Saturday, May 31, 2014

One of the Most Joyful Moments of My Life: Mary Connealy

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. When I did get my first contract I had twenty finished books on my computer at home. I had just enough encouragement through those ten long years to keep me going.

I was a stay-at-home mom when I started but during those years my children grew up and I got a job working forty hours a week, teaching GED.

Somewhere in about the third year of my writing, I send a manuscript into Silhouette

Romance and they requested a full manuscript. From the time I sent the three chapters in, then their request for a whole manuscript, then finally their rejection, it took a full year. So I’m starting to see just how slow the publishing world is. I sent that book in as a result of placing third in a writer’s contest and I did pretty well in them. I learned a lot from the critiques. Also when I’d final, I got judged by editors and agents.

There came a time when I expected to final in any contest I entered. The two years before I got published I was a finalist in eleven contests with five different books. And all the while I’m entering these contests, I kept writing.

I discovered ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and entered my manuscript Petticoat Ranch in their unpublished contest. I was a double finalist in 2004, another book of mine, Montana Rose, was in the running, too. (Montana Rose releases in July).

I won The Genesis Theme contest and got a lot of requests to send in my book. I also got a really simple request from historical fiction author, Cathy Marie Hake. She asked me to send her my first three chapters.

Cathy read what I sent her and said she thought I was ‘ready’. By this time, I had so many rejections I had a hide like a rhino, so submitting work didn’t even phase me. Okay, well maybe I crawled under my computer desk and sucked my thumb for a day or two every time I got one but other than that I was fine.

Just before the next year’s conference, Cathy Marie Hake told me she wanted to pitch my name to write a book as part of a three book series set in historical Alaska.

Every year at the conference the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I knew there was a chance it could be me. The Heartsong editor, Tracie Peterson, said someone else’s name, so okay, I’ve been rejected before. I kind of expect it.

And then she said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts to first time authors. We’re offering a contract to Mary Connealy.” I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking joyful moment.

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I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life.

And this month my 30th and 31st books release and it all started with that one joyful moment.

Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel's only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.

But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is suffering signs of dementia. And his surprise sister immediately falls for one of Vince's best friends.

Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again.

Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.

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Four best-­selling romance novelists bring tales of feisty heroines, stubborn heroes, and
unlikely love in the Wild West. Get lost in Four Weddings & a Kiss today.

"Spitfire Sweetheart" by Mary Connealy

Maizy Place is an unruly tomboy. When she causes an accident, injuring neighbor Rylan Carstens, she becomes his unlikely caregiver. Rylan has never noticed how pretty his infuriating neighbor is, and he never expected to fall in love.

"Love Letter to the Editor" by Robin Lee Hatcher

Molly Everton is the outspoken daughter of the town newspaper's owner. When her father brings in an outsider to be editor, she tries to drive him out of town. But Jack Ludgrove is not intimidated. He's resolved to change Molly's mind about him--as an editor and as a man.

"A Cowboy for Katie" by Debra Clopton

Katie Pearl is uninterested in men and love. But she needs help on her ranch and hires Treb Rayburn, a wandering cowboy looking to make a buck. Will Treb change Katie's mind?

"Courting Trouble" by Margaret Brownley

Grace Davenport is either the unluckiest woman alive--or a killer. When her third husband is found dead, Grace is arrested. Attorney Brock Daniels isn't interested in the case--until he meets Grace. Only a miracle will prove her innocence, but the joining of two lonely hearts may be their saving grace.

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. She is the author of Swept Away and Fired up, Book #1 & #2 in the Trouble in Texas series, book #3 Stuck Together is coming June 2014. And the Wild at Heart series begins in September with book #1 Tried & True.

A novella collection called Four Weddings and a Kiss is also releasing in June.

Mary is also in the author of the bestselling Kincaid Bride series, Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, Montana Marriages Trilogy and Sophie's Daughters Trilogy and many other books. Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters, two spectacular grandchildren, and one on the way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Joy is Strength: Tina Radcliffe

A lot of people think of joy like frosting on a cupcake, a sweet but temporary, frothy emotion. But I’ve learned that’s anything but the truth.
I was reminded in a recent devotion that if I diagram the sentence in Nehemiah 8:10, removing ‘of the Lord’ I would see the reality.
Joy and strength are interchangeable.

Now, for some personal history on how I discovered the strength to be found in joy.

About two years ago, I was dealing with a situation that stole my joy. This was a situation I couldn’t hide from, but faced each and every day. During personal prayer time the Lord instructed me in his still small voice to start a journal. Every single day I was to write at least one thing I was thankful for. 

Each day as the thankfulness grew, discouragement fled and my joy returned. Joy took over and battled against the situation for me.

Fifteen months later, joy overcame the situation and it is now in the past! The solution was nothing I could have dreamed up. And the truth is that the situation wasn’t simply defeated; I came out on the other side in BETTER shape in all areas of my life. Areas that had nothing to do with the situation were positively enhanced. Wow. Now that’s a testimony even I didn’t think I would share.

If your joy is gone your strength is too. No strength = no power to do battle for you and the Kingdom.

Begin one day at a time to lift your voice until your strength returns! Use those joy muscles.

Tina Radcliffe writes joyful and humorous romance for Love Inspired. Her next release Stranded with the Rancher is available for preorder, or find it at your favorite online or real-time book retailer in early September.


A collection of seventeen poignant and romantic short stories guaranteed to make you smile, laugh and remember your first love.

