Writing Real Romance

author romance tips

author romance tipsby Elizabeth Ludwig, @ELudwig_Author

My husband, were you to pass him in a dark alley, would probably make you want to cross the street. He’s big, he’s German, he can’t see very well so he squints a lot, he’s usually scruffy and he rides a Harley. He also likes to dress the part, so…are you getting the picture? Yet he’s the sweetest, most romantic guy I know—at least, that’s what he keeps telling me. J

Anyway, I had to have surgery recently. It was very unexpected and SO scary! Fortunately, my dear husband took very good care of me. Every night, he walked me to our room and gently helped me to bed. Because I couldn’t lie back on my own, he’d slip his arms around me and slowly lower me down. So sweet! Then, when I was ready to get up, he’d come and lift me to the floor.

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Now, this is just one way he took care of me. I would fill up an entire page if told you about the meals he cooked, the dishes he washed, and everything else he did. Still, his care for me while I was sick showed me much more than his words ever could how much he loves me. As for me? Well, I fell in love with him all over again!

I think that’s why I write Christian fiction—because I want to translate to readers that this is the kind of love that lasts a lifetime…not the superficial physical attraction so many other books talk about. Most of all, this selfless love is the very thing that our Savior demonstrates toward us. What better kind of love could there be?

What about you? What are some of the romantic things you like to see in books, or real life romance moments you’d like to share?


In The Fullness of Time

With each passing season in their first year of married life, Cheryl and Levi Miller find a fresh set of challenges and adjustments to be made as the Englisher and her Amish farmer husband learn to live together. But by observing their friends and loved ones in the Sugarcreek community, the newlyweds see firsthand how God uses each new phase of life to reveal inspiring insights, spiritual truths, and future surprises…all while they harvest a whole new crop of mysteries as well!

Elizabeth Ludwig is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences where she lectures on crafting effective novel proposals and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Her latest releases include Home Sweet Sugarcreek and A Tempting Taste of Mystery, part of the SUGARCREEK AMISH MYSTERIES series from Guideposts. Along with her husband, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Research Help

author research help

author research helpby Hallee Bridgeman, @halleeb

One thing about my personality – I’m an introvert. I realize, as I type this, that I’m writing to a group of mostly introverts, so you know my pain. I don’t know what it is about a writer’s mind that makes interacting with living, breathing human beings so hard. Give me my mind-full of characters any day!

As a part of that side of my personality, I hate asking for help mainly because I hate being told no, suffering from rejection, feeling like no one really wants to talk to me in the first place. I’m sure, since so many of you are likely introverts, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

However, as a writer, it’s imperative, sometimes, to ask for help – to reach out to other living, breathing human beings and interact with them in a way that you need for your work. And that’s in the form of interviewing people for research.

The first time I called someone to ask for help writing a book, it was a friend’s husband who was a fireman. When I realized that I needed the help, that what I wanted to know couldn’t be found in the research section of the library (this was 1999, friends – I didn’t yet have dial-up AOL to access me with online research), it took me days to approach him. I started to dial the phone probably fifteen times. The whole time it rang, I thought, “He’s going to laugh at me. He’s going to think I’m some silly girl.”

Want to know what actually happened? He was thrilled! He invited me to talk to another fireman who had worked in Chicago – the setting of my story – and connected the two of us together. That man asked if he could be in the book some way. Their entire firehouse became involved in my project and they beta read it for me as I produced it.

Fast forward sixteen years. At this point, I’ve become a very successful author. I had eight books published and most of my books ranked in the top 20 of their categories on Amazon. I sold thousands of books a month. The last two suspense novels I’d written, my amazing husband was my research point – one dealt in information security, the other dealt in special forces operations. My husband fits both those bills.

