Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monday Blog Hop: Four Questions About My Writing Process

Welcome to what’s known as a rolling blog hop…or tag blog hop I suppose. Basically, every Monday an author blogs about his/her writing process answering the same 4 questions. This hop has seen all genres of authors from mystery to paranormal to historical to YA. Today my genre, inspirational romance, is added to the mix. Thanks to Alyssa Maxwell for tagging me. So here goes!

What am I working on?

I am currently working on the 4th book in my Covington Falls Chronicles series. Covington Falls is a fictional Southern town filled with so many quirky, wonderful characters. The first book MARRY ME (which was also my debut novel) released in October 2013. The second ACTING UP comes out April 22nd and the third in the series IMAGINE THAT will hit a Kindle (or Nook etc.) near you on July 1st.

The current work in progress is set at Christmas time. It’s a little strange to still be stuck in holiday mode, but I’m enjoying it. My heroine actually made her first appearance in MARRY ME as a jilted bride. Noelle Robinson finally gets her true romance, with the brother of the man who jilted her, Michael Campbell. Talk about complications. On top of that she has to run her parents’ Christmas store and organize all the town’s holiday festivities after a family health crisis. Of course, there is plenty of chaos and fun. This book is a little different in that Noelle and Michael have known each other all their lives, but are just now discovering a spark. It’s very unsettling for them to suddenly see each other in a new light. Not to mention that Michael is her ex-fiancé’s brother. AWKWARD.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write inspirational romance, but I’ve never seen it as typical inspirational. I don’t ever want to make my books sound preachy or overly saccharine. I want anyone to feel comfortable reading my books, even if they’re not religious. Actually, just today I attended a book club meeting after a friend suggested MARRY ME to her group. One of the ladies said she wasn’t sure about reading a Christian book because she isn’t religious but she ended up loving it. I always have plenty of humor, which I think also makes my book stand out. I can’t do 300+ pages of pure angst.

Why do I write what I write?

I blame Seth Graham for that. I didn’t set out to write inspirational romance. I hadn’t read much of it because it seemed like all that was out there were historicals with covers featuring what I called “Little House on the Prairie” girls.  Basically, a young woman in a bonnet staring off into the distance with a placid expression on her face. Now, there’s nothing wrong with those book, but that just wasn’t the kind of book I wanted to write. My heroines were snarky and funny. Then came MARRY ME. It’s about a cynical, wedding-hating heroine (Julia Richardson) who winds up running a wedding planning business. When I was trying to figure out who the love interest would be I hit upon a minister. Seth Graham was born. The minute I found Seth the rest of the story came together. I created an entire fictional town. I had a backstory for my heroine Julia, and I realized I could write a story that also included a faith journey as well as a romantic one. Julia is cynical about everything, including religion. A big arc in MARRY ME is Julia finding faith. That book led to the creation of two more Covington Falls stories.

I write inspirational romance because faith is vital to my life and now I’ve found a way to introduce readers to God in a non-threatening and entertaining way. I think it’s what I was born to write.

How does my writing process work?

I generally have an initial idea for a situation. Then I have to stir it around in my head and try to figure out “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. Like with my second book ACTING UP. All I knew about the book was that I would have a famous Hollywood actress (Addison Covington) directing a high school musical. From there I had to figure out everything else. Eventually, I decided to have her leave Hollywood in disgrace after losing her husband and her job. She escapes to Covington Falls where she once lived as a teenager, but once there she is asked to direct the spring musical. The love interest is another local boy, Ethan Thomas. He lived next door to Addison, and now he’s the principal of the high school.

Once I have the basic story in my head I like to just write a couple chapters blind. It helps me get to know the characters. What they sound like, their personality, their quirks, etc. I can’t jump right in to plotting or I will get bogged down in details and lose interest. Only after I’ve written those opening chapters will I go back and start plotting. I will usually make a list of “conflicts” or “things that can go wrong”. Then I make an outline, with each scene and a short description of what happens. I’m not a fanatical plotter. I don’t really have the patience for a long, drawn-out process. If it gets too complicated I will lose my enthusiasm. I also tend not to be slavish to the outline. If something doesn’t seem to be working or I decide a scene might be better later in the story I will move things around.

So there you have it. Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out Victoria Pinder who is also blogging to today and next week (March 31) visit Christi Corbett author of Along The Way Home.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring In Your Step Blog Hop

Welcome to the Spring In Your Step Blog Hop, sponsored by Candlelight Reads. 

Show of hands…who's ready for winter to be gone? I have a confession. I live in the one state that has stayed stubbornly warm. So all I could do was commiserate with the folks shoveling out from under 80 feet of snow. 

What better way to warm the heart & celebrate spring than with a great sweet love story? MARRY ME is my debut novel, an inspirational romance set in the fictional Southern town of Covington Falls.

Julia Richardson is no fan of weddings. A lifetime of watching her parents treat relationships like the flavor of the month has taught her that love is for fools and faith is for naïve. Then she learns her former
stepsister is having a pregnancy crisis. The crisis has Julia returning to the small Southern town she’s been avoiding for years. Before she knows it, Julia’s been pressed into service running her stepsister’s wedding planning business. In the midst of the chaos, Julia makes the most unexpected discovery of all…Love, with Seth Graham, the widowed local minister! It’s not until she learns to believe in the power of love, faith and family that she finds her own “I Do” moment.

Available in ebook & print editions at: Amazon & Barnes & Noble

Plus, check out book two in the Covington Falls Chronicles, ACTING UP, out April 22.

So…time for the giveaway!!! Post a comment here telling me why you read sweet romance and be entered to win an ebook copy of MARRY ME! If you've also liked my Facebook Author Page or followed me on Twitter I'll add a $5 Amazon gift card. 


To get back to the Blog Hop click here

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What You May Not Know About Saint Patrick's Day

So it's St. Patrick’s Day. For most people it means wearing green and drinking beer…occasionally even green beer. There is Irish on both sides of my family, though it’s been so long since any past relatives left the old country that any true “Irishness” has been lost. 

But how many know the history of St. Patrick’s Day? I looked into the mystery some years ago. (I actually used children’s books. I find them great resources since they’re very succinct. So if any of my information is wrong, blame the kid’s books.)
St. Patrick was a bishop who lived around 385-460 A.D. He was one of the  more popular saints in Ireland, but the truth is, his real name was not Patrick and he was not born in Ireland. Many scholars believe he was actually born in Scotland or England. His real name was “Maewyn Succat”. In his writing he referred to himself as “patricius”, which is Latin for “well-born”. The name became Patrick in English.
When St. Patrick was a boy he was taken as a slave to Ireland where he was put to work tending sheep. It was during those years in captivity that he found comfort in God. After six years, he escaped. However, St. Patrick felt he was being called to teach God’s word so he spent the next few years studying in a monastery. Then he returned to Ireland where he lived for the rest of his life.
Have you ever read the book “How The Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill? If not, you absolutely should, especially if you like history. The premise of the book is that while the rest of Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, Ireland experienced a Golden Age. Irish monks were responsible for copying every piece of literature they could get their hands on. They almost single-handedly (no pun intended) preserved the history of the Western culture, as well as some our greatest literary works. Nearly every written word from before the Middle Ages exists today because of them. If not for the Irish we wouldn’t have The Bible or Homer’s Iliad or Aristotle’s philosophy, no Greek tragedies, not Roman law. The man responsible for this Golden Age in Ireland was none other than St. Patrick.
On a last note, March 17th, the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, is not his birthday but rather the day of his death.