I’ll admit, when I first joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) in 2012, and met Susan Karsten through their critique group, I wasn’t sure about linking up with a critique partner who wrote historical romance. After all, I wrote contemporary stuff with Special Forces military men as my heroes, and had a grittier sense of story-telling. But once she and I started trading chapters, I was enthralled with her style and grace in writing.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled to announce the debut of the first book in Susan Karsten’s Honor’s Point Series, A Match for Melissa. Just look at that awesome cover! It’s gorgeous.
From the back-cover blurb:
*Melissa Southwood goes along with her ambitious father’s matchmaking schemes until one event throws all into question.
Amidst balls, carriage rides, dinner parties, and danger, Melissa must navigate an arranged courtship as well as the attentions of another nobleman.
Which aristocratic suitor will win her heart?*
Here, I’ll let some of the reviews on Amazon speak for themselves:
It’s with great pleasure that I fully endorse A Match for Melissa. If you’re a fan of historical fiction (and even if you aren’t), I trust that you’ll enjoy this book as much as I have. Highly recommended.
Check it out on Amazon.com now.
Bethel Manor Reborn, a sequel to Bethel Manor
If you enjoyed Bethel Manor, you’re sure to like the Bethel Manor Reborn. Follow the continuing story of James Blackwell and Clair Shaw Blackwell as they travel the road of life together with a new baby to care for.
When trials come their way, will they be able to overcome them and remain strong in their faith and commitment to one another? Read Bethel Manor Reborn. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Set for release on May 29, 2017, Bethel Manor Reborn has already garnered 31 positive reviews on Amazon. Check it out and pre-order NOW:
How I met this awesome author:
I met Beatrice Fishback through ACFW’s (American Christian Fiction Writers) online critique group and was immediately drawn to her chapters of Dying to Eat at the Pub, a cozy mystery she’d just finished writing, and is now available on all major online bookstores. I’d chuckled out loud at her prose and even shared it with my husband. In short, I fell in love with her style of writing.
With eagerness, I asked if we could be critique partners, and we began sharing chapters of each other’s work. Our relationship was cemented by an in-person meeting in upstate New York at Pomodoro’s Italian Eatery in Catskill, New York where we ordered a 24” pepperoni pizza and did our best, unsuccessfully, to finish it off. Yes, twenty-four inches. Biggest pizza I’ve ever seen, and I’m from Bronx, New York.
Since our meeting, Bea has written several books, with Bethel Manor Reborn being the latest in her repertoire.
Check out Bethel Manor Reborn. If you haven’t already read Bethel Manor, I suggest you buy it as well and read it first.
Beatrice Fishback has also authored several other books you may be interested in. Click on the book covers below and go to the Amazon page to read more about each book.
In short, I LOVE Bea Fishback’s writing. I think you will too.
Several years ago I took a trip from Boston to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a connecting flight in London. The first plane landed in London around seven in the morning, right on schedule. I had put a lot of effort into making sure I wouldn’t have a lengthy layover at the airport and was happy that my next flight would leave in about two hours.
However, as I dragged my bag to another terminal for the connection, I was notified that the flight from London to Malaysia would be delayed. The counter clerk couldn’t tell me how long the delay would be and didn’t have a reason for it. She gave me two meal tickets, redeemable at any restaurant in the airport, and told me to keep a close watch on the departure board for further flight information.
My anticipated two-hour wait turned into eleven. Weary passengers started to board the plane at six in the evening. Like automatons, we filed into our seats and settled in for the flight.
I enjoyed my few weeks in Malaysia and flew back home without incident or delay. But as days went by, I started to stew over that delay in London. No apologies, no explanation. To the airline, we were human cargo. At least, that’s how it felt to me. The obligatory meal tickets we were given had done little to relieve the stress and aggravation of the lengthy delay.
I wrote to the airline to voice my complaint and used a formula that had worked for me in the past:
- Tell the company what I like about their service. If I’d used them many times, tell them I’ve been a loyal customer.
- Politely voice my complaint.
- Suggest a remedy. Tell the company what they can do to satisfy my grievance and restore my faith in their service.
In a nutshell, I told the airline that I’d flown with them many times without incident and had been pleased with their service. Next, I voiced my complaint about the delay and that we were never given a reason for it. For the grand finale, I suggested that since the delay had cost me nine additional hours of what precious little vacation time my employer had given me, that it would be nice if they gave me a free round-trip voucher good for any flight in the United States to help with my next vacation.
Guess what? It didn’t take long before I received the voucher I’d asked for. Even I was surprised. It had been a long shot to ask for that much compensation, but I was downright pleased about the outcome.
Sometimes it’s true that you have not because you ask not.
