Friday, March 25, 2011

Famous Quotes IX

Who Wrote These Quotes: Me or Someone Famous?

(1) Fantasy's hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.
Lloyd Alexander or Vince Mooney

(2) Writing is just the physical manifestation of what’s going on in the writer’s mind. It’s the mind that’s the wonder; not the writing.
J. L. Austin or Vince Mooney

(3) A good title should be like a good metaphor. It should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious.
Walker Percy or Vince Mooney

(4) Why can’t the really bad authors ever get writer’s block?
Will Rogers or Vince Mooney

(5) Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader- not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."
E.L. Doctorow or Vince Mooney

(6) When writers work their magic, their words disappear.
Patricia Gaffney or Vince Mooney

(7) A book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then.
C.S. Lewis or Vince Mooney

(8) Writing things down will no more get them out of your system than printing your WIP will get it out of your computer’s system. All you’ve done is created a second location for what is bothering you.
Nicholas Sparks or Vince Mooney

(9) The shorter and the plainer the better.
Beatrix Potter or Vince Mooney

(10) If you are a really entertaining story teller, you can write any story to any page length the publisher wants.
Jack London or Vince Mooney

(11) "A writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature."
Ernest Hemingway or Vince Mooney

(12) I think a really good novel is one that’s exactly 225 page long.
Sophie Tucker or Vince Mooney

(13) "Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure."
Oliver Herford or Vince Mooney

(14) Rewriting is totally overrated. If you can’t cook a decent meal, what makes you think re-cooking it is going to make it much better?
Stephen King or Vince Mooney

(15) "If I didn't know the ending of a story, I wouldn't begin. I always write my last line, my last paragraph, my last page first."
Katherine Anne Porter or Vince Mooney

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Triple Winner! Best Beginning, Best “Black Moment” & Best HEA of the Month!

Kansas Courtship: Amazingly Well Written – A Joy to Read!

Kansas Courtshipby Victoria Bylin
Love Inspired Historical
Mar 1, 2010
Miniseries: After the Storm: The Founding Years
Category: Inspirational Romance

Last year I read the first chapter posted on a blog appearance by the author. I instantly bought and downloaded the book but had other reviews to write first. When I recently discovered “Kansas Courtship” in my eBook Reader, I stopped everything else and just read it. This book is so good that I am in a hurry to read another of the author’s books just to see if this book is a ‘one off’ or if this is how Victoria Bylin writes all the time.
This wonderful book was a victim of becoming lost in my eBook Reader.

Best Beginning!

The story starts after a tornado destroys much of the new town of High Plains. A woman doctor is coming to this Kansas town because it was her only hope of getting a job. She is a pioneer female doctor. The hero has offered her a job as town doctor because the old doctor died trying to deal with all the tornado injured. What no one knows is that the heroine used her initials and everyone thinks Dr. N. Mitchell is a man. The story gets off to an instant fast start on several levels. I don’t think you can read the first chapter and not buy this book.

Best “Black Moment”

In one respect, the reader can see the ‘black moment’ coming from a great distance. Both the hero, Zeb Garrison, and heroine, Dr. Nora Mitchell, have multiple good reasons why they should not become a pair. Their reasons are different and are deep-rooted in their backgrounds. As the reader approaches the ‘black moment’ the conflict only increases. It’s almost like watching two trains headed towards each other on the same track. This is how to hold a reader’s attention. Just masterful.

Best HEA!

"Kansas Courtship" has at least four HEA’s rolled into one. It also plays very fairly with the reader in having things happen as they really would and not just as they would happen in a romance novel to obtain the greatest emotional impact. This fairness actually increases the impact of the other HEAs. I can’t tell any more than this. You just have to read it for yourself.

If you are an aspiring writer, “Kansas Courtship” is worth buying just for the beginning, or just for being able to study the ‘black moment’ or just for seeing the four HEAs.

If you just a reader who loves romances, it's hard to think how you could find a better love story that this. Very, very sympathetic characters. Even the villains have redeeming characteristics. A must read!

Five Stars & a Standing Ovation!

Author’s Current Book

The Outlaw's Return
Victoria Bylin
Love Inspired Historical

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Peaceful, Indiana, 1900, Turn of the Century Love Story

Wanted: A Family
Janet Dean
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Harlequin; Love Inspired Historical
288 edition (March 1, 2011)
Now available for the Kindle

Emotional Story of Love, Redemption, Second Chances, and Social History

“Wanted: A Family” continues a theme of social responsibility that occurs in Janet Dean’s other historical romances: "Courting Miss Adelaide",   "Courting the Doctor's Daughter" and "The Substitute Bride" .  

