Friday, July 30, 2010

This week's winner

This week's winner is:

Kelly Freestone!

Congratulations, Kelly!

Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your mailing address and choice of prize.

Join us next week when we visit with Heartsong Author Darlene Franklin!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

From the Vault

This week's book from the vault is:
Romance By the Book
By Myra Johnson

From the back cover:

In reality, Sailor Kern is a swimming instructor at her local YMCA in Birkenstock, Missouri. But in her dreams, she shares a life with famous romance writer Chandler Michaels. And now she’s about to meet him in person! And not only meet him, she gets to be his assistant the whole time he’s visiting Birkenstock.

But romance and reality don’t always mix, and Sailor is in for some big surprises. Chandler isn’t at all what she thought he would be, but the experience draws her closer to a God she’d nearly forgotten and friends who won’t leave her behind.

Will Sailor follow her dream man, or will she see the true hero God has placed before her, right in her own hometown?

Key verse:

“You have stolen my heart . . . with one glance of your eyes.”—Song of Solomon 4:9

From the book:

“How do you know Parker?”

“He’s in my water aerobics class that just started.” “He’s the weirdo guy you were telling me about—the one who showed up late and then griped for the entire hour?”

Kathy guffawed. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Can I help it I have a problem with names?” Sailor crossed her arms. “So what’s the big deal?”

Kathy shared a look with Audra. “Good grief, Sailor. Parker Travis is probably the most eligible bachelor in Birkenstock.”

Audra scooted onto the seat next to Kathy and clicked her enameled fake nails on the tabletop. “Not to mention he’s one marvelous hairstylist.”

“Well, he’s a lousy student.” Sailor looped her arm through the strap of her tan microfiber ergonomic purse and edged out of the booth. “I’ll let you two dish the hairdresser. I’ve got to get back to the Y.”

Question of the Day:  Do you know how to swim? Did you take lessons at the Y?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guest Blog with Myra Johnson, pt. 2

I have my good friend and author Mary Connealy to thank for the existence of Where the Dogwoods Bloom. A couple of years ago, when I was still a struggling yet hopeful unpublished novelist, she suggested I come up with a story that might fit with an idea she wanted to submit for Heartsong’s contemporary state series. As it turned out, another author’s proposal was chosen for the state we were aiming for, so I laid my half-written manuscript aside, hoping someday I’d find the right home for it.

Then in the fall of 2008, when JoAnne Simmons accepted Autumn Rains as the first of three Missouri contemporaries, I already had a story in the works that fit nicely as book two (Romance by the Book), but I had to quickly come up with a third idea to fill out the series. With just a little tweaking I was able to change the setting of my unfinished manuscript to a rustic inn on Lake of the Ozarks—which actually suited both the story and the characters so much better.

One factor of writing success I’ve discovered is the value of inventory. While waiting for that first contract offer, I just kept writing. My filing cabinet drawers are jammed with manuscript drafts, research material, planning notes . . . and rejection letters.

It wasn’t my first, or second, or even tenth book manuscript that finally sold. And my first book contract wasn’t even for the first manuscript I proposed to that editor. By having an inventory of completed manuscripts (several of which had garnered contest awards), I had something else to offer. After looking over a few of my other story summaries, the editor asked to see the manuscript that fit best into her planned list. Only a few weeks later, I was signing a contract.

The lesson here is that no work a writer does is ever wasted effort. Every manuscript we write is a learning experience, every rejection a reason to improve and try again. The same could be said for any goal or dream. Keep learning, keep producing, and keep trusting in God’s perfect timing.

Question of the Day: Are you a saver or a thrower? Do you have some clutter around the house that you'd like to get rid of or are you pretty good about purging your possessions and keeping things streamlined?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guest Blog with Myra Johnson, pt. 1

Having the opportunity to write the three Missouri romances for the Heartsong Presents contemporary state series has been a real joy, not to mention a trip down Memory Lane since Missouri was the birthplace of both my parents. When I was a little girl, every summer my mother and I would spend a week or two at my grandparents’ home about forty miles west of St. Louis, then drive into the city for visits with the various aunts and uncles in the area.

