Monday, May 30, 2016


To wish you all a "Happy Memorial Day" seems somehow irreverent for the loss of so much life over the centuries...

I wish you simply to remember. 

Joshua 4 reminds of memorials and why we do them....

4 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial.

21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”


We have stones too...


Researching our family history, I've been able to find three ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. Above, my husband stands beside his 5x's Great Grandfather's memorial, John O'Gullion, who fought at the Battle of Long Island and was wounded in New Jersey, yet lived to be near 100. 
Yet sadly, none of our family knew his memorial had been in the county they lived in for the next 5 generations, because no one passed the story on to the next generation.


Above, this week I've just located a third patriot: Jacob Hite, my husband's 5x's great grandfather who fought at the Siege at Yorktown and was present when Cornwallis surrendered to the American Continental Army. This battle in 1781, under the command of Gen. George Washington, was the last land battle and brought about the negotiation of the end of the Revolutionary War.

This spring I found another patriot, Col. Henry Haller, my husband's 6x's great grandfather who fought along side Gen. George Washington. I would like to find his stone one day, but it's on his private family farm in Pennsylvania. 
At Find-A-Grave.com, it reports family tradition states that he crossed the Delaware with Washington. I was so happy to learn his family told of his story!

Whether stones of our forefathers, or memorials to God, tell your stories of God's faithfulness to your children. Perhaps then there could be less war and a greater humbleness for life and the sacrifices made on our behalf.

Today, tell your children what these stones mean.
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

His Prairie Sweetheart Giveaway!!!!

Erica Here:

May has been a wonderful month, celebrating the release of my first Love Inspired Historical, His Prairie Sweetheart. To say thank you to all of you who have celebrated with me, I'm having a giveaway!

THREE giveaways, in fact. Next Friday, I'll choose three winners. US Residents only, please. Enter, follow, sign up, put your name in the hat, and otherwise, enjoy!





Grand Prize Package:
Tote Bag from Thirty-One
Snowflake Memory Keepsake Box
Cookie cutters to make your own version of
Kransekake, just like Savannah
Bay Rum Soap
Snowflake-shaped bath bombs
Snowflake cookie cutter
Autographed copy of His Prairie Sweetheart

Prize Package #2
Snowflake Memory Keepsake Box
Kransekake cookie cutters
Sandalwood soap
Snowflake cookie cutter
Autographed copy of His Prairie Sweetheart


Prize Package #3
Autographed copy of His Prairie Sweetheart
Snowflake Cookie Cutter

Here's a bit about the book, and you can get a copy HERE. 




A Home for Her Heart 
After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students' lack of English, the rough surroundings and sheriff Elias Parker's doubts and distrust, Savannah's unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she's determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way. 
Elias gives it a week—or less—before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty dresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn't give up. Yet the real test is to come—a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her…

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Chivalry is Not Dead

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending part of my day with my good friend Jackie and two of her children. Her daughter is three (almost four!) and her baby boy is almost five months old. We ran a few errands and then went to Costco. Since Jackie is the mother of five children and I am the mother of four, you can imagine that we had quite a bit in our shopping carts. By the end of the trip, Jackie had two shopping carts full, and I had one plum full, too.

The children were amazing through the whole day, but by the end of our Costco experience (and it was an experience: think Memorial Day), the baby had started to fuss, so Jackie put him in a sling.

We checked out and proceeded to exit the building, with all three shopping carts in tow. It was also raining...as in, downpour. As we made our way through the parking lot, we resembled a train. I pushed my cart, and reached behind me for one of Jackie's, which she also pushed, and then reached behind for her second. Meanwhile, the baby was in the sling, and the cutie-patootie little girl walked close by.

Right as we reached Jackie's van, a gentlemen from somewhere in the parking lot ran up to us with an umbrella! He came out of nowhere, and held the umbrella over my head. After I got into the van with the children, he held it for Jackie to put away the groceries. Neither of us knew him, but that didn't stop him from offering his help. It was such a refreshing experience and a combination of MN Nice and old-fashioned chivalry.

