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Friday, November 28, 2014

Win a Retelling of the Christmas Story for Children (with pictures :)

Linda McQuinn's Review of The First Christmas
 If you're looking for a book to share the biblical Christmas story with your kids this season, this is a great one! It's for slightly older children due to the amount of text on each page, maybe ages six to ten.

The things I liked most about The First Christmas were:

  1. Biblical accuracy. I like that it tells the story as the Bible does, but does so in easy-to-understand terms a child can understand. 
  2. Simple text. Even though there is considerable text on each page, it is written simply. Yet it doesn't dumb it down to baby talk, either, which shows respect for the child.
  3. Thought provoking interaction. At the end of each page, Green asks questions to draw the child into the story and help him relate to the characters. For instance, when telling the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth expecting their baby, John, Green asks the reader: If someone told you a very old lady was going to have a baby, would you believe it? How do you think Zechariah told his wife about the angel's message without talking?
  4. Coloring page illustrations. The pictures are simply drawn, which I believe will appeal to children.
  5. Family activity at the end. I love that this book ends with the fun family activity of making a Bible quilt, Christmas tree skirt, tablecloth, or wall hanging out of the illustrations. Green gives instructions on how to do this and offers alternative ways to complete it. What a terrific family keepsake! 
You can also use The First Christmas as a family advent devotional. Green explains how in her blog post on Christian Children's Authors. You can find similar activities and resources at Janice Green's website:

I highly recommend this book as a resource for teaching your children the true meaning of Christmas in a fun, interactive way.

Enter to win a paperback copy of the First Christmas.  Way too complicated?
Just comment below (and sign up for my email list so I can email you when you win your prize. I promise I won't spam you!)
Janice Green
Publishing Page:
Amazon page -
Twitter: @queenbjan

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Thanksfulness: My Grass Really IS Greener Than Yours


                Now is the time of year everyone posts their “I’m thankful” list on Facebook. Sometimes it can feel like a boast list.
                I’m thankful my marriage is so perfect (unlike your train wreck). I’m thankful my child learned how to read by 3 (unlike your dumb kid). I’m thankful I don’t have fertility issues (unlike you). Or in the reverse, I’m thankful I don’t have a million runny-nosed kids to chase since I actually know how to use birth control (unlike you). I’m thankful my teen didn’t just get his fifth tattoo and a nose ring (unlike yours.)
             What’s the point of thankfulness? Is it essentially a boast list lining up your pros against everyone else’s cons so you can feel good about your life? As an American, I have the advantage in pro/con list style thankfulness since America is one of the most affluent and free countries in the world.
              But I don’t think that’s what thankfulness is. Over 3,000 years ago, the Psalmist said in Psalm 50:14a, “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God . . .” In modern times, research studies have shown that an attitude of thankfulness helps those struggling with depression to regain good mental health.
             As a mental health counselor, I know that mental health isn’t just an issue that plagues the extreme edge of society. Just like we all have physical ailments, all of us have aspects of our mental health that is stronger or weaker. Thankfulness helps us with our mental health. Thankfulness helps us. Comparing to others in pro/con list style doesn’t.
             So this Thanksgiving, don’t just think about what you’re thankful for. Think about why you’re thankful for it. Are you thankful because you have something no one else has? Or are you thankful because you want to be a content, happy person.
             Speaking of comparing to others, my Thanksgiving recipes are a sloppy mess. ;) A pinch of this, a pinch of that, and cook long enough that it looks right. My husband is always asking, “Why don’t you set a timer on your food?” Because I . . . am gourmet? :) Not really.
            So here’s my sloppy Thanksgiving recipe. Cranberry applesauce. It’s absolutely delicious and so much better than the canned stuff.


