Woot. We are on USAToday for our boxed collection: Simply The Best ~ International Digital Award Winners

Friday, April 28, 2017

Last Friday of the Month Recipe from Author Joy Smith ~ GLUTEN-FREE Pumpkin Pecan Squares

I love these Last Friday of the Month recipes, I try them and they are truly delicious.  We've had a few GLUTEN-FREE recipes recently, and you all have told me you're so pleased with them. So, here is another and as I love pumpkin, it sounds perfect. 

Hi L.A. Thanks for hosting me today, and for giving me the chance to spend time with my daughter, who has celiac disease. Like the heroine in my book, she loves making desserts and has developed some great gluten free recipes. I chose to make pumpkin squares as they are mentioned in the first chapter of HEAR ME ROAR, plus the fact that I love anything pumpkin. We worked together, enhancing her basic recipe with pecans. I managed to snap these pictures before our tribe wolfed them down. These cake-like squares are lusciously moist and delicious, and you would never guess they are gluten-free. The cream cheese icing compliments the pumpkin, and the sugared pecan provides a nice sweet crunch. S-o-o-o good!


Gluten-free Pumpkin Pecan Squares
Oil spray
1 8-ounce package pecan halves, divided
4 eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Sugared Pecans
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 ounces pecan halves
Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound confectioners sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with oil spray. Chop 4 ounces of the pecans, and set aside the rest. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chopped pecans. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to Cool. Meanwhile, make the sugared pecans and the icing. Sugared pecans: Heat the sugar and remaining pecan halves in a 10-inch skillet until the sugar liquefies and the nuts are coated and shiny. Stir constantly as this happens quickly. Remove nuts from pan and cool in a single layer on a piece of foil or waxed paper. Set aside. Cream Cheese Icing: Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and continue to beat until blended. Frost the cooled cake and decorate with the sugared pecans. Cut into squares and serve.

Blurb for Hear Me Roar
Jan Simmons never expected trouble to move into her quiet Charming Way cul-de-sac. Nor did she expect her husband Jeff’s weakness for fast money to drag their once happy family into danger.

When her husband turns to crime, Jan, a people-pleaser with little self-worth, must release the death grip she has on her failing marriage for the sake of her children and draw on her inner strength.

As Jan fights to free her family from a web of lies and deceit she also battles to save herself.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Wild Rose Press

I've authored a mish mosh of genres. The truth is my nonfiction books have followed my life’s learnings. Thirty-five years ago, when we bought our first boat, I began collecting info that might make cruising easier for other boaters, new and old. When my to-be-married daughter asked for my recipes, I started a cookbook, and then a Lord-help-me book for mom’s going through the wedding planning process.

So fiction writing? How about that? Well, I needed a little fantasy in my life. Did you know writing a novel is more challenging than a how-to book? When I’m not contriving a plot or doing heavy research, you may find me aboard our boat enjoying the salt air or fighting heavy seas with my handsome captain. Oh, and I crochet like mad—prayer shawls to be donated to those in need of a hug—at dock, underway, or at home. I’d love to hear from you! Email me at

Find Joy: 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Take Five and Meet Author Anne Louise Bannon

Once again I'm lucky to find a new-author-to-me. 
Wait until you read the new challenge she's undertaking!! 
And you should love answer to question four, I did.  

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Anne Louise Bannon.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book The Last Witnesses?

My research for the first two. It’s kind of hard to explain here, because it involves a potential spoiler. But as I was learning more and more about the 1920s for Fascinating Rhythm and Bring Into Bondage, I heard about this weird conspiracy theory that was going around at the time. Can’t say more, sadly, but I couldn’t help thinking “What if..?”
Also, my two characters, Freddie Little and Kathy Briscow, they kept talking to me and I kept getting more and more interested in them and their lives and the people around them. The only problem I’m having now is that the cast is getting a little on the large side for book number four, Blood Red.

Have you been a lifelong reader of mystery?  What are some of the first books you remember reading?

You know, I think I have been. One of the first chapter books I read all by myself was a book called Key to the Treasure, about some kids who find clues from an old treasure hunt left by (I think) their great-grandfather. I also did some of the classics, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach. I didn’t really discover Nancy Drew until I was 11 or so, but I was definitely reading mysteries before then. And ever since.

What do you do to rev your creative juices?