I have sweet memories of the rope swing my grandpa had hung from the sturdy branches of an old cherry tree. Sometimes we’d walk down the country lane or across grassy fields, where we might come across a tortoise or see a rabbit hopping through the grass. And I can’t forget the delicious cherry pies my grandmother would bake from cherries she’d canned herself!

Other Missouri memories include eight months in 1976 when my husband and I lived in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb. Springtime there was beautiful with all the flowers and especially the dogwoods in bloom. That summer we watched the Bicentennial celebration and a fantastic fireworks display from my husband’s office window overlooking the Gateway Arch and the river.

I’ve also visited Kansas City, where one of our daughters lived for a few years, and toured Branson and Silver Dollar City. A favorite childhood attraction was Meramec Caverns, reputed to be one of Jesse James’s hideouts.

Now that the Missouri books are complete, I’m already missing not only my characters but also the fictional towns where I’ve placed them—settings so real in my mind that sometimes it feels as if I could drive down the highway and find the exact turnoff that will take me there. I hope my readers will enjoy visiting these Missouri locales as much as I enjoyed writing about them!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Where The Dogwoods Bloom by Myra Johnson

This week's featured book is:
Where The Dogwoods Bloom
By Myra Johnson

From the Back Cover:

Jilly Gardner left Blossom Hills ten years ago with a broken heart, determined never to return. But the ache in her heart has never healed, and when Cam Lane calls to ask for her help . . . she finds she can’t say no.

Cameron doesn’t know what came between Jilly and her foster family, but whatever it was, he feels it’s time she set things straight. Her foster parents never recovered from her abrupt and permanent departure, and now she refuses to even see them? But how can Cam address the unforgiveness in his friends’ lives when his own is paralyzed with self-inflicted guilt and shame?

With all their striving focused on themselves and their pasts, will Cam and Jilly ever realize that unconditional, forgiving loves comes only from God the father, whose mercies are new each morning?

Key Verse:

Psalm 68:5-6a, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing.
Due to a printing glitch, the key verse actually on this title is incorrect. The cover has “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”—Luke 12:48 but the above verse is the actual one for Myra's story.

From the book:

“Jillian? Is this Jillian Gardner?”

The male voice had a familiar cadence, but no one had called her Jillian since she was a kid. “Who is this?”

“This is Cameron Lane. I knew you when you were Harvey and Alice Nelson’s foster child.”

Cam Lane? The four chocolate sandwich cookies Jilly had just eaten chose that moment to do a square dance in her stomach. His mention of the Nelsons, however, had her struggling to keep her voice even. “I remember. You used to hang out at the inn.”

“I know this call is coming out of nowhere, but Harvey asked me to get in touch with you. Alice is in the hospital, scheduled for quadruple bypass day after tomorrow.”

Jilly squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to care, but she couldn’t help herself. If only the past didn’t still hurt so much.

About Myra:     Myra Johnson writes what she likes to call “romantic women’s fiction”—emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her Heartsong Presents romance Autumn Rains (November 2009) won RWA’s 2005 Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters who, along with their godly husbands, have huge hearts for ministry. Four rambunctious grandsons and one precious granddaughter take up another big chunk of Myra’s heart. She and her husband now share their home with two lovable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Myra writes full-time and is active in her church as well as local and national writers groups.

Question of the Day: I've never met a cookie I didn't like...except one that I can take or leave. I'm not a huge fan of Oreo cookies. How about you? Oreos, Yes, or not so much?

Friday, July 23, 2010

This week's winner!

This week's winner is:

Kelly Freestone!

Kelly, please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com with your choice of this week's featured books or 10 Heartpoints to put toward future purchases of Heartsong books.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From the Vault

Today's book from the Heartsong Presents Vault is:
Love's Image

Injured in a serious car crash, supermodel Shannon McNab's world is rocked by a prominent scar on her left cheek. Shaken by this "imperfection," Shannon's boyfriend abandons her. When an old high school friend drags Shannon to a church singles' group, she meets Judd Manning. The sweet, down-to-earth schoolteacher makes her laugh and see what's most important in life - and as they grow closer to each other and the Lord, a romantic attraction builds. But when Shannon's scar fades, the lure of her glamorous old life proves too strong to resist. Is it possible for a jetsetting supermodel and a home-loving schoolteacher to find common ground?

