Monday, August 31, 2015

Blog Hop: September is for Sequels







Next, go to other participating blogs.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

COTT: And this clash goes to...

A BRIDE AT LAST by Melissa Jagears! Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted him with her whereabouts. Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she'd been deceived about her intended groom, she's now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she'll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony--until two men suddenly show up in town, claiming to be the boy's father. Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony's wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever? 

Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say: 

In [Jagears'] latest novel [A Bride at Last], . . . the characters are all well-balanced and engaging: Silas' struggle with his failed marriage, struggling faith, and dark past makes him sympathetic; Kate's commitment to Anthony gives her depth and pathos; and their romance develops realistically . . . a memorable read for fans of redemptive historical romances.

Check out her upcoming release, With This Ring?

A historical novella compilation of four award winning authors - Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Melissa Jagears Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Husband Maneuver," Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers "Her Dearly Unintended," where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives. Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition" finds a young woman forced to assist the man she's often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Find it here on Amazon

About Melissa:

Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance after everyone is asleep. She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter is free to try. You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beginnings that Grab the Reader and Carry Her Along to the Last Page.

I gave a talk in Mexia, Texas about my writing journey. It seems everywhere I go there are people who want to write a book. In this group of 12-15, three were writing. I told them how I got started, the classes I took, the organizations I belong to, and the importance of joining a critique group.

I also talked about ways to organize a novel to keep the reader interested from start to finish. This lead to a discussion of the importance of the first scene. Writers tend to start the book a few pages, sometimes chapters, before the action begins. In my first book, Where Love Once Lived, I stripped off page after page of the beginning while at the Yosemite Writers' Conference preparing to read from my work in process the next day.

I did more stripping and editing when I got home. Here's what I ended up with:

Karen felt loved on Tuesdays.

She was fifty-three and divorced with a college-aged daughter at home who’d probably flee the nest soon, leaving Karen to live alone. She’d missed her chance for happiness. Still, she wasn’t sad. Teaching and her volunteer work as a lay minister, hospital chaplain, and member of her church choir fulfilled her. To be honest, she wanted more. She wanted the special kind of love she felt on Tuesdays.

This is not great, but it's not bad for a first novel. Readers should want to know why Karen felt loved on Tuesdays and, perhaps, wonder how she'd missed her chance for happiness. She seems to have a good life, but something is missing. They learn a little about her, age, family, job, church, etc., without getting bogged down in too much backstory.

My second novel, The Vengeance Squad, is written in first person with a young male protagonist. There is a prologue, too short to warrant chapter formatting, which I placed above the Chapter One beginning. See how this grabs you. Would you want to read more?

I’ll never forget the look on her face. It sustained me for months afterward. Without the memories, I wouldn’t have survived.

Chapter One

Sometimes it worried me because I thought I must be wrong, but there were times I could read her mind. I’d heard stories about couples who had been married for years who experienced a level of silent communication, but Sarah and I had known each other for only two years. Perhaps it was the intensity of love for one another rather than the length of time together that made the difference. Quite honestly, the love we shared was stronger than I believed possible. It was as if God brought us together and blessed the joining of two faithful servants of the Lord. I thanked Him daily for that.

The prologue gives us a glimpse into the future and, hopefully, a desire to know what happens. The first paragraph of Chapter One gives the reader an understanding of how in love the narrator is.

Love Lives On, my third novel, is a sequel to Where Love Once Lived. It also ties in some of the characters from The Vengeance Squad. I don't call them sequels because each will stand alone. However, I think readers would enjoy them more if the books are read in chronological order.

Here's how Love Lives On begins:

Karen Williams was fifty-four and divorced for so long she'd given up hope for that special marriage everyone talked about, but few probably had experienced. Then, a year ago, her life changed. Her college sweetheart charged back into her life, acting as if he'd never stopped loving her. He was waiting for her at the altar now as she touched up her makeup in the bride's room of her church.
She hurried to apply mascara, but her right hand wouldn't be still. The pencil hit the table with a soft clunk. Tears followed. Tears from nowhere. A glance into the mirror showed mascara running down both cheeks. What was happening?
Was it that feeling of unworthiness that crept in when she least expected it? Couldn't be. God had forgiven her long ago, but she would never forget what had happened. Second thoughts? Definitely not. She loved Brian and he loved her. He would never do anything to hurt her. Not again.

This excerpt is a little longer because the backstory was necessary to remind readers of the last book or to introduce Karen to new readers. It was her wedding day. Why was she crying? What did she do that caused her to need God's forgiveness? What had Brian done before to hurt her? Will the wedding go on as scheduled?