Read the rest of my article on  Writing Prompts Thoughts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Little Lower than the Angels: Book Giveaway

 Bringing you another awesome book giveaway! :) Read what the author, Caryl McAdoo, has to say about her book.
A Little Lower than the Angels
By Caryl McAdoo

This story has been ruminating for twenty years. It’s been written and rewritten may times in those decades. Then suddenly….
It was time!
A Little Lower Than the Angels is an age old story everyone knows—Adam and Eve in the garden, but it takes a look at earth’s first man from a way different perspective. I absolutely love being creative! I sing new songs and paint with watercolors and oils, and design at PicMonkey. (I’ve only recently found that site and have so much fun there!) I enjoy cooking and playing with recipes. I garden with flowers and stone and especially love recycling and crafting ordinary items into new uses. So I applied imagination to the Garden of Eden’s story.
The novella—136 pages—follows three parallel storylines. It opens with a blood sacrifice at the summit of  God’s Mountain where Cain’s offering is rejected. Anger, jealousy, and a hurt pride usher in the world’s first murder. Marked and cursed to wander, the eldest twin grabs his sister and leaves the only home he’s ever known. He travels east past Eden to the land of Nod. One storyline stays with Cain and Sheriah as evil endlessly tempts him and the distance between him and his fathers, both Heavenly and earthly, grows.
Imagine the tragedy unfolding in Adam’s Valley. His mother loses all her children in one day. She’s never seen a dead human, and the still, lifeless body she finds is her son! Abel’s skin is cold and his eyes void of sparkle. And worse, Adam wants to plant him! Put him into the ground and cover him! She blames herself. How can she and the man she loves start all over? So the second storyline stays right there in Adam’s Valley, and chronicles the broken lives of the first couple.
Then there’s Abel, the murdered brother, who’s more than a bit perplexed. One heartbeat he’s speaking with his brother, the next, he’s being carried by winged men to a beautiful place the old cherub named Namrel tells him is called Paradise. It reminds him of the Garden of Eden his father and mother had told stories about. His new mentor answers all his questions and teaches him what he needs to know. Abel especially loves to hear of  the wars being fought in the Second Heaven by the angels.
Besides the first of the Cherubim, readers will meet an archangel, Gabriel, and Centurion last angel of the host. Find out how eternal spirits who can’t die war. How do they decide who wins or loses? And readers meet Lion and Lamb, too. I’m a firm believer animals make every story better! These two definitely play great roles in the story of the beginning of mankind.
A Little Lower Than the Angels is a book not likely to be soon forgotten.

Caryl is giving away a print and e-copy. Enter below to win. Way to complicated? Just comment below or also sign up for my mailing list (right-hand) side to double your chances of winning! 



With thirteen titles released by six publishers, Simon & Schuster author Caryl McAdoo is excited about her new Biblical fiction series The Generations Volume one, A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, recently debuted to wide acclaim. She enjoys success with her historical Christian Texas romance series, too: VOW UNBROKEN (1832 / March 2014), book two HEARTS STOLEN (1844 / September, 2014), and book three HOPE REBORN (1850 / January 2015). The novelist also edits, paints, and writes new songs. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars as life’s biggest blessings, believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes the books will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to all their readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bible Stories in the Qu'ran

      As many of you know, I'm writing a book about world religions, No Fear: My Tale of Hijabs, Witchcraft Circles, & the Cross. Since I'm a research nut, I'm doing way more research than will ever appear in the book. This is my pile of JUST Islam books.