Question of the Day: Have you ever been in a car accident? A fender-bender or something more serious?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guest Blog with Debby Mayne pt. 2

Most writers have a natural curiosity, and we gather information as we write our stories or articles. I used to spend entire days at the library to learn about an area, an occupation, and personality traits. Now I'm more likely to spend that time on the Internet, but I still like personal contact because I think it gives me a better idea of the depth of people's thoughts and feelings. Since my books are character driven, that is essential.

As I wrote each of my books set in West Virginia, I had to do quite a bit of phone research for specifics that add a touch of realism to the fictional stories. Everyone I spoke to on the telephone exuded warmth and kindness as they answered all my questions. I'm impressed with the spirit of West Virginians! Fortunately, I'm not shy about asking questions, so I spoke to dozens of people—from the person who answered the phone at a chamber of commerce to restaurant managers and bridal shop owners. Not a single person seemed to be bothered.

My family teases me about how I strike up conversations with people everywhere I go. While standing in line at a grocery store, I might notice a product I've never tried as a customer in front of me puts it on the conveyor belt, so I'll ask about it. Very rarely do I get a cold shoulder. Most people are willing to chat about what interests them, and I've learned quite a bit from simply asking questions. This helps in many areas of my life—not just learning about new food.

Many years ago, just a few months after I married my husband, we were standing in line for a popular restaurant that didn't take reservations. The woman in front of me had gorgeous hair, so I tapped her on the shoulder, told her I loved her hair, and asked who her hairdresser was. Not only did she tell me, her husband turn around, and the four of us (Connie, Mike, my husband Wally, and me) had a delightful conversation. When it was out turn to be seated, we asked for a table for four so we could continue chatting. Now, almost thirty years later, we're friends with this couple—all because of my big mouth.

My granddaughter Emma is a chatty little girl. She's only a year and a half old, but she has a broad vocabulary that she loves to use. Everywhere she goes, she finds people to say, "Hi!" to, then she babbles in her language that consists of words she's learned and some syllables we don't yet understand. Her mother, my daughter Alison, said Emma has helped her open up when strangers comment on Emma's vocabulary. I wonder if Emma will wind up like her Nana—chatting with people and making friends, while discovering new things.

Question of the day: Are you comfortable striking up conversations with strangers?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guest blog with Debby Mayne

God's love is abundant in our lives, even when we don’t see His hand. Such is the case with Mandy in Portrait of Love, the third of my West Virginia books, when she doesn't get the promotion she wants and her needy sister returns after failing as an actress and giving up in Hollywood. To make matters worse, her new boss Tony is related to the owner of the company, so his promotion seems totally unfair. Mandy isn't sure if the fact that Tony is attractive is a good thing, since she has to see him everyday. At least she still enjoys her job—taking pictures at a children's portrait studio. And she's good at it, too!

I love writing children into my stories because they can lighten the mood, add a different perspective, and show the character of the adults around them. Not all grownups know what to say or do around kids, so the little munchkins also add opportunities for comedy.

My own children were hilarious, and some of the memories from their childhood gave me tons of material to sprinkle into my stories later. As a mom struggling to make ends meet, I tried to take advantage of portrait specials and coupons at the photography studios nearby, so we could go freeze moments of their lives…and then do it again six months later. I remember and appreciate one of the children's photographers who pulled all kinds of tricks out of her hat to get my kids to smile.

The heroine in Portrait of Love knows how important these pictures are, so she tries to help the parents every way she can, just like the photographer who snapped shots of my kids. As Tony's appreciation of Mandy's skills grows, so does his attraction. Mandy learns more about Tony's heart, and she realizes God's plan for her is so much greater than anything she could have dreamed. Every once in a while, something happens that makes Mandy wonder how everything could possibly work out. Each challenge is followed by a blessing.

Many times when I think I know what's best for me, I'm set back a few steps, only to find out later that the Lord had something so much sweeter in mind for me. I have to constantly remind myself to pray for His will rather than mine. Some of this is reflected in Mandy throughout Portrait of Love. Unlike Mandy, I don't have a needy sister, but I've had family members rely on me at times when I could barely stand on my own. As time goes on, I realize that my challenges are often followed by blessings.