I love this picture of Prince William
holding an umbrella over his wife
while in New Zealand.
After the groceries were stored, and the baby was fed, we went back into Costco to grab a quick bite to eat. While we were sitting there, Jackie remembered another item she had wanted to buy and asked me to run back and get it for her while she brought the kids to the van. I went to the bakery department and picked up what she requested, then I came back to the cash registers and--Wow! The lines up front had multiplied. We were easily five or six customers deep at every register. My arms were loaded with the bakery items, and they weren't light.

But that's when the second act of chivalry happened.

As I was standing there, a gentleman ahead of me quietly moved all his items out of the child seat area of his cart, into the basket, and then invited me to set down my load until it was my turn to pay. He didn't say anything else, or try to strike up a conversation. We simply moved forward in line. After he placed all his items on the conveyor belt, he put a separating bar down, and then put the bakery items next. I said thank you, and he nodded. And then he paid for his items and left.

By the time Jackie and I pulled out of the parking lot, it had stopped raining. As we drove home, I continued to think about those gentlemen who had done such simple acts of kindness. Their thoughtfulness went a long way in easing our burdens and lifting my spirits. It has made me conscious of looking for ways to help others in simple, day-to-day activities, too. Often, those are the most impactful.

Your Turn: Has a stranger ever done an act of kindness for you? What have you done to ease the burden of someone else? I'd love to hear some stories.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Animals in Books


Erica here:

I grew up with dogs. At various times in my youth, we had an Old English Sheepdog, a Dachshund (Which lasted about a week, until it ate every last left shoe my mother owned) Brittany Spaniels, and a black lab/Irish setter mix. I don't remember any significant stretch of my childhood where we didn't have a dog.

I don't have a dog at the moment. I have a haughty, needy, adorable cat, but no dogs. I kind of miss them!

Maybe I am harking back to those long ago days of my childhood, but the last three books I've written, the hero has a dog who plays a big roll in the story. In His Prairie Sweetheart, Elias has a collie named Captain. Captain is friendly and energetic and loves children.

A picture of friend Renee Chaw's beautiful boy, the template for Captain


In my novella, Love at Last, which will be the finale to the collection 7 Brides for 7 Texans, my hero, Bowie has two dogs, Stonewall and Clara, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, or Catahoula Curs. He named them after Stonewall Jackson and Clara Barton, and in the story, Clara whelps a litter of beautiful pups.

Clara. I LOVE her blue eyes.

Catahoula pups

Stonewall. So athletic! Catahoulas are used as cattle dogs and for hunting feral pigs.


And in my current story, my hero, Thomas, has a Catahoula/mystery mutt mix named Rip, named after Texas Ranger Rip Ford. Rip has one yellow eye and one blue eye, and he's grown very attached to an orphaned newborn, to the point of not wanting to leave the baby.

Rip, the Catahoula/mystery mix. He looks like he's got some Husky or Akita in him. 


It turns out, I LOVE writing dogs into my stories! Dogs have such personality, and a hero with a dog is easy to relate to, shows a softer side, and has someone who cares about him right away.

On another happy doggy note, last night friends Tammy and Charlie from my church stopped by with a box full of corgi puppies!!!! Four little darlings, two males, two females. Two of them have sable markings and two of them have tri-color markings. Their mama, Pearl, is a gorgeous tri-colored little lady, and papa is a sable.

This handsome little fellow has the most adorable bit of white on one of his ears.

As you can see, they're used to being handled. This little lady is OUT cold. You can't see it, but she has a white heart-shape on her head that is adorable!!!

This bruiser is the alpha of the litter, a sable with an attitude! His mama, Pearl, is checking in n him.

This little girl was my favorite, a tri-color with a sweet disposition and great markings.