It’s 1900 and the world is changing.

The hero, Jacob Smith, spent time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was betrayed by his best friend and the woman he loved. While innocent, Jacob still feels contaminated by his prison stay. He’s an orphan brought up in a series of sterile and unfeeling orphanages. As such, Jacob is a truly alienated loner with major trust issues.

The heroine, Callie Mitchell, married a happy-go-lucky, lazy man who died while she was in the early stages of pregnancy.

Callie lives in an unsafe dilapidated Victorian house that needs major repairs which she has no money to pay for. Callie also plans on bringing in unwed mothers to her large home. Many of these will not be able to contribute to their expenses. Callie really needs a miracle.

Jacob happens to be a carpenter who is in town to follow a lead on finding out his mother’s identity.

He trades working on the home for room and board. There is very strong, immediate, chemistry between Jacob and Carrie but both have strong trust issues that act to keep them apart. The story is full of emotion and there is never a dull moment.

The narrative features Janet Dean’s crystal clear prose. All the characters are very well drawn and sympathetic. The ending is sure to warm your heart.

“Wanted: A Family” is a powerful story, inspired with love and a joy to read.

Highly Recommended!

Ruth Logan Herne Scores Fourth Powerful Success in a Row!

First Book In New Series

"Reunited Hearts" Most Powerful 'Hidden Child' Romance I’ve Ever Read!

Ruth Logan Herne
Love Inspired

The powerful writing exhibited in “Winter’s End”, “Waiting Out the Storm” and “Made to Order Family” brings a new vigor and realism to the very popular “hidden child” theme romance.

I must say it was a surprise to read a ‘hidden child’ theme romance from an author who featured a hospice story, with death and dying, in her first book, “Winter’s End”. I also didn’t expect it after the author’s last book, “Made to Order Family,” won the “Philosophy of Romance” Book of the Year 2010 award. What I was expecting was a powerful and unpredictable mainstream style story that just happened to meet all the requirements of a great romance.

Instead here’s what I encountered: “Reunited Hearts” was the power and realistic writing that made the author’s first three books 4 ½ star RT standouts. This powerful writing is evident on every page of “Reunited Hearts”.

So if you like the ‘hidden child’ theme, which is one of my favorites, you should find “Reunited Hearts” a great read. I believe that some readers will enjoy this book even though they don’t usually prefer the ‘hidden child’ theme.

A Personal Landmark Book

“Reunited Hearts” stands out is a landmark book in my understanding of the romance genre. I think the sequence of the author’s first four books reveals an important fact about the romance genre.

Power Can Only Take Some Romance Themes So Far

“Reunited Hearts” is just as powerful, in itself, as all three of Ruth Logan Hearne’s first three books. However this makes me believe that there is a price to pay for writing certian popular theme romances. As a “hidden child” theme romance “Reunited Hearts” does not hit the reader with the full force of a more realistic mainstream-style plot. Without that added force, and its perceived gravitas, (with readers and reviewers) it is hard for an author to achieve the power of the Herne's first three books.

Light Bulb Moment

After reading Herne's first three books, “Reunited Hearts” produced a ‘light bulb’ moment for me. This is because in a non-theme romance, the narrative has the power of reality. The reader cannot be sure exactly what to expect. With this kind of realistic writing it is easier for the reader to fall into the story and vicariously become part of the action. The author's first three books read like mainstream booke where anything could happen. They were realistic  books that just happen to fulfill romance genre requirements. Being able to do this so well makes Ruth Logan Herne an important romance author.

“Hidden Child” Expectations

With a ‘hidden child’ theme romance, the reader will always know she is reading a ‘hidden child’ romance. She cannot help but compare this ‘hidden child’ story to many others she has read over the years. I was doing this all the time I was reading “Reunited Hearts”.

How Does This ‘Hidden Child' Story Match Up?

In a ‘hidden child’ theme romance, readers are always asking the same questions:

Why was the child kept secret?
How wrong was the heroine for keeping the child secret?
How will the hero find out about the child?
How will the child react?
How will the heroine ever justify her actions?
How will the couple ever repair the breach?

Readers look forward to the scenes in the story that answer these questions. They are ready to compare those scenes to past ‘hidden child’ stories. In a light- hearted romane or romantic comedy, such themes are wonderful. The author is no going for gravitas.
However, when an author can write very powerful realistic romances like, “Winter’s End”, “Waiting Out the Storm” and “Made to Order Family”, I’m not sure certain that theme romances represent the best path to writing success.