        So I'm going to be sharing some of my extra research with you in a series of blog posts.
        Did you know that multiple Scripture stories, both from the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures (New Testament), appear in the Quran?
         The Imam at the mosque I visited told me that Muslims believe the Old Testament and the Gospels are the word of Allah. But the Bible has been corrupted over the years, he said, so that accounts for the discrepancies between who the Bible says Jesus is and who the Qu'ran says Jesus is.
          Here's an example of one discrepancy between the Biblical and Qu'ranic accounts: Hamaan
         Ever encountered the story of Esther and the beauty contest, the Persian king and the villain Haman? Maybe read a children's picture book with the story many, many years ago?
          According to the Bible, in the 5th century B.C. King Xerxes of Persia got mad at his wife for being too independent-minded. So Xerxes divorced his wife and put out the world's strongest protective order against her. Then King Xerxes held a one-night-stand beauty pageant.
         All the beautiful virgins in the land were gathered up and put through mandatory beauty treatments for a year. (Don't want your legs waxed? Tough, you don't get a choice in whether you want to compete to be Miss Persia or not.)
         Then, after a series of one-night-stands with the contestants, King Xerxes chose Esther, a Jewish girl. Everything was going swimmingly, (well, except for the fact that the poor girl was married to a chauvinistic womanizer), until King Xerxes' second-in-command Hamaan was insulted by a Jewish man.
          Being a power-hungry narcissist, Hamaan couldn't content himself with merely throwing that man in the dungeon. Instead, he decided to have a genocide party and wipe out all the Jews in the entire empire.
            Esther famously risked her life by entering the throne room without permission and telling her husband about her people's fate. And the Jewish people were saved. (Word to the wise: If your husband has a rule that you can't enter the same room as him without his permission, it's probably not a healthy relationship.)
         Anyway, this same Hamaan also appears in the Koran. But he's 1000 years older. And instead of being King Xerxes right-hand man, he's hanging out with the Egyptian Pharaoh during the time of Moses (Sura 28:6-8, 38).
           There are also some other differences between the Jewish and Islamic accounts of Moses' life. For example, in the Qu'ran, the Pharoah's wife (instead of daughter) adopted Moses.
            The largest difference between the two accounts though is in tone. Rather than a chronological and minutely detailed account like the Jewish version of the Exodus, the Qu'ran tells about Moses' life in a literary and disjointed fashion.

Interested in learning more about world religions? Want to know when No Fear releases? Sign up for my newsletter on the right-hand side and I'll shoot you an email when I get a book contract. Find out more by liking my Facebook author page,

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Love the Hunger Games? Enter to Win This New Dystopian Series

           I rarely read YA, but there's something about dystopian novels that draws me in. Ever since my exposure to Orwell's Animal Farm at the tender age of seven, (yes, I read it behind my parent's backs), I've been fascinated by the idea of a world once good, now taken over by evil.
         Part one of the final book in the Hunger Games series is coming out in theaters this week. If you don't want to spend a year chafing over part 2 of Mocking Jay not being available yet, enter to win the GIVEAWAY for this YA Dystopian novel instead. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a real page turner. 

         In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah's really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
       Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.
       With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.

You can read Tremors, the prequel to the series for FREE on Amazon HERE.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Thunder (Stone Braide Chronicles), go HERE

You could win a copy of Thunder for FREE. Just comment below, or to double your chances of winning, sign up for my email list on the right-hand side too! 11/22/14-11/30/14
Bonnie S. Calhoun will be giving away 2 copies. Hard copy if you live in the U.S. E-copy if you live outside the U.S.

What Others Are Saying
“Calhoun (Cooking the Books) paints a dark, serious world and does not shy away from the violence that her characters suffer as they struggle with prejudice and even genocide, the latter activity veiled by justifications of scientific knowledge and progress.”
~Publishers Weekly, Oct, 2014~
“Heroine Selah is wonderful, smart and strong, and you’ll finish this title looking forward to the next.”
~Romantic Times, Oct 2014~
“This is one of the things that mitigates the inevitable comparisons to the other dystopian novels released in recent years: we are never quite sure who is good and who is evil, and even when we think we have them figured out, some new tidbit turns what we thought on its head.”
~The Christian Manifesto, Nov 2014

Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year.”
She loves to write, but it doesn't make her happy unless there are the three B's...body count, blood, and blowing things up. She also has mad skills at coding HTML, and website design. And she lives in a log cabin in the woods with fifteen acres and a pond full of bass, though she'd rather buy fish at the grocery store. Bonnie shares her domain with a husband, a dog, and two cats, all of whom think she’s waitstaff!

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Handsome Suit: A Joe-Joe Post


        Mama made me wear this. She said I looked SO cute. And then she giggled creepily.
        I want to go play trains, but Mama said, "No, no, no. You have to get picture."
         I did not like this so I cried.
         Then Mama said, "If you take smiley picture, then you can watch Curious George movie."
         Curious George is my favorite movie in the whole wide world! He plays with amimals and eats SO many donuts and opens things he's not supposed to. Curious George is just like me. I can even make Curious George noises.
          This is my face after Mama says I can watch Curious George.