It was a dark and stormy night…
Generators hummed all around us as my husband and I stood in the dark watching the storm from under the carport of the house we’d recently moved into. We’d lost power along with 140+ other houses in a long, narrow swatch of our neighborhood, while two blocks on either side of us streetlights burned bright and light shone from people’s windows. Later, we would learn from our neighbors that power outages were a common occurrence, and that multiple complaints had been lodged with the power company to no avail.
After living in the house for several years, we’d experienced many power outages and had joined the ranks of generator owners. Some outages lasted hours, some days. All the while, the streets circling our strip of darkness stayed bright and cheerful.
I was sitting at my computer one day when I decided something had to be done. But what? Then, a bright idea hit me. If the power company didn’t care, surely there had to be a regulating governmental agency that could help motivate them to do something about our situation.
With a little research, I found the government office that regulated utilities and exchanged several letters with them via email. Not long after that, the power company replaced several major lines that serviced our neighborhood. We haven’t had a power outage since.
I’ve had several other successes wielding the power of the pen—once when an insurance company sent me in circles for a year, refusing to pay for a surgical procedure, and another time when they wouldn’t pay for a prescription. In both instances, a letter to the commissioner of insurance did the trick. The insurance company suddenly realized their “mistake,” honored their obligations and paid the bills immediately.
A written appeal to a higher authority can help remedy situations like those I’ve mentioned above. Or, on a softer note, a card tucked in a bouquet of flowers that expresses love or appreciation can brighten someone’s day. And who doesn’t love getting a hand-written letter from a friend or loved one?
The pen is mighty, and with it you have the power to move mountains.
It was a dark well lit and air conditioned stormy night…
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My youngest son, Jesse, then eleven or so, was elated when we bought him an inexpensive paint set and an eight-by-ten mounted canvas. He couldn’t wait to get started on a project that would hold a place of preeminence on our living room wall.
We had often watched Bob Ross, an artist on PBS, who painted land and seascapes from start to finish, all within half-hour weekly segments, and made the endeavor look like a piece of cake. Everything looked simple. I’m sure that other viewers, like us, said to themselves, “I could do that!”
I asked Jesse, “So, what would you like to paint for your first project?”
His reply? “I think I’ll start with something simple, like painting the Mona Lisa.”
What could I say? If Bob Ross could paint a beautiful vista in less than thirty minutes, who was I to say that Jesse couldn’t paint the Mona Lisa, a rather blah looking woman, if you ask me, over the course of a few days, a week, a month, or however long it took?
I said, “Have at it,” and left the artist to himself.
A few days later, Jesse was ready for the unveiling of his masterpiece.
Instead of the Mona Lisa, which he deemed just a tad too complicated, he had decided he’d use a box of Ritz Crackers as his model, and painted it instead.
Yeah, Ritz Crackers. Sorry, Mona.
It was rudimentary at best, but totally recognizable as a Ritz Cracker box. Sorta.
We can all laugh at the story. It is kind of funny how the vision devolved from the lofty, Louvre-worthy Mona Lisa to a lowly box of Ritz Crackers. But in reality, how many of us are guilty of rushing things? Things for which we might have a pound of talent, but not an ounce of training or preparation. Things that, if we’d just waited, studied, and truly gotten a grasp on, would have blossomed into something beautiful and extraordinary.
Whether your art is painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, dancing, or writing, you need to educate yourself in the craft. Study from the greats. See what made them successful. Model yourselves after them. See what the current trends are for bringing your masterpiece into the public eye.
Is the Mona Lisa beyond your abilities? Draw the Ritz Cracker box instead. Paint the Coca-Cola logo, or sketch Captain Crunch. Write a short story or a poem about the place you lived as a child. Paint the living room walls, then one bedroom at a time. After that, paint the eaves, fascia boards, and shutters of your house.
Start anywhere. But START. Think big, but start small. Bite off small, manageable tasks. Master those, then go on to bigger, better, badder things.
Make your world come alive with your art. Even if you never make a red cent with it.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my inspirational romance novels. Check me out at AMAZON.COM.
The art of the kiss
Every romance novel you’ve ever read, with few exceptions, starts out with several things in common. The couple meets. There is an undeniable attraction. Eventually, there’s a first kiss; an important kiss that sets the tone for the rest of the hero and heroine’s relationship.
It is the author’s job to get this initial smooch just right. And, with the help of a popular Internet star, I hope to show you what goes through the author’s mind before their fictional hero and heroine lock lips for the very first time.
The Internet star I’m speaking of is April, a fifteen-year-old giraffe who is expecting a calf any day at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY. This will be the fifth calf for April, and the first for Oliver, her five-year-old mate. (Uh-oh. Does this make April a cougar?) A live-feed camera lets visitors view the April’s every move, and several of my Facebook friends seem enthralled with monitoring the long-necked expectant mother.
So, without further ado, here are some things an inspirational romance author like me considers when formulating that first kiss…
Here, whether initiated by the hero or heroine, the invitation for the kiss is waaay too forward. Eyes closed, neck extended, the tongue… Whoa, Nellie. Nix that idea.