Themes That May Best Be Avoided

I believe some themes can be written without a great deal of reader expectation and thus can deliver the full writing impact that the author is capable of delivering. Other themes are too well orchestrated. Some themes that I think are not the best vehicles for the dramatic style writer are, “Hidden Child”, “Runaway Bride”, “Mail Order Bride”, “Friends to Lovers” and “Baby on the Doorstep”.

In All Fairness

The themes I mentioned above are among my favorite romance stories. I also like, “Plain Jane” and “Beauty and the Brain” theme books. But these themes never produce the power of a “Winter’s End”. But then, I didn’t expect “Winter’s End” to deliver such power either. It was a romance but it did not read like a romance. It read like a mainstream novel. Therein lies the rub.

Should Dramatic Authors Also Write Popular Theme Romances?

That all dends on the author. If the author wants to write these themes so be it. After all, “Reunited Hearts” is one of the best ‘hidden child’ theme romances that I’ve ever read.

If it is true that such themes do not utilize an author’s talent to the highest and best use, then an author should at least consider the price that's paid when writing such a theme. It may well be that an author will have to exert a 5-star effort just to produce a 4-star book when writing these themes. As such, with the same amount of talent and effort the author could have produced a 5-star work.

It’s not about Stars & Reviews

I know writing is not about stars and getting the best reviews. If anything it’s about sales and pleasing readers and editors.

“Reunited Hearts” is the book which has made me question the advisability of some authors writing certian theme romances. I’m make no claim that 5-star serious books will outsell 4-star popular theme romances. An author has many career choices to make. The choice of themes is just one of many of these.

About the story

The hero, Trent Michaels, is a West Point, Army, war hero who has just left the service to take a very good job helping a defense contractor win bids. Trent takes this job because it is in his old hometown and because the defense contracts will help revitalize the whole area.

The heroine, Alyssa Langley, was once so in love with Trent, that when she found out she was pregnant, she didn’t tell him because it would have destroyed his dream of going to West Point. She remained silent and Trent achieved is dream.

As the story opens, Lyssa is a widow with lots of emotional baggage. She also has two children: Trent’s child Jaden and her deceased husband’s child Cory. Alyssa has moved back in with her parents which she did not want to do but had to because her husband left her with too many debts. She is essentially broke.

Trent and Alyssa meet as the story opens. No waiting for the big scene! The narrative starts quickly and never lets up. The story is emotional, well founded, with both the hero and heroine being shown to be worthy people.

I think “Reunited Hearts” has just the right inspirational balance. The biggest variable in a Love Inspired romance is the inspirational element. I think it is very difficult to get the inspirational content correct.  “Reunited Hearts” gets it right.
The story takes place in Allegany County, New York near where the author lives. This location is very interesting and the author makes it even more so.

Another Important Romance from Ruth Logan Herne!

Winter's End

Waiting Out the Storm


Made to Order Family

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Writer’s Affirmation

A Writer’s Affirmation
                                                           Vince Mooney

I am a writer.

I am strong, healthy, confident and whole in spirit. I let go and let God direct my creative powers. I write what is honest and inspiring. I faithfully follow God’s plan for me by creating captivating plots, memorable characters, and by always expressing the overflowing love of God within me.

I live in God’s peaceful presence. My mind is clear and focused. Deadlines are a divine force pulling me towards the completion of my goals. Today’s challenges prepare me for greater achievements tomorrow. With God as my guide, I enjoy success and peace.

The above is a Unity inspired version of Debby Giusti’s “A Writer’s Prayer”.

Short Review of “Reunited Hearts” Now on eHarlequin

First Book in a New Series

While not yet in the stores, “Reunited Hearts” is available right now from eHarlequin – as a Paperback and as an eBook.

A more comprehensive review will appear on this blog in the future.

Friday, March 11, 2011

“Heartwarming Realism” Makes “A Family for Faith” the Author’s Best 5-Star Romance!

"I give expression to the overflowing love of God within me". Unity saying.

A Family for Faith
Missy Tippens
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (March 22, 2011)

After reading “A Family for Faith” I wanted to change the cover art to make it look different from all the other Love Inspired Inspirational books. I wanted it to visually say, “This one is different! Don’t’ miss reading this book!”

