Monthly Archives: March 2017

Building One Another Up

By Sara Sundin

Introverts and extroverts—we need each other.

As a shy child who was rejected and bullied, I benefited greatly from extroverted friends. Those kind souls reached out to me, nudged me out of my shell, and included me in their fun. I loved their energy, their generosity, and their encouragement. But honestly, I never quite knew what they saw in me.

A few years ago, I cornered one of my bubbly friends. “Why do you want me for a friend?”

She laughed as if it were the silliest question ever. “You’re thoughtful and you think deeply, and you force me to slow down and be serious.”

Huh. So I did bring something to the table.

In my Waves of Freedom series, I’ve enjoyed exploring the friendship between quiet Mary Stirling, driven Lillian Avery, and effervescent Tess Beaumont. When Tides Turn is Tess’s story, and I loved getting inside the head of this fun-loving extrovert.

I also enjoyed challenging her. I showed her where her motives weren’t entirely selfless. I introduced her to women who resisted or rejected her friendship. I made her realize she’d misjudged someone, despite her strong intuition. And—horrors!—when she needed to confide in someone, I stripped away her ability to do so.

But then I confirmed her strengths and showed her what a very good friend she was indeed. She grew into a better version of herself.

I was being Tess’s friend.

The best friendships both challenge us and affirm us. They give us chances to give and to receive, to comfort and to be comforted, to build and to be built up.

Our friends don’t need to be our polar opposites to accomplish this. I have many dear introvert friends as well and cherish the role we play in each other’s lives.

In what ways do your friends build you up? How do you return the favor?


About Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including When Tides Turn. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups. Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.


About Sarah’s New Release    When Tides Turn

When fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont learns the Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, determined to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. No-nonsense and hoping to make admiral, Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills to fight German U-boats. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. For her part, Tess works hard to prove her worth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston—both to her commanding officers and to the man with whom she is smitten. When Dan is assigned to a new escort carrier at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he’s torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help Tess root out a possible spy on shore. The Germans put up quite a fight, but he wages a deeper battle within his heart. Could Tess be the one for him?

 

The Importance of Little Things

(15) Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17

Yesterday, small things held me up. I had an eight o’clock appointment, but when I arrived, the person wasn’t available. A hint of frustration crossed my mind, but I shrugged and left.  Later, I checked the email confirming the appointment, and discovered the request to change our meeting to Wednesday. Sigh.

I entered the drive-through at a restaurant to pick up an unsweet tea. When I parked my car and sipped the drink, I gagged—sweet tea.  Too lazy to get out of the car, I entered the drive-through line again, and waited. The window clerk passed me another drink, and I tested it—sweet tea. The worker smiled and said, “I guess someone put sweet tea in the wrong container. Do you want a soda?”

“No, thank you. Is unsweet tea not available today?”

Her shoulders dropped. “It will take about ten minutes to brew. Do you want to wait?”

I nodded and pulled to the side. The sun shined on me as I drummed my fingers on my knee. Then I stopped. The temperature was perfect, and it was book club day, one of my favorite days of the month. Few people get paid to do what they love. Years ago, I worked at a drive-through window, and it’s not easy. I lifted a prayer repentance and thanks.

Later, I considered what my failure to pay attention to the little things costs me and calculated. An unsweet tea costs $1.06 x 365 days a year  = $386.90, plus the frustration of spending at least five minutes in line equals about 31 hours a year. That figure caught my attention.

Do you spend too much time waiting in the drive-through  too? I picked up a box of tea last night and brewed a pitcher full this morning.  It took me about thirty seconds to prepare the kettle, and another twenty seconds to put ice in the cup.

My new goal is to pay attention to the little ways I’m wasting this precious gift of time.  I’m not saying I’m giving up the drive-through all the time, but I am going to brew tea in the morning. Maybe I’ll waste that thirty-one hours enjoying the sunrise, or perhaps I’ll  spend five more minutes a day writing something I hope encourages someone.  Whatever I do, I’m sure it will be better than waiting in line, and I’ll have an extra three-hundred dollars for my travel fund.

Are there daily habits costing you precious time and money? Don’t worry. Jesus is the only one who ever got it right.