I walk. I mostly prefer to get from Point A to Point B when I walk, and sometimes I end up focusing on what I’m going to do when I get to Point B. I’m working on a distance walking challenge, and even when I’m in urban areas, there aren’t a lot of distractions, I’m not falling asleep, and on really good days, my brain just kicks into high gear and I’m solving plot problems and developing character twists.

To you what makes a great romance hero or heroine?

I like people who are real in my reading. Nonetheless, my favorite romantic hero is Professor Emerson from the Amelia Peabody series. Emerson is completely passionate about his wife, Amelia, but he also respects her intelligence and challenges her even as she challenges him. And I love their ongoing relationship through the series. That, to me, is almost always more interesting than the happily ever after thing.

You’re having a dinner party.  What character from your novel do you hope doesn’t show up? Why?

You mean besides the bad guy? But, actually, there is also another minor character who I would not want at my dinner table for any amount of money and that’s Father James Callaghan. He’s one of Kathy’s many uncles in New York, and unlike the rest of them, he’s a sour old man. It’s not that he’s a priest – and I have several priest friends. It’s that he’s old and cranky and more than a little self-righteous. Not at all fun as a dinner guest.

Give us a brief summary of The Last Witnesses:
It's back to the 1920s with socialite author Freddie Little and his editor and not-so-blushing bride Kathy Briscow. In fact, Freddie and Kathy are happily enjoying their newly-married bliss when Freddie's sister, Honoria, finds a dead body in her apartment. Honoria had taken the young woman in as a favor to a friend but it soon becomes clear that the favor caught up. Honoria goes into hiding and Freddie and Kathy take up a chase that will lead all three of them across the country and into a conspiracy that, no matter how unbelievable, could get them all killed.

Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. 

She also writes the romantic fiction serial, Book One of which is out now. She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, as well as the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, and the Operation Quickline series and Tyger, Tyger. She and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters.
Find Anne Louise: 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Five Secrets From Author L.A. Starks and Her Novel ~ Strike Price

Dear Readers, you know me well enough to understand that I simply had to have L.A. Starks on this blog. After all, who can resist another L.A.?  Not me, and I'm glad I didn't. Her books sound awesome and her secrets are provoking and revealing. 
Please welcome L.A. Starks!
Brought to you by L.A. Sartor :)

Thanks for hosting me today, L.A.
You asked for a bit about me to start off the post. Well, I've learned my parent brain, left brain (engineering), and right brain (thriller writing) experiences developed in me the heightened ability to find (and sometimes deflect, but at least articulate) risky behavior and situations. How high is that zip line you’re hanging onto with just one hand? Which colorless gas is deadliest in a refinery? Would one of my characters accidentally lock herself into a cooling tower? Or could she have been murdered and left there?

Both books in my Lynn Dayton thriller series-to-date, 13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY and STRIKE PRICE, have received 5-star reviews. STRIKE PRICE also received the Texas Association of Authors’ First Place award for best mystery/thriller. I’m writing the third book in the series. Four of my short stories have also been published.

Hi, L.A., very cool news about your awards. Will you please tell us Five Secrets we may not know about STRIKE PRICE or you, but will after today!

1) History secretsStrike Place is all about secrets. Since it’s a current-day thriller, I had to relegate some fairly stunning history to endnotes. For example, while I thought I had a good grounding in Oklahoma history—I grew up there, heard stories from relatives, and was even required to take a high school class on the subject—a long-held secret I learned in the course of researching this book was the Tulsa Riot of 1921. A riot supported by the Ku Klux Klan. Part of that secret was the range of groups the KKK opposed—African-Americans, Jews, Catholics, Asians, Republicans, Congressional “radicals”, and union members. The uprising was shamefully provoked by a local newspaper that no longer exists. In several days of rioting, white citizens destroyed the Greenwood area of Tulsa that had been known as a “Negro Wall Street.” At least three hundred people, mostly African-American, were killed. Many thousands more fled town. The city government refused outside rebuilding offers but did nothing. African-Americans who remained eventually rebuilt Greenwood. The rioting was covered up and the stories of the survivors silenced until Tulsa state representative Don Ross pushed for and led the Oklahoma Legislature to authorize the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in 1996.

