gold city and streets of gold. That Thor is kind of like Jesus because he dies and comes back to save the world. That Thor’s dad is kind of like the one and only God because he controls everything. It’s a stretch, but I can see some symbolism in Thor.
So maybe I’m not so shallow after all.
Now for my super power choice. . . flying. I know that’s not as creative as microwave fingers, but it would be fun just to zip around wherever you wanted to.
What’s your take on Thor?
Posted on January 17, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
Shannon here: This fall–in between deadlines–I set out to find an agent and my writing twin. When a writer sends proposals to agents or editors, we’re supposed to compare our books to published novels. I needed a published author who writes similar to me to compare myself to.
I’d heard of Denise Hunter, seen her at the American Christian Writers Conference, and knew she was a best-selling contemporary romance author. I bought The Convenient Groom and immediately wished I’d come up with such a great premise.
At ACFW this year, I introduced myself to Denise, told her why I bought her book and how much I loved it. She asked if I’d found my writing twin. Not by a longshot. Denise is a much better writer than me.
Since then I’ve read A Cowboy’s Touch, Driftwood Lane, The Accidental Bride, and Smitten. I read the last two in one weekend. Both of them.
I’ve discovered so many authors with a book I love, but then I’m often disappointed by at least one of their books or I don’t like the others as well as the first book I read by them. Not so with Denise Hunter. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her and would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. Next on my list–Seaside Letters. So without further ado, here’s Denise:
- What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc? How did you solve it?
My biggest writing challenge is finding my way through the middle of my stories. It really is like driving at night, and you can only see as far as your headlights will shine. I get through it with lots of prayer and lots of forcing myself to sit and work when I’d rather be doing anything else (laundry, dusting, toilets, ANYTHING).
Shannon: Okay, maybe we are twins. The middle befuddles me too. But not enough to make me want to clean or do laundry.
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be?
I enjoy design—actually started college as a commercial art major—so that’s what I’d do. Maybe even designing book covers to combine my interests.
- Where is the coziest spot in your home?
My spot on the sofa/recliner. That’s actually where I work.
- What is your favorite time of the day?
The evening, after dinner, when all the day’s work is done and the family is just hanging out.
- In what ways do you think your writing journey has benefited your family? How does your writing affect your family?
Great question! Besides the obvious financial benefits, my career has made me a happier more well-rounded individual. It has forced me out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. One of the best things about writing, though, is that it has allowed me to stay home with our kids.
- If you could pick a theme song to play every time you entered a room, what would it be?
LOL! “Move” by Mercy Me. Sometimes I need extra motivation.
Shannon: Mercy Me is my favorite group.
- What is your most laughable dating story?
When I started dating Kevin (my husband) I turned into an instant klutz. I spilled, I dropped, I tripped. Only around him, mind you. I still do that.
- Which amusement park ride is your favorite and why?
Definitely roller coasters. But due to an old neck injury, I can’t ride them anymore. So I just live vicariously through my boys, who love them as much as I do.
Shannon: I grew up 5 miles from Six Flags over Georgia and never met a roller coaster I didn’t love.
- What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
The internet. Research is SO much easier than it used to be. And communication! It has its negatives too, I know, but it’s so easy to keep in touch with family and friends now.
- Would you rather live a week in the past or a week in the future??
Interesting question! A week in the future. I prefer the unknown.
- How do you balance writing, exercise, home, etc.?
Not very well! The home and writing I’ve got down pretty well. The exercise, not so much. A couple months ago we even moved the treadmill into the living room so it would stand over our shoulders making us feel guilty. I’ve used it once since then. I do much better when it’s warm out though. I like to walk outside.
- Would you rather meet your great grandchildren or great grandparents?
Great grandchildren, just to be certain I’ll get to, and because I DID meet my great grandparents.
- Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My pal Colleen Coble. She’s everybody’s biggest cheerleader!
- What is the best book you’ve read recently, and why did you like it?
“Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers—although it wasn’t my first time reading it. The message of love and redemption is amazing.
- What or who makes you giggle and why?
Bffs Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Kristin Billerbeck. Because we know one another so well. Also my church small group, for the same reason.
- What is your favorite season and why?
Spring and fall. Because we only get about two seconds of each in Indiana!
Shannon: My favorite seasons too. I hate being hot or cold, so I love the in between.
- The biggest challenge in writing this book?
- What do the Post-Its around your computer/screen/ bulletin board say?
They’re my lists of what I need to buy, who I need to call, and what I need to get done.
- What is your favorite research or reference book or tool??
“Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.
- What is the most unusual costume you ever wore at a Halloween party?