        I will write again later. Right now I get to watch my monkey!!!!

Enjoyed this post? Like my Facebook author page and follow my journey to publication.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

7 Reasons to Share Your Child's Picture Online

            I'm an author, blogger, and mom of probably the most photogenic almost three year old to walk the planet. As a proud mama, I share pictures of him--a lot.
            I cannot tell you how many snotty emails I have gotten from other authors or bloggers telling me that they refuse to collaborate with me because I share pictures of my kid online. They all unequivocally tell me that sharing my child's picture online is extremely unsafe and will result in imminent harm for my child.
            Now I'm a paranoid mom. If my son is out of a direct line of eyesight, this is what our conversation looks like.
            "Hey Joe-Joe are you still alive over there."
            "Yes, Mama."
            Twenty-five seconds later. "Still alive over there, Joe-Joe?"
            "Yes, Mama." Repeat.
            As a mental health counselor who counseled sex offenders, I'm paranoid about sexual molestation. From the age of 12 months up, I taught Joe-Joe the anatomically correct names for genitalia and to scream "No" if someone touched him there.
            We also monthly role-play, "What to do if a kidnapper grabs you." By the way, Joe-Joe delivers a mean punch to the eye.
            But despite all these precautions, I share Joe-Joe's pictures online freely. Why? I believe that sharing Joe-Joe's picture online  makes him more safe and this is why.
1. Sharing pictures online means you have pictures
            If a child is ever kidnapped, the first thing that goes out is an Amber Alert complete with a picture. All child safety protocols talk about the importance of having a current picture readily accessible. I have pictures.
2. Sharing pictures online means people see them
            If Joe-Joe was ever kidnapped, I would have a leg up on other parents who are more private with their children's pictures. My thousands of followers already recognize Joe-Joe. So when the Amber Alert flashes across their TV screen, they won't have to struggle to remember the photo in the image. If they see Joe-Joe being dragged across the parking lot by a kidnapper, they will instantly recognize him and intervene.
3. Sharing pictures online increases Amber Alert reach
            In the event that a child is kidnapped, an Amber Alert goes out across TV, phones, newspapers etc. If Joe-Joe was kidnapped, I would also send out an alert through my Facebook author page, Twitter, Pinterest, blog, and website. That means more people would instantly be engaged in finding Joe-Joe.
4. Sharing pictures online invests good people in your child's future
            I write blogposts and Facebook statuses about Joe-Joe's antics. People who have never met him, fall in love with him. We always talk about the pedophiles finding your child's picture online. But there are good people finding Joe-Joe's picture online. If he was ever kidnapped, these good people would instantly start sharing the Amber Alert with all their friends, greatly increasing the probability of Joe-Joe being found quickly.
5. Stealing your child's picture online, who cares
            One thing that does happen when you share your child's picture online is other sites can steal your picture. Some moms get extremely upset when their baby's picture is stolen by say a Dawn soap commercial. This may happen. But honestly, I don't care. When a random cleaning product steals your picture, they won't release any details about where your child lives or their name or age. And my child is adorable. If Dawn thinks so too, whatever.
6. Sharing pictures online can scare predators
            Last year, I read a testimony of several convicted child predators. They said that within minutes of watching a family, they could determine whether that child's parents were vigilant enough to detect child molestation. The sex offenders would then select the children who did not have vigilant parents.
            When posting Joe-Joe's picture, I mention things like teaching him self-defense. Within five minutes of reading my page, a predator will decide that Joe-Joe would not be an easy target and move on.
7. Sharing pictures online is exactly what an Amber Alert does
            If it's so unsafe to share your child's picture online, why does an Amber Alert do exactly that? An Amber Alert spreads a child's picture across cyberspace. If this is so unsafe, then we would expect multiple re-kidnappings in the wake of an Amber Alert.
            Oh look, 4 year old Suzie was recovered within 12 hours thanks to an Amber Alert. But now pedophiles across the country have access to her photo so she is sure to be kidnapped again within the next month.
            But that's not how the story goes. After a child is safely recovered, their internet fame makes them more difficult to kidnap because people already know their image.
            All that to say, I'm going to keep sharing my kiddo's picture online. If that makes you no longer want to be my friend, ah well. I'll go look at online pictures of my adorable toddler and get over it. ;)
      Share your thoughts. Do you think it's safe to share a child's picture online? Comment below.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Have You Ever Wondered What Mary Felt Like?: Book Giveaway

