Romances Aren’t Just for Valentine’s Day

The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert is one of the most fascinating books I read last year. Since World War II era novels are one of my favorite genres, this book with its romance, intrigue, and history meets all the criteria I need for a wonderful read, perfect for warming the heart during these cold, winter days.

This book portrays a story of how true love can span the continents with a bond meant to last a lifetime.

The back cover blurb reads:

girl from trainSix-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

Love Stories We Love

If I live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” –A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Throughout the ages, authors have captured glimpses into the world of love. In some books, romance is central to the story. In others, romance plays in the background behind a mystery or adventure. In either case, we readers are swept up, and along with the characters, we fall in love over and over again.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Inkspers are going to be celebrating love between the pages. We’re going to be sharing romances we love to read over and over again, ones we’ve recently devoured, or ones we can’t wait to read. Join us to share your own favorites or to find some books to add to your romance list.

My First Christian Fiction Reads

DuvallI was a members of the Crossings Book Club long before I thought of writing fiction. However, the books I purchased were all non-fiction books. At the same time, I was quite a fan of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” When I received an advertisement from Crossings for a series that “Dr. Quinn fans would love,” I had to order the book. Theses books, the Cheney Duvall, M.D. Series by Gilbert and Lynn Morris, were my first introduction into Christian Historical Romance–and I was hooked.

This series consists of eight books, which made the love story between Dr. Cheney Duvall and her handsome, strong nurse Shiloh Irons, an almost episodic experience. The original eight books were even followed by additional 3-book series with the same characters.

Why I loved the books?

I loved the banter between the characters, the respect they had for one another, and the strong spiritual thread. Of course, the rich historical elements in the stories were a plus for me, too.

Since the first book, The Stars for a Light, was originally published in 1995, this is clearly not on today’s best seller list (although the books above have been re-packaged and re-released). However, if you are looking for a romance series to keep you warm, night after night, check out Christianbook.com, your library or used book store. Better yet,  get the whole series, volumes 1-8 from Christianbook.com for only $37.99. You can order it here.

It will be the best money you’ve spent in a LONG time! I will be forever grateful to Gilbert and Lynn Morris for writing books I could love and showing me the kind of romance novels I could write.

 

 

Duets

I’m a little bit country and always have been even when it wasn’t cool! Any true country music gets the reference I just made and although the song is credited to Barbara Mandrell, George Jones joins her on a chorus of the song which makes it a duet.

I love duets. Guess it’s the romantic in me. I love when a man and woman sing to each other, whether the song is serious or fun. Duets 1Country music is full of famous duos, Porter Wagoner  and Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Reba and Vince Gill.

Here is one of my favorites by Tanya Tucker and  T. Graham Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xR7KI5lYYU

 

This one by Vince Gill and Reba: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL-hSSZn5Pc

 

The last one is by Ty Herndon and Stephanie Bentley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvYsBlg4QEM

I hope you copy and paste the links (sorry I’m not a whiz at copy/paste links), watch the video and listen to the songs. If you do let me know if you think they are romantic.

Do you like duets? Is it romantic for a man and women to sing to each other? I think I like them because you get the male/female point of view!Duets 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aromatique

Since Rose’s new release, Sweet on the Cowgirl features a hometown business, the inkspers are sharing products and companies close to home.

Once upon a time, back in 1982, Miss Patti Upton mixed up a batch of Arkansas native botanicals such as acorns, pine cones, gumballs and hickory nuts just for fun. She added fragrance with spices and oils and called her creation The Smell of Christmas. Miss Patti placed her creation in a friend’s gift shop and decorative room fragrance quickly turned into an overnight success. The Smell of Christmas remains the company’s flagship fragrance.

Many people confuse Miss Patti’s creation with potpourri. But potpourri is mostly dried flowers and wood chips. Decorative room fragrance has large botanicals, so it’s pleasing to the eye and the nose. Numerous scents, candles, and bath and body products have been added to Aromatique’s line of products.

Aromatique SeashellsHow do I know so much about it? I live ten miles from Aromatique and I worked in the corporate offices for seven years until my son was born. The Smell of Christmas is my favorite scent. But  Sea Shells is my favorite display. I mean sea shells, which I love, that smell good. I’m all over that.

During my years at the company, I got to shop at the company store, where the products slightly damaged in shipping and returned from stores landed. My entire house was decorated with containers, candles, and decorative fragrance. I miss that and since my son has allergies, I’m no longer able to have Aromatique products in my house. Not even Sea Shells.

