Category Archives: Guest Post

Magnolia Storms–Friends, Novels, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi

By Janet Ferguson

Stories come together in unusual ways. My latest novel, Magnolia Storms, is no exception. The idea formed when one friend described being a ship pilot, and I knew I wanted a ship pilot for my next story hero. Then riding home from a writing conference, I brainstormed with other friends-authors and came up with having a meteorologist who’d been through Hurricane Katrina and never wanted to return to the Mississippi coast as a heroine. Of course she has to! And so I had the bones of my story.

Ocean Springs is a quaint town near the Mississippi Sound with an adorable downtown area lined with gift shops and restaurants.

Sprawling live oaks majestically spread out their massive roots and branches along the sidewalks.

Somehow some of the adorable homes weathered the inundation of the tidal surge and mass destruction of Hurricane Katrina, but not all.

-See more about that here: https://www.wunderground.com/education/Katrinas_surge_part14.asp


I’d been to Ocean Springs over the years, more recently with my husband, and navigated the streets on Google Earth, but I needed some finishing touches on my scene descriptions. Enter my sweet beach-friends. They sort of randomly asked me at just the right time to go for a girls’ trip to Ocean Springs and stay in Front Beach Cabins, one of the very places I’d been checking out online. The cottages are near enough to walk downtown and only a couple of blocks from Front Beach. We took bikes that were provided by the cabin owners down to the shore.

The beaches are small in Mississippi because the Sound is protected, to some extent, by barrier islands. From Front Beach, you can see the barrier islands.

 

I  finished the last tweaks on the Magnolia Storms manuscripts after critique partners (who are now beloved friends, too) looked it over. My next adventure was finding the perfect cover. Another friend, Nancy on my street team suggested, that she had a friend with the perfect hair for my heroine. I thought that was great, but how would I get her on a cover?

Long story, short. Her friend, Emily, drove to Ocean Springs with her sister-in-law, Ann Marie, and made pictures. They were perfect, and the cover all fell into place!

 

So friendships not only molded this story together, but also put the proverbial cherry on top!

Magnolia Storms
A Coastal Hearts Novel
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you….

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Author Janet Ferguson has a series of books published just in time for the Mississippi Book Festival.

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Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space. 

I love to hear from readers! You can connect with me on FacebookTwitter,GoodReadsPinterest, use the contact page, or subscribe to my newsletter on the Under the Southern Sun page for exclusive book news and giveaways

Southern Contemporary Inspirational Romance
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Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style

 

 



 

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake By Celeste Fletcher McHale

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is based on a true story. It’s about an 18 month period in the life of me and my two best friends. Before I wrote this book, I had no idea the friendship that I shared with these two women was a rarity. I seriously thought everyone had best friends exactly like mine. What I found out was…it is truly uncommon. And the scary thing is, getting more uncommon by the day.

I worry about what young girls see on “reality” television. And before you roll your eyes, I’m not one of those crusaders…I don’t care what you or your kids watch, that’s your business. But I do worry that they will equate what they see on these shows with “friendship.” Most of the women that star in these shows have no idea what it means to be a friend. They certainly don’t keep each others secrets. They certainly don’t encourage and support. And most of them take “catty” to a whole new level. Listen, I’m redheaded and don’t lose my mind like these chicks do. It bothers me to think these reality “stars” which I translate into “attention seekers” (that’s the clean version) have any influence on this generations girls and their friendships.

I couldn’t make it without my sister from another mister. She’s there when I need her, if it’s 2am or 4 pm. She tells me when I’m wrong, she holds me accountable, she calls me on my BS. She’s also my biggest cheerleader, my sounding board and my psychiatrist. Her friendship is one of my most precious gifts and I treat it as such. I hope the phrase “Best friend forever” won’t be lost on an entire generation of girls that society and the media have an unprecedented amount of influence upon.

If you see your best friend today, hug her. Tell her you love her. Ask her if she needs anything. And if you see a young girl today, tell her how much richer your life is because of your friends.

About the Author

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a Southern Lit author from Central Louisiana. Her debut novel, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake, was released by HarperCollins Christian Publishing in February 2016.

Celeste earned a history degree and currently lives on her century-old family farm. She enjoys family, writing, football, baseball, and raising a variety of animals

Her new book,  The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories released on May 23, 2017 and doesn’t disappoint.

Jacey and Colin shared the three most intense days of their lives together, waiting for help as Mississippi floodwaters surrounded them. Jacey knew Colin was the love of her life—until her rescue boat went under water, along with Colin’s last name and pieces of Jacey’s memory.

 

 

Would you like to travel to a Romantic Destination this summer?