Question of the Day: In this digital world, film and photograph prints are becoming a thing of the past. So, do you print out pictures or have them printed somewhere, or do you put them on CDs and jump drives and view them on computer screens?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Portrait of Love by Debby Mayne

This week's feature book is:

Portrait of Love
by Debby Mayne
Contemporary Romance

From the back cover:

With restructuring going on in the family business, Tony Mancini won't have to be a manager at Small World Portrait Studio for long, but he has to be the one to tell Mandy Pruitt she's been overlooked for a promotion. And he's not at liberty to tell her what the company's plans are for her future, even as he expects her to help train the next manager - who turns out to be her younger sister. Tony can't deny that he's falling fast for Mandy. But how will he ever earn her trust and her love if he can't tell her what she wants to know?

The key verse:

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.

Luke 12:48

From the book:

“Mandy, I’m sure someday you’ll make an excellent manager. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.”

Her lips quivered for a split second before she nodded. She opened her mouth to say something, but all that came out was a squeak.

“If you need some time off, let me know, okay?”

Her face looked stricken. “Why would I need time off?”

“I’m just saying. . .”

“I don’t.”

She took a step back and slammed into the corner of the wall. Tony instinctively reached for her as she rubbed her shoulder.

“I’m fine,” she said softly before glancing at his hand resting on her arm.

He quickly pulled his hand back and shoved it into his pocket. “That’s fine. I just wanted to let you know it’s okay if you need time to think about things.”

There wasn’t even the hint of a smile on her pretty face as she stood there staring at him with those wide, long-lash-framed hazel eyes.

Tony didn’t want to torture her, so he added, “After I get acclimated to the place, I’ll need to start interviewing for another full-time photographer. Since you’ll be training the person, I’d like for you to participate.”

She didn’t say a word, so he took off for the office. This had been much more difficult than he’d anticipated.

He closed the door behind him and hesitated as he looked around the room. Mandy had all but made the space her own.

Debby Mayne and her husband Wally have two grown daughters, Alison and Lauren, a son-in-law Jason, and a granddaughter named Emma. Debby has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, hundreds of articles for the web, and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For the past seven years, she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition.

Question of the day: I'm not much of a fan of getting my picture taken, since when I see the result, it never looks like Cindy Crawford, it always looks like me!

One portrait I had done that I really did like was my school picture from when I was a jr. in high school. A long time ago...sigh.

How about you? Do you like getting your picture taken? Do you have a favorite picture of yourself?

Friday, July 16, 2010

This week's winner!

This week's winner is....


Congratulations, Merry. Email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com and let us know your choice of a prize. You can choose from one of the books featured this week on the blog or 10 heartpoints to be used towards future purchase of Heartsong books.

Thank you to everyone who commented. Join us next week when we'll chat with Debby Mayne.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From the Vault

HSB720 Bridge Across the Sea

From the Back Cover:

Peter Caldwell can't remember the night he lost his mother, but he's sure someone else will. When the Titanic went down, many were affected, and Peter is counting on some of the survivors to help him figure out who he really is. But when he meets a young woman who was also on board that night, he begins to see that God may have bigger plans than just finding his past.

Melissa Reynolds loves the people and the atmosphere of New York City, but not the crime. So when crime boss Guido takes his interest in her a step further, Melissa wants to flee. But before she can run far, she finds a young British man looking for help.

Can these two young survivors face the past and what it holds? Is this the Lord's way of making a bridge across the sea?

Key Verse:
“Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” Psalm 77:19

From the book:

Aghast, Melissa stood at the restaurant entrance and gaped at the tall stranger who stepped into the line of fire just as she threw Guido’s gift back at his messenger.

The go-between seized the opportunity to duck into his flashy black Lincoln and take off like a shot.

With his hand cupped over one eye, the stranger glanced at the retreating car, shifted his attention to the chocolate bonbons strewn over the ground, and then looked at Melissa. If she hadn’t felt so awful for nailing him with the candy box, she might have giggled at the completely bamboozled expression on his face. A nice face, a part of her mind noted.

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

His gaze dropped to the chocolates once more, then lifted to her. “Not your particular choice of flavor?”