2) Cherokee language secrets: The Cherokees are one of the biggest and most influential tribes in the Oklahoma, with a tribal budget of nearly a billion dollars. Their rich history and language includes the continuous publication since 1828 of North America’s first bilingual newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix (published in Cherokee and English). Cherokee leader Sequoyah is honored as the inventor of the written Cherokee syllabary. Out of respect to the nation and to my readers, I thought it was important to authentically represent this language in Strike Price. In fact, use of the Cherokee language gives rise to key clues. Not only was I able to use actual Cherokee syllabary in the print edition thanks to the Cherokee Nation and to the first editors of the book at L&L Dreamspell, but I was also able to include the syllabary phrases in the most recent e-book edition, thanks to the efforts of my fearless book designers at 52 Novels.

3) Business secrets: What goes around comes around: Oklahoma first attracted attention from the United States government as a candidate for statehood when oil was discovered near Tulsa in 1901. More than a century later, the shale revolution again awakened interest in Oklahoma’s oil and gas reserves with prospectors even drilling some of the same areas that made the Osage the richest people on earth in the 1920s.

4) Osage murder secrets: The story of the Osage has attracted much interest. Among the nearly thirty Native American nations now headquartered in Oklahoma—most forcibly moved there at the tip of a gun—only the Osage retained their mineral rights. When oil was discovered on their land in the early 1900s each member of the Osage tribe, through his or her “headrights,” received a share of the royalties. The headrights became so valuable that outsiders married Osage women and then killed them to inherit the headrights. The newly-formed Federal Bureau of Investigation took on the Osage murders as its first case.

5) The final secret is that: Jesse Drum, one of the lead characters of Strike Price initially came to life in my short story, “A Time for Eating Wild Onions” under a different name, Mitch Oowatie. (Digging for and eating wild onions is a Cherokee tradition.) The short story is set much earlier than Strike Price: the early 1970s as the Vietnam War is winding down, and in a very different place: the intellectual cauldron of San Francisco with its war protests, Alcatraz occupation, and mix of the country’s most idealistic, and in some cases most dangerous, dreamers.

For example, Jim Jones and his cult were in San Francisco at that time and they appear in one of the scenes of A Time for Eating Wild Onions. Later Jones and his group moved to Guyana where, in 1978, Jones directed the massacre of over nine hundred of his followers. In A Time for Eating Wild Onions, Mitch/Jesse’s deadly interaction with his fellow soldier is foreshadowed when they cross paths with Jones. The events and culmination of the story serve as hidden (for a time) background between Jesse and another key character later in Strike Price.

Blurb :
Murder disrupts a billion-dollar oil deal. Strike Price is a story about a business deal turned deadly, concluding with a plot to destroy a hidden, crucial US oil center and bring the US into confrontation with another global power. To stop the plot and save lives, up-by-the-bootstraps Lynn Dayton must trust a Cherokee elder who carries a corrosive secret.

Strike Price
features authentic Cherokee syllabary text in clues that tie fascinating Native American history to global high-stakes drama today.

"If you're looking for big business wheeling-and-dealing, international intrigue, murder, mayhem, and high-geared action, you've come to the right place. Toss in a charming and nervy protagonist like Lynn Dayton and L. A. Starks' Strike Price is right on the money. Well-written, well-plotted and well worth a reader's time."--Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner
"Strike Price takes the reader from Oklahoma Indian reservations to the streets of Florence, in an imaginative and well informed fusion of oil refining economics, Native American politics, and the potential for lethal mayhem in the global energy market."--Michael Ennis, author of New York Times bestseller, The Malice of Fortune


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Take Five and Meet Author Donna Schlachter

Today we get to meet one of the authors in the "Pony Express Romance Collection". 
I can't wait to see what it's all about. Come meet Donna Schlachter

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Donna.  Tell us, what inspired you to write your book  Echoes of the Heart?

Thanks for having me as your guest today, L.A. I discovered since I started writing seriously that I love history. I hated it as a subject in school, where I’m from, it seemed history meant memorizing dates of reigns of Monarchs. I met up with Mary Davis at an ACFW conference (here’s a great reason to go to conferences) and asked her what she was working on. She said she and three other authors were putting together a proposal on the Pony Express. I said if there was an opening, I’d love to join. A month later, she emailed and said one of the ladies had to drop out and now there was an opening. In the meantime, I read everything I could about the Pony Express, visited a couple of stations within a day’s drive of where I live, so I was ready. I wrote about a subject I knew nothing about at the beginning, but I know a lot now! 