This time, I needed to speak to a prosecuting attorney in Richmond, Virginia. I stared at the screen with the contact information for a solid day. I hung up on the poor operator twice. Finally, I sent an email (instead of calling, because who wants to be bothered by me?) and got a phone call from the state attorney instead of the city attorney. He was fascinated with my story and connected me with the person I needed to interview. She invited me to her office and I was able to spend a morning interviewing her, looking through crime scene photos, looking through court exhibits, then spend a few hours in the courtroom watching everything happen.

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She wasn’t bothered. She didn’t give any impression that what I needed to know was “silly”. She just graciously shared her knowledge with me and offered to answer further questions I might come across as I wrote. The more we talked, the more excited she became about my upcoming story.

Now, with 25 books under my belt, reaching out for help is much easier. I’ve walked through a mega-church with the facilities director next to me carrying the blueprints for the church as we discuss the best way to blow it up. I’ve sat backstage at a major concert and interviewed stage hands as the took breaks between setup and tear down. I’ve sat down with a Federal Marshal and discussed witness protection and marshaling things. My current release, Jade’s Match, is about two Olympic athletes – one from the Rio Games, one from the upcoming Korean Games. I dug around Team USA’s website, found the hockey contact information, and had a back-and-forth email exchange with the Director of Communications – who was so gracious to fill in the blanks for me and give me what he could give me in the name of research.

My point to these stories, writer friends, is no matter how fearful it is to step out and ask for help – don’t be afraid to do it. Know that most people out there would love to be asked! But, know what you need to know before you go in.

  1. Have a list of questions ready.
  2. Have a notebook to write down anything you need to write.
  3. Be prepared to have more questions once you start getting information.
  4. Know that as you go back to write, you’ll probably come across something else you might need to know. Ask for an open door to email or call again.
  5. Ask permission to write an acknowledgement thanking the person in your book.
  6. Mail a thank-you card. If possible, attach a copy of the book with it.

It’s a scary world out there full of living, breathing people. As hard as it is, unless I wrote stories about a homemaker with an incredible husband and three amazing children who happened to start writing Christian fiction novels – which is what I know – then interacting with those people is a requirement to continue to do what I do, and to do it well.

READ MORE WRITING TIPS

How Christian is Your Fiction? by Dan Walsh

7 Tips for Writing With Young Kids at Home by Lindsay Harrel

How to Show and When to Tell by Susan May Warren


Jade’s Match

Two Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

 

With more than half a million book sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy.

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled in central Kentucky with her family so that she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a college sophomore daughter, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network (PAN) of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) where she serves as a long time board member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the American Christian Writers (ACW) as well as being a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC).

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. You find Hallee on her blog at halleebridgeman.com.

Contentment in Writing

by Cindy Sproles, @CindyDevoted

Is there contentment in writing? We’re a people of instant gratification. If others don’t give us what we want, when we want it – we simply take matters into our own hands and make it happen.

This attitude is one that grieves me. I’m not sure when it began to happen but somewhere along the way, understanding the importance of working hard and receiving success has gone by the wayside. These days we just “do it ourselves” regardless of the impending consequence.

Don’t get your hackles up and don’t read between the lines. I’m not against self-publishing in the right circumstance, but for most of us. . .the right circumstance is simply impatience.

It’s important as a writer to continually assess your goals and motives. Ask yourself those hard questions like, “Is my work ready to publish?” “Why the rush?”

I recently spoke to a writer friend who has been to the school of hard knocks. She’s written excellent work and been rejected ample times. She’s a number of years in the industry, and still waiting for “her time.” But that’s the difference in her and so many. . .she’s waiting. It was the case for me. It took 8 years and all my beginning writing peers being multi-published, before I landed a traditional contract and a successful novel.

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Waiting is hard. Especially when our peers are receiving the contracts while we stand back in the corner growing frustrated and sad.

There must be a certain amount of waiting involved in writing, if for nothing more than learning the craft. There must be rejection to make us stretch beyond our limits and improve. Time simply must pass for us to become the writers we were meant to be.