Question of the day: I'll confess, I haven't seen James Cameron's Titanic movie. Anyone else here not seen it? I'm not a DiCaprio fan, and I don't like movies that don't have a happy ending.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guest Blog with Pamela Griffin

I enjoy and write contemporaries and historicals both, but historicals are more my passion. There’s a lot more research involved in writing a book set in another time period, but I think such education can be fun and it keeps one’s mind sharp and young to learn new tidbits every day. Also, researching an earlier time period can make one feel both thankful for the amenities we have in our world today and nostalgic for “those better days”— even if we never lived them. But really, the grass is always greener, as they say (I wonder who “they” are? “They” sure say a lot) - and life may look more appealing when it seemed less complicated due to a lack of technology and when all or most of the gentlemen were indeed gentlemen. Especially when everything is going wrong, the computer is freezing, the kids are fighting, and the telemarketers just won’t give up and go away!

But in reality day-to-day living in the past was a lot harder then many people realize. It wasn’t all charm and elegance and etiquette. There was a very rough side too, one you don’t often find in genteel novels. Remembering that makes me thankful for what I do have when I start wondering “What if I had been born in an earlier time…” For you other writers out there—just think: Jane Austen and Emily Bronte had to write it all down with a pen, an inkwell, and on paper—and by candlelight at night! Aghh!

Ah, yes, I especially thank God for my computer and for electric lighting! Well, all electricity really. :) Sometimes when we mull over a past we can’t live it helps to be thankful for the present that God made us a part of.

Let’s just say that you quite suddenly found yourself living in an earlier time period. (Okay, so it can’t really happen, but pretend.) What is the one thing you don’t think you could live without? And if you could meet one of the famous Bronte sisters or Jane Austen, what one thing would you tell them they are missing out on that is only found in our world today?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Blog with Pamela Griffin

This story is the second to the last of my Titanic/New York/Connecticut series (wow, that’s a mouth full! lol) and was special to me because I have always really liked Joel, ever since he first appeared as a very young, troublesome rapscallion in “In the Secret Place”. So I wanted to do something special for his story, while keeping it believable for Joel’s character- the way I’ve portrayed him in past books as he grew up.

I have always loved stories where the hero and heroine knew one another as children (especially as good friends or childhood sweethearts) and decided to go with that idea since I left an opening for Clementine Lyons (daughter of Stewart and Charleigh Lyons) to be the heroine of the story. In A Bridge Across the Sea (my vault book), I showed her crush on Joel then, through something mentioned in passing. As far back as that, I decided that would be the hint of what was to come for Joel and Clemmie. ;-)

Some of my favorite characters to write about are former villains or just bad-boy troublemakers, like Joel, both of whom I love to reform in my stories. Through God’s grace He makes the crooked paths straight, and I enjoy showing that truth in my characters’ lives, as an encouragement to my readers that God can iron out any problems they may encounter too. He doesn’t play favorites- He’ll help anyone who turns to Him for help.

What is your favorite background scenario for the hero & heroine to meet (or meet again) and form a relationship? Childhood sweethearts? Work associates? Friends? Strangers meeting by chance? Any others I haven’t mentioned? Do you prefer the bad-boy or bad-girl being reformed love stories? Or do you tend to be drawn to romances about the all-around good guys and gals who never caused anyone a moment’s grief?

Monday, July 12, 2010

In Search of a Dream by Pamela Griffin

In Search of a Dream
By Pamela Griffin 
Heartsong Presents #908
Historical Romance
ISBN 978-1-60260-881-8

From the Back Cover:
Clemmie Needs To Let Go.

After three years with no contact from him, Clemmie Lyons needs to put her dream of marrying Joel Litton behind her. To make the transition easier, Clemmie leaves Lyons’ Refuge with all its memories of Joel and visits a friend for the summer. But nothing prepares her for the moment she discovers Joel living nearby, trying to hide a terrible secret from all who knew him.

Joel is consumed with guilt and is sure God can never forgive him. He can’t let the Lyons family learn what has happened and be disappointed in and ashamed of him. But when Clemmie reenters his life and insists that God isn’t through with him, Joel finds himself strangely tempted to hope again.

Will these two friends find a way to make their dreams reality, or will guilt over the past ultimately drive them apart?