When you’re brainstorming for a new story, what usually comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

The plot comes for me first, and then the character to fulfill that plot. I love asking those “what if” questions.

What is most difficult for you to write?  Characters, conflict or emotions?  Why?

Emotions. Especially romance. Which is funny, since I write historical romance. I have no problem with writing conflict, bickering, fighting – which probably says a lot about me.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

Write a synopsis. Then go back and fill in the holes, add in the romance—if it’s a romance—and then make sure there is a spiritual thread. The synopsis gives me the structure for the book, keeps me on track, but gives me enough room for creativity and surprises—even for me.

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?  And why?

Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s little old lady amateur detective who lives in St. Mary Mead. I’m fairly observant, and I love knowing the story behind the story. However, I’m not white haired, and I don’t knit fluffy pink baby outfits.

Give us a brief summary of Echoes of the Heart:
This is a 9-in-1 novella collection from Barbour Books centered on the Pony Express, which ran from April 1860 through November 1861. The Pony Express already seems to be a romantic snippet of Americana, and so it seemed to make sense to write a collection of historical romance set on the trail. My story, Echoes of the Heart, features a mail order bride responding under an assumed name, a crippled station master who thinks no woman will want him, and their search for a future—together or separately.

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name.

Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express
Romance Collection" released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. 

She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

Find Donna:  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Author Spotlight Featuring Terri Reed's New Release, Guardian

Terri Reed's latest Release from Love Inspired Suspense. 
I can't wait to read this, and I'm hoping you won't be able to resist it either. 

Thanks L.A for having me as your guest today.  Did you know that dogs can literally taste the air?  In doing research for my K-9 officer, a water search and rescue dog name True for my book Guardian, I discovered that dogs not only have wonderful noses that can detect human scent from the bodily gases rising to the surface in or under water, they also have an organ inside their nasal cavity and into the upper part of their mouth that also is used to smell the air. This special receptor is called Jacobson’s Organ. Many animals have this organ but in dog’s it is highly sensitive, which is why dogs are so good at searching and rescue, both on land and in water.

Excerpt From Guardian:
When they were within shouting distance of the rocks, Leo noticed fishing poles and a tackle box. This must have been where Alicia and her son had been when they’d seen the killer.

Alicia pointed upstream and yelled, “He came from that direction and stopped about three hundred and sixty feet straight out from here.” She gestured to the rocks beneath her feet.

“That’s helpful and gives us a place to start.” Leo stared, admiring the pretty lady. Her hair lifted slightly in the wind that had kicked up. Sunlight reflected in her piercing blue eyes. “You and the officers can head back to the station.” He didn’t want her here to see the body when they found the victim.

Alicia shook her head. “I want to make sure she’s found. Someone has to stand up for her.”

Respecting her decision, he saluted her then turned to Craig. “You heard the lady.”

Craig slowly turned the boat toward the middle of the river. True stood on the bow, his head up, gaze alert. Leo tuned into the dog’s nuances the farther away from shore they traveled. He documented the time and distance from land on the notepad he carried. They circled the area where Alicia had pointed. True showed no signs of alerting.

“Head downstream,” Leo instructed Craig.

Since the body hadn’t been weighted down, it most likely had been swept along by the river’s current.  Craig zigzagged the boat from one shore to the other, moving farther and farther away from the spot. Leo wondered if maybe the suspect had come back and removed the woman’s body. Frustration curled in his stomach.

Then True shifted. He licked his lips and shuffled his paws, clear signs he was picking up a scent. Leo’s pulse jumped. The dog’s tail went down as he craned his neck, dipping his nose toward the water. He pivoted, and then leaned over the starboard side. Keeping his snout at the surface of the water, True walked the length of the boat and stepped easily over the bench seat.

Anticipation revving through him, Leo gestured for Craig to make a slow turn. True retraced his steps, barking an alert. He scratched and nipped at the water. Knowing the animal had scent glands in the roof of his mouth, Leo interpreted these actions as the sign this was the spot.

“Good boy.” Leo grasped True’s life vest to keep the dog from jumping in.

Leo nodded at Craig, who shut off the motor, then strapped on a buoyance compensator, his mask and oxygen tank. The man sat on the side of the boat and fell backward into the water. True barked and lunged for the water. Leo continued to hold him back.

“No, boy,” Leo said adjusting his grip on True. “We’re staying here.”