Since her first book, “Her Unlikely Family"  I fell in love with Missy Tippens heartwarming voice. There is no doubt that she loves her characters and her readers. No other romance author makes me feel as good when I am reading her books. I place a high value on how reading a romance makes me feel. This quality makes Missy Tippens books both ‘automatic buys’ and ‘instant reads’. A Missy Tippens title has never made it to my TBR pile!

Even though I considered her first book, “Her Unlikely Family"   a five star effort, each following book has become better. Missy Tippens is an author still learning her craft and applying what she has learned. Her books are about as reader friendly as books can be.

I believe “A Family for Faith” is better by an order of magintude in reader enjoyment and as such is a prime candidate to win future ‘Book of the Year’ awards.

What I like best is the author’s voice.  I consider her writing to be almost a new subgenre: ‘Heartwarming Realism'. Many authors write ‘sweet’ romances and they are good. But when reading these novels you known that you are reading a ‘sweet’ romance. Moreover, some of the ‘sweetness’ is there for ‘sweetness sake’. Missy Tippens is different: in her books the heartwarming love and sweetness flows realistically from the characters personalities and actions. This is so hard to do that I think it took four books for the author to raise it to the almost subgenre level.

You really have to read Missy Tippens books to fully understand this style of writing. Here is an example of what I mean by, 'Heartwarming Realism', on page 160:

Set-up: The heroine was dumpted by her first husband. She feels she was not 'good enough' for him. She is very guilt-ridden and believes she is a bad mother who drove her son away to live with his father’s new family. As the story opens Faith is becoming interested in a handsome widower who has a 13 year old daughter. She tells her old friend how she feels about the hero, “Gabe”.

“It would be so easy to accept, to settle for less than total devotion.”

All the heroine wants is ‘total devotion’ and maybe she would begin to trust in love again. When I read this I said to myself, ‘honey get real…no one is ever likely to get total devotion.’ I also thought the author had gone too far to be heartwarming, that is , too far to be considered realistic.

But then, on page 163, her old friend advises:

“I want you to remember – there are no perfect situations. Don’t waste time trying to attain something that’s not possible this side of heaven. You and Gabe put God first, and you’ll have a good, sold foundation.”

“And here you are setting unrealistic expectations. Give the man—and yourself—a break.”

This is exactly what I was saying to myself and what I would have said to the heroine in real life. That’s it! Things happen in "A Family for Faith" like they would in real life. This makes reading Missy Tippens books so satisfying.

About the story:

The hero, Gabe , is a widower with a thirteen year old daughter. He is still so in love with his dead wife, Tina, (who was almost perfect), that he keeps her very uncomfortable furniture in his house because Tina picked it out and loved it. Life for Gabe would be a lot easier if Tina had not been such a loving and ideal wife. (I think in most romances that I have read dead wives have been given real faults. Sometimes the first marriage itself was on the verge of divorce. I think doing this makes it easier to write the story but it does not make the story as heartwarming.)

The heroine, Faith, married at a young age, had a son, but her husband was not satisfied with her and left her. He now has a very nice new family and has become successful in business. Faith put so much pressure on her son to fill the ‘gap’ in her life, that he revolted and moved in with his father.

Faith has serious guilt problems and feels she is a bad mother. She also has to deal with the hero’s strong love for his ‘perfect’ departed wife. It would seem hopeless for Faith. She runs a small coffee shop in which the hero likes to stop and buy donuts. (Of course, he’s a cop and Chief of Police.)

Ben is headed for the 'Show'.
Gabe's daughter, Chelsea, is just turning 13 -- a crazy age for girls. I believe the author currently has a 13 year old daughter. Chelsea’s antics and problems are so realistic that they just have to have come from personal knowledge. Again this adds to the realism.

Faith’s teenage son, Ben, is a baseball superstar with big league potential. Ben’s trials and hopes, as he moves from baseball tournament to tournament, are also totally realistic. That’s probably because the author has a young relative who is going through the same experiences! (As they say, “Write what you know.”)

So while this book is heartwarming and wonderful to read, the realism makes it work so much better.  For more on this read my award for Best Character Names given to "A Family for Faith" posted on this blog.

Being both very realistic and very heartwarming is hard to do. It takes a long time and I expect a lot of revisions. So don’t expect a Missy Tippens book every four months. Read each book slowly and enjoy every minute.

Best Book Yet!
Highest Recommendation!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winner “Best Character Names” of the Month!

Ideal Name Selection Makes “A Family for Faith” Especially ‘Reader Friendly’!