Key verse:

“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16

From the book:

“I have no idea why we care so much, but we do. My parents love you, I love you. And—”

Clemmie broke off her spiel when she realized what she’d just admitted. Her mouth dropped open at her slip, her face flaming with humiliation. She whirled around and fled out the door.

In shock, she heard his steps pound behind her, closing in on her, right before he grabbed her waist. His other hand then found her arm, and he spun her around to face him. “Oh no, Clemmie. You’re not getting away that easy.” He grabbed both her arms and she thought he might shake her. “I want some answers. And I won’t take ‘later’ or ‘soon’ this time!”

About the Author:

Pamela Griffin lives in Texas and loves to spend time with family and friends. She fully gave her life to the Lord in 1988 after a rebellious young adulthood and owes the fact that she’s still alive today to an all-loving, forgiving God and a mother who prayed that her wayward daughter would come “home.” Pamela’s main goal in writing Christian romance is to encourage others through entertaining stories that also heal the wounded spirit.

Question of the day: This summer is just flying by! My flowers are in full bloom, and I'm loving it! I'm not much of a gardner, so having so many flowers still alive by mid-summer is something of a feat for me. The day lillies are brilliant. So, what's blooming where you are?

Friday, July 9, 2010

This Week's Winner!

Okay, before I announce the winner, I have a few things to share with you.

1. The picture above is from Dover Clip Arts weekly sampler, a hummingbird, which happens to be my Sister-in-law's favorite bird. The picture is for her. You'll understand in a bit.

2. You might be curious as to how the winners are chosen for the Heartsong drawing each week, so I thought I would give you the rundown here.
  • all commentors names are listed in order of when their comment appeared on the blog and given a number
  • the number span is entered into the calculator at
  • spits out a number for us, revealing this week's winner
3. This week we had 9 entrants (some folks have asked not to be in the drawing, and some like Jeri and I are not eligible.)

4. The first number chose was 2, Linda's number. Linda happens to be my SIL, the one who likes the hummingbirds. Linda has won here on the Heartsong blog several times. When I saw that she had been chosen, I hopped on the phone with Linda this morning and asked, since she already has both the books that are featured this week, if she would mind if I chose another winner.  Linda graciously agreed that another winner would be fine.

5. spit out number 9.

6. This week's winner is.....


You did it, girl! You won!

email me at heartsongblog at gmail dot com and let us know which book you would like to receive...though I have a sneaking suspicion which one it will be!

Congratulations, Casey, and thank you to all the commentors and readers. Thank you too, to Linda, for a lot of stuff! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From the Vault

The Bartered Bride

by Erica Vetsch

Heartsong Presents #875

ISBN: 9781602605893

Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or lose his inheritance. Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father's business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?

From the book:

“My wife and I,” Almina had joined Lawrence Brooke, tucking her arm into his elbow and beaming on the crowd, her gaze lingering longest on Jonathan and Melissa. “Are pleased to announce the engagement of our daughter, Melissa, to Mr. Jonathan Kennebrae. Please join us in congratulating the happy couple.” He lifted the glass in their direction. A polite wave of applause welled up.

Melissa stood, knocking her chair over onto the grass. She put her hand to her mouth, turning her head wildly from Jonathan to her parents, then back again. Jonathan rose slowly, easing up on numb legs.

“Kennebrae?” She whispered so low he had to stoop to hear her. “Your name is Kennebrae?”

“Of course it is. What else would it be?”

She blinked, staring at him. “But, I thought—” Her throat spasmed as she tried to swallow. “I thought…”

He caught her just before she hit the grass in a dead faint.

Key verse:

Proverbs 21.1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.

Question of the Day: I love to re-read old favorite books. Do you re-read, or are you a once and done kind of reader?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An interview with the editor

I thought it might be fun to hear a little bit from the editor of Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons. JoAnne spearheads the team that brings 52 Heartsong titles to readers every year.

Erica: Whether you read or write romance or both, eventually you will find yourself having to defend the genre. What is it about Heartsong books that you feel makes them different from other romances, even other Christian romances?

JoAnne: As for the genre, simply put, you just can’t beat a good love story. God created us to need other people, and stories that show how a man and a woman (who are so very different!) can develop a relationship into becoming one are fascinating and inspiring. With realistic characters and situations and a foundation on biblical Truth, a godly romance story is not just entertaining but can also be valuable for developing and maintaining our own real-life relationships.