I was Gilligan one year. It seriously disturbed my husband.
- If you could have free unlimited service for one year from a cook, chauffer, personal secretary, housekeeper, or masseuse, which would you choose and why??
Oooh, I want one of each! Probably the cook. I love to bake—cooking, not so much.
- Which character in your books is the most like you? How?
Definitely Reese in “Smitten”. I wrote that one with my 3 friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Diann Hunt. In order to keep our characters consistent throughout, we gave each of our protagonists a healthy dose of ourselves.
Shannon: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Denise. I so thoroughly enjoyed it.
My take on Denise’s books: I hated for each book to end, but each gave me that satisfying ahh moment. I love the characters, fell in love with each hero, and marveled at each great, complicated story premise.
The Convenient Groom: She wrote the book–literally–on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love’s about? Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding–and on the eve of her big book launch–celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place.
Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.
Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate’s desperate enough to agree–although she’s sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. But can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?
Could it be that “Dr. Kate” doesn’t know the first thing about love? An inspiring tale of enduring love set in romantic Nantucket.
Made me cry just reading how much the hero loved the heroine as he tried to win her heart. Such a great, complicated premise, I really wished I’d come up with it.
Abigail Jones intends to spend just one summer in middle-of-nowhere Montana with her Aunt Lucy. Time away from her job is just what Abigail needs to reassess her life. The slow pace has her breathing deeply for the first time in years. And the majestic scenery encourages her to get reacquainted with herself . . . and God.
What she didn’t count on was the handsome widowed cowboy who owns the ranch where her aunt lives. When the rancher loses his daughter’s nanny, Abigail decides to lend a hand for the summer.
Wade Ryan can’t help being attracted to Abigail. But he’s given up everything to protect his daughter, and he’s not about to risk it all on a pretty face.
Under Abigail’s care, Wade’s home and daughter thrive. And with Wade’s touch, Abigail’s heart feels at home at last. But Abigail knows this elusive rancher is hiding something. Will her own secrets separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?
I love the characters and ached for them. I truly couldn’t see how this story could end happily-ever-after. So many complications.
The Accidental Bride: Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.
Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders’ Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.
Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.
Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?
I loved the hero, Travis. So tough, yet gentle. I loved Shay’s temper, yet Travis knew just how to settle her down.
Meridith Ward has crafted a carefully ordered life to make up for the chaos that plagued her childhood years. But one phone call upsets all that. Within the span of several minutes, Meredith learns that the father who abandoned her is dead and she’s been named the sole guardian of his other three children. She nervously heads to Nantucket to care for the siblings she’s never met with plans to stay until their uncle returns from his trip before relinquishing guardianship to him.
She arrives to find the children living in Summer House, a Bed & Breakfast that’s falling apart around them. Meridith wants to move on as soon as possible, but the inn will never sell in its dilapidated condition. Then an itinerant handyman, Jake, shows up with an offer she can’t refuse.
Much like the powerful ocean just a short walk from her deck, Jake appeals to Meridith. But she senses he is also capable of pulling her under in a heartbeat. What if the thing she fears the most is exactly what she needs? Can she trust God with the details and relish the adventure?
Besides the romance and the complicated premise, I loved the one upmanship basketball scenes between the hero and his best friend. And I was reminded that all I really need is a solid foundation through Christ. Everything else is just a bonus.
The proposed closing of the lumber mill comes as unwelcome news for the citizens of Smitten. How will the town survive without its main employer? A close-knit group of women think they’ve got just the plan to save Smitten. They’ll capitalize on its name and turn it into a tourist destination for lovers—complete with sweet shops, a high-end spa, romantic music on the square, and cabins outfitted with fireplaces and hot tubs.
But is this manly town ready for an influx of romantically-minded guests?
Country music sensation Sawyer Smitten, the town’s hometown hero, wants to help by holding his own wedding there on Valentine’s Day. And little Mia’s lavender wreaths hang all over town as a reminder that faith can work miracles. Along the way, four women spearheading the town’s transformation—energetic Natalie, sophisticated Julia, graceful Shelby, and athletic Reese—get in the spirit by reviving their own love lives.
Join best-selling inspirational romance authors (and real-life BFFs) Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for an inspiring stay at the (soon-to-be) most romantic town on the eastern seaboard.
One visit . . . and you’ll be smitten too.
I laughed a lot while reading this book and enjoyed each story equally. Quite a feat. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novella collection by different authors and been unable to pick my favorite story.
About Denise: Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! Learn more at www.denisehunterbooks.com.