Pretty mama, Pearl. She is a red-headed tri, meaning she has a black saddle, but no black on her head.

This is papa, he's a sable, and he has GREAT corgi ears!!!

The puppies are for sale. If you're interested, email me through my website contact page at www.ericavetsch.com :) They're ready to go around Father's Day.


Question for you:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Keeping the Balance Between Romance and Suspense

Lovely readers, today I (Jaime Jo) have a guestie filling in for me since I'm trying to get a head start on my new book! :) Please welcome Jessica Patch who writes Romantic Suspense for Love Inspired. I asked her to tell us how writers keep that fine balance between not enough suspense and too much romance, or too much suspense and not enough romance. She had some great insights, so please be friendly to dear Miss Jessica :)

_____________________________________

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to be visiting with all my gal pals at Coffee Cups & Camisoles. Love those pics of you ladies.

Today, I want to talk about writing romantic suspense and keeping the balance between the romance and the suspense. I write for Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense and they expect a 50/50. But the way I see it when I write is 100/100. I’m writing a full romance story and a full suspense story.

Each thread has to have a beginning, middle and end.

When writing for LIS, you must begin with a direct threat happening. Particularly to your heroine. The sooner the better. When writing suspense, open with suspense. Makes sense.

The romance needs to open up as soon as they meet, and in an LIS, the heroine and hero must meet in the first chapter; earlier is better but it doesn’t have to be the first line or paragraph. The first attraction is going to be physical. Let’s be honest, that’s where it all begins; even if you don’t like the person, there is typically some physical attraction and that include a reunion romance. Give them some chemistry!

For example in Protective Duty (which is a reunion romance) my heroine sees the back of the hero first. “A man dressed in jeans and a fitted black leather jacket accenting his broad shoulders—his hair as dark at the jacket—stood by a woman examining the body. She hadn’t admired a man in a long time. Shouldn’t be admiring one now, but he was hard not to notice.”

Immediately we see some physical attraction and when she realizes it’s Eric Hale, she’s still attracted and torn because of how they broke up. But as they spend time together it will develop from physical attraction, to admiring inner character traits (bravery, loyalty, compassion, etc..), to an emotional connection giving it a well-rounded love story. And of course, throw in the conflict! Why can’t your hero be with your heroine? Why can’t your heroine be with your hero? What will they have to give up to be with one another? Make it believable and devastating to ratchet up the tension.

Remember, they are falling in love (fully developed) WHILE in peril, solving a crime/mystery, running from bad guys. So the suspense must be fully crafted as well. Put the hero and heroine together in every single chapter. Sometimes, you need a scene without them together, but make sure you bring them back to one another by the end and keep them that way most of the next scene.

Create scenes where they’re in danger, but also a few scenes where they have a minute to catch their breath and have some dialogue that shows them falling in love. You can’t get into deep conversations while trying to stay alive. So, what’s your deepest, darkest secret? *dodges bullets* Doesn’t happen like that. You also can’t have too many non-suspenseful scenes or you lose that tension. I never go two full chapters without some kind of direct threat to the heroine/hero. So grab those note cards and start brainstorming all the ways you can take them out! And all the scenes that involve aftermath and becoming emotionally connected.

The suspense thread should be completely resolved and don’t forget to toss in a few fun twists. Readers already know they’re getting a HEA, they just wanna know HOW it’s going to come about. They know the good guys will win, so give them some rabbit trails to chase. Books I always love to read have fun twists that I didn’t see coming. So I like to attempt to do the same!

Any questions? I’d love to answer them or at least try to!

 ____________________________________________

And to make today's post even more fun, Jess is giving away a copy of both books seen above! Fatal Reunion and Protective Duty


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Monday, May 23, 2016

Transitions: 40 Days & Nights

The winner of The Mistress of Tall Acre is Jean Bean! 