        Have you heard the Christmas story before? Joseph, Mary, the donkey, the innkeeper, the shepherds. Star Song by Katheryn Haddad brings the story alive.
        Do you want to feel the emotions Mary was feeling as the angel appeared? Gaze in awe at the sky like the shepherds? Or even delve into the rage of Herod as he ordered the death of the Bethlehem baby boys?
          Star Song does all that and more.
         And today I get to give away two copies for FREE. One copy is the adult version
of Star Song and one copy is the children's version

To enter the giveaway and have a chance to win Star Song click here . This giveaway will be open until 11/25/14.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Way too confusing? You can also enter the giveaway by just signing up for my mailing list on the right hand side or commenting below.

Below is a guest post by Katheryn Haddad about her book. Make sure you read her bio too. She's a fascinating woman. And living proof that if you have a story worth telling, you will see it in print one day. She told me that she had the idea for Star Song almost 60 years ago.

Star Song: The Story
by Katheryn Haddad

You have heard of Jesus.  Now is your chance to get to know the people who were involved in his birth.  It was not a kind world he was born into.  King Herod was so power hungry, he imprisoned, tortured and executed anyone who disagreed with him.  The entire population of Palestine lived in constant fear, including Jesus’ own parents.

 When an angel appeared to Mary, it took him awhile to convince her she could become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. When she finally believed, he disappeared.  How would she break the news to her parents? Would they believe her?  Before telling them, she went to see her elderly cousin Elizabeth who was now six months pregnant with her own miracle baby.  His mother was shy, but when Mary arrived, she came out of her shyness and encouraged Mary. Once baby John was born and Mary could hold Elizabeth’s miracle baby, she was ready to return home and prepare for her own miracle baby.
            All the way home she worried.  Would the man she was promised to--Joseph--believe her?  If he didn’t, he could legally have her stoned to death for adultery.  Indeed, he did not believe her.  But the angel returned to explain everything to Joseph.  He finally believed and there was a wedding.  Now he had to instill courage in Mary whenever she went to the market, courage to face the neighbors who taunted her for getting pregnant before she was married.

Then a needless census took place, and Joseph was forced to take Mary from northern Palestine to southern Palestine.  She was nine months pregnant.  But, if they had jailed him for not going, he couldn’t help her at all.  When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary was in labor.  They were homeless.  But finally he talked a home owner into letting them sleep in his barn.  So it was, that the Son of God was born and lain in a feed trough.

The shepherds were dirty and smelly, but the angels appeared to them that night instead of the holy people in the temple.  The angels lit up, just like a star.  The dirty shepherds rushed into Bethlehem to worship him..  They did not know how to act around a new-born king, but they did the best they could.

A few days later, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple for a special ceremony.  There they met Anna who was some 90 years old and had lived through many attacks by foreigners on the temple where thousands were killed.  For over 65 long years, Anna prayed for God’s Deliverer to come rescue them.  Finally, after waiting a lifetime, she met baby Jesus, and knew he was the promised divine Deliverer.

In the mean time, over in Persia and India, some astrologers saw a new-born star in the western sky.  Their kings saw it too and demanded to know if a new god had been born.  The astrologers searched the holy books of the Buddhists, the Hindus, and the Zoroasters. They could not find anything special about a star.  Finally, they checked the Jewish holy books.  There they found a star referring to a new-born eternal king.  Their kings immediately sent their astrologers to cross the desert and pay homage to this new-born divine king.

Soon after their arrival, Herod had all the boy babies in Bethlehem killed.  What would Mary and Joseph do to escape?  Read more in Soul Journey With Jesus: Star Song.
Katheryn Maddox Haddad grew up in Michigan and now lives in Arizona where there is no snow.  She lives with her palm trees, cacti, music, and a computer with most of the lettering worn off the keyboard.

