Characterization...the key to a successful story

First, I'll admit there is more than one "key" to a successful story, but characterization is a big part of it. I was watching the newest Star Trek movie the other night--for the sixth or tenth time (I've lost count) and it hit me that characterization was one of the reasons that makes this movie great. For those of you who don't know about the movie...come out of your cave!'s basically a prequel that features the characters originally made popular by the 1960s Star Trek series. Anyone familiar with those characters can "see" them again in this latest movie--even though they are played (of course) by a new set of actors. And that's what makes the movie.(The movie is also good if you've never met these characters before, which is another sign that J.J. Abrams and the rest of the people responsible for creating this movie really had a handle on things...but, back to my point...)

If the actors had not been able to nail the characterization, the movie would have flopped. Movie-goers who were even mild Trekkies would have balked. Choruses of "Kirk would have never said that" and "Spock would never do that" would have resounded through theatres everywhere. Instead, we were treated to a resurrection of some beloved characters. We could smile and say, "OMGosh! That so sounds like Bones" and "Scottie always did that!" Even Majel Barrett's (may she RIP) voice as the Enterprise computer was a pleasant familiar.

Of course, the movie wasn't a success because of the characterization only. The score, cinematography,  plot and special effects all combined were also key, but all these could have been flawless and, had the characterization flopped, so would have the movie.

Characterization is just as important in books. If we're meeting characters for the first time--as is usually the case--by the end of the story we should feel as though we know them. Halfway through the story, should they do or say something that's out-of-character, their portrayal to that point should have been so vivid that this pull from their norm should startle us--even if it's done on purpose and for effect.

And, characterization relies heavily on keeping a tight point of view. So, it's imperative for authors to know their characters inside and out--even those little things that will never appear on the page, And then, as you're writing, remember to mentally "become" your POV character so that if you do happen to write something that would make the reader say, "Hey, John Hero would never do that" you'll recognize it first and go about editing so that your characterization remains flawless.

Happy Writing!

Susan's 4th of July Fireworks

The United States has several patriotic holidays such as today - Memorial Day, when we remember our loved ones and in particular those that gave their lives for their country.  Coming up we have the 4th of July when we remember how our country won independence from Great Britain.

In Susan's 4th of July Fireworks, to be released June 11, the heroine Susan is fighting her own battle for independence.  She's always followed the path her demanding but well-meaning father has set for her. After her mother deserted the family, Susan's grandmother told her to be good to her father because she is all he has left.  From then on, Susan has been afraid of doing anything that would hurt her father. But as an adult she is becoming frustrated with her father's insistence on running her life.

When Susan's high school crush, Cal returns to town, it seems she might have a chance for happiness - until her father declares him off limits because he thinks Cal lacks ambition. Can Susan gain Cal's love without losing her father's?

Here's a sneak peek of Susan and Cal's first meeting after high school:

Cal Wensloff, the subject of her high school fantasies, stood in her doorway.  Unprepared to meet him again after all these years, Susan stared at him dumbly.  Over six feet of hard muscle, broad shoulders and that mischievous glint in those blue eyes that contradicted the farm boy “aw shucks” smile on his face.
            “Hi Susan,” he said, his smile widening a bit for her.  “Can I come in?”
            “S-sure.  In.  I mean, come in.”  So much for her cool, self reliant businesswoman image.
            She stepped back so Cal could enter.  His arm grazed hers and tingles flew up to her shoulder.  She might as well be back in Mrs. Schlaeger’s home room, she told herself.
            Suddenly Susan couldn’t remember if she’d combed her hair yet.  And she wished she was wearing a suit and heels.  She felt vulnerable in her bare feet.
            Her father greeted Cal and he nodded in return.  “Ready to go?” he asked.
            “Not quite.  Give me a couple of minutes.”
            “Would you like some coffee, Cal?”  There, she could speak in complete sentences.  Cal had just caught her off guard, that was all.  She was fine, Susan told herself.
            “Sure, if it’s no trouble.”
            She opened her cupboard and saw that she’d used the last mug on the lower shelf.  Standing on tiptoes, she stretched up to reach the higher one.
            “Let me get that for you.”  Cal was suddenly right behind her, crowding her against the counter and reaching over her head to grab the mug.  He rested one hand on her shoulder and his chest brushed her back.  Instantly every nerve she had was on high alert and her heart fluttered in her chest.
            See, she had come a long way since high school.  If he’d touched her like this back then, someone would have had to mop her up off the floor and pour her into a bucket.  Now, they’d probably only need a spatula.

