Mary Ellis Character Interview: Amanda Dunn

A hearty welcome to bestselling author Mary Ellis! 


Mary Ellis has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community and recently completed several historical romances set during the Civil War. The Last Heiress is her latest release. She is currently working on a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, for Harvest House Publishers. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Her debut book was nominated for a 2010 Carol Award. Living in Harmony, won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction while Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or


http://www.amazon.com/Last-Heiress-Mary-Ellis-ebook/dp/B00RYB9NHY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424968960&sr=8-1&keywords=the+last+heiress

The Last Heiress is a stand-alone historical romance, also set during the American Civil War. My heroine, Amanda Dunn is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. When the blockade of southern ports curtails the supply of cotton, her father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton factor, and also lives in Wilmington. When Amanda falls for a local shopkeeper, class distinction, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.



Without further ado, here is the interview conducted with Amanda Dunn, Mary's heroine in The Last Heiress.

Has anything significant happened in your life in the past two weeks?
I recently landed in North Carolina during the American Civil War. I’m supposed to restore shipments of cotton to my family’s textile mills and repair the riff with my sister. Abigail happens to be married to a slave-owner, a practice I refuse to tolerate. I find myself at odds with my host and hostess at every turn. Everything seems to have become significant lately.

Your most embarrassing moment?
Thus far my protected and insulated life in England has produced few embarrassments. Since arriving in Wilmington, I’ve had plenty. Look no further than the next question.

What is your first reaction when you meet a handsome gentleman?
Usually I blush, and this time was no exception. After all this is the nineteenth century. Then I engage the gentleman in witty or intelligent conversation. However, since I’m a fish out-of-water here, especially with a war going on, I can’t find any common ground. So I don’t think I’ve impressed this young man in the least.

What happened the last time you spoke to a large group of people?
I had to address the Wilmington business leaders to request a lift of trade restrictions to Great Britain. The session did not go well, needless to say. Southern gentlemen do not take kindly to women conducting business.

What are your hobbies?
Well-born ladies during the Victorian Era had few acceptable hobbies. I read, do needlepoint, and take long walks in the garden in fair weather. I’m enjoying my stay in North Carolina where conventions have been relaxed due to the Civil War.

Siblings? How many? Do you get along?
I had a brother who unfortunately was killed at our textile mill, making me next in line to inherit my father’s company. I also have a twin sister. We used to get along just fine until she eloped with an American.

Any current romantic interests?
I have fallen in love with Nathaniel Cooper who charmed me the moment I entered his store. He’s not what my family would consider acceptable for a mate, yet I can’t imagine my life without him.

Where were you born? What other significant happenings surrounded this event?
I was born in Manchester, England. My identical twin, Abigail, was born minutes after me. Physically, we look exactly the same. However, philosophically we have become complete opposites.

What is your worst fear?
My worst fear is that I will fail at the enormous task I’ve been given due to my father’s illness. Women of my class didn’t dabble in business during the 1860’s. I do wish to make my father—and myself—proud.

When’s the last time you had a really good meal? Courtesy of whom?
The last good meal I had since landing on the shores of America was cooked by my new beau! Nathaniel might be a shopkeeper of humble means, but he has won my heart based on his skills in the kitchen alone!

Are there any hardheaded people in your life right now? What’s the issue?
I am living in my sister’s home. Abigail is married to an American cotton broker and slave-owner. I am vehemently opposed to slavery, an institution that England abolished during the last century. Jackson Henthorne and I barely speak to each other which places my twin sister smack-dab in the middle.

Thank you, Mary, for bringing us this interview. What fascinating insight it brings to your character Amanda!

Mary is offering a SIGNED PAPERBACK copy of The Last Heiress! Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“5 Ways to Improve Your Author Image" by Kathy Ide



The buzz word in publishing is platform. But did you know that having mistakes in your manuscript can affect your reputation and platform?
Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.
Even if your manuscript has already been accepted by a traditional publishing house, if their in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text. Besides, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image to your publisher.
Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.
A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house but to the author.
Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.
I once saw a published article with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing.
Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.
Readers who find a lot of mistakes in your book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? You may have a high school English teacher reading your book, and she just might recommend it to her students . . . unless there are a lot of mistakes in it.
Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.
If you self-publish, or work with a small, independent publisher that doesn’t proofread carefully, your book may go out to the public with several typos, inconsistencies, or PUGS (punctuation, usage, or grammar) errors. Readers who catch those mistakes may consider you an amateur.
For a lot of avid readers, typos practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules and you don’t, that’s not going to make you look very good.


If you have a hard time finding typos, inconsistencies, and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. A careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.


Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. To order, visit www.secretsofbestsellingauthors.com. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, visit www.KathyIde.com.


5 Reasons I Write Christian Romance



I see the question in your eyes. I catch that curious gleam most every time I tell someone what I write.

Christian romance? What's Christian about romance these days?


For a time, I left off the romance part and just said, "Christian fiction," while my inner writer whispered, "coward." But I couldn't leave out the romance bit for long without feeling like a hypocrite. Romance is a HUGE part of what I write.

I'll tell you why, in no particular order:

  • It's the best-selling genre. No, I'm not "in it for the money." But according to BookStats.org, the estimated annual total sales value of romance was $1.08 billion in 2013. Fact: people buy romance. 
That tells me people crave genuine, candid, lasting love. They may not know it, but when the heart goes from one love story to another, it's a sign of a deeper need, one that can only be met by the Creator of love.

Many seek to fill that need elsewhere, whether in a physical relationship or an emotional fantasy that tells them, somewhere, somehow, someone with perfect unconditional love wants and desires them, and if they have to live that dream vicariously through a fictional character, that's what they'll do. It's the heart-cry of every human: "Love me!"