She has a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible, and history, from Harding University, a Master’s Degree in management and human relations from Abilene Christian University, and part of a Master’s Degree in Bible from Harding University, including Greek studies.

She spends half her day writing, and the other half teaching English over the internet worldwide using the Bible as text book through World English Institute.  Students she has converted to Christianity are in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine.  "They are my heroes" she says. 
She has also written a book to explain Islam to Christians and Christianity to Muslims.  It is entitled Christianity or Islam:  The Contrast.  It is a gentle book and would make a good gift for either Christians or Muslims.  It is available on Amazon.


Order Star Song at Amazon-adult version -
Order Star Song at Amazon-child's version -
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why Are Romance Heroines So . . . Undiscriminating?

What would happen if you sent a bodice-ripper style heroine to a mental health counselor? In my last two posts, I gave you a preview to my short story, The Girl in a Romance Novel. Here's part 3.

Haven't read part 1 of The Girl in a Romance Novel yet? Read it here.
Haven't read part 2? Read it here.

Disclaimer: The counselor featured in this short story may not be certified by the ACA. ;)

Dear Counselor,

            On a happy note, no one’s dead yet. I understand why you chose option C, but I was initially dumbfounded by your other advice. While Hero’s obviously in shape, (going around accosting
innocent travelers will do that to a man), I don’t make a habit of ogling complete strangers. Add to that his assault on me, his sweaty arm is still wrapped around my waist, and I find him quite odious.
           Yes, he did kiss me once already. He said something to his men about the kiss declaring his
ownership and a wedding ceremony to follow. I don’t know what you mean about the kiss being
exceedingly passionate and making desire race through my veins. The rugged stubble on his cheek that you referred to, scratched me. I doubt he brushed his teeth this morning. And besides that, he kissed me against my will in front of fifty enemy warriors. Heeding your advice to be tactful until my men are released, I overcame my instinct to knee him in the pertinent parts.
          Hero also mentioned my betrothed and that the man is a brutal villain. Guess it takes one to know one. Hero seemed to think revealing those facts would make me welcome his assault as a rescue.
       Excuse him, a rescue would be taking me to Oxford’s Herbalist Academy.

~The Girl in a Romance Novel

Want to read the entire short story? Just click on my "sign up for newsletter" icon on the righthand side and I'll send you a copy right away. (And I promise I won't spam you with tons of emails.)

Read part 1 of The Girl in a Romance Novel here.
Read part 2 here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why Are Romance Heroines So . . . Naive?

In my last post I told you that I wrote a spoof of a bodice-ripper romance  in the form of a series of letters between the romance heroine and a mental health professional. 

Haven't read part 1 of The Girl in a Romance Novel yet? Read it here.

Disclaimer: Bodice-rippers may have been read in the making of this short story. 


Dear Counselor,

            Heeding your advice, I am dutifully riding towards port and my ill-tempered groom. You said that my life would become much too dull if I took the sensible option, and became a self-sustaining healer. That advice confuses me, but—
            Oh my word! There are horses thundering towards the port. The warriors have blue designs on their bare skin. It’s either highland war paint or pirate tattoos. I’m not sure which. Swords are clashing. The captain of my guard yells at me to flee to the hills.
I charge forward instead. I will put my sword skills to good use.
            The biggest highlander/pirate roars something in an unknown language that I’m actually quite familiar with. My aging groom was helpful on that score as well.
            My guards, cowardly fellows that they are, have thrown their swords down. The big highlander/pirate, I’ll call him “Hero” even though he’s more of a villain, threw a sweaty arm around my waist and is now announcing that I’m his.
Fortunately, I still have a knife in my leg sheath. Should I:

A.                 Uppercut to the heart, and as he stumbles back gushing blood, jump on his horse and ride away? (I’ve never killed a man, and since my guards are still captive, I wouldn’t want these barbarians to take revenge on my men.)
B.                 Knick the male parts of his anatomy, which are all too exposed by his pirate loincloth/kilt? When he falls to the ground in pain, I can jump on his horse and ride away.
C.                 Stay put, concealing my knife for later use? This could give me a chance to save my guards.

