Tag Archives: Love Inspired

Craft Tuesday: Hooks, part 2

First, let’s do a little review from January’s blog:  what is a hook in writing?  I bet you know this so I’m going to pause while you think of an answer. . . 

At the beginning of a novel or a chapter, a hook is like a fishing lure, it pulls you in, it makes you want to read more.    It’s the first few words or sentences that pull the reader into the story and makes you buy THAT book, not another.  Has anyone opened a book, read the first line and put back?  Why?   I’d guess it’s because the beginning doesn’t hook you, doesn’t promise you a good story or the kind of story you like.

But you knew this all of this.  Let’s look at two opening hooks that work well. 

SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS It Had to Be You  “Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral.”

ANN GEORGE Murder Boogies with Elvis  “I was lying on my stomach under the kitchen sink, eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich and listening to Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ when icy cold hands grasped my ankles.”

These are great for two reasons.  First, they make us wonder:  Why would this woman bring a French poodle and her Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral?   Who grabbed this woman’s ankles?   We want to read on because we want to know WHY? Second, they work well for the genre.  I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips women’s fiction and Ann George’s humorous mysteries.  These opening lines promise that these are exactly the kind of books I love.

Don’t you hate it when authors use their own books as examples?  I do, too, but I’m going to anyway.  And I do have a good reason.   This is the first line of my first Love Inspired, The Path to Love.  “Francie Calhoun learned to pick pockets when she was five, mark cards at eight and how to hotwire a car years before she could get an driver’s license.”  Does this opening make you wonder about this heroine?   Do you wonder more because this sentence is the beginning of an inspirational novel?  Often an opening that doesn’t promise what other books in the genre works well to catch the readers’ attention. 

The second reason is because my original idea for a book usually comes as an opening line.  My first idea for the beginning The Path to Love was, “Francie Calhoun met Jesus and the devil on the same afternoon.”  I love that line-but as I wrote the story, it no longer fit.  I had to cut it, completely.  That hurt.  But even if you have the best opening hook that has ever been published, if it doesn’t work with the novel, get rid of it.

Next month:  hooks between chapters.  An opening hook involves the reader in the story.  Internal links keep the reader going.   How do you do that?


My friend Ginny Aiken

The writing world is odd and small.   We run into some authors over and never meet others.  However, I’ve been fortunate to bump into Ginny several times.

We both wrote for Love Inspired and Ginny still does.   While we were writing for Love Inspired, another author confessed  she was dyslexic and had always been embarrassed about this.  About ten of us writers for Love Inspired said we were dyslexic as well and we weren’t a bit ashamed of that.    Ginny and I have learning disabilities and–together with three other Love Inspired writers–told our stories of how faith helped us overcome our problems.  The title of that book is–not unexpectedly–The Overcomers.  We self-published that book, available at amazon.com.

THEN, shortly after I signed my three-book contract with FaithWords, I discovered Ginny had, too.   Yes, we keep bumping into each other.  In Ginny’s three book series, each book will place a story about a woman in the Bible in a much more modern setting.    Here’s a list of the book in her THE WOMEN OF HOPE series:

For Such a Time as This, available now! 
Remember Me When,  June 2013
She Shall Be Praised,  2014

I’ve read FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS  and loved it.   Look for a review here Thursday.

Tomorrow Ginny will blog on her fantastic and incredibly busy life.  I’m so glad she found time to drop in here.    

What Is It About a Man With A Scar and a Secret?

Visiting Butternut Creek today is Jessica Nelson whose first book, Love on the Range, will be available from Love Inspired on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.  It’s great to have you here today, Jessica.  Please answer that question for us.  What is it about a man with a scar and a secret?   

Scars and secrets. Sometimes they’re intertwined.  For my character Gracelyn Riley, there’s more to her interest in rancher Trevor Cruz’s scar than mere curiosity. She’s on a search for a Bureau of Investigation agent who is rumored to be scarred. When she meets dark and mysterious Trevor Cruz on the way to her uncle’s, she’s certain he has secrets and determines to discover what he knows about Special Agent Striker. She needs to obtain an interview with the elusive agent and make a journalistic name for herself.

After all, if she gets this coveted interview and actually meets the man himself, The Woman’s Liberator has promised to hire her on as a journalist, enabling her to financially support herself rather than relying on her loving but restrictive parents.

Gracelyn isn’t shy and tends to speak first, think later. Overcome with curiosity and maybe a little bit of awkwardness, she asks the hero where he got his scar. He lies at first, but later the truth comes out. A secret unearthed, but not the one Gracie was looking for.

Scars are markers of a journey, almost like a tattoo. They tell a story of where a person has been, what they’ve done. Hero’s with scars and secrets can be very intriguing because there is the immediate knowledge that this person has faced something, done something, that tangibly marked them forever. Does it have anything to do with secrets? For me, characters who are scarred have already introduced a question mark and that makes me want to read on.

Do you have any interesting scars? How did you get them? Would you ask about someone else’s scar?

 More about the author:  Jessica Nelson, in keeping with her romantic inclinations, married two days after she graduated high school. She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story.

More about Love on the Range:    Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again. Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

A busy week ahead

This is a busy week in Butternut Creek.

On Tuesday, I’ll be blogging with Margaret Daley, giving an interview with Adam Jordan, one of the heroes of The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek.  http://www.margaretdaley.com/margarets-blog/   Hope you’ll drop by and leave a comment.  A book will be given away!

On Wednesday, the talented writer Jessica Nelson will be here to tell what we find so interesting about a man with a scar and a secret from her new Love Inspired Historical,  Love on the Range.   Isn’t that cover beautiful?  Do you have any thoughts about that man with a scar and a secret?  A prize will be given away.