By Rose Allen McCauley

I can’t believe my 6th book will be out June 15 in the collection Destination: Romance. Thanks, Shelia for welcoming me to your garden again, where I always find friendship, hope and all kinds of desserts! And I am happy to do a giveaway of an e-book when it releases to one of your commenters. So let’s make the deadline for Shelia to draw a name on the book release date. So get your comment in by June 15th!

Here’s the back cover blurb for the whole book: From a cave in the hills of Missouri to a sandy beach in Grand Cayman, romance blooms for five heroines when they least expect it.

Better Together Than Apart is the title of my novella in the collection.

The blurb for it is: On a K-Love cruise to Jamaica, Natalie re-connects with Ken, a boy she met six years earlier on a high school summer mission trip. Attraction stirs, but opposing goals threaten their romance. Will they listen to God’s leading for their best place of service?

And now, I would like to tell you a little about how this whole collection and my story came about. About 4 years ago, Kim Vogel Sawyer and her husband Don spent almost a week with us while she did several signings in the KY area.

While Kim and Don were here they told us they were going on a K-Love cruise the following January, and invited us to go with them sometime. Finally last year, in January 2016, it all worked out for us to go together. We had two ports of call. Chester and I chose to do a one-day mission trip to Jamaica.  We were blessed to go to an orphanage with many children, who all needed help in various ways. But, they all blessed us with their smiles, laughter and hugs and prayers.

One night outside a concert in progress on the cruiseship, Kim and I brainstormed stories that started on a K-Love cruise. My oldest granddaughter had gone on a mission trip the summer before, and both of my daughters and I have been on other mission trips, so I thought that would be a good and different way to start a story. Then as the story unfolds, I used something I wrote on the back of a picture I gave my husband while we were dating in college, so it comes full circle with parts of my granddaughter’s life combined with mine and my husband’s. I hope you will read it and the other stories in this collection and see how God can work things out for our good, even when we don’t know IF things will work out.

Since I was over my word count, I didn’t put a recipe in this book, but for Thanksgiving Natalie’s Mimi brings a German chocolate cake for her daughter’s birthday like I make for my daughter each Thanksgiving, so I will share the recipe for the icing. The first couple times I made the cake from scratch, too, but decided it was just as good from a mix as the homemade one, as long as the icing was homemade!

German Chocolate Cake Icing

1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 stick butter
1 t. vanilla
3 egg yolks
Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens, stirring often. Then remove from heat and add:

1 c. pecans
1 1/3 cup coconut

Beat it all until it cools then spread over layers and top and sides of cake. And, if there is any left, my husband loves to eat it as a topping on ice cream!

About the Author

Rose Allen McCauley started writing over a decade ago when she retired from teaching school to write the stories of some of the characters roaming around in her head. Since joining ACFW in 2002, she has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals, and now is happy to announce “Better Together than Apart” in the collection Romantic Destinations as her sixth novella. She has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades and is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and Mimi to five lively grandkids. Rose always enjoys hearing from her readers at rosemccauleywrites@gmail.com or her website/blog www.rosemccauley.com and also on Facebook as Rose Allen McCauley and her twitter page @roseamccauley.

 

Where True Hope Lies

By  Cynthia Roemer

When the special weather report interrupted the president’s State of the Union Address, my husband and I knew something big was happening. A huge tornado had formed in eastern Missouri and had demolished one small town with more in its path. A hundred miles to our south, the tornado didn’t pose us any threat, but I whispered a prayer for those in danger.

As the tornado trekked to the northeast, my thoughts turned to my son down at college. Some of the town names being scrolled across the bottom of the screen sounded a bit too familiar. So, I pulled out a map and started tracking the path of the storm. My heart began to race as I realized, if the tornado continued in the direction it was headed, it would hit the very town where my son was staying. His upstairs apartment would offer little protection if the half-mile wide tornado plowed through.

Three hours away, there was absolutely nothing my husband and I could do but pray and trust God to protect him. I called our church prayer chain and a few other trusted prayer warriors to join us. Our only hope for our son’s safety rested with the Lord.

Soon after we started praying, the tornado took a distinct shift in direction, veering away from the town where our son was staying. The Lord had answered our prayers and shown grace and mercy for which I will forever be grateful.

In my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, my main character, Becky Hollister, faces the devastating effects of a tornado that leaves her feeling hopeless and lost. Much of the storyline involves how God intricately weaves the events of Becky’s life to restore her hope and woo her back to Him. It’s a story of friendship, and of renewed faith, hope, and love. One I pray will touch the hearts of readers.

About Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer

      ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Click on Cover to link to Amazon

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis. Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. A free-lance writer since 1988, she has over 100 short-stories and articles printed in various Christian publications. Her love of history and writing culminate in this, her debut novel. Under This Same Sky is Book One in her upcoming Prairie Sky Series. Cynthia writes from her family farm where she resides with her husband, Marvin, and their two college-aged sons.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Purchase information:
Under This Same Sky can be purchased at:  Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Under-This-Same-Cynthia-Roemer/dp/194509415X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493637471&sr=8-1&keywords=under+this+same+sky+by+cynthia+roemer

Unexpected Friendships

By Regina Merrick

In my book, “Carolina Dream,” Sarah’s best friend is Lucy, who she met in high school. They were inseparable. They even teach in the same high school – the one from which they graduated. Here’s a snippet from a deep conversation between the two:

“Girl, what’s with you? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were back in tenth grade mooning over Jimmy Henderson in biology class.” Sarah had to laugh at Lucy’s reminder of those awkward days of crushes and acne. Sarah had the crush. Jimmy Henderson had the acne.

“Sorry. I guess I wandered off for a bit, didn’t I?” She reached for her bottle of water. She wanted to find something, anything, to do to keep her busy.

“Wandered? That’s an understatement, Sarah. This is me, Lucy, remember? We’ve told each other everything since ninth grade chorus. You are the one who got up the nerve to tell me I couldn’t sing, and guess what? I’m still here! If that didn’t run me off from being your best friend, nothing could.” A comical expression graced Lucy’s face, but there was a hint of seriousness in her words. “You know, I have noticed that it doesn’t matter what is the topic of discussion, the subject always comes around to Jared Benton.”

Lucy is that friend who will tell Sarah the truth, and will support her no matter what. I like to think that everyone has a friend like that. You know, the one that it doesn’t matter if you’ve hit a dry spell and don’t seem to be nurturing the relationship, they will come to you and give you a big hug and say, “we need to get together – soon.”

Those are the keepers. I’ve had a few of those in my life. I patterned Lucy after one particular friend, although she is one of the sister-friends that I have now, that I never knew existed when I was in high school. And you know, we might not have been friends, then, though I like to think we would have. We became friends through church and motherhood, and we have mothered all four of our girls until they are like cousins instead of friends.

She’s the friend that inspires me to TRY. To KEEP GOING. To go out of my comfort zone. She asks the deep, unexpected questions and makes me laugh at the same time. If you wonder who she is, check the “Acknowledgements” page of Carolina Dream.
Find a friend who is a keeper – and KEEP HER.

About Carolina Dream by Regina Merrick

Sarah Crawford wants more from life than to attend the wedding of her ex-fiancée. An unexpected inheritance in South Carolina comes at the perfect time, just as Sarah is willing to use any excuse to get out of town.

When she meets potential business partner Jared Benton and discovers that a house is part of the inheritance, she is sure that God has been preparing her for this time through a recurring dream. But will a dream about an antebellum mansion, many rooms to be explored, and a man with dark brown eyes give her the confidence to take a leap of faith, leaving friends, family, and her job behind?

About Regina Merrick

Regina Merrick began reading romance and thinking of book ideas as early as her teenage years when she attempted a happily-ever-after sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” That love of fiction parlayed into a career as a librarian, and she is currently the director of a small public library in Marion, KY. She began attending local writing workshops and continued to hone her craft by writing several short and novel-length fan-fiction pieces published online, where she met other authors with a similar love for story, a Christian worldview, and happily-ever-after. Married for 30+ years and active in their church, Regina and her husband have two grown daughters who share her love of music, writing, and the arts. Visit Regina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on her website at https://reginamerrick.wordpress.com/

Special Friendships Usually Mean Something Special to Eat

By Mary Ellis

Ever notice that when women get together food is almost always involved? From a cup of coffee with a few cookies to a full-blown extravaganza of culinary delights, Americans love to eat. And why not? We live in a land of plenty so we should be grateful and willing to share! Today I’m willing to share my favorite pie recipe—Key Lime Pie, a true Southern favorite.  In my latest book from Harvest House, Sunset in Old Savannah, a special friendship develops between a twenty-something private investigator, Beth Kirby, and her 70ish client, Evelyn Doyle. As first Beth cannot understand why Evelyn doesn’t divorce her husband when he breaks his vows and strays from their marriage. Evelyn is willing to take him back, providing he’s sorry and agrees to counselling sessions with their minister. Throughout the story, Beth learns much from Evelyn about Christian forgiveness. She also learns that women share many of the same challenges, no matter what their age. In my favorite scene in Sunset in Old Savannah, Evelyn serves her young friend Key Lime Pie. Now you can enjoy some too!

Ingredients for Key Lime Pie

1 ½ cups finely crushed graham crackers (20 squares)
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup Key lime juice
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press in bottom and up side of 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown; cool.
  2.  In large bowl, beat milk and lime juice with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and thickened. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into cooled pie crust
  3.  Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until set. Store in refrigerator.

About Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis has written twelve novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Sunset in Old Savannah, is part of a series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

What Happened on Beale Street 
Magnolia Moonlight, available now
Sunset in Old Savannah, available now
http://www.maryellis.net/
http://www.facebook.com/Mary-Ellis. Author/

That’s What Friends Are For

By Cynthia Ruchti

I had an “aha” moment this morning as I contemplated the characters in the novels I’ve written to date. They’ve all had one key friend, and usually a small circle of others—the healthy characters, that is. And in none of the stories did the main character set out to find a friend or manufacture friendships for his or her journey. Nor did I sit down to intentionally create a friend for the character.

As the story unfolded, they entered the scene organically. As friends do in real life.

When I was in high school, friendship was most closely connected to fun, laughter, and common interests. Band friends, forensics friends, National Honor Society friends, drama friends, chorus friends, lunchroom friends, after school friends…

Notice I didn’t mention any friendships centered around my sports prowess. I had none. Prowess, that is.

I had friends within the youth group at church, one who eventually became my husband. Bible quizzing friends. Summer camp friends. Pen pal friends.

Common interests and fun.

The tight circle of girlfriends from high school morphed with moods. This week Sheri isn’t talking to Michelle, so there are five rather than six of us for the sleepover. The next week Dynae is on the outs with Sophie, but Michelle and Sheri are speaking to each other again. And some rare weeks, everyone was speaking with everyone else.

But as an adult, the value of friendship is less about laughter—although I count on my friends for that—and less about common interests—which have matured into common passions—and more about hope.

Friends help each other hang onto hope. We carry hope tenderly for each other when it seems fragile or tentative.

A friend who’d been through an unbearable series of hardships—relationally, financially, medically—told me she was losing her grip on hope. I told her the words that had poured salve over my own heart years ago. “I’ll hold onto hope for you until you’re stronger. That’s what friends are for.”

About Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope through award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through frequent speaking events for women or writers. Her latest novel—A Fragile Hope—underscores the importance of friends who help us tighten our grip on hope when it seems too fragile to endure. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com, hemmedinhope.com, or facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage and twitter.com/cynthiaruchti.

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?

 

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?

Following the Story Trail by Ann H. Gabhart

Author Ann H. Gabhart

In one of my books, I included this dedication. “To my readers who have followed my story trail from Hollyhill to Harmony Hill to Rosey Corner and now…Louisville.”

I have the best readers in the world. They are willing to try all kinds of genres, and that’s good because I’ve let my imagination run down many different story paths. I’ve written historical novels about the Shakers and that Louisville novel, Words Spoken True, with the dedication. I’ve written stories that follow families through good times and bad. I’ve tried my hand at cozy mysteries so now I could add Hidden Springs to that dedication. I’ve even written several novels for young readers.

I just published a middle reader book, Freak of the Week, about a boy who feels like a lopsided giraffe because he has a limp. When the most popular girl in sixth grade starts making fun of him with silly rhymes, things go from bad to worse for Clay in a hurry. But then he meets an old man who isn’t afraid to try the impossible even though he has several physical handicaps. With Old Dan’s help, Clay learns that heart and attitude make for winners no matter the game or the score.

Much of Freak of the Week happens on a baseball diamond where Clay shines as a pitcher but not so much as a base runner. I like baseball so that made writing the story fun. I also knew a man something like Old Dan who was always hunting adventure in spite of having several physical disabilities. That brought Dan to life for me and I hope, for readers too.

However, I know nothing about murder. Thank goodness. But I still had fun writing my cozy Hidden Springs Mysteries. With the third book in the series coming out in March, I’m excited about readers coming back to Hidden Springs. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane has a new murder to solve in Murder Is No Accident, while also trying to figure out whether he has any chance with the woman he loves. Right now the first Hidden Springs mystery, Murder at the Courthouse is a free download for e-readers and the second book, Murder Comes by Mail, is at a reduced e-book price for a limited time. So this is a great chance for you visit my little town where murder has a way of happening.

I based Hidden Springs on the Kentucky town where I grew up although I’m pretty sure no one has ever found a body on the courthouse steps. A few of the quirky characters every small town seems to have made their way into the story too since a cozy mystery needs a few smiles along with those murders.

Are you a reader who likes all sorts of stories? If so, I’m smiling and that dedication up top could be for you. Happy reading along the story trail!

About Ann H. Gabhart

ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. She keeps her keyboard warm on a farm in Kentucky. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann’s books or to read her blogs, visit www.annhgabhart.com. You can also join the conversation on Facebook. www.facebook.com/anngabhart