Write back quickly. I don’t have much time to ponder the situation.

~The Girl in a Romance Novel

Want to read the entire short story? Just click on my "sign up for newsletter" icon on the righthand side and I'll send you a copy right away. (And I promise I won't spam you with tons of emails.)

Read part 1 of The Girl in a Romance Novel here.
And read part 3 here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Are Romance Heroines So . . . Stupid?

As you probably know, I write some historical romance books (mostly westerns). Romance novelists often get a bad rap for cliched plots. And the Harlequin variety bodice-rippers are some of the worst offenders.

So . . . I was bad.

I wrote a spoof of those plotlines. My short story, in honor of Maddie & Tae's hit song, is titled The Girl in a Romance Novel. It is written in the form of a series of letters between the romance heroine and a mental health professional.

Disclaimer: This story contains humor relating to romance plots.


Time-period/Era: Vague. The women are wearing bodices (duh, can’t rip a bodice if you don’t have one.) The men aren’t wearing much more than glorified loincloths. Whether this is because they are pirates who have stripped to the waist, or highlanders in kilts during a United Kingdom heat wave that necessitated ridding themselves of shirts is uncertain.

Setting: A meadow surrounded by trees on top of a cliff overlooking the sea.

Characters: The Girl in a Romance Novel, a Professional Counselor, a Hero, a Villainous Betrothed who reeks of garlic and steps on ant colonies for fun, hordes of brawny warriors under our Hero’s command.

Dear Counselor,

            I’m an eighteen-year-old wealthy heiress. I don’t think of myself as beautiful, but men often comment on my looks. My dad is normally a loving father. But giving into the mores of our day, he has betrothed me to a stranger thirty years my senior who is rumored to have an ill-disposition. I am currently on horseback riding towards a small ship that will take me to my husband. Any advice would be much appreciated.
A little about me. I am a strong woman who was tutored in swordplay by an aging groom so, if I wanted to strike out on my own, I could. I’m thinking of fleeing my betrothal and applying to the Oxford’s Herbalist Academy to learn medicine.

Nervously yours,
The Girl in a Romance Novel

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PS My husband asked why the book cover says "cover art censored." If you need to ask this question, then obviously you haven't been looking at enough explicit romance covers recently. A quick search on Amazon for "Scottish Romance" or "Pirate Romance" will soon answer all your questions on this score. ;)

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Kathy Rouser is a fellow author at my agency, great person, and the creator of the following guest blogpost. Check out her blog
     In the following post, she writes about the short story collection that I'm featured in this Christmas.

Two Favorite Characters from Christmas Treasures

by Kathleen Rouser
Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories, Anne Garboczi Evans and Karla Akins, are introducing to us their favorite
characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Raquel and Santa this week. 

"I Hate Christmas" by Anne Garboczi Evans

Favorite character: Raquel

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Raquel is a 20-something romantic with a sense of humor. She has a way of getting herself into mishaps, but ends up landing on her feet all the same.
Anne with husband, Gabe, and son, Joe-joe.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Raquel. Why was it your favorite?

Seriously? What's to like about 10lbs gained and hundreds of dollars wasted on presents? Worst holiday EVER.

Well ok then. Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year, Raquel?

Tearing down the tree and being DONE with it all.

"Banking on Christmas" by Karla Akins

Favorite character:  Santa

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are:

Santa comes to the bank on Christmas Eve.

       Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Santa. Why was it your favorite?

I think my favorite one was in 2009—it was the one where my wife and I were robbed.

Santa got robbed? That's awful!

       Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?
       Oh definitely. But I can’t tell you what it is or it would give the story away.  Mainly, I like being with my wife doing what we do together. There’s nothing more fun than spending Christmas with your best friend, is there? I will say that her Macadamia nut cookies are fantastic. She makes them for me every year but only on Christmas Eve. I have to wait 364 days a year to enjoy them. They’re worth the wait!

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