Leo and True both watched the surface of the river. Leo pulled on latex gloves in anticipation of handling the body and prepared the large, waterproof plastic body bag. His gaze darted back to the shore, where Alicia stood sentinel on the rocks, flanked by the two officers.

She held her head up and her shoulders back like a fierce warrior. She was tall and so very appealing. He admired her commitment to being a voice for the victim. Most people would want to bail the second they could. Not Alicia. He liked that about her. 


The Blurb:

When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. 

Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him.

Classified K-9 Unit:
These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners.
Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top 25, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine, finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, ACFW’s The Carol Award contest. 

Contact Terri: P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97224

Find Terri: 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Take Five And Meet Multi-published, Award Winning Author Maris Soule


Maris Soule has published 30, yes, you read that right, 30 novels.  
I'm honored to have her as a guest on the blog. 
Today we get a glimpse into why and how she creates her stories.

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Maris.  Tell us, what inspired you to write Echoes of Terror?

Two events led to the creation of Echoes of Terror. The first was while I had lunch with a writer friend who had just spent the summer in Skagway, Alaska, volunteering for the National Park System. I thought Skagway would be the perfect setting for a story. The second event was when I saw an interview with Elizabeth Smart, who recently had been rescued. In that case, I kept wondering what the rest of her life would be like after such an ordeal.

When you’re brainstorming for a new story, what usually comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

Hmm, that’s a good question, especially with this story in mind. As I said, the ordeal Elizabeth Smart went through (and since then I’ve read of many other women, and boys, who have endured the same terror) initiated the character of Katherine Ward. But once I knew I wanted a woman who had been kidnapped as a teenager, I had to think of a plot. What was Katherine doing now? How was she coping? That led to why would she be in Skagway? And from that point, how would she react if another teenager was kidnapped and she, as the only female police officer available, was assigned the case? Bit by bit the plot came together, but it was always tied to the character.

What is most difficult for you to write?  Characters, conflict or emotions?  Why?

With Echoes of Terror the most difficult part for me was writing the emotions. I’ve never been kidnapped, never found a friend’s dead body, never had to face a man who terrorized me for nine months. I struggled over those scenes, and I hope I captured how it would feel and how a person would react. Also, Katherine’s grandfather has dementia. It was difficult for me to write those scenes since my father ended up with Alzheimer’s. In that case, I knew how Katherine would feel. It’s terrible seeing someone you love, someone who used to have a wonderful mind, become a shell of himself.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

When I begin a new book I spend a lot of time playing with the idea(s) in my head. I may look like I’m walking the dog, but I’m really (mentally) talking to characters, picturing settings, or trying to come up with something (a plot) that will involve these characters and involve a reader. I may jot down some ideas. Usually I come up with an opening (introduce the main characters, setting, problem), and I usually have a rough idea how I want the story to end. With some books I’ve been a plotter and I’ll write an outline that will take me from point A to Z. On the other hand, there are times when I think I have a plot only to discover I’m a pantser. (That’s what’s happening to me with the book I’m working on now. The characters seem to have taken over, and I’m just along for the ride.)

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?  And why?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Zorro. I wanted to be thought of as incompetent, but at night I would ride in and right all injustices…and no one would know who I really was. I still like that idea, that sort of character. Usually they’re Marvel Comic characters. Fantasies. As for why, I guess it’s because I’m way too open. People who know me, really do know me. I’d like to have a secret side, but I don’t. I’d like to have talents that I could secretly use to help others. I’d like to be able to right a wrong and know I did so, but no one else would know. (Well, may one or two people would know, but that’s all.)

Give us a brief summary of Echoes of Terror :
A teenager is missing, and Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years before. In Skagway, Alaska, the usual crimes faced by the police department’s small force are DUIs and missing bikes. With the chief in the hospital and officer missing, they’re not prepared for the kidnapping of a billionaire’s daughter.


Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels. Born and raised in California, she majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. An avid reader all of her life, once she quit teaching, she decided to try writing, and she’s been at it ever since. Soule and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th published book.

Find Maris:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Guest Post by Author Ginger Monette ~ Falling in Love: Plan it, Plot it, Show it—in Four Phases

Today I have the joy of bringing you Ginger Monette, author of Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, set during the period of WWI, whose 100th Anniversary we just noted. Her post is perfect for both writers and readers who want to know more about the craft behind the books they love.