But my characters have enjoyed it. When I was writing my Arkansas series books, I used an Arkansas product in each story. A Walk in the Woods was given as a gift to my heroine in White Doves. That fragrance has been retired since, but scents are often revamped, renamed, and returned to the line later. Aromatique is still going strong with a full line of scents to tease the eye and can be ordered online. Google it and just look at all the goodies.

Don’t forget to enter the drawing for Rose’s book!sweet on the cowgirl2

Laura Barnes Wants to Be a Cowgirl

Laura has always dreamed of being a trick rider in her family’s Wild West show. But her father will only allow her to perform if she disguises herself as Mr. Buckskin Jones. When soda-pop king Guy Roberts shows up to do business with her family, Laura is torn between keeping her identity under wraps and revealing her growing feelings for Guy. 

Guy is drawn to Laura’s poise and beauty, but he, too, guards a secret. As their affection for each other grows, Guy begins to think about a future that includes Laura. When both their secrets suddenly come to light, their romance will face the ultimate showdown.

Every time you leave a comment between Mon., Aug. 4 and Fri., Aug. 15  at midnight, central time, you are entered to win a copy of Sweet on the Cowgirl. 

Order your copy of Sweet on the Cowgirl today!

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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.

Give Me Michael

I’ve always loved gravely voices. Joe Cocker, Kim Karnes, Bonnie Tyler, Michael Bolton. My favorite Bolton songs, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You, I Found Someone, and Steel Bars. I also loved his classic rock album with his cover of Dobie Gray’s Drift Away and the Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody.

Many moons ago, I went to a Michael Bolton concert. No, he doesn’t have dark hair or green eyes, but he has pretty blue eyes, great bone structure, and that voice. So my friend and I were sitting in the nose bleed seats when we noticed lots of commotion in the lobby. The lobby was above the oblong arena with a door and stairs down into the stadium every 100 feet or so. We could see people running around the lobby and finally realized that Michael Bolton was running through the lobby with a herd of women chasing him.

He came into the arena and ran to the opposite end from the stage and sang Georgia on My Mind to the people in the North Forty. I teased my friend that he sang it for me since I spent most of my growing up years in Georgia.

That night, I dreamed I was in the lobby when Michael ran through. In the dream, he grabbed my hand, took me onstage with him, sang Georgia on My Mind to me, and asked me to have dinner with him after the concert.

My response, “I’m married.” Then I woke up.

I thought it was the funniest dream I’d ever had. I told my husband, family, and friends about it and got lots of laughs. Years later after I started writing I thought, hey there’s a book in that Michael Bolton dream.

I wrote the book in 2001 and I think it was my 8th manuscript. I changed it up a bit. In the original draft, the hero was a wild rocker with lots of booze and women surrounding him. The heroine only went to his concert as a favor to a friend and wasn’t impressed when he pulled her onstage, but he was taken with her. I named the hero Garrett Steele as a nod to Michael’s Steel Bars. The book got lots of rejections since I hadn’t fully learned the craft of writing back then.

When Harlequin bought the Heartsong Presents line and I got the opportunity to continue my rodeo series, I dug up that old concept. I changed the hero to a country singer to fit the rodeo theme, reformed him a bit, and made the heroine his high-school sweetheart. I rewrote the book from beginning to end using all the writing techniques I’d learned since then. Rodeo Song released in April.

These days I listen mainly to Christian music and my new favorite gravel voiced guy is Todd Agnew. I can’t really say I’d want Todd to serenade me about Jesus. So my dream serenade remains Michael Bolton.

I’m giving away a copy of Rodeo Song.

Rodeo Song

JENNA WENTWORTH FOUND THE MAN OF HER DREAMS

But when silken-voiced Garrett Steele set out for stardom, he left Jenna—and his cowboy past—far behind. A chance encounter at one of his concerts propels him back into Jenna’s life. But, once burned by love, Jenna must guard her heart against the captivating singer.
Once upon a time, Garrett vowed he’d be a success, no matter what. But that path shattered his soul. His reunion with Jenna makes him long for things he once took for granted. Now he must show her that he’s found what he was looking for all along…right here in his hometown.

To enter the drawing, tell us who your dream serenade is.

A Favorite Author

Spring is finally here in Minnesota. Time for a lounge chair on the deck with a new book, and some nuts and dark chocolate – life is good!