#timemanagement

How to Write and Sell Your Romantic Suspense

By Angela Ruth Strong

I have three friends here in Idaho who all sold books to Love Inspired Suspense. We’d get together to write every week, and they’d be talking about their editor or sharing covers, and I’d feel a little left out. So I decided to try to write for their publisher. I wrote two manuscripts. The first one was rejected, the second they bought. Presumed Dead came out last month.

So, just in case you’ve ever read a romantic suspense novel and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” but you don’t have friends like mine to show you how, I’ll give you some pointers.

  • Find a great setting. The first book I ever sold was to the Love Finds You line of books, which were all set in real towns, so now I’m a sucker for picking a real place and researching the heck out of it. Sometimes authors make up towns of their own, and that can be fun too (I’ve heard), but when you pick an actual place like Lake Tahoe, you discover there’s a secret tunnel built by an eccentric millionaire for his baby elephant, and there’s an island with a cliff for jumping off, and then there’s my grandest discovery—the Tahoe Keys, a neighborhood of inland waterways. PERFECT for a suspense novel. Another benefit of picking a real location is that when the characters are running for their lives, you can MapQuest the location and know exactly which direction they need to go and what might get in their way.
  • Pick a plot. Again, I like to find inspiration from real life. The plot for Presumed Dead came from a real failed operation and conspiracy theory. Remember the Iran Hostage Crisis? Their first rescue attempt failed and helicopters crashed because the pilots were not trained to fly under such circumstances. Thus, the military created SOAR—Special Operations Aviation Regiment. I made Preston a pilot for SOAR. He was presumed dead in a helicopter crash much like the real one. I can’t tell you more about the conspiracy theory because that would give away too much, but I’ll just say that in my story, it was much more than a theory—it was going to get him killed for real.
  • Create characters with chemistry. My biggest pet peeve in romance is when the characters don’t have chemistry. Their energy has to feed off each other. They are so obviously better when they are together. However, a romance novel isn’t about getting two characters together—it’s about keeping them apart until the very end. Though they are working as one, they have different goals. And here’s the part I love: They, and they alone, possess the perfect strengths and weaknesses required for them to overcome their challenges. Absolutely nobody else could survive what they survive. Not because they are better than anybody else, but because they are unwittingly prepared. For example, if Preston needs to escape, there’s going to be a tourist helicopter on a platform above the dock, and he alone has what it takes to fly that chopper.
  • Know the rules. Some publishing houses have more rules than others. To write for LIS, I had to have the characters meet in the first chapter, they couldn’t already be in love, and they both had to have reasons not to be together. Also, I couldn’t have used the word “heck” like I did above. As a writer, you may not agree with all the rules (I’ve said worse things than heck before…shh), but the publishing company is a business with buyers/readers, and it’s their job to know exactly what those buyers/readers want.
  • Be flexible. For my novel Presumed Dead, I had to change the whole ending. Twice. I didn’t want to at first, but now I’m glad I did. Editors make our stories better.
  • Be diligent. What was really cool about selling my book to LIS was that I sold it through a contest that required diligence. It was kind of like the television show The Voice. Hundreds of writers entered the first page of the manuscript. If the judges/editors liked it, you moved onto the next round where you had a deadline for submitting a synopsis. On and on until finished manuscripts were turned in. This might be the best way EVER in the history of writing to finish a novel. But if you don’t want to take part in a contest, then set deadlines for yourself. Or participate in National Novel Writing Month in November. Which brings me to my last point…
  • Have fun. Some parts of writing are not fun. You may even contemplate tossing your laptop out the window. Here’s a better idea: Find a way to make it fun again. Sometimes I will skip to the parts I’m inspired to write and go back to fill in the gaps later. Or you can take yourself on a field trip to get back into the story. Once I called a friend to ask if I could visit her farm because I was writing about a ranch, and I wanted to be around horses. Also try brainstorming with friends. It was my stepdaughter Ashley who gave me the brilliant idea for the end of Presumed Dead. She saved my laptop’s life.

Now that you’re ready to write a romantic suspense, find some other people who want to write books. You can encourage each other to go farther and do more. Just like my writing friends did for me.

About Angela Ruth Strong

Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she’s re-released it as part of a new series titled Resort to Love, and she’s excited to be writing for Love Inspired Suspense, as well. This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and three teenagers where she teaches yoga and works as a ticket agent for an airline when not writing.