I think Heartsongs stand out from other Christian fiction because of our wide audience of readers and the trust they have in our books. They know what to expect from a Heartsong, and they like that. Characters and plots will change and each story will put a little different spin on the classic romance, but when the last page is turned, the reader will be satisfied with another sweet, inspiring love story. I get letters from twelve-year-old girls and ladies in their nineties who love Heartsong, and I am proud that our books are appropriate for them both and every age in between.

Erica: Heartsong books each contain a brief survey about the story for readers to fill out and send in. What are you, as an editor, hoping to garner from the surveys? What is some of your favorite feedback that you have seen via the surveys?

JoAnne: The survey is a great way for me to find out which authors and storylines our readers are enjoying the most. I really appreciate when readers take the time to give specific feedback, positive or negative, because it helps me do my job better and give our readers what they want.

My favorite feedback comes from readers who tell me a book has encouraged or inspired their faith. I often hear from readers who seem to be in hopeless situations and yet our inspiring stories give them that bit of light, that escape from their present circumstances, to encourage them in knowing that there is love and hope in Jesus Christ.

Erica: I know editors sometimes hesitate to answer this question for fear of being flooded with proposals all on one type of manuscript, but what is your favorite thing to read? Do you have a particular era or theme you’re fond of?

I can’t really say that I have a favorite. I truly just like variety, and with 52 Heartsongs published each year, we need it! I love learning something new when I read, and I hope others do, too. I strive to find authors who aren’t afraid of good research and who like to dig up the unique, little-known facts of history or little-known tidbits from today’s world to work into their storyline and provide that new spin on the classic romance.

Erica: I’ve always been curious about the delivery system for Heartsongs. From the time the boxes of books arrive at your warehouse in Ohio to the time they arrive on the reader’s doorstep, what happens to them? Do you have an army of workers packing boxes? Does the book fairy fly in and whisper bippity-boppity-boo and all the books jump into the boxes, properly labeled? How do you ensure the right books get to the right person?

JoAnne: Well, for the specifics, I had to check with Karen Miller, Director of Marketing for Heartsong, and she said: “The books get drop shipped to a local company called Mailer’s Choice from the printer. The employees at Mailer’s Choice box the individual shipments up. Each week we run the list of members that need shipped and send that file to Mailer’s Choice. They print the invoices and insert them into an envelope that gets glued to the outside of the boxes so the address is showing. Every Saturday morning Mailer’s Choice takes the shipments for the week to the Bulk Mail Center in Pittsburgh, PA (this is the closet bulk mail center to us). The shipments get separated out by zip codes and out to mail.”

Erica: Thank you, JoAnne, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for Heartsong readers.
Question of the Day: Is there something regarding Heartsong Presents Romance books that you're curious about?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guest Blog with Erica Vetsch

One of the questions every writer gets is "Where do your ideas come from?"

And the answer is as varied as the question is the same.

Writers get ideas from everywhere. Newspapers, conversations, novels, museums, dreams, movies...the possibilities are endless.

The idea for my first published novel, The Bartered Bride, came to me while sitting in church waiting for the service to start. I jotted the basic idea down on my bulletin so I wouldn't forget it before I got home. My family and I had just returned from a vacation where we toured the James J. Hill mansion in St. Paul, MN, the harbor and maritime museum in Duluth, MN, and Split Rock Lighthouse on the north shore of Lake Superior. I had also just finished reading a book about the Vanderbilts and the arranged marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt to the Earl of Sutherland.

It seemed natural to me to use the places I had seen and information I had gleaned in a new series. The Kennebrae family from the books live in a house very much like the Hill mansion, and the family patriarch arranges marriages for his three grandsons, in spite of their unwillingness to participate.

When it came time to write The Marriage Masquerade, I knew I wanted to set it at a lighthouse like Split Rock. I read up on the keepers who had lived there, and used some of the anecdotes from their journals and diaries to give the story authenticity. It certainly helped to have visited the site and taken lots of pictures to refer back to while I wrote. I was so very happy when the art designer used a picture of Split Rock on the cover of The Marriage Masquerade to represent my fictional Sutton Island Light.

