Thursday, September 30, 2010

Victoria Byllin: Recipe for a Romance Novel

My good friend Vicki has an October release, so I asked her to tell us about it.

I don’t know what it is about recipes and romance novels, but they fit together like bread and butter. For fun I thought I’d share a recipe of my own. This isn’t something you’ll whip up in the kitchen. It’s not food for the body, but rather food for the heart. It’s the recipe for Wyoming Lawman,  my October release for Love Inspired Historicals. I’m calling it “Happily Ever After Cake.”

1 single mother
1 deputy sheriff
2 children -- girl, age 5. Boy, infant.
5 bad guys
1 best friend, slightly grizzled
1 guilty secret, pre-cooked
1 female cousin, borderline spinster
1 saloon fire
5 kisses

Preheat the oven to “Warm & Cozy.” Remove single mother from carriage and place her in danger. Add little girl. Stir vigorously. Add hero with badge. Stir until ingredients are well blended. Add baby boy. Season with a kiss and set aside.

In a separate bowl, crack open the bad buys. Scramble with the guilty secret. Cook on low heat in a frying pan, stirring constantly. Turn up the heat with the saloon fire. Turn it up even higher with the cousin falling for the hero and the best friend being cantankerous. When the ingredients thicken, add the contents of the first bowl to the frying pan. Turn up the heat yet again. Continue to cook, stirring vigorously. Season liberally with kisses.

When the mixture is at a full boil, pour into a heart-shaped pan. Let the mixture cool for exactly one final scene. Frost with an epilogue.

That’s the recipe for “Happily Ever After Cake.” I hope you enjoy it!

The Deputy’s Decision
Matrimony? Never again for deputy sheriff Matt Wiley. The only good thing from his first marriage is his daughter. His little girl might want a mother, but Matt knows that no woman should have to deal with his guilty secret, or his anger at God. He’ll do his duty, serve the town of Cheyenne and keep his distance. Yet when courageous single mother Pearl Oliver comes to town, watching from the sidelines isn’t an option--especially when Pearl lands herself in danger. His heart, Pearl’s life and the safety of their town are all at risk. Only the love and faith he thought he’d left behind can help him win his way to happily ever after.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Magnificent Seven: Return to Big Sky Country

The Magnificent Seven just became available on amazon! You can order a paperback or the Kindle version.


"A life with you just isn't possible."
Heather Johnson had never intended to return to Whitehorn, Montana. But restoring an inherited ranch seemed the perfect way to pass the summer with her three kids. The moment she hired carpenter Mitch Fielding, though, his motherless twin daughters in tow, those short-term plans suddenly went awry. Mitch was the first man in her life who truly seemed to notice her. And as his skillful hands restored the ranch and ignited a passion she'd never known, her fragile heart began to heal, as well. For once in Heather's life everything seemed magnificent. And that scared her. Because the future she wanted--and the past she'd run from--were forever in Whitehorn....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bad Romance and Rather Bad Dancing Too

Okay, so they're funny, but these guys are singing accappella and doing a really good job!
(It's also one of my favorite songs from this past year--liked the Glee version best)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gordman's Coupon

Post me for  coupon good for 15% off your entire Gordman's purchase.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Barbie Day: wish you were here

Here's what Alexis and I did Saturday afternoon. 

And took pictures!

Yes, we played Barbies. No, they're not hers; they're mine.( Note the 80s and 90s dolls. I have New Kids on the Block and Spice Girls, too. lol) We fixed their hair and dressed them in out of style clothes and laughed a lot.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I’ve heard it said that if a writer is targeting New York publishers WWII is a taboo time period. I wish I could say something insightful at this point, like, “I knew it was only a matter of time before WWII settings opened up.” But my venture into this time period wasn’t all that conscious, not in terms of making an easy sell or even proving the masses wrong.

First off, I should explain that DANGEROUS ALLIES is not like any of my other Love Inspired Historicals, mainly because it’s not a western. Not even close. It’s a romantic spy thriller set in 1939 Nazi Germany. The hero is an American naval officer on loan to the British government. MI-6 sends him into Germany to photograph the blueprints of a Nazi secret weapon. The heroine is an exiled Russian princess and the hero’s contact inside Germany. Because this book is an Inspirational, the main characters are facing the consequences of their wavering faith. I won’t spoil the story here, but when the reader discovers why the hero and heroine became spies in the first place their lack of faith in a “good” God makes sense.

Needless to say, DANGEROUS ALLIES, is not a traditional Inspirational romance. The main characters are spies. They lie, cheat, steal, and (in the case of the hero on one occasion) kill to get the job done. They operate under the assumption: sacrifice one to save a multitude. But the larger sacrifice could be their very salvation. Heavier than my normal stuff.

So why did I write this story at all? It’s important to note that I wrote DANGEROUS ALLIES during a very looooooong dry spell between sales. I was so frustrated after my first publisher dumped me that I quit writing altogether and cancelled my membership in all of my writers’ groups. I knew I was heading down a dark road. I couldn’t keep chasing the sale anymore. I was a bit too obsessed. In fact, the pursuit became my sole mission.

Something had to chance. I purposely took a step back and started working on my own faith walk, something I had let lag to dangerous indifference. I also started reading books that were not romances, namely thrillers written by men for men. I very quickly realized these books, though well-written and fascinating, lacked the depth of character, emotion and romance I preferred. And then it occurred to me. If I was going to collect rejections, I might as well swing for the fences and stop playing it safe. Enter the WWII time period, a time of true heroism that hasn’t been overdone. I was inspired. I took what I knew about romance writing and what I’d learned from all those male-targeted thrillers and melded the two inside the taboo time period. I added the Inspirational thread for me, and my Daddy, too, a WWII vet who always says, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

I had no real plans of selling this manuscript, until I was having dinner with my editor one night and told her the above story behind the book. She wanted to see the manuscript. It wasn’t right for LIH, she informed me. But she made some solid suggestions on how I could work to fit the story into the LIH line. I made the changes and a few months later she bought the revised manuscript.

Moral of this story: Swing for the fences. Never play it safe. And stop chasing the sale. You never know what may come of looking beyond the obvious.

Renee Ryan writes for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired line. Her fabulous editor is Melissa Endlich. For more information, you can visit Renee at