One of my new favorite authors is Katie Ganshert. I loved her first book, Wildflowers from Winter – the characters, the story, the setting. When she came through Minneapolis on a booksigning, I found her to be a delightful, down-to-earth woman with a wonderful sense of humor.

Wishing on WillowsHer second book, Wishing on Willows, continued the story with the focus on one of the secondary characters in book one, along with new characters that were equally as interesting and endearing.

I’m SO excited about her newest book, A Broken Kind of Beautiful. Katie has a knack for creating characters we A Broken Kind of Beautiful-Gimpcare about and stories that pull us in until the very last page, so I can’t wait to dig in.

Here’s the blurb.

Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong
     Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white. 
     If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

Can’t wait to dig in!

The book I just finished is Brenda Anderson’s Chain of Mercy. Loved it. Fascinating characters dealing with real-life, heart wrenching struggles. This story will bring tears to your eyes even while it makes you laugh. A definite thumbs up.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

balloonsWe’re celebrating Brenda’s release over the next two weeks. Every time you leave a comment, your name will be entered in a special giveaway for an autographed copy of Chain of Mercy, a box of Fannie May chocolates, and Phillips Craig & Dean’s “Breathe In” CD.

Chain of Mercy Giveaway

Never Enough Time to Read

I got Brenda’s book in the mail last Wednesday and took it to the dentist with me. While my son got his teeth cleaned, I got the first two chapters read. Even though I’ve read the book 30 pages at a time while critiquing for Brenda, I want to read the edited version in book form all at one time. Alas, I haven’t had time.

The day I got it, we had church that night. On Thursday, I worked on my final revisions before turning my book into my editor next month. That night, my son had basketball practice and since he asks me if I saw him do this or that, I can’t read at practice. Friday, I worked again and that night we ran errands. Saturday, we had basketball games – three of them.

Sunday, our son got up with a fever. He has horrible seasonal allergies and is very prone to sinus infections. Yes, he’s twelve now. But he’s the kind of child who has to be entertained when he’s sick or he’s up jumping at the ceiling in the living room to see if he can palm it yet instead of resting. So yesterday and today, we watched movies, played board games, and Uno.

Tomorrow, we have a doctor appointment. So no work or reading for tomorrow either. I’ve decided to save Brenda’s book until May 16th. The deadline for my book will have passed and my son will be back in school. Then I’ll have time to give Chain of Mercy the time it warrants. I wish it had come sooner.

A month ago, I had lots of reading time. I always take at least two weeks off from writing after I finish my first draft and before I start revising. Of course, I read Denise Hunter’s new release. I’d read the first book in the series, Barefoot Summer, last year. I’d guessed the next book would be about Jade and eagerly been anticipating it.

Denise didn’t let me down. A sweet, tender love story with great kissing scenes. I crown Denise the contemporary romance queen of kissing scenes.

Dancing with Fireflies by Denise HunterJade 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 also discovered a new author I really enjoy – Melissa Tagg. I loved Made to Last. Loved the heroine, all the men complicating her life, and the webs she kept spinning herself into.

Miranda Woodruff, star of the homebuilding show From the Ground Up, will do anything to keepMade to Last by Melissa Tagg the job she loves. Due to a painful broken engagement and a faith she’s mostly forgotten, she’s let her entire identity become wrapped up in the Miranda everyone sees onscreen.

So when she receives news that the network might cancel her program, she must do the very thing she fears most: let the spotlight shine on her closely guarded personal life.

The only problem? She’s been living a lie–letting viewers believe she’s married–and now she’s called upon to play wife to a sweet, if a bit goofy, pretend husband to boost ratings.

Desperate to help his family and prove he’s not a total failure, reporter Matthew Knox is looking for a breakout story. When he’s offered the opportunity to do an online serial feature on Miranda Woodruff, he jumps at the chance, even if celebrity reporting isn’t really his thing. But as soon as he meets Miranda, he knows she’s keeping secrets.

I loved the character of Blaze, so of course I had to get the next book in the series, Here to Stay. I haven’t read it yet. But it’s next on my list after Chain of Mercy.

Here to Stay by Melissa TaggAfter 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 his 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.

Sadly, at the moment, I’m not reading anything. But I have big plans starting May 16.

We’re celebrating Brenda’s release over the next two weeks. Every time you leave a comment, your name will be entered in a special giveaway for an autographed copy of Chain of Mercy, a box of Fannie May chocolates, and Phillips Craig & Dean’s “Breathe In” CD.

Chain giveaway

They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself.

Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with

Success … Wealth … Women …

And he proudly lived that prodigal lifestyle.