For a chance to win a free copy of Angela’s new book, Presumed Dead, subscribe to this blog in the top right hand corner.  The winner will be announced March 18th.

Framed for a sabotaged military operation, Preston Tyler has allowed everyone to believe he’s dead—until he witnesses someone planting a bomb in his childhood sweetheart’s cabin. To save Holly Fontaine’s life, he must blow his cover. Holly is shaken…both by the explosion and the sudden appearance of a man she thought she’d lost forever. But their reunion is short-lived when the bomb planter returns, forcing their escape into Lake Tahoe’s wilderness. As they struggle to survive, memories of their shared past reignite old feelings. Holly refuses to lose Preston again, but with their pursuer closing in, will the ultimate betrayal tear them apart for good?

March 2017 Christian Fiction New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
reunion-at-crane-lake
Reunion at Crane Lake
by Robin Bayne — Colt’s memory is returning after the accident that ended his career. Now he wants to take over his family’s inn, but he’ll have to partner with his former fiancée to be able to afford it. He’ll need forgiveness to make that happen. Tia’s goal is clear: to return the inn to its former grandeur. And she’ll even work with Colt to do so. But like the inn, their relationship needs a lot of work. He broke her heart…can she ever trust him again? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

hope
Hope
by Fay Lamb — She’s a starving artist facing a serious illness; he’s the doctor who’s her only hope of survival. If only she hadn’t caused his sister to die. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

muffins-&-moonbeams
Muffins & Moonbeams
by Elizabeth Maddrey — Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. He’d much rather live in the online world of computer games where he can explore the galaxy and no one has to know he’s deaf. Ursula Franks designs websites during the day and spends her evenings battling alien races online where relationships are easy and uncomplicated. When she agrees to design a website for the local Community Supported Bakery, she has no idea that Malachi is the real man behind her online persona’s best friend and her own secret crush.As the two work together on the website, they uncover an attraction, but will they be able to put aside past hurt and insecurity to find love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

hope
Then Came You: A Bradford Sisters Novella
by Becky Wade — Garner Bradford, heir to the troubled Bradford Shipping empire, doesn’t know much about babies. But he’s going to have to learn fast because he’s just become a single father to his newborn daughter. Career girl Kathleen Burke is wholly uninterested in settling down. She has big dreams, and none of them include Garner and his small hometown in Washington State. Yet she can’t seem to get her handsome boss out of her head or her heart…. (Romance Novella, Independently Published)

General:
when-the-bough-breaks
When the Bough Breaks
by Ane Mulligan — Her dream job has a Catch 22—and time’s running outRookie lobbyist Sienna O’Shea is determined to make a name for herself in New York’s capitol city and use that influence to gain easier access to her birth records. For years she’s searched for her birth mother, but when she’s handed her first assignment—to lobby support for the permanent sealing of all adoption records—her worlds collide. Swept up into the intrigue of backroom politics, falling in love was not on Sienna’s agenda, but the candidate for Lt. Governor runs a formidable campaign to make her his first lady. When an investigative reporter discovers foreign money infiltrating political campaigns, the trail leads to Sienna’s inner circle. (General, Independently Published)

the-memory-of-you
The Memory of You
by Catherine West — Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her? (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Cozy Mystery:
murder-is-no-accident
Murder Is No Accident
by A. H. Gabhart — When murder comes to call at a stately Victorian house, the town of Hidden Springs looks to Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane to solve the crime before anyone else dies. (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:
a-rocky-mountain-romance
A Rocky Mountain Romance
by Misty M. Beller — When Zeche takes shelter from a blizzard in a remote cabin, he doesn’t expect to find a beautiful woman and her father, a disturbed Civil War veteran. Zeche’s instincts tell him Greta is endangered and he should stay and protect her, but his own presence aggravates her father’s condition. With a dangerous snowstorm outside and growing hostilities inside, can he find a way to keep them all safe from harm? Or will it be to the detriment of his heart? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

a-stolen-heart
A Stolen Heart
by Amanda Cabot — From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners–like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared–and that he left behind a pregnant wife–Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

carmela's-quandary
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmela’s Quandary by Susan Page Davis — Experience the Wild West as Carmela seeks freedom of body and soul. Forced for years by her uncle to pose as a survivor of an Indian kidnapping so he can profit on the speaker circuit, she longs to end the lies. On a stagecoach in Arizona Territory, Carmela and her uncle are fellow passengers with a deputy US marshal and his handcuffed prisoner. When the stage is attacked, will Carmela’s wish come true, or will she forever be branded by her past? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