When it came time to write The Engineered Engagement, I once again delved into the information I had gathered from our visits to Duluth. The city of Duluth is a major shipping port for coal, iron ore, grain, and at one time lumber. We toured the Meteor, the last remaining whale-back ship in existence, and ideas started flowing. My hero would be as bold and innovative as the designer of the whale-backs, Alexander McDougall.

Ideas for stories are everywhere. I've recently read books on frontier medicine and logging camps of northern Minnesota. I've visited frontier forts and CCC camps and county historical society museums that have fired my imagination with more and more story ideas. Like the initial idea for The Bartered Bride, I've jotted down the ideas for future use.

Question of the day: Since I was born and raised in Kansas, Lake Superior fascinates me. So, the question is: Do you live near a large body of water? Do oceans and lakes intrigue you?

Tomorrow, we'll have a chat with Heartsong Editor JoAnne Simmons, so be sure to stop by!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Engineered Engagement - Erica Vetsch

This week's featured title is The Engineered Engagement by Erica Vetsch

Historical Romance
ISBN 978-1-60260-992-5

From the Back Cover:

A Kennebrae keeps his word...

But Grandfather made the promise, and Eli Kennebrae is expected to carry it out. And maybe Grandfather got lucky with Eli's brother's brides, but there is no way Eli is going to participate in an arranged marriage...or is he?

Josie Zahn has admired Eli from a distance for years, but he hardly knows she exists other than as just "one of the Zahn girls." If only she could get his attention...When Father announces her older sister Clarice's engagement to Eli, both girls are crushed. Is there no way out of this nightmare?

Deception, intrigue, and danger make life miserable for the Zahns and the Kennebraes as they learn that Divine engineering is far better than human manipulation.

The Key Verse:

Psalm 139:16 ‘Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.’

An Excerpt from the book:

“I forgot to mention the conditions.”

Eli’s collar tightened.

“You can have the Bethany, and I’ll foot all the bills to convert her, but you have to agree to marry Radcliffe Zahn’s daughter before winter.” The cane back of Grandfather’s chair creaked a bit as he leaned into it and propped his elbows on the arms. He steepled his fingers under his chin and smiled complacently.

Eli met his stare, his mind racing. “And if I refuse?”

“No ship, and no funding.”

He squeezed his eyes shut and clamped his lips tight. How like his grandfather to connive and manipulate to get his way. Stubborn old fool.

“Why? Why can’t you be happy with the way things turned out for Jonathan and Noah and leave me alone?”

“I gave Zahn my word months ago that a wedding would take place. And when a Kennebrae gives his word, he keeps it.”

“But you’re not keeping it. You’re expecting me to keep it.”

About the Author:

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at 

Did you know that by leaving a comment here at Heartsong Connection you are automatically entered to win a copy of one of the feature books of the week? Already have the book or are already a Heartsong member? You can choose to receive TEN Heartpoints toward future purchases instead. Don't be shy! Jump in on the question of the day.

Question of the day: I just returned from a family vacation to northern Minnesota. Do you have vacation plans this summer?

Friday, July 2, 2010

This Week's Winner!

This weeks winner of our random drawing was Rose who said, "New York is on my must see list. Mostly because I want to experience New York City once in my life. See an actual Broadway play!"

Rose, please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com, and you can have your choice of either book featured this week, or if you are a member of the Heartsong Bookclub, you can choose to win 10 Heartpoints toward future shipments.

Thanks for participating this week. God bless you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From The Vault -- Game of Pretend

Heartsong Presents #525
ISBN: 9781586606879

With her life nearing its end, Millie Steele wants desperately to see her grandson's faith restored - and him happily married to a Christian girl. When she enlists Kally McCoy as her home caregiver, the pretty young woman's presence seems only to antagonize Preston Steele. Preston loves his grandmother and, wanting to see her rest in peace, pretends to fall in love with Kally. He puts on a good act, and even attends church with Kally. But soon, the things he hears at church and his growing friendship with Kally begin to make a real change in his heart. Kally has grown to love Preston and has even accepted his proposal of marriage. But will the discovery of his game of pretend kill love's flame? Fall in love with this inspiring love story and our entire collection of Christian romance novels from Heartsong Presents!

Are your favorite reads normally historical fiction or contemporary?