Falling in Love: Plan it, Plot it, Show it—in Four Phases

As romance novelists, it's our job to weave stories that give readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a beautiful love story.

So what's the best way to show a couple moving from Hello my name is” (or even I despise you”) to You're my soulmate and I want to spend the rest of my life with you?”

Having been disappointed by numerous novels where the couple claimed to suddenly be in love” without actually falling in love,” I went on a quest to investigate this mysterious process of falling head over heels. What I discovered changed my writing.

I dissected some fifty romance novels and made notes. All the couples had hefty doses of attraction, but the most satisfying stories went beyond attraction to something deeper. They showed the characters passing through four phases that moved them step by step from “meh” (or downright hatred) to wowie-zowie he's the most wonderful person in the world.”  And each phase seemed to be characterized by distinct thought patterns—particularly if at first Prince Charming seemed to be more of a frog than a prince. Here are the stages I observed:

Acknowledgment of him:
-Acknowledges some good quality about him (talented, kind, generous, etc)
-Finds him attractive
-Hyper aware of him, or hyper-critical of his shortcomings (which often signals preoccupation or a subconscious denial of admiration)
-Acknowledges an attraction, but blows it off

Appreciation of his good qualities:
-Defends his character while not necessarily liking him
-Is genuinely thankful for a good quality
-Beginning to warm towards him
-Not so judgmental towards him
-More willing to consider his opinion on a matter

-Takes his advice
-Imitates quality or action of his
-Admits her initial criticism or objections were exaggerated or biased
-Curiosity grows—willing to spend more time in his company
-Acknowledges similar values or mutual interests
-Finds she is thinking (fondly) of him more and more

-Openly acknowledges her love/warm feelings for him
-Desires to be in his company
-Thinks he is wonderful
-Thinks he is perfect match
-Misses him painfully when he is gone
-Thinks about him constantly

So how did this awareness of stages change my writing? In my novel Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, I kept these stages and behaviors in mind as I crafted scenes. They became an outline of sorts that I wove with compelling action, mystery, suspense, and historical detail. When my characters (Jane Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet) are reunited at a WWI field hospital, Elizabeth is none too happy to encounter Darcy. And although she disdains him, I had her acknowledge that he is handsome and there is something between them. This cracks the door to romance and gets readers rooting for the couple.

Then, I moved her into the appreciation stage by having her surprise herself by praising and defending Darcy to a colleague. After she directly benefits from his wise leadership, she comes to appreciate him, even though she still doesn't like him. Readers can feel her slowly warming towards him and eagerly turn pages to find out how the couple will sort out the baggage between them.

As truths of Darcy's past are dramatically revealed and she comes to understand him better, I have her admit that her initial criticisms were misplaced. Now, with a softened heart, she's able to look at him more objectively. Then I set up an ah-ha moment where she realizes they both share a similar deep-seated insecurity which turns her reservations about him into empathy. Now that her appreciation has turned to admiration, her feelings are almost there! And readers are waiting with bated breath to find out what it will take for him to fully win her heart.

I gave him some scenes that show off his admirable qualities, so not only does she find herself attracted to him, she admires his leadership, work ethic, and drive. Then I purposely played up the things they have in common and showed her enjoying his company. In short, I showed them building a relationship. Finally, after they share a heroic act and laugh over a tent whipping in the wind, she realizes that in fact she adores him. 

Intentionally crafting scenes that follow this four-stage progression of romance enables readers to sense her falling in love, so it's no surprise when she finally declares it. I think a lot of romance authors make the mistake of never showing the characters moving beyond physical attraction and chemistry. It's not easy! But to write a fulfilling romance, the characters need to interact on a deep level and share common interests. Readers should see the couple building a relationship and hear their internal dialog as their thoughts and feelings evolve.

Using this four-step model, I think Darcy's Hope has succeeded in providing readers a deep sense of satisfaction as they watch the heroine's tiny bud of acknowledgment open into appreciation, then expand with admiration, and finally blossom into full adoration.

What challenges do you face showing a couple falling in love?

Downton Abbey Meets Pride & Prejudice!

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen's iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front. When injury and espionage separate the couple, Darcy is crushed. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews 

Darcy’s Hope Beauty from Ashes:
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey:

The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she's hooked on writing & World War I.

When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

In 2015, her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Picture This” grand prize.

Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.

Find Ginger:
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