If Susan's story interests you, you may also enjoy Orchard Hill Romances Keeping Faith and Enduring Hope.

Keeping Faith: School secretary Faith Fielding has been in love with her boss for years.  She’s waiting for him to move beyond his late wife’s memory.  But when he finally does ask someone out – and it’s not her – Faith decides she’s had enough and gives her notice.  School principal Andrew Thomas can’t imagine life or work without loyal efficient Faith but he doesn’t understand why she’s quitting.  Faith’s last day is the big end of school Memorial Day Picnic.  Will Andrew figure out how to keep Faith by then or will she be gone for good? 

Enduring Hope: Quiet, privacy loving phys ed. teacher Oliver Laurence is alarmed when he finds he's signed up for the same team that bouncy, outgoing librarian Hope Velasquez is on.  He thinks she’s loud and pushy.  She thinks he’s not a team player.  Both want the Fourth of July Softball Tournament to be a success.  Oliver wonders if he can endure Hope for that long.  But when they discover that opposites attract, will Oliver and Hope set off a few fireworks of their own?

Historical Heroes

I love to read historicals. There is just something so entrancing about going back in time for awhile—something very romantic. I know I got into reading the historical romance because I grew up reading classic literature. My first favorite authors were Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and L.M. Montgomery. These authors weren’t writing historicals. It was contemporary for them. But for me it was stepping back in time. Even today when I watch Period Drama films, I have the urge to work on a historical manuscript.

Within the subgenre of the historical romance there are so many different time frames and tones within the stories. My favorites are the Regency/Georgian and the Victorian—both in America and over the pond in England. But there are so many others: Medieval, Viking, Roman, Biblical/Ancient, Tudor/Elizabethan, the western, American Civil War, Colonial America/American Revolution…and many more.

The origin of the Historical Romance novel historically begins with Georgette Heyer in the 1920’s with her 18th century-set books and later her regencies. (I just loved Cotillion.) And the modern age of the romance novel came in with Avon in the 1970’s—and the category historical romance was born—with Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower. And in the 1980’s the Inspirational historical romance began with Silhoutte Inspirations.

So, what makes us love the historical romance so much? Listening to many readers I think the answer is pure escapism. And what better escape than into the pages which transport us to a time long, long ago and into the (figurative) arms of a man who can easily sweep a woman off her feet. Try not to swoon. I dare you.

What about this historical hero we speak of? What is it about him that makes him so enticing?

I believe part of it is that men can be men. Chivalry is still alive (sometimes). He is a man of action. He might be ruthless to his enemies but also tender with his lady. Whether dominant or humorous, he is always in control of his own fate (or so he thinks).

In my Inspirational historical release with White Rose Publishing, Dilemma of the Heart, you meet my hero Frederick Adair, thought dead at the close of the Civil War. He is the type with quiet strength and pride. When he returns home, he finds his sweetheart engaged to another man. How he deals with that situation makes him heroic. I also introduce you to the antagonist of this book who in turn becomes the hero in the sequel, Temptation of the Heart (still a Work in Progress). He is a powerful character whose demons and torments come to the fore in the sequel.

In classic literature, there are some wonderful examples of romantic heroes. Sir Percy Blakeney as The Scarlet Pimpernel and Robin Hood are favorites of mine. Captain Wentworth and Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen. John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. Oh the list could go on. Come on, I know you have favorites—please share. What makes him a good hero?

Here at White Rose we have some outstanding historical titles. Most recently, Nicola Beaumont’s Into the Grae which I just finished reading. What's really great about this story is that it is not only historical but follows the theme of a classic Gothic romance. Take a peak at some of the other historical offerings we have.

Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres:  Contemporary, Suspense, and Historical romance. But whatever she writes she always throws in a bit of humor and fun. Find out more about Cindy and her books at and To join her newsletter email her at, and she will send you out all three parts of her FREE READ serial,  “Valentine’s Challenge.”

Interview with Delia Latham

Today, we’re interviewing a multitalented author who wrote Yesterday’s Promise. Not only is this woman an amazing writer, but I recently learned that back in the 90’s she had a Country Western band where she was invited to Nashville! There she met stars like Reba McEntrie and Garth Brooks. Would you welcome with me, Delia Latham, one of the new authors at White Rose Publishing…

Delia, could you tell us where were you born? Well, technically I was born in a hospital in Bakersfield, California…but my family lived in a tiny agricultural community called Weedpatch at the time. That’s where I grew up.
Ah, a sense of humor. Speaking of which, what is the funniest thing that ever happened to you or you witnessed that made you laugh so hard you couldn’t catch your breath?
I know this has happened to me many times, but my memory is only bringing one such instance vividly to mind (probably because it was the most recent). My family was playing a game of charades, and my daughter-in-law’s mother was trying to communicate "Michael Jackson." Let’s just say her moonwalk was highly amusing…

Name some of your most favorite things.
I’ll name four: Blake, Savannah, Logan and Aidan - my perfect grandchildren.

Questions about your writing:
What or who inspires you to write?
First and foremost, from above. Without God’s prompting and inspiration, His little mental nudges and gentle shoves, I couldn’t write a word. I’m inspired when I witness emotions and the situations that cause them: love, sadness, joy, miracles and tragedies. Given the world that God provided, and the millions of varied persons and personalities He filled it with, ideas really are all around us. But sometimes they’re pretty chameleon-like, and you have to be looking for them to discern their presence.

What was your favorite book growing up that inspired you to try your hand at writing?
I read everything I could get my hands on, from the time I picked up my First Reader. I’m not sure I had any one favorite book-there were too many wonderful stories out there to choose just one! I loved Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew stories; I read Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys. Probably the most significant author, as far as influencing the direction I took in my own writing, was Grace Livingston Hill, during my teen years. I loved her inspirational romances, and read everything with her name on it. Some I read more than once. Now, I quite often come up with a turn of phrase, or a situation in my storyline that makes me realize how much this gracious lady influenced my writing style.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
When someone tells me something I’ve written made a difference for them, that they were uplifted spiritually, encouraged in some way, or that they renewed a relationship with Christ. Because I consider my writing a ministry, those are the things that make it "worth it."
Have you experienced writer’s block? And if so, how did you cure it?
(a) YES! Oh, yes! (b) On my knees.
I hit a major, devastating block midway through my historical romance, Goldeneyes. It was set in Weedpatch, where I grew up, and I simply did not realize how hard it would be to separate the fictional story from the reality of its setting. I was overcome by memories-good and bad-and I simply could not get past them enough to write anything worth reading. I spent a lot of time in prayer, because I knew that story needed to be written. When God finally gave me the release, He also gave me the inspiration. The second half of the book flowed beautifully. It will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was like birthing a child!

How did you come up with your premise for Yesterdays Promise?
I wish I had a better answer for you, but the truth is, this story was unplanned. It happened during that grueling block while I was writing Goldeneyes. I came across the website for National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) just days before their annual writing marathon was to begin. The idea grabbed me, and since I wasn’t making any headway on Goldeneyes, I simply laid it aside. The morning of November 1, 2005, I opened up a blank page and started writing. I had no idea what I was going to write about, but a dear friend of mine had only recently moved to Oakhurst, which is just down the mountain a ways from Yosemite. I was captivated with the beauty of the area, and so…I had a setting. But the rest truly happened as I wrote-no outline, no plan, no character chart. Just me and God.

So now you have me wondering about Goldeneyes… I’ve always wondered what it would be like to participate in Nanowrimo, but I’m too chicken. I’m so glad you did though! For those who are not familiar with this story, would you please give us the blurb?
A whirlwind romance amidst the natural splendor of Yosemite National Park. A spur-of-the-moment wedding. A young bride who awakens the morning after to find her new husband gone with the mountain wind.
Songbird Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill-fated union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon suite.
Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peace with her painful past, Hannah returns to Yosemite, only to have Brock show up hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered it the first time around.