Until one disastrous evening, when that world came crashing down.

Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves …

Chained to his guilt. Blending in with the gray. No luxuries in sight. But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. She’s had it with serious relationships, and Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she desires. Instead, she finds a man who is complex, brilliant, and shrouding a tormented past.

In her quest to uncover the secrets holding Richard captive, will her own secrets remain buried?

RUN, don’t walk to your favorite bookstore or online retailer to get this book or buy it here.

Question of the day: Who is your favorite kissing scene author in the Christian market?

Disclaimer: Giveaway open to continental U.S. addresses only. Giveaway ends on Friday, May 9 at midnight, central time zone. Winner chosen by Random. org.

What I’ve Been Doing? You Really Want to Know?

Hey everybody, I’m so glad we’re back. And the new blog looks awesome. What would we do without Linda? Just so all our readers know, even when Linda took her break from blogging, she was still taking care of our techie problems with the blog. She’s a keeper.

Okay, so I’ve been running in circles as usual. In January, I signed a six book contract with Harlequin. Three of the books will be rodeo, the other three I’m not sure yet, but I’m leaning toward another Arkansas series. It’s kind of nerve-wracking for me not to know what three of the books will be about. I used to complain when publishers wanted the synopsis/summary before I wrote the book because half the time I didn’t know what the book would be about. But now, I’m used to knowing what each book will be before I sign the contract. So not knowing kind of throws me.

Most of my circles have been in my office pictured above. Since January, I wrote the first draft of book 7 in my Texas Rodeo series. It’s not due until May 15th, so I took a break – it was supposed to be two weeks before I start editing. But spring break was the second week and I didn’t get everything done that I planned to do, so I ended up taking a three week break.

During my break, I visited with friends (Hey Linda), read books for pure pleasure, watched Hallmark movies I’d recorded, met my husband for lunch, and went on hospital visits with him. I pretty much do the hospital visits every other week or so anyway, but I went more often during my break. I needed to clean my house. But as usual, I found other things I’d rather do. And I never did get the bathroom painted. I looked at it a few times, but that’s as far as I got.

Even when I take a break, I still write part of the time. Since Rodeo Song released April 1st, I wrote half a dozen posts and answered several blog interviews to promote it. I also started the first three chapters of book 8 that I have to turn in by June 15th.

As I write this post, my blog tour for Rodeo Song has begun, so I’m checking for comments and talking with readers. And since I have several guest blogs throughout this month, I’ll be doing that on a weekly basis. Other than writing, doing guest blogs and connecting with readers is my favorite part of this whole process.

I said I wouldn’t join not one more social network because I don’t have time. I know that’s a double negative – but I thought it might deter me further that way. It didn’t. I joined Goodreads, so I’ve been chatting with readers over there. I. Love. Goodreads. How awesome is it to get to chat with readers about books? And not just my books – but books I’ve read and enjoyed. It’s my favorite social network. Even better than Pinterest – the last social network I refused to join.

Anyway, this past  Monday marked my get back to the editing phase day. So now I’m editing one book, promoting another, and thinking about the third. Plus those three unknowns dangling out there. This is pretty much my normal routine and my husband wonders why I can’t remember anything.

But I don’t have any more books releasing until January 2015. That means I can focus on writing and editing and speaking – since I have some speaking engagements scheduled. Once I turn in book 7 and finish the opening chapters of book 8 and turn those in, I think I’ll write a short synopsis for the three unknown books and just ask my editor if what I’m thinking will work – so they’ll stop bothering me.

All of this stops around 2:30 each day when I go get my son from school. The rest of the day, I focus on my family and church. In the summer, I write at night when everyone else goes to bed.

In the past, I’ve had four months between book deadlines. I write fast and my books are 50,000 words at the most, so it’s doable for me. But after I finished the last three books, I was so tired. This time, I asked for 5 months between deadlines. I feel better already – like I have time to live a little. And with the longer deadlines, I won’t have to do a lot of writing in the summer.

This all seems unfocused and rambling, but it’s how I roll. With my head barely above water and flying by the seat of my pants.

Be sure and comment to enter the drawing for 5 inksper books.

We're Back book giveaway

Rodeo Queen Nostalgia

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 twoWriting 1st book 1999 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.

Rodeo Queen by Shannon Taylor VannatterAnd 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 🙂

Christian Book

Harlequin

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Question of the day–for readers or writers. Have you ever had a story in your head that wouldn’t go away?