Presenting questions at the beginning will cause the reader to seek answers by continuing to read.

My fourth novel, The Vengeance Squad Goes to England begins this way:

Tex removed his ten-gallon cowboy hat, swiped his brow and leaned back in his wheelchair to get his hug. I stood behind him knowing I'd be next. But nothing happened. Liz sat at the end of the conference table with her head in her hands.
My friend and former computer science student, Tex Thompson, locked his eyes on mine and I stared back at him in disbelief. Something was wrong. Liz Siedo, the happiest librarian in the world, the person who accepted God's will in every situation and hugged everyone who came within five feet of her, was either sick or depressed.

When I give talks, I tell people not to try to write the perfect beginning before finishing the rest of chapter one. If you do, you'll never finish the book. Write the whole thing and then come back and rewrite the first chapter. Often, my characters have something to say about the endings and the results lead to the need to make changes to the beginning. For example, when I wrote Murder in Sun City I didn't know who the killer was until I was halfway through the book. This caused a need to change the beginning. Here's the original opening:

"Liz! Are you okay?"
I looked up at Margie and wondered if I was. I wiggled around before I answered. "Nothing seems to be broken. I guess I'm lucky I landed on my God-made cushion."
I could tell Margie was amused by my comment because she was clearly trying not to make light of my mishap. So I laughed to let her know it was okay. I'd never been embarrassed by my ample bottom and was rather pleased with the way it broke my fall today. I wished I hadn't left my coat in the bookmobile, but it was such a short walk to Sharon's house.
Margie laughed. "Well that's good to hear. When I saw you slipping and sliding on that iced driveway, I knew you'd end up falling. "Watching you throw books into the air like that was the funniest thing I've seen in some time. Then she sobered. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be laughing at your fall."
"That's okay. Glad to brighten your day. Besides, I'm not hurt. Just not sure how to get up."

Besides the unexpected turn of events as I got into the book, there were other reasons to change this beginning. It just didn't grab me.

I should explain that this is the first in the so-called bookmobile series where the reader sees things through Liz's eyes. If you've read the other books, you know she is large, but happy and confident. So this beginning is to let you know she sees herself the same way other people see her. It's okay, but it is irrelevant to the story. It doesn't ask questions. It doesn't cause the reader to want to keep reading. Hopefully, the revision below does:

Margie was waiting on the icy driveway as I parked the bookmobile in front of Sharon's house. Had she been crying?
I climbed out and gave her a hug. "Are you okay?"
She held on a little longer than usual. "I'm okay."
I pushed away and looked into her eyes. "Something's wrong. You've been crying."
"No." She brushed at her eyes with a gloved hand. "Must be from the cold."
I knew she needed to talk. "Why don't you wait in the bookmobile and get warm? I brought those books you asked for."
"Okay." Margie didn't look at me as she spoke. "I guess you should see Sharon first."
I stepped into the library and picked up the five books I'd brought for Sharon and a white paper bag.
Margie moved back to give me space. "What's in the bag?"
"Some scones for Sharon. I got them at the library coffee shop while I was loading books this morning."
"Hey. Come with me." I held up the bag. "Carry this for me. I've got enough for all of us."

I will probably change this more before it is published, but I think this works better. What do you think?

If you are a reader only or a writer and reader, check some of your favorite books and see if the magic began on page one.

I talked about this in a previous post where I included the openings of some Pulitzer Prize winners. See Pulitzer Prize First Sentences. Some are better than others. What do you think? Would you read the books based on beginnings, or only because it won the Pulitzer Prize?

Monday, August 24, 2015

COTT: The July Clash is on!

Beautiful New July Covers!

Welcome, fellow book lovers! As we wrap up summer, we're bringing you four wonderful reads to take out on your deck chair. From the mountains to the rugged west, these books offer a great variety of escapes. But if you could only pick one, which would make it into your need-to-read pile? Vote at the end--and don't forget to leave a kind word for your favorite author.

The Lady and the Mountain Fire by Misty M. Beller 
Claire Sullivan's desire to help others carried her all the way to the Montana Territory to care for her blind grandmother, but the callous, hardworking doctor she meets there doesn't fit her expectations. When disaster strikes their rough mining city, Claire must face her her greatest fear to help the man she's come to love.
Purchase on Amazon

A Bride At Last by Melissa Jagears
Silas and Kate are both wary of love after failed mail-order engagements, but when a common interest in a motherless boy leads to an interest in each other, they begin to think they can set aside past hurts. However, neither is prepared for the secrets that have yet to come to light.
Purchase on Amazon

To Soar on Eagle's Wings by Renee Blare
While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season, but the trouble follows him—straight to town.

