Christian Romance- It Really is a Thing

When folks find out I am a writer, I usually tell them I plan to be a fiction author when I grow up. Their natural next question is “What kind of books do you  want to write?” When I say “Christian Romance”, they often chuckle, and sometimes even say, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” So sad. Obviously these people have been reading the wrong romance novels.

I must confess that I have delved into those other kind of books once or twice in my lifetime. For the most part, I wouldn’t call them romances. The wonderful emotion called love is usually left out. Many of them concentrate only on the physical side of a relationship.

My friend Shannon Vannatter has made a very successful career out of writing about honest, flawed couples who are struggling to develop all sides of a relationship. Heroines who have been abused and have trouble trusting even the most appealling hero. Men who have made bad choices in the past, and are trying so hard to prove they have changed. Characters who have loved and lost, and are not sure they will ever find that feeling again. Set against a fun backdrop of small towns, cowboys and rodeos, her books easily sweep the reader up for an amazing ride. What a joy these books, and their sweet author are to all who know them.

Two other authors who really know romance are critique buddies Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren. Their stories are multi-layered, multi-generational, and full of delicious heroes and heroines we can easily identify with. They play on a larger stage, ending up in exotic places, and taking the reader along for a breathless, magical adventure. These two never dissapoint, and I can’t wait to pre-order when they announce a new release.

What these books have in common is the spiritual thread that binds the hearts of the protaganists. Only when they surrender to God’s will do the pieces of their lives begin to come together.

Christian romance- Oh yes. It is very real, very satisfying, and never one dimensional. Now, if you will excuse me, I have another book to read.

Hauck and Warren kindle books

 

Summer Reading

I am having “Christmas in July” and trying to read all of the Christmas themed books in TBR pile. I have two down and two to go so I’m making progress! I know, I know, it’s summer and in August, I’ll get back to seasonal reading. Here are the books on my summer TBR list (excluding my own shameless plug).

 

 

Rodeo ReunionShannon Vannatter had a June 2015 release, Rodeo Reunion. Who doesn’t love a good rodeo story? Since Shannon never disappoints, I’m really looking forward to reading her latest release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 12 Brides of Summer #4 is another book I’m anxious to read. Especially, Davalynn Spencer’s contribution12 Brides of Summer to this anthology, The Columbine Bride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Love BloomsOf course my list wouldn’t be complete without our own Lorna Seilstad’s book, As Love Blooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now to my own shameless plug! Reclaiming the Cowboy’s Heart was an April release, but the story takes place at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo which is going on right now as you read this post! Print and ebook versions of this book are still available.Reclaiming the Cowboy's Heart 1

Do you read seasonal books out of season like my Christmas in July reading list? I hope you leave a message, but I want everyone to know, I won’t be stopping by to comment back. I will flying to NYC for the RWA conference today and once I get there I have a full schedule!

 

 

 

 

A Child of the 70’s – Faaaar Out!

I have loved all the Inksper choices of crooners so far. What a great mix of talent!

My heart throb growing up was John Denver. I’m a child of the 70’s and one of the biggest names in music back then was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. Well, okay – maybe that was his REAL name. We all knew and loved him as John Denver. I still do!

John DenverHe started as a folk singer and ended up as one of the biggest names in music worldwide. I think either you were (are) a John Denver fan or you weren’t (and probably still aren’t!). What I loved about his music was the often profound messages (especially about the environment) usually wrapped in fun. Okay, so Grandma’s Feather Bed wasn’t exactly profound but it was fun!!

His concern for the environment went far beyond his songs. He lived what he believed, spoke often about conservation issues, and actually walked his talk. But for this teenager, it was songs like Annie’s Song, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High (now one of Colorado’s 2 official songs), and my all time favorite, Sunshine on My Shoulders, that touched my heart.

I went to many of his concerts (like every time he came through town), andJohn Denver2 loved the fact that he was married to a Minnesotan for many years (Annie Martell). Somehow that made him a kindred spirit!

He died in 1997 flying his experimental plane, which was a sad way to silence his music and his passion for the environment.

So were you a John Denver fan?

Giveaway:

Shannon will be sending a copy of Rodeo Song to one lucky commenter. Every time you leave a comment in the next two weeks, your chances of getting your hands on it will increase. The giveaway ends on Friday, June 20 at midnight, central time, and is open to continental U.S. residents only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grobanites Unite

What if you favorite singer walked into your birthday party and sang to you? Would you scream? Swoon? Dance with him?

In celebration of Shannon Vannatter’s newest release, Rodeo Song (Heartsong Presents), the each Inksper will be sharing who she’d love to have serenade her and why. You might be surprised by who we’ll pick.

In Rodeo Song 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.

Oh yes, did I mention he pulls Jenna up on stage and sings to her at a concert? Be still my heart. Who hasn’t dreamed of that?

My Choice–Josh Groban

Josh GrobanJust take a listen to him here singing with Celine Dion.  Really. Let that voice carry you away.

I will probably get killed by my fellow Inkspers for picking him because he’s a favorite of several of us. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t show up again in the next two weeks.