Fans of short romantic fiction will enjoy these 800 to 1200 word heart warmers. Many first appeared in Woman’s World Magazine.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Joy of Writing and a Kindle Book Drawing: Tanya Hanson

Years ago, my kids declared they could eat pizza every single day. Not long afterward, we found a pizza deal for our son’s birthday one, get one free. Oh, the leftovers! They ate pizza until they wept in despair.

It wasn’t long, though, when their appetites for those big round red pies returned in full force.

My point isn’t being careful what you wish for. It’s...the joy of writing can’t happen without some slices of “despair”, some bad tastes, some stomach aches. I love the written word. I remember grasping in my little left hand my giant, first grade pencil. I remember reading Little Women when I was eight, promising myself I’d be a writer someday. But instead of a nasty little sister who burned my manuscript in the fireplace, I discovered a long and winding road. 

But wow, have I learned much and enjoyed all the twists and turns!

Wonderful, supportive editors, practically friends, supplant the snarky one who destroys confidence along with endless track changes. A short, heart-felt email from a reader heals the misery of a vile review.

The touch of my daughter’s hand makes up for a lean sales report when she says, Mom, the story works for me.

Sometimes I want to kick the computer out my upstairs writing-room window so I can concentrate even more on the grandkids...carve out time and actually read somebody else’s book. Maybe even catch up on the 14 episodes of Justified’s last season I’ve got moldering in the DVR...

But a new story is percolating. My editor has just said, write this for me. I can’t say no, because the joy inside works better than caffeine or red wine.

I’m a writer. I can’t help myself. This joy--it, well, it just is.

In a totally unrelated question, what’s the food you never get tired of? I ask, because I’m giving away a PDF or Kindle copy of my contemporary inspirational novella, Hearts Crossing Ranch. If you’ve ever wanted to take a city-slicker wagon train trip, this might just be the book for you!

A beautiful city slicker and a rugged cowboy…The perfect Wild West adventure.
Cowboy Kenn Martin bears the guilt for allowing a coach to ruin his younger brother’s bright athletic future. Feeling unworthy of any happiness, he’s lost his faith in relationships and in God. When he meets Christy Forrest, he begins to hope for redemption but soon learns his past mistakes aren't something she'll easily forgive.

On the Colorado wagon train adventure planned by her late father, landscape designer Christy Forrest seeks to find peace in the nature she loves. However, she can't let go of her anger at the drunk driver who killed her dad—or the woman who did nothing to stop the man from driving.  Falling for Kenn Martin begins to lighten her heart…until she realizes the handsome cowboy carries heavy a burden all his own—a burden she’s not sure she can accept.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Where Do I Find My Joy In Writing? Winnie Griggs

When Cheryl invited me to write a post on the above topic I jumped at the chance.  Because there are so many things about the writing experience that has brought real joy to my life.  First of course, is the opportunity to share with others all these stories that fill my head, demanding to get out.  And every time I get a note from a reader who was moved in some way by one of these stories, it touches something inside me, makes me truly happy

But there is another aspect of my writing that I never expected when I started down this road - the numerous friendships I developed with other writers.  After I’d finished writing my first full length novel, I joined writing groups in the hopes that they would guide me in the ‘what now’ aspects.  The more experienced writers I met there took this nervous newbie under their wing, providing support, encouragement and invaluable lessons on the craft and business of writing.  I met writers who were at the same stage as me and we shared lessons we’d learned, critiqued together and spent hours talking about our dreams and our plans. 

Eventually I met others less experienced than I and tried to pay forward the same sort of support I’d received.   And along the way, many of these folks have become friends.  And some of them are now among the closest and dearest friends I’ve ever had.  My life is so much richer for having these folks in it.

So where do I find the joy in my writing - it is in the people it has brought into my life.

Rescuer Turned Husband?
Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower's heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn't dare try again.

When Turnabout's gossips target Mitch and Ivy's friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn't want to marry for honor, and she doesn't need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love's sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer?

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides…

Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace.  She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.

On a fun note - having been born on a Friday the 13th, Winnie has always considered 13 her lucky number.  This belief was recently reinforced when her 13th book, Handpicked Husband, won a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award in - what else - 2013.

Winnie loves to hear from readers.  You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Joy of Beginnings: Caroline Fyffe

I’m so happy to be a part of Cheryl’s month-long Joy of Writing. In this profession there are so many times when a writer can get discouraged. Feel rejected. Suffer writer’s block. Let stress cripple creativity. When those times occur, I open up a blank page. Why? Because I LOVE beginnings. Most writers will agree that writing “The End” brings a sense of joy to the soul, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Still, opening up a clean page to build a character, and then her world around her, with unlimited possibilities ahead, brings another wonderful sense of joy. With that said, there are times when working on a WIP bring small bursts of joy that I call flashes of delight. Here are some situations that might make me sit back and smile. It’s then I realize that my job is the best in the world. 

1.   When I finally discover the “why” behind a character I plopped into the story seemingly for no reason at all. He or she may have been there for days and I didn’t know why. I even worried about editing him/her out. Then, bam! Inspiration hits like a bolt of lightning, and now his/her purpose is revealed as a central part of my plotting. JOY!

2.      Writing really good dialog that makes me either laugh out loud or shed a tear. JOY!

3.      Experiencing a day when my fingers can’t keep up with the story in my head. JOY!

4.      Helping another writer plot past a rocky part in their WIP. JOY!

5.      Reading a really great review of one of my books. JOY! 

6.      Having a plot twist pop into my head when I least expect it. JOY!

These are some of the events that bring me joy; I’d love to hear what delights you most in your reading or writing.

Watch for Caroline’s upcoming releases!
Moon Over Montana, June 2014
Mail-Order Brides of the West: Kathryn, August 25
West Winds of Wyoming, September 30, 2014