I loved reading your story. Are there any fun tidbits about this story you’d like to share with us?
When my Oakhurst friend found out that I was writing a book set in Yosemite, but I had never been to the Park itself, she absolutely would not let it be. She insisted I come up and spend a week with her-turned her office over to me to write at night, and she was my tour guide during the day. I knew from my research about Yosemite that my heroine, Hannah, would spend a couple of weeks in a cabin in Curry Village. Reta took there. She wanted me familiar with the area, and I must confess to being properly awed by it. One thing I wanted was to see inside one of the cabins, but shyness overcame me. I couldn’t bring myself to ask, but Reta could. She marched up to one of the busy housekeeping staff, explained the situation, and obtained permission for me to go inside and look around. It made describing Hannah’s surrounding in her Yosemite cabin so much easier! And because I wrote this book during a 30-day period (not counting all the editing and rewrites, of course), I was writing many hours every day. I came to know Hannah and Brock so well that I genuinely missed them when I was finished with the story.

Thanks so much for being here with us today, Delia!

Yesterday’s Promise is available in e-format only. You can buy it at White Rose Publishing or
The cost is $4.75.

Now, are you ready for some fun?
Delia is on a blog tour, and this is one of her stops. If you comment on this blog , or any other stop on her tour (see below) You’ll be entered into a drawing for: Two (2) $10 gift certificates to White Rose Publishing will be awarded after the tour. The winners will be drawn by a random drawing generator on Tuesday, June 1. (Please leave your e-mail address on the comment so she can contact you.)
Every comment generates one entry. So if a reader follows me from blog to blog and leaves comments at several (or all) of them, each comment gets their name in the drawing again. Chances of winning can be increased by touring with me and leaving comments at each blog stop.

Susan Holloway
Journeys of Love…Inspired by Faith

Thanks for visiting our White Rose In Bloom Blog~

Website Remodel...and Rejection?

I've been a little AWOL on the blog these past couple of months, allowing other staff to post in my stead. Today, I'm happy to announce that the work that's kept me away from the blog is finished--a complete remodel and overhaul of the White Rose Publishing website.

Isn't it great when we finish a project and we take a step back and can say, "Wow, not only did I enjoy that, but it didn't turn out half-bad."? In this instance--the instance of the new website--I had a lot of help. A person who started out a stranger but ended up a friend, did an awesome job, going above-and-beyond to make the website the beaut it is. I could not have done it without him.

When we're writing, though, we don't have a lot of help. Sure, crit partners and family and friends can read what we've written and give us suggestions for improvement, but there's no one who can "do" any of the writing for us. The story is our own, the words, the structure, the plot, the editing--all ours. And when we're finished, we step back in statisfaction and say, "Wow, not only did I enjoy that, but it didn't turn out half-bad."...

Then, we submit it to a publisher, and our baby gets rejected--multiple times, sometimes. It can be frustrating. Disheartening. Maddening. As an editor, I find I have to reject so many more manuscripts than I contract. I don't like having to send rejection letters. I know that when I do, I've just ruined someone's day. It's the worst part of being an editor; so, on this blessed day of Pentecost, when we at White Rose have just been able to experience something joyous in the launch of our new site, I wanted to give this message to every author who's ever received--or will receive--a rejection: Try not to let it bring you down. Many times a rejection is not a reflection of your writing. Sometimes it just means the manuscript is not the right fit for the publisher.

Whenever you get those rejections. Take a moment to remember the  joy and statisfaction you felt when you first got to THE END on that manuscript. Then, when a little time has passed, if the rejection  holds any insight into how you can improve the manuscript, take a serious look at revising. I've rejected a lot of manuscripts in my years as an editor, but I've also contracted a lot of revised and resubmitted stories--stories that went on to win awards and/or receive great reviews.

Don't give up! Keep writing!

Return to Orchard Hill

Good news for fans of Orchard Hill! There's a new short story, set in Orchard Hill to be released on June 11. 