I first saw Josh on Oprah. He was only 17 and I was totally amazed. Today, Josh is 33 and has produced six albums. With songs like “You Raise Me Up” and “To Where You Are,” few people have not heard of this young man. He is a global star,  and when he sings in Italian or Spanish, I don’t even care that I can’t understand a word. I can feel the poetry in his music.

Sadly, I’ve never met him personally, but he seems like a sweet, genuine person. The closest I got was the ninth row at one of his concerts. The concert, I might add, was the best I’ve ever been to. I left feeling my artistic soul had been satisfied.

Fans of Josh Groban are collectively known as Grobanites. As a Grobanite, when my son, a baritone, needed a song to sing at college for Cocoa and Carols, can you guess what I persuaded him to sing? “Believe” which was the theme song from the movie Polar Express by Josh Groban. Here’s a link to his version. http://youtu.be/g_4dJZBduFg

So would Josh Groban be on your list of people you’d like to serenade you? I can assure you that if he walked into my birthday party, there might be some serious screaming and swooning.

You can learn more about Josh and see his newest video at his website www.joshgroban.com.

Giveaway

Shannon will be sending a copy of Rodeo Song to one lucky commenter. Every time you leave a comment in the next two weeks, your chances of getting your hands on it will increase. The giveaway ends on Friday, June 20 at midnight, central time, and is open to continental U.S. residents only. 

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!

Romantic Comedy – with Cowboys

Mary ConnealyMary Connealy is such a fun gal in person, it’s no surprise she writes fun books – “romantic comedy…with cowboys.” If you’re looking for a good read that includes suspense, romance, good guys and bad, as well as a good laugh (or two), try The Kincaid Brides series. Here’s the back cover copy for the first of these three books:

The Kincaid Brides: Out of Control
Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. SheOutofControl-Mary C particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father’s homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe–until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.
Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family’s cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch–and Rafe’s controlling ways–as soon as they were able. He’s haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn’t expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels–or to be forced to kiss her!
Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he’s ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?

This story is followed by In Too Deep and Over the Edge. Mary’s characters are intelligent, quirky, and determined. Even as events unfold and the tension rises, Mary throws in surprises that make her readers smile.

Mary’s brand new series, the Trouble in Texas, launched in March 2013 and includes a near-drowning, revenge, mail-order brides, an avalanche, and plenty of bad cooking. Through it all, Mary’s cowboys set their hearts on winning the girl, regardless of the cost. Amidst all the ruckus, there’s plenty of humor to keep us laughing. It’s a wild ride with Mary Connealy!

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Rodeo RegretsShannon is generously giving away two copies of Rodeo Regrets so don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered. Here’s the blurb:

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?

 

I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart….

I did want to be a cowboy’s sweetheart growing up because I dreamed of being just like Dale Evans! So I am thrilled we are celebrating Shannon’s current release, Rodeo Regrets by celebrating cowboys and cowgirls!

Yippe ki yay, let’s get started!

Susan Page Davis’ book Cowgirl Trails is in my to be read pile (I read all the time yet that pile NEVER goes down!). Here’s the back cover blurb:

In 1884 Maggie Porter returns to the Rocking P Ranch. The sanatorium was not able to save her mother and now her father’s health is failing. When the cowboys walk off the job leaving no one to drive the cattle to market, head ranch hand, Alex Bright, cannot convince the men to stay. How could Alex Cowgirl Traillet this happen?

Maggie is desperate to save the ranch and she turns to the town’s women for help. The new cowgirls must herd, rope, and drive the cattle to market. With only two days left, outlaws charge the small band of cowgirls in an effort to start a stampede. The cattle begin to scatter. Will they lose everything? Where will their help come from?

 

 

My next book is for all of you grandma’s who dreamed of being a cowgirl…what? That was just me? Are you sure? I picked this book up at BarnesaDash!nd Noble for my granddaughters to grow into. In the meantime, I read it. It’s a beginning reader from Elizabeth Mills called Dash. It’s a cute story about a young girl who is training to be a barrel racer. Along with a great story, readers learn fun facts about barrel racing and the illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers are gorgeous. Although the copyright date on this book is 2009, it is still available for purchase.

 

 

 

Wild Women and Tricky Ladies is a non-fiction book about trick riders. I bought this book for research but find it very interesting, from the ‘tricked out’ Wild Women Tricky Ladies blogsaddles to costumes from yesteryear. This is an overview of women trick rider from the early 1900’s through today. Not only are these women brave, standing on or hanging off a moving horse, they are truly athletes.

When I was little I did dream of being a cowgirl. Did you?

 

 

 

 

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Shannon is generously giving away two copies of Rodeo Regrets so don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered. Here’s the blurb:

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Winners Are …

Thank you very much to all the authors–Judith Miller, Christine Lynxwiler, Shannon Vannatter, Rose Ross Zediker, and Kathy Sattem Rygg–who shared a bit of themselves with us this past week. We loved hearing your personal stories!

Thank you also for generously providing your books as giveaways.

And a special thanks to all our readers who took time to chat with us. Our door is always open, so you’re welcome to stop by anytime!

Now, here’s the announcement you’ve been waiting for: Giveaway Winners!