As we mature in writing, a point of contentment arrives. The moments when you know you have done all you can do to make this work the best it can be.

The time when you’ve completed that project and done all you can to perfect it. When you finish the work, pray a prayer of absolution, let go of the obsession of publication, then move on to the next project. When you find this contentment in your writing, I can almost guarantee. . .you will publish very soon.

Rushing my writing, I have found, has never made me better at anything, unless of course its mistakes. And that, I seem to be very successful at. But when I learned my best was all I could control, then my writing began to grow successful.

The hardest thing about being an author is learning to pray that prayer of absolution. You type “the end,” then scoot back in your chair, lift your eyes to heaven and say:

Lord, thank you for letting me be a tool. I have obeyed. This is now in your hands. May it be only to your glory not mine. Be it successful or not, I have obeyed for this is you called me to do. 

Now I can go to bed, having done just that.

Rest knowing your best work. Trust, knowing you have obeyed the calling given you. Believe God will use the result of your work. And you will be successful.


Liar’s Winter

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark—and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

 

5 Tips for Juggling Writing and Life

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

In the middle of writing a heated conversation between my current hero and heroine, I realized my Novel Rocket blog post was due…several days ago.

Crud.

I hate being a ball-dropper because it feeds my inner critic who demotes my self-worth. Plus, not following through with something creates timeline changes for someone else.

But when I’m on deadline, I seem to struggle with juggling my day job, my writing responsibilities, family, church functions, social media. When this happens, I just want to retreat and crawl back into bed.

So as I pondered a topic and whined to a good friend, we discussed how sometimes in finding balance, we teeter and drop everything we’re trying to juggle.

Many days I feel like the Cat in The Cat in the Hat, juggling books on my fingertips, a rake holding a fishbowl in my other hand, a cake on my head and a fan with my tail…except I don’t have a tail. Most days, I can juggle my responsibilities. Not always with ease, but I still manage to take care of my obligations.

But then there are those days when everything comes crashing down. We’re left with feelings of failure, dented self-worth and pressure to do more, but even better.

So what’s a writer to do?

  1. Breathe. When you’re stressed out, put yourself in time-out. Close your eyes and just breathe. It will be okay. Know that you’re not alone. Pray and ask for God’s divine intercession.
  2. Prioritize. Once you’re calm, make a list of your responsibilities and prioritize them. Do you have a deadline? Doctor’s appointment? Bake sale? Work function? Instead of focusing on many things at once, focus on your highest priorities, then tick through them one at a time. Or break larger responsibilities down into manageable pieces.
  3. Delegate. Once you’ve prioritized your list into what things must be done first, consider delegating some of your simpler tasks to family members and friends. Having extra hands allows you to work on your higher priority items.

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  1. Lessen your load. When it’s time to start juggling again, pick up fewer balls. By prioritizing and delegating, you should have lessened your load. Focus on one task at a time, then move onto the next one.
  2. Forgive yourself. Many times we think we need to be people who can juggle with the best of them and keep that smile in place. We’re afraid if we drop something, then it makes us look bad. We’re afraid of being judged and rejected by peers and colleagues. We’re afraid of not being good enough. Most of the time, those judgments come from our own perceptions and expectations. Each person is different, so trying to keep up with someone else leads to resentment and a sense of failure. Be your own person. Know your limits. Maintain manageable expectations.

Sometimes juggling many roles isn’t an option, but you don’t have to go it alone. And when you do stumble and drop a few balls, dust yourself off and move forward without beating yourself up. Keeping it real allows others to see your transparency. In doing so, you may be ministering to someone going through a similar situation. Be humble at the Throne of Grace and know God is with you always.

READ MORE WRITING TIPS

How Christian is Your Fiction? by Dan Walsh

7 Tips for Writing With Young Kids at Home by Lindsay Harrel

How to Show and When to Tell by Susan May Warren


Lakeside Romance

A Recipe for Romance

Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.