“A Family for Faith”
Missy Tippens

Many people like myself ‘sight’ read names. That means we just look at the name, as if it were a picture of the character, and move on. We don’t pronounce the word to ourselves. We don’t even read the word. This makes for fast and easy reading unless the author selects names that begin with the same first letter.

For example: “Richard” and “Robert” are very similar to the sight reader. These two names are like having two actors, who look very much alike, featured in the same TV drama. The viewer has trouble remembering who is who. That’s not good.  It takes away from the story and it reminds the viewer that he or she is watching a TV drama. This is also true when reading.

When I come upon a “Richard” and “Robert” (and I have in fiction) I must stop each time and try to determine who is who. I must also then try to distinguish how the two men differ in characteristics. I would not have to do this if they had more disparate names. If the characters were names "Walt" and "Vince" for example, everything about “Walt” would only be remembered as being about “Walt” and everything about “Vince” would only be remembered as being about “Vince”. I would not be getting these characters characteristics mixed up.

“A Family for Faith” has what I feel is the perfect selection of names. Notice:

Main Characters:

Hero: Gabe
Heroine: Faith
Daughter: Chelsea
Son: Ben
Dead wife: Tina
Ex Husband: Walt

 Secondary Characters:


Tertiary Characters:

Kelli Lyn

“A Family for Faith” is a very easy book to read. I never had to reread a paragraph to determine which of  two possible meanings was intended by the author.

Making books easy to read is a blessing to the reader and it definitely enhances the reading enjoyment the book provides. Not all authors do this  however.

When I asked one author why her three main characters all had names beginning with “C” she said that “I tried to change them but the characters would not let me.”

I thought this was amazing until she added: “I was so worried that my editor would complain but I slipped the names by her.”

This is a true story and to shows how some authors would rather keep characters happy than readers. Someone should these authors that characters don’t’ buy books!

"A Family for Faith" Now Available on the Kindle.

“The Rancher’s Reunion” Chosen Again for National Mailing!

Direct Marketing Rule #1:

If a promotion works, you run it again.

I’ve just received my second mailing from Love Inspired featuring “The Rancher’s Reunion” by debut author Tina Radcliffe. It is a high honor to be chosen as the feature for a national mailing. It’s the equivalent of having a rookie pitcher start the first game of the World Series.

This same offer was mailed out in January and to repeat it again in March, without even changing the feature book, is a testimony to “The Rancher’s Reunion’s” appeal to romance readers.

Love Inspired must have read the reviews and tallied up the sales!

Be sure to read my review of “The Rancher’s Reunion”. If you have not yet read it, you’re in for a treat!

Now available for the Kindle!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Famous Quotes VIII

Who Wrote These Quotes: Me or Someone Famous?

(1) Becoming a good writer is not about writing; it’s about ‘righting’: doing the right things in the right places and learning from your mistakes.
Mary Higgins Clark or Vince Mooney

(2) Always be a poet, even in prose.
Charles Baudelaire or Vince Mooney

(3) Romances don’t promise happy ever after endings; they just get you started down that path.
LaVyrle Spencer or Vince Mooney

(4) Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.
Eli Khamarov or Vince Mooney

(5) A good title should be like a good metaphor. It should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious.
Walker Percy or Vince Mooney

(6) Either a writer doesn't want to talk about his work, or he talks about it more than you want.
Anatole Broyard or Vince Mooney

(7) My ‘black moments’ are never the ones readers are expecting. You have to whack readers on the back of their heads where they can’t see the 'black moment' coming.
Stephanie Laurens or Vince Mooney

(8) Poetry is about sound, feeling, and meaning. In that order.
Robert Browning or Vince Mooney

(9) I use the epilogue to give the reader a second helping of HEA.
M.C. Beaton or Vince Mooney

(10) It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly.
C. J. Cherryh or Vince Mooney

(11) I always acknowledge everyone I can think of in my books. I know they’ll go out and buy five copies of the book to impress their family and friends.
Jude Devereaux or Vince Mooney

(12) Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
Colette or Vince Mooney

(13) There is no method except to be very intelligent.
T. S. Eliot or Vince Mooney

(14) When an author says that her characters have come alive and taken over the story, I know it’s at that point where most of the most revisions will have to be made.
Jayne Anne Krentz or Vince Mooney

(15) When we were children my father would have us make up our own bedtime stories. Once we started a story he would always finish it. No matter how tired we were we always stayed up to learn how our stories turned out. That’s where I learned how to captivate an audience. Make them feel they are a part of the story. That it is their story, too.
Laura Ingalls Wilder or Vince Mooney