Posted on October 25, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
GMC. The first time I heard of it, I’d signed with an agent. Back in 2002 with my original version of White Roses. She told me I should read GMC. I thought car. She patiently explained that it’s a book—GMC: Goals, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon. It was out of print, but I found a copy for $19.95. I was a stay at home mom and it wasn’t in our budget to pay that much for a used book.
Shortly afterward, the agent downsized her list and I was one of her clients that got cut. Looking back, I don’t know why she signed me. She’s a good agent, still in the business, and has sold a lot of books. All I can figure is that she saw promise, but soon realized she didn’t have enough time to polish a diamond in the rough. And I don’t blame her. I know now that my writing wasn’t anywhere near publishable then.
Fast forward to 2008. I went to the ACFW conference in Minneapolis, where I had a paid critique for Rodeo Dust with Margaret Daley. In my original version, my heroine is at the State Fair of Texas, touring livestock barns with a co-worker/date. Even though, she hates farm animals and she has a rule about not dating co-workers.
Margaret: “Why would the heroine go to place she doesn’t enjoy with a co-worker on a date when she has a rule not to date co-workers?”
Me: “So she can meet the hero there.”
Margaret: “You need to read GMC.”
Okay. I gave in. You don’t have to beat me over the head with it. When I got home, I ordered the book. By then, Debra Dixon had gotten the rights back and I got a new copy for $19.95.
I read it from cover to cover and discovered a whole new world. A world that makes everything your characters do—make sense. I changed it to where my Rodeo Dust heroine went with her brother to the fair because she wanted him to date her best friend. So she accompanied them, so it wouldn’t seem like a date and they could realize how much in common they had. See how much better that is?
I also worked out the GMC for White Roses and every other book I’d been reworking for years. Now, I carefully chart out my GMC before I start a book.
Most of the time anyway. I jumped into a story not too long ago, just because it had been bugging me for a long time. I wrote the first three chapters in a hurry, then had an editor express interest when I showed her the One Sheet. I sent it to my critters, Brenda, Lorna, and Jerri.
Brenda: “I don’t understand her goal.”
Me: “Oops. I just dashed it off and forgot to do the GMC.”
I worked out the GMC and made changes. Brenda liked it. And so did I
So for a short lesson:
G – Goal: This is what your character wants.
M – Motivation: This is why your character wants the goal.
C – Conflict: This is why your character can’t reach their goal.
My heroine wanted her brother to date her best friend because she wants them both to be happy, but they wouldn’t agree to go out on a date.
Thus my Rodeo Dust heroine tours the livestock barns, hating every minute of it. But her brother and best friend love it, proving that they should live happily ever after, just like she knew they should. It makes perfect sense for her to be there. And while she’s there, she meets the hero.
This is only the GMC for the first scene. Your GMC for the entire plot needs to have much more at stake. Something like, if the heroine doesn’t get her brother and best friend together, her brother will accept that job offer in China.
I could get into a lot more detail, but I believe that’s called plagiarism. In short, your story should have an over-arcing internal and external GMC. But each scene should have GMC also. If you work out the GMC for every scene, everything your character does will make perfect sense.
Maybe if I’d have gotten the book back in 2002, I’d have sold White Roses in 2003 instead of 2009.
To get into all the intricacies of internal and external GMC, I highly recommend the book. This is one of the few craft books that doesn’t make my brain glaze over. It’s all laid out in a simple, easy to understand format. Debra Dixon is now an acquisitions editor at a publishing house. And since 2008, I’ve had editors actually ask me about my characters’ GMC during pitch sessions.
Posted on August 3, 2011 - by Dawn Ford
Daydreams and fairy tales have permeated my summer. Damsels in distress that are not as helpless as you might think, heroes that need rescuing, and mighty beasts on the hunt are coming to life under the hot Iowa sun. Because the summer sun is beginning to fade, I wanted to share a favorite past time of mine when I was younger and take you on a fantasy journey with me. Disclaimer, I’m not usually poetic.
Castles Made Of Sand
She tenderly walks upon the burning sand,
And folds out her towel at the edge of the water.
She dreams of castles made of sand,
Build up the towers,
Smooth out the walls,
Carve out the windows,
Angle the turrets just so,
And fashion a drawbridge of seaweed and sticks.
As a beautiful maiden she seeks out a valiant prince,
And locks him inside the dungeon tight.
She travels the globe in adventures so grand,
Prevails against the dangers,
And finds hidden treasures buried deep.
As the setting sun dims its shining light upon her fair head,
She knows her time has ended,
All wishes are granted,
No stories are left to explore,
The castle is deserted and the prince is set free
For princes turn back to frogs,
And castles made of sand eventually fade,
Even summers come to an end.
I wish you a summer full of wonder.