And, on Thursday, I’ll be visiting Lyn Cote, blogging about the strongest woman I’ve ever known at   http://booksbylyncote.com/SWBS    I’d love to see you there, too.  AND a book will be given away.

Hope you’ll stop by often!


I’m counting down the days before The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is released on April 3:   TEN days!

Love and Hope and writer Missy Tippens

The first guest on my blog is Missy Tippens whose new book  A House Full of Hope is available from Love Inspired right now!   She and I met on a writers’ site sxi or seven years ago and have cheered each other on and cheered each other up along the path to publication.    I’m delighted she’s visiting here today.

Missy, tell us about yourself.

I’m a wife and mom of three—one in college, two in high school. And when I’m not being a mom, I write. In life before kids, I was a clinical microbiologist. I also spent a few years teaching as an adjunct instructor at our local technical college.

You have a book available now.  What’s it about?

A House Full of Hope is the second book set in my fictional town of Corinthia, Georgia. I love creating small towns. I’ve lived in cities/towns of varying size all around the Atlanta area, and I draw on the best characteristics of each. I love a town where people know each other, where they support each other, and yes, where they sometimes get in each others’ business. In this story, former bad boy Mark Ryker returns to the town he fled during high school seeking   redemption. Only, he’s not prepared to run into pretty widowed mom of four, Hannah Hughes, the sister of his high school girlfriend. Hannah blames Mark for destroying her family, and she has no intention of ever forgiving him, no matter how much he’s changed or how hard he tries. But he’s so good with her kids…and they get attached to him—Hannah included…

How did you start writing?

I started writing when my middle child was a baby. I had been put on bed rest while pregnant with him, and while stuck on the couch, I read book after book. I decided I wanted to try to write one. Once he was born and we got our first computer, I jumped right in, typing with one hand, nursing him in the other. I wrote what I read at the time, secular romance novels. But as I started to plot a future book, a writer friend told me it sounded like an inspirational romance. I had no idea that’s where God was leading me. But I started to read more of them and joined the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA. I had found my niche!

Do you believe being a minister’s wife has been a help in writing?  How do congregations feel about your books?

I don’t think being a clergy spouse has necessarily helped my writing. But my church family (at all the churches we’ve been since I started writing) has definitely loved and supported me along the journey. They prayed for me as I was struggling through nearly 12 years before finally publishing. And they cheered for me when I finally got the call! They’ve even been wonderful to encourage me by reading my books. What a gift!

What are your writing secrets?

I wish I knew some writing secrets! I guess the main piece of advice I’d offer is to never give up. Like I mentioned, it took about 12 years of writing, re-writing, submitting, entering contests and getting rejections before I finally sold a full-length novel. If you have a dream of seeing your name on a cover, then be persistent. Keep learning and practicing. In fact, I still take several online writing classes a year. I know I’ll always need to improve!

What are you reading now?

I read just about everything, and that often includes inspirationals. I love them and stay pretty busy reading titles that my writer friends have written. I also love women’s fiction and young adult novels.   I’m finishing one of Janet Dean’s Love Inspired Historicals and I’m also reading a young adult novel by Sarah Dessen. Next on my list is Sarah’s Key that I’ll be reading for my book club. Oh, and in bits and snatches, I’ve been reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Today is Valentine’s Day.  What is your advice for people in love?

Hmmm, let’s see. I’ll be married 26 years in June, so I guess I might have a little wisdom to offer. I’d say communication is key. It’s something I continually have to work on. Be honest and share how you really feel. Speak up and tell your loved one what you need. Don’t expect him/her to read your mind! And pray that God will help you love that person better.

So good to have you drop by.  Hope you’ll come back and keep us up-to-date on what you’re writing.

Jane, thank you for having me today! And happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Bio:   Missy Tippens, 2006 Golden Heart finalist, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been finalists for the Booksellers Best, ACFW Carol Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.   Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com.

What happens on February 13 when it’s not a Friday?

President Abraham Lincoln was born on Febuary 12,

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, February 14th AND Love Inspired writer Missy Tippens will be guest blogging right here.

So, what happened on this day in history?  Thanks to historyorb.com   here are a few of the events that took place on February 13.

1633 – Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for trial before Inquisition for professing belief that earth revolves around the Sun

1837 – Riot in New York due to a combination of poverty and increase in the cost of flour

1861 – US President Abraham Lincoln1861 – Abraham Lincoln declared president 1866

1867 – Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube” waltz premieres in Vienna

1907 – English suffragettes storm British Parliament & 60 women are arrested

1945 – Allied planes bomb Dresden Germany; 135,000 die

1972 – “Grease” opens on Broadway

1981 – A series of sewer explosions destroys more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Kentucky.  I used this one because we lived in Louisville at the time and I remember this.

1996 – Rock musical “Rent,” by Jonathan Larson, opens off-Broadway

2000 – The last original “Peanuts” comic strip appears in newspapers one day after Charles M. Schulz dies.

Happy February 13th!


What’s coming up

Tuesday, Valentine’s Day,  I’m delighted to welcome my first interview on the blog.  Missy Tippens and I’ve been on-line friends for seven years.  She writes for Love Inspired and has a terrific new book available now!

On Thursday, I’m going to confess one of my deepest secrets. one that only my husband knows.  One I share with no one.  I’m cheap.  Not just frugal or stingy.  Cheap.  If you drop by the blog and give me a good, acceptable way to save money, I might include that on my web site or in a newsletter.  Adam Jordan, the hero of the Butternut Creek series, has very little money.  He could use your help stretching every dollar.