Readers first met Susan Schmidt in Entertaining Angel. In that story she played the villain, trying to keep Jeff and Angel apart.  To be fair Susan was dating Jeff when Angel bounced into his life.  But my long time friend, and usually my first reader, protested that Susan was 'just too mean.'  So I wrote a new story with Susan as the star.  In Susan's 4th of July Fireworks you'll find out what makes Susan tick and why she was less than pleasant to Angel.  In fact, there might even be an apology in there.

Here's what Susan's story is all about:
Pansy and Misty brought a lot of couples together in Orchard Hill but not everyone needs their help.  Cal Wensloff has moved back home to Orchard Hill and Susan Schmidt discovers that the crush she had on him in high school is alive and well.  The amazing part is that Cal seems to be interested in her, too.  But when her father forbids her to see him and a rival sets her sites on Cal, Susan has to make some hard choices.  The Fourth of July is coming up and Susan is playing Snow White to Cal's Prince Charming in the Orchard Hill parade.  One way or another, there'll be fireworks for Susan!

If you haven't met Susan or visited Orchard Hill, you can find more information on the series on my website.  I have story blurbs, excerpts and even a few free stories.  Please stop by.

And stop by our blog again next Monday.  I'll be giving a sneak peek of Susan's 4th of July Fireworks.

Do or do not…

People quote things all the time. We repeat favorite lines from movies, computer games, television shows and even news clips. We use brand names instead of generic terms for many items...tissues become Kleenex, sandwich bags become Ziploc bags.

In normal speech these quotes are usually OK, you are simply relaying information. However, copyright issues come into play when you use the quotes for gain. In most cases, the owners won’t sue if you use the word Chevy or Butterfinger in your manuscript. You can even use quotes such as the above – “Do or do not, there is no try.” ~ Yoda ~

However, part of the reason the classics are classic, is because the message is timeless. I realize our authors are writing popular fiction and there are doubts the reading material produced will survive some cataclysmic event wherein our books are the only written documentation left in the far distant future. This does not preclude the author from writing the best possible genre fiction they can.

But if you mentioned an Edsel or barley water in your manuscript now, very few of your 25-55 target audience would know what either of those things were. They would assume these items were something from the past, and might very well think to themselves, “Oh, this isn’t contemporary fiction, and I only want to read current stories.”

When you use popular brand names or quotes from current, popular television shows or movies, it dates the manuscript, simply because that brand may not be around five years from now--that movie may not be remembered. I recall watching Back To The Future with my daughters and trying to explain what a DeLorean was…to them, it looked like a cool, gull-wing car and they didn’t understand the irony the movie was try to convey.

Historical fiction is somewhat exempt form this caveat, because the historical reader is more knowledgeable about the times, and might want to see these no longer brand name copyrighted items in the manuscript. This is not to say that contemporary readers are less knowledgeable. They simply couldn't care less that there is a difference between a Nash and a Studebaker.

By the same token, using famous quotes to set atmosphere or the tone of your novel is a shortcut. Rather than using your own words, your own talent, you are relying on another person to do your work for you. Whether that person is fictional or not, they are controlling your manuscript for a brief time.

Writers are creators. They bring characters into being, and breathe life into this fictional world. They place the players, plot the details, and bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. In this respect, they are the god of their world. By using quotes, sayings and other copyrighted material, the author is depending on that source to do the job…the job the author should be doing on their own. It’s your world. Create it your way. Don't rely on others' words to convey your story. Don't date your manuscript by flooding it with brand names that will one day be forgotten--hopefully, long before your story is.

Seeds of Knowledge

Snowflakes from Heaven

I’d like to chat about rejection letters. Are they the demons and bitter pills and a writer’s worst nightmare? Every writer has traveled this long and winding road, and if you’re having a bad day, receiving a rejection letter might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rejection letters make us doubt our writing ability, our creative muse, and ultimately, ourselves and our purpose. With the devil perched on our shoulder, better add the why was I even born syndrome to the mix. Before long, chins are dragging on the floor and the poor poor pitiful me party is just getting started.