Next we have the lips-only kiss. If anyone is going to “practice” this one, it’s going be the heroine. We’ll call her April. April figures tonight’s the night the hero will finally kiss her. So, a little rehearsal is in order.
But what if the hero is a bit more passionate. Or, maybe he’s the aggressive type. What kind of kiss then? April steps up her game and gets a little feistier with her “practice” kiss.
Any way you look at it, the author has to describe that first kiss in a way that will make the reader feel that she is there, feeling the winter wind, the summer breeze, or the grass underneath her toes as the hero delivers what can henceforth never be a “first” again.
Therein lies the daunting task of a romance writer.
Today is the first anniversary of the death of Jim Lindsay, my good friend Nancy’s soulmate. I hadn’t realized it had been this long until I saw her post on Facebook. A post that brought me once again to tears.
To me, it seems like yesterday that news of Jim’s terrible illness and subsequent death reached me through a series of texts from a mutual friend. But the sorrow I see in Nancy’s eyes, and the pain in her voice every time she speaks his name lets me know that to her, Jim has been gone for what seems like an eternity.
Truthfully, I didn’t know Jim very well. The first time I met him, he was living in a genuine teepee while working with my husband at a refuel outage at a nuclear plant. I found him to be an extremely fascinating man.
Jim smoked a pipe, knew how to tie all sorts of knots, live on a shoestring, and loved his wilderness cabin in Montana where he enjoyed beautiful vistas of forested mountains from his back porch. And of course, he loved Nancy.
We weep with those who weep because love binds our hearts in inexplicable ways and causes a measure of their pain to become our own. This is part of friendship, of family. Of love.
November 24, 1951-
September 29, 2015
We celebrate your life, Jim. Thanks for sharing it with us.
My double purple trumpet flowers are by far the most beautiful feature of my little garden. This morning I thought I’d spied a rare triple bloom about to open and pushed aside two stalks of leaves and flowers to take a closer look.
Without warning, a stink bug from hell dive-bombed past my ear with a sound like that of a chinook helicopter, and another one took off, crossing my field of vision just inches from my face. Auuuggghhh, I screamed, lunatic style, then flailed my arms around my head while high-stepping it, double-time, back into the house.
It wasn’t the first time a bug had chased me from my garden. Probably won’t be the last. The shame of it is, stink bugs don’t bite or sting, and I know I shouldn’t be afraid of them.
It makes me wonder how many stink bugs I’ve allowed to come between me and things I want to enjoy?
I recently took a trip to Montana to visit a friend who lives near the Bitterroot Mountains. Nancy’s a good driver, but the fear of heights kept me from enjoying the breathtaking views as we drove the rural mountain roads through clean, fresh air and Ponderosa Pines. I’m calling STINK BUG on that fear.
Some fears I have are many years old. Like the fear of (go ahead and laugh) the dark, especially the fear of dangling my feet off the bed in the blackness of the night.
But other fears are relatively new – or at least more pronounced than they used to be. Like the fear of criticism or rejection. As a writer, I’m elated when my novels get good reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and brought to a low place by bad or mediocre ones. This fear has no basis. My self worth isn’t determined by what other people think of me or my work. I’m throwing the STINK BUG flag on that fear.
I’m sick and tired of the myriad of unmerited fears that make me run off screaming with arms flailing and feet stomping. So from now on, when I go to the garden, I’m going to stand my ground. And if one of those darn six-legged monsters even thinks of looking at me crooked, I’m going to yell STINK BUG and keep looking for that triple bloom if it kills me.
Or, gulp… Run.
A funny thing happened after midnight. Jim was tossing and turning, so I went to the bedroom across the hall to sleep. As I lay there, I kept thinking that maybe the song I’d written for a chapter I’d penned that day wasn’t really an original from my brain, but the lyrics from a song from the Miss Potter movie. Was I plagiarizing without realizing it? I had to find out.
I grabbed my phone and was going to research the song on YouTube, but was afraid the light from it would brighten the room and also spill out into the hallway and into Jim’s bedroom. Both our doors were open. Too lazy to get up and close the door, I sat in the bed and tossed the covers over me like a tent and listened to “When You Taught Me How to Dance” from Miss Potter. With the volume turned super-low, I strained to hear the music.
Meanwhile, in the master bedroom, Jim thought he heard music and wondered where it was coming from. So, he got up and peeked out the blinds to the backyard. Nothing. Then, he figured maybe the neighbor was playing the radio and came to my room to look out my blinds.
He said he stopped in the doorway, saw a musical, glowing mound in the middle of my bed, and almost laughed.
“What are you doing?” Jim said.
I jumped out of my skin at the sound of his voice, let out a scream, and threw off the covers — then screamed again when his dark figure stood against the backdrop of white mini blinds.
The good news? I didn’t steal the lyrics after all.