The next forty days hold a lot of transitions.
We started with my daughter's graduation from Taylor University, then moved her and my son home from college. Apart from mounds of laundry and the crazy dynamics of having young adults moving back to the empty nest, we are in the midst of the last five weeks of planning our son's wedding.
At the end of the forty days, right after the wedding, my daughter takes off for two months of internship in Dublin, Ireland. My husband and I are excited to visit here there in July. 
There is much to celebrate, and good adjustments to come. 

My favorite Psalm of all seems good for the days of change:

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary

Friday, May 20, 2016

Falling for the Hometown Hero - Interview with Mindy Obenhaus


Super thrilled to have Mindy Obenhaus here at the CCC blog! It's always fun to have familiar faces and great story tellers. Enjoy getting to know Mindy and don't forget to enter the drawing for her latest novel (USA winner only)

_____________________________

What authors do you like to read?

Jill Kemerer, Lisa Jordan, Lorraine Beatty and Ruth Logan Herne, just to name a few. Rachel Hauck is another favorite. I absolutely love her royal series.

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

About all I can say is that I remember reading Susan May Warren’s Noble Series and thinking, “I want to write like that.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

Characters. Though the two really go hand-in-hand. I usually figure out my characters first and then try to come up with the best plot for them.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?

This is a tricky question, because as soon as I say that one subject, God will likely lay it on my heart to write about just that. As a writer, all I can do is be open to whatever God calls me to write and trust Him to lead me through whatever complexities might come with that.

How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?

There are times when choosing names is really a pain. Sometimes I’ll use the Baby Name Survey Book to help me with both meanings and perceptions of names, but more often than not the names just come to me. I’m a visual person first, so I need to know what each of my characters looks like. After that, I make sure the name fits their face, as well as their personality. Like in the book I’m working on now, I had Jen as my heroine’s name. Shortly after I started writing, though, she quickly corrected me, letting me know that her name was actually Carly.

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)

Secret, huh? There’s not a whole lot about me that’s a secret. Especially when it comes to talents. I love to cook. And thanks to my oldest daughter, I’m kind of getting into distressing furniture.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?

Probably more of an adventurous soul, much to my mother’s chagrin. Might come from being an only child. I didn’t have any siblings to learn from, so I had to carve my own path.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I was at our family ranch, alone, and encountered a copperhead snake. Not the first time this has happened to me, however I’m usually able to call on my husband or one of my son’s to take care of the vile creature for me. Not this time. Naturally, the guns were with my husband who was still en route, so not only did I have to face the snake alone, I had to get close enough to decapitate it with a shovel. Which I eventually did, however it took me several tries, meaning the snake probably died more from bludgeoning than decapitation.

What’s your writing goals for 2016?

I have two books due this year, so those are my goals.

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

From the June 2016 release Falling for the Hometown Hero from Love Inspired Books. Copyright 2016 Mindy Obenhaus.

 “I know I already asked you, but are you sure you’re all right, Grace?”
No getting anything past Mr. Perceptive. Yet for as much as she longed to pour her heart out to him, she didn’t trust herself. He was the kind of guy who would listen attentively and do his best to comfort her. And the comforting was what worried her. It would be so easy to fall into his strong arms and believe that all was right with the world.
So, for her boss’s sake as much as her own, she’d just have to fake it. “Yeah. I’m just a little tired, that’s all.”
“I hope you’re not getting sick.” He moved toward her, his concern mounting.
“I’m fine. I just…” Tell him. Give the guy a chance. “I didn’t sleep well last night.” No fibbing there.
Wiping his hands on a shop rag, he continued to study her. “That would explain the bags under your eyes.”
Did he just—? “Bags? What do you mean—?”
He laughed. “There’s the spitfire we all know and love.”
Love?
Still laughing, he lowered his arms, closed the distance between them and gave her a hug. “Sleep well, Grace.” He smelled of fresh air and masculinity. A toxic mix for someone in her pathetic state. And she missed him as soon as he stepped away. “And remember, I’m always here if you need me.”

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