After a long bout with progressive blindness, due to diabetic retinopathy, my life took a severe nose dive. I went from being a legal secretary for a judge to not being able to see the paper, let alone the print. But worst than that, I could no longer pursue my passion of painting. With a strong creative muse and nowhere to channel it, life became as dull as my existence. But when I heard about a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, hope soared. With a new outlook and a new direction, I challenged myself to write a romantic suspense.

Once I’d written my first full length novel, I envisioned agents and Hollywood movie producers beating a path to my door. With this happy little fantasy in mind, I whipped out twenty-one submission packages to top New York agents. Then I sat back, waiting for the phone to ring off the hook. It never rang. But slowly but surely, all agents responded to my romantic suspense, each a rejection letter. The worst of the lot said simply, “Your project does not excite us.”

With that little devil perched on my shoulder once more, my first reaction was to fire back an email of attack. Everything in me wanted to scream they’d be sorry when what they so carelessly pitched in the trash wound up a New York Times bestseller. But my psychology classes kicked in, and Freud’s ego component mediated between the devil and the angel. I orchestrated a new plan of attack. I enrolled in creative writing classes, joined critique groups and attended conferences. It didn’t take long to realize why my novel was rejected. Using knowledge as power, I learned to accept criticism from group members. And while attending a conference, The door to Wild Rose Press was opened. One more grain of knowledge to add to the list. I was marketing my novel in the wrong genre. While it had elements of romance, it did not fit the standard romance category and was rejected once more.

Unwilling to ditch the dream of having my first novel published, I set it aside on my hard drive. For the next two years, I focused on short stories of romance and had several rosettes published by White Rose Publishing. Looking back now, I view the petals of the white roses as snowflakes from heaven. They were sent to me as messengers, reminding me that writing is a gift that takes time to craft. The old saying came to mind. “Stop and smell the roses.” Before my rosettes could blossom into full-grown roses, I needed to nurture them with tender loving care. God knew this and forced me with His loving hand to take time to smell the roses.

After more writing classes and critiques, I felt ready to move onward to a mission near and dear to my heart. I self-published a book about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy, giving a percentage of proceeds to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) fight for a cure. More confident in my writing skills, I wrote a full length romantic suspense which was contracted. Now, it was time to attack my first novel, still sitting pretty on my hard drive collecting dust.

While polishing it to the best of my ability, I recalled the words of a teacher in my writing class. She said the first book written is rarely the first book sold. Truer words were never spoken. After twenty-two rejection letters, three title changes and numerous rewrites, my first novel has a home.

So are rejection letters really the bad seed we make them out to be? You betcha. But that one straw that could have broke the camel’s back made my back stronger. Writing is a learning experience. The key is keeping up with the continuous changes in the writing world and knowing the market in which you are targeting. Rejection letters hurt, but for every rejection there is acceptance. The secret to all of this is faith. Faith will open doors. God knows what we need and we must trust Him to put the plan in motion. What’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned through all of this? I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow.

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream rose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.

Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. Lasting Love earned readers pick of the month at Find a Great Romance. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:

An interesting quote...

Recently, my family and I went on vacation to Washington D.C.. There were some many wonderful tidbits from our past and present to glean from in the Smithsonian museums!

Above is a photo of a quote I found from Alexander Graham Bell. Isn't this thought provoking?

While I agree with Mr. Bell 100%, I sometimes I wonder if we need to shut our eyes more to really "listen." Listen to God.

For example, when we returned home, I needed to trim my youngest son's hair. He wasn't thrilled at this prospect since he thought the hair, which was rubbing against his eyelids, was just about the perfect length. Needless to say, my husband and I held a different opinion. After the trim, my son promptly went into the bathroom and declared himself unfit for the public to see him.

Then it hit me. What would it be like if for even just for a few moments we stopped considering our outward appearance and considered what our hearts looked like? After all the Bible says man looks on the outside, but God looks and judges what's in our hearts. How different my life would look if I considered this more often. I can carry all kinds of ugly things in my heart and not concern myself because "others" won't see that. But you know what, they will in time because Scripture also says that out of the overflow of our hearts, actions follow. Even more importantly though, God sees this all the time.