desert-moon-and-honor-bound
Desert Moon & Honor Bound
by Susan Page Davis and Colleen L. Reece — Enjoy an Old West romance adventure from author Susan Page Davis. Julia Newman looked forward to moving home to Arizona, then she got word that her mother has died and Julie’s stagecoach is robbed. If that wasn’t enough, the first person she sees in town is Adam Scott—the man she always loved but could never have—and now he is accusing her brother of criminal activity. Also includes a bonus historical romance, Honor Bound by Colleen L. Reece. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

her-motherhood-wish
Her Motherhood Wish
by Keli Gwyn — En route to the Double T Orphanage to work on its expansion, carpenter Chip Evans and Caroline Hunt discover two orphaned children—and become their caregivers. But Chip’s determined not to let himself get too attached to the children who just lost their widowed father…or to the lovely woman helping him care for them. Especially since Callie and the little ones just don’t fit into his detailed plans for the future. Callie can’t help but fall in love with the orphans, and despite her better judgment, she’s falling for Chip, too. Her dreams of being a wife and mother were not quite like this. But Callie believes a plan bigger than Chip’s brought them all together…and now she just has to help him see it, too. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

the-planter's-daughter
The Planter’s Daughter
by Michelle Shocklee — When her father’s Texas cotton plantation faces bankruptcy, Adella must choose between the man who can her family’s land and the man who can save her! (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

when-tides-turn
When Tides Turn
by Sarah Sundin — When Quintessa Beaumont learns the US Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, eager to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. Lt. Dan Avery employs his skills in antisubmarine warfare to fight U-boats at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, but the last thing he wants to see on his radar is fun-loving Tess. As Dan and Tess work together in Boston, the changes in Tess challenge his notions–and his heart. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Medical Suspense:
agent-in-training
Dcotor’s Dilemma
by Richard L. Mabry M.D. — Young surgeon Tyler Gentry thought the offer to join the Hall Group of surgeons offered the answer to his problems, but things changed when he received a 3 AM phone call that told him such a move would be hazardous to his health. (Medical Suspense, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:
her-baby's-protector
Her Baby’s Protector
by Margaret Daley and Susan SleemanSaved by the Lawman by Margaret Daley: As an unknown assailant attempts to kidnap family-court judge Kate Forster’s infant son, police officer Chase Walker thwarts the attack—and vows to keep the pair safe. But who will protect the ex-marine’s heart when the widowed mother and her little boy make him long for a permanent spot in their family? Saved by the SEAL by Susan Sleeman: The tragedy that killed Bree Hatfield’s best friends–and left her with custody of their young daughter–has been ruled an accident. But Bree knows it was murder. Scared and alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, navy SEAL Clint Reed, who’ll risk everything to protect baby Ella and the woman he never stopped loving. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

agent-in-training
Agent-in-Training
by Terri Reed — FBI intern Zara Fielding and her K-9 partner, Radar, stumble across a robbery gone wrong and put themselves in the criminals’ crosshairs. Her childhood friend FBI computer guru Dylan O’Leary works for the secretive FBI unit she longs to join, and he vows not to let anything happen to her. As they work to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, new feelings ignite. When she goes missing, it’s only Dylan–and Radar–who can track her down. Will they arrive in time to save her and the future she and Dylan have started dreaming about? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:
ingrid's-engagement
Ingrid’s Engagement
by Kristen Reed — When King Viggo marches through the kingdom of Schlagefilde in a relentless quest for retribution against its wicked king, the Count of Anselm attempts to make peace with him. As the two strike a deal that will protect the people of Anselm, the King of Villriket becomes enthralled with a portrait of the Count’s oldest daughter, Ingrid. The vengeful king vows that he will leave Edmund’s county in peace if he will allow him to marry Ingrid. To prevent her father from incurring the sovereign’s wrath, the young lady hastily agrees and enters into an unforeseen engagement with the grim ruler. Ingrid’s Engagement tells the enchanting tale of a beautiful young woman who softens the hardened heart of a beastly king with nothing more than her quiet wisdom and gentle spirit. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)