The Daughters of Jim Farrell by Sylvia Bambola
Pennsylvania 1873: When Jim Farrell is hanged for murder, his three daughters resolve to clear his name. But all too soon their dangerous quest rips the family apart and could cost them the men they love.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sales for Where Love Once Lived Exceed ONE THOUSAND!

The total number of sales for Where Love Once Lived, including paperbacks and e-books, just got into the four digits.

I know. That's not much compared to sales for many books. However, when you think about the statistic that shows most independently published books sell less than 100 copies, it looks pretty good. I don't know where I read that, but the reasoning was that everyone has a least 100 friends and family members who will buy their book.

Another consideration is that my goal has always been to reach people with my Christian message. So, I can also count the 64,000+ copies of this book that have been given away during Kindle free days to readers in ten countries.

Thanks to everyone who bought a copy and helped me reach this milestone.

To see more information, go to

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

COTT: Featuring Author Misty M. Beller's Latest Work

A delightful transport through time, The Rancher Takes a Cook brings history to life with realistic characters, a colorful setting, and comfort food that teases your appetite!
~ Melody Carlson, 
author of 200+ books

About the book:

When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch.

Their prospects are beginning to look better, until the rancher’s son, Jacob O’Brien, shows up with his alarmingly blue eyes to put a kink in Anna’s well-controlled plans.

When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands…and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?


About the author, Misty M. Beller:

Misty M. Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

You can find her on her website, reader blog, marketing blog for authors, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Or check out her books The Lady and the Mountain Man, The Lady and the Mountain Doctor, or The Lady and the Mountain Fire. Or her latest book, The Rancher Takes a Cook.

Misty's favorite Scripture and prayer for readers:
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (NKJV)

Monday, August 10, 2015

COTT: Presenting, a Titus Ray Thriller

About the book:

On the hunt for an assassin, Titus Ray faces a threat he never imagined.
Can he overcome the obstacles and capture Ahmed Al-Amin before it's too late?

In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed Al-Amin, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official. Along the way, a family crisis jeopardizes his mission, and an Agency division head threatens to destroy his career. As the danger mounts, he’s forced to partner with an untested operative to complete the mission and bring Ahmed to justice. Will he make it in time?


What COTT voter had to say:
--Great book. So exciting! Two Days in Caracas.
--The first book, One Night in Tehran, was excellent so reading the second book in the series is a given. Looking forward to it!
--Loved the book, "Two Days in Caracus" by Luana Ehrlich
--Luana Ehrlich is a wonderful storyteller! LOVE her books!
--Luana, I love the realism of your characters and the accuraccy of your research into the espionage community.
--I will be reading Luana Ehrlich's newest book!
--Luana, you are a fabulous writer. I am so excited to read Two Days in Caracus!

Q & A with Luana:

Is there a message for readers to take away after they read these stories?

If there's an underlying message in the series, it's that God is always at work in the lives of unbelievers to bring them to faith in Christ. Titus is a career intelligence officer, dedicated to carrying out deceptive, treacherous, sometimes violent, operations against both individuals and governments. He was raised in a dysfunctional family with no spiritual upbringing. Yet, while hiding out from Iran's secret police, he is confronted with the truth of the gospel. The message is simply that a conversion experience often happens to the most improbable people in the most unlikely of

In addition, contained in each of the books is the reality all believers must face—how to live out the Christian faith. Titus is forced to deal with what it means to be a follower of Christ in the world in which he operates. The first book primarily deals with his attempts to pray, but he also buys a Bible and attends church for the first time. Then, in Two Days in Caracas, Titus is thrust into several situations where he’s faced with the need to offer forgiveness for past sins. These are gut-wrenching episodes, and he’s not always successful.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up as a preacher’s kid, and it was actually my dad who gave me my first spy novel when I was eleven years old. After that, I was hooked on the thriller/suspense/mystery genre forever. I’m also a news fanatic, and I follow events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East.

I married a minister, and we’ve lived in several states in the South and Midwest and have served as missionaries in Costa Rica and Venezuela. For the past two decades, we’ve lived in Norman, Oklahoma, where my husband has been the pastor of a Baptist church.

I’ve also done freelance work for Baptist Press, a national news service for Baptists, reporting on the experiences of newly converted Christians. And, in a similar fashion, when we lived in Indiana, I wrote a weekly column for The Indiana Baptist, which told the stories of ordinary people who became followers of Christ. I belong to several organizations for writers, including the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Where can we find you?

My personal website is, and then I have a website devoted to my thrillers, I blog at His Glory My Joy and I’m the Blessing Box Blogger.