Want to be beautiful? Check your heart.

Why Happily Ever After?

One of the criticisms of popular fiction in general and romance fiction in particular, is the guaranteed happy ending.  Critics claim it isn't realistic. In real life, not everyone gets a happy ending.

Sadly, it is true.  Not everyone has a picture perfect happily ever in their lives.  But rather than being unrealistic, I'd say "happily ever after" is idealistic.  We are all striving for our own happy endings.  We don't need to be reminded of the possible horrible endings many aspects of our lives - not just the romantic ones - could have.  But we want to visualize and concentrate on that one, best possible ending for ourselves and our families. That's where romance novels and their guaranteed happy endings come in.  As readers, one of the things we may be looking for in a novel is a sense of hope for the future - our own future as well as the fictional one of a book's characters.

So what does a happily ever after look like?  Is every problem the main characters ever had solved?  Does their every worry and care disappear?  No.  But in romance novels, the hero and heroine have formed or renewed a partnership by the end of the story.  They are facing the good and the bad of life together.  Compromise may have been involved, but never compromise of principle or value. They've made a commitment, based on love and respect and trust.  That's a happy ending that is possible.

Here's wishing you all your own "Happily Ever After."

Happy Mother's Day!!

I pray that each wonderful mother who reads this has a blessed Mother's Day filled with love, laughter, and hugs.

In digging through some old paperwork, I found this poem I wrote for my youngest daughter when she became a mother. I hope you enjoy it.


Moments in Time, I Remember

Ten little fingers,
And ten little toes,
A little cherub face,
With a little scabbed nose!

Always a blanket,
You kept at your side,
I bought you a new one,
When at daycare you cried!

Climbing the apple tree,
Against Mommy's rule,
Your dog bit your savior,
Now that wasn't cool!

From pierced ears to braces,
Your dimples stayed true,
From playing the flute,
To track running, too!

Riding the unicycle,
On hot summer days,
Keeping us laughing,
With your funny ways!

High school and homecoming,
Wrecking the car,
Blue jeans and prom dresses,
Following your star.

Graduation and modeling,
"Borrowing" my clothes,
From baby to woman,
How fast the time goes!

"Mom will you make me,
A white satin gown?"
"Pearls and lace,
And a veil for my crown?"

These things I remember,
And memories hold dear,
Smiling, and laughing,
And shedding a tear.

And now, you're a mother,
A new page begins,
In the circle of life,
Mother, daughter, friends!


I raised eight children, four of them were my stepchildren, but they are just as dear to my heart as those I birthed. I can relate to Hope's love for her four-year-old stepson in JOSHUA'S HOPE. If you haven't yet read this book, why not treat yourself to a special mother's day present? And, while you're at it, browse all the wonderful selections of inspirational romance by my fellow authors at White Rose Publishing!

The Reading Experience: Like it Long or Short?

My first novel was a time travel romance of about 80,000 words. The editor who bought it requested I add 20,000 more words to the story. What a challenge! But many readers want that 400 page, 100,000 word experience, and feel cheated by anything less.

And then there are readers who want to grab a quick, short story on the go. A novella may suit the bill, something to tuck in their purse or download for a read during the lunch hour.

I personally enjoy all lengths at different times. I loved ready Cindy Green’s short story “Snow Kissed” for a break at work, and also loved spending hours upon hours with Diana Gabaldon’s "Outlander" series. I enjoy an inspirational category-length romance as much as I do re-reading "Gone With The Wind."

So what are your preferences? Do you love the long novel with one or more sub-plots? Or do you find sub-plots distracting? Do you love the quick read that satisfies with minimal time investment, or do you find them lacking depth?

Stating The Obvious

Most people have heard this term before. It is usually said with a slight sneer as people try to make valid points, but use too many words.

Writers have a tendency to do it without thinking, mostly because many write the way they talk. Because expressions and tone of voice accompany it, stating the obvious as we talk isn’t as…obvious.

In writing, those expressions and that voice aren’t there to add movement and inflection to the words.

Instead, when writers use the device, it comes across as too wordy, rather than emphasizing a point. Some examples:

George slammed the car door shut.