A HIDDEN TRUTH by Judith Miller: Bethany! Please contact Lorna Seilstad at LornaSeilstadATyahooDOTcom.

THE RULUCTANT COWGIRL by Christine Lynxwiler:  Mary Holmon! Please contact Shannon Vannatter here: http://shannonvannatter.com/contact/

COWGIRL AT HEART by Christine Lynxwiler: Marianne Barkman! Please contact Shannon Vannatter here: http://shannonvannatter.com/contact/

WHITE DOVES by Shannon Vannatter: KarenPlease contact Shannon Vannatter here: http://shannonvannatter.com/contact/

RODEO HERO by Shannon Vannatter:  MariannePlease contact Shannon Vannatter here: http://shannonvannatter.com/contact/

JOB’S TEARS by Rose Ross Zediker: Karen K! Please contact Shari Barr at ShariBarrATShariBarrDOTcom.

ROSE OF SHARON by Rose Ross Zediker: Deb Hauser! Please contact Shari Barr at ShariBarrATShariBarrDOTcom.

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?

Fall Fiction Favorites!

My to-be-read pile for fall is about twenty books deep–I’ll be kind and resist talking about all of them. But there are a handful written by my favorite authors that I’ve been impatiently waiting for and now they’re almost here!

Steven James has quickly become one of my favorite storytellers. He writes intense, complex thrillers that leave you on the edge of your seat from word one. This fall he has two new novels coming out!

In Opening MovesBowers Files Series prequel (Signet Select, September 20120 release), James takes the readers back in time with FBI Agent Patrick Bowers, back to the murder mystery that’s haunted him throughout the series. I look forward to gleaning more insight into what make Patrick Bowers tick.

Description: FBI agent Patrick Bowers’ first major murder investigation begins in Milwaukee, 1995. In a city still reeling from the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, a woman’s body is found with the lungs removed. Local cops think a Dahmer copycat is on the loose. But Patrick Bowers, working as a homicide detective for the Milwaukee Police Department, sees from the timing and location of the crime that this is not a copycat at all, but a killer with an entirely different agenda.

Then Steven James introduces his readers to a brand new protagonist, Jevin Banks, in Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1 (Revell, October 2012 release). I don’t doubt that this new series will be just as riveting as the Patrick Bowers series.

Description: While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons’ tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did. Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.

Now if you’re not into highly-detailed thrillers, then I’d recommend Borders of the Heart (Tyndale House, September release) by Chris Fabry.  Fabry has won two Christy’s and was a finalist once. He’s an author who delves deeply into the heart of multi-faceted characters. He tells his stories with rich, musical prose that you want to savor like fine chocolate. I’ve no doubt Borders of the Heart will be equally as beautiful as the rest of Fabry’s novels.

Description: Desperate to escape haunting memories, J. D. Jessup travels from Nashville to Tucson and volunteers on an organic farm. The hardened landowner has one prevailing rule: If J. D. sees an “illegal,” call the border patrol. But when an early morning ride along the fence line leads him to a beautiful young woman named Maria, near death in the desert, his heart pulls him in another direction. Longing to atone for the choices that drove him to Tucson, J. D. hides her and unleashes a chain of deadly events he could never have imagined. Soon they are running from a killer and fighting for their lives. As secrets of their pasts emerge, J. D. realizes that saving Maria may be the only way to save himself.

I do have to throw in one debut author–I’m guessing we’ll want to have tissues handy for Kathy Harris‘s novel, The Road to Mercy (Abingdon, September 2012 release).

Josh Harrison, a contemporary Christian singer, and his wife Bethany face a difficult decision that also tests their faith. A rupture in Beth’s carotid artery leaves her on the brink of death even as she’s pregnant with their first child. While Dr. Ben Abrams urges her to terminate the pregnancy to save her own life, she and Josh step out on faith and decide to carry the baby to full term.

During the next few months, Josh struggles with his faith, Beth hides a secret that may destroy their marriage. She also discovers a decades-old connection to Dr. Abrams that could change his life forever.

 

And how can I not mention our very own Shannon Vannatter?! Her sixth book, Rodeo Ashes, releases this month for Heartsong Presents book club members, and it will be available to the public in September. Yeah Shannon! Of course since I’m her critique partner I already know it’s another heart-tugging romance that Shannon excels at. I can’t wait to hold the published copy in my hands!

Description: Lacie Gentry, a young widow and mom, is struggling with the aftermath of her husband’s tragic death. When she bumps into former classmate Quinn Remington, her future is undecided. She accepts a job teaching kids to ride at Quinn’s neighboring ranch, hoping to revitalize her life with an old pastime but soon sees in Quinn a chance to move forward with new love…if she’s ready.

It’s been years since Quinn has seen lovely Lacie Gentry—the girl he always admired in high school but never came close to dating. By the time they met, Lacie was engaged to rodeo star Mel Gentry then happily married. Now Lacie’s closer than ever. The attraction is still there, but so is a secret that might end any chance of romance.

Can they rise from the rodeo ashes?

There are sooo many more, but I’ll stop for for now … well, not without giving a handful of others a quick mention.

What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?