Everyone knows if you slam a car door…it’s probably shut. So the sentence reads much better as:

George slammed the car door.


John washed his car, squirting the water on the sides and front, removing the grime that had accumulated.

The first four words will suffice. Again, one knows that to wash a car means to remove grime, by squirting water all over it.

John washed his car.

Basically, the writer is repeating what was already said, simply using different words. In other words, REDUNDANCY. Don’t beat the reader over the head, simply make the point and move on.

Prose will read much clearer and the reader will appreciate being able to get to the meat of the novel much sooner.

Good Writing is Timeless

Recently I stumbled upon How To Write for Moving Pictures: A Manual Of Instruction and Information, by Marguerite Bertsch, copyright 1917.  In skimming through the book I noticed that much of the writing advice applied not only to the silent films of the time period, but to any sort of writing in any era.  This is one of my favorite passages:

What is common to all audiences will be found to lie very close to those principles and ideals which actuate a people in the affairs of everyday life.

Regardless of those successes that have had their day through a risque element which the author and producer handled with a delicacy that brought it just this side of the offensive, there is perhaps no factor in the public mind which can be so banked upon as its response to what is pure and elevating. Realising that the human soul is so constructed that goodness attracts it like a magnet while evil repels, and that those individuals in whom this is not true are classed by all others as abnormal, we have the basis of the first great requirement,—a wholesome atmosphere.

By this we do not mean that the audience prefers to be fed upon a milk and sugar diet, and that it has not a deep and abiding interest in all those phases of life which it knows to exist, whether of good or evil. On the contrary, the darker side of life, the mistakes, the soul upheavals, present a light and shade to an audience that is fraught with the keenest dramatic interest. It is only in the manner in which he handles such a theme that an author can offend. So long as the author's point of view regarding his subject coincides with that of the audience, his work will be a serious, wholesome exposition of life's facts, be they dark or light. Too often, however, an author gets the notion that an audience's clamouring after knowledge is a hankering after vice. Working under this misguided judgment, he presents vice to the audience, loving it; crime, excusing it, and the dark, unpleasant side of life, bringing out no larger truths to justify its introduction.
Nothing is more quickly detected, nor more keenly resented by an audience than such an attempt to set at defiance those principles on which their beings are founded, and in opposition to which there is no life.

This still rings true for me.  Bravo Marguerite Bertsch!

Infuse the Muse

The weekend is upon us and I know for some that means more writing time and for others more family time. For me it’s both. We do spend time as a family over the weekend but I also try to sneak in a couple hours of uninterrupted writing time if I am in writing mode. So with that in mind let’s think about keeping that muse revved and ready for some productive work.

A while back I took time out to rewrite my very first book which had gone Out of Print in the hopes of resubmitting it elsewhere.

MY GOODNESS! That rewriting business really zapped the inspiration and creativity out of writing. I’d been feeling a bit overwhelmed and hadn't been having any good bouts of writing. And that made me irritable and an irritable writer is not a productive one. At least not in my case. I needed a shot in the pants to get me going but what? There are all kinds of articles about inspiring that story and focusing your muse. Some will work and others won’t. It just depends on you. Here’s what helped me during that rewrite.

I spent some time reading through Writer’s Digest magazine and The Writer magazine. Both excellent resources. In The Writer there was an article about breathing life into your characters. Now to be honest, there was nothing new or exciting about this article. Many of the points were ones I’ve read before and even shared with other authors. But I thought—what they hay—let’s give it a try. Because sometimes if you get bogged down, bored or just stuck on one project, a new one will get you going again.

I ran across a blurb I wrote about a year ago and thought—wouldn’t that make a great romantic comedy?! And the inspiration started to flow. I followed the advice in The Writer’s magazine and created the Alec and Jane characters as well as brainstormed some ideas of what would happen throughout the book and outlined the first chapter. Wow, the Muse was back! And then I reopened my other project and zoomed through the rest of the chapter. It worked. I was back in business. And when I get time I have a great story to start on.

So, tell me how is the Muse been treating you. If you’ve been feeling stuck, what works to get you started again?