God is the answer to that cry. God loves unconditionally. We don't have to do anything to merit His love. We don't have to be "good enough." We simply surrender.

  • Romance is the perfect genre in which to explore the human condition. Romance is one area of our lives where the wounds from our past will always catch up with us, often showing if we have learned to overcome those wounds and be a better person because of them . . . or not. The "or not" is where conflict comes in and we have a story to tell--about overcoming obstacles in order to heal and better interact with others. :)

  • Chivalry isn't dead. It's just politely waiting for feminism to trip over itself. (*snicker* I simply couldn't help myself.) I love chivalry. Romance is a great genre to showcase that and encourage women to allow it back into their lives. 

The next two reasons go hand-in-hand:

  • God is love. Some call the Bible The Romance of the Ages. It's GOD'S book of romance. The story of how Jesus gave His life for the ones He loves. I believe it is still the #1 bestseller. He ought to know something about writing a good love story, right? That's why I like to end my stories with plenty of love, redemption, and the truths found in God's Word.
  • God's character can be revealed through a love story. He is love. The earthly pattern He uses to show us How much He loves us and desires to communicate with us is that of a love relationship. Self-sacrifice is the most beautiful expression of love, which Jesus himself showed us when He died for our sins on the cross. Isn't that amazing? To learn more about how to experience that love, click HERE.

Bonus cool facts about an early Christian romance writer:

Did you know? The great revival preacher Billy Sunday wrote one book in his entire life. Only one. Surely, it was a deep theological thesis. No? A collection of sermons, perhaps. Nope. It was a romance.

Billy Sunday wrote romance? Yep. His book is a collection of romances, actually, called Love Stories from the Bible. The title is out of print now, but I was privileged to buy a copy at a Bible conference about thirty miles from my house in the next county over. :) Made this book-lover's heart giddy with excitement!

The book was first published in 1917 in London by The Knickerbocker Press and later reproduced by Larry Harrison of The Christian Book Gallery.

In the foreword, Sunday states his intention "to clothe the outstanding characters and lessons of the Bible in the language and environment of today." He also expresses a knowledge that his work would be considered "irreverent" in a day when the Bible was considered a "relic . . . something only for special occasions."

Basically, he wrote young adult romance based on the love stories in the Bible. How fun is that? All you YA romance writers, you're following in the footsteps of a giant, haha.

Of course Sunday's underlying motive (all authors have one--inspirational or secular, there is an underlying message or theme) was to get young folks studying their Bibles and draw them toward a love relationship with Jesus Christ the Savior.

That is my goal as well. If because of my writing someone might be introduced to Jesus, might fall a little more in love with Him, I will have been successful.



Love romantic stories? You're at the right blog! 'Cause I do, too. I challenge you this Valentine's Day to spend time alone with the God of romance. Many make up their own ideas of God to meet their personal likes/dislikes, but we find Who God truly is from the Bible.

Spend time reading His Love Story this Valentine's Day. The book of John is a great place to start.

Think of ways to please Him, serve Him, move His heart with your devotion. Sing to Him. Give Him Your dreams. Read and re-read His Love Letter to You. Dream of one day being with Him in heaven. Tell Him how you long for that day.

But don't let it stop on Valentine's Day. Continue the romance. Pursue this heavenly Lover everyday. Let Him pursue you in return. Let him have you.

God has made a plan for those who wish to, to be with Him forever. If you haven't been introduced to the Ultimate Hero of all Heroes, Jesus Christ, He has extended an invitation. Will you accept?




P.S. I'm going to see the movie Old Fashioned today (trailer below). Have you seen it? 



What are some reasons you like to read Christian love stories?

Winners of our Countdown to Valentine's Day giveaways are as follows: Brandywine Brides--Marisa, My Candy Valentine--Lydia (widderbugs), & The Homestead Brides Collection--Deanna Stevens. Congrats, all! I'll be getting in touch with you soon.

Unsolved Historical Mysteries by Michelle Griep

Person of Interest? Sherlock? NCSI? Today, everyone’s got their favorite criminal mystery show, but did you know that crime investigation has its roots planted deeply back in the late eighteenth century in England? The Bow Street Runners were the first organized detective force of the era. But even they couldn’t solve some mysteries . . .

An Unusual Tale

Elizabeth Canning was a maidservant who disappeared for four weeks in 1753. Her story of what happened ultimately divided the nation.

She claims she was abducted—not by aliens, but thugs—and taken to a brothel in Enfield, a town just outside London. She refused to be forced into prostitution, so they locked her in an attic, where they stole her corset and fed her stale bread. Somehow, she managed to escape out a window.

When she told her employer what’d happened, he led a mob to the establishment, a brothel run by Mother Wells. Henry Fielding—the creator of the Bow Street Runners—acquired convictions for Mother Wells and her gypsy accomplice, Mary Squires. Wells was branded and Squires was sentenced to hang for the corset theft . . . but Squires had reliable alibis that put her in a different part of England during those four weeks. The Lord Mayor of London intervened, and Squire’s conviction was overturned. This angered the public, because hey, they were missing out on a hanging, which was great entertainment back then.

So, what really happened? Who knows? Speculation says that Canning was likely trying to hide a pregnancy and may have run away to get an abortion or maybe even birth an illegitimate child. Wells ended up getting convicted of perjury and was sentenced to seven years in America. She never came back.

An Unusual Corpse

Recently London archeologists excavated the graveyard of St. Pancras Old Church in preparation for yet another rail terminal. Why were archeologists called in instead of hard-hat wearing construction workers? Because this site had been used for mass graves during the first part of the nineteenth century. Care needed to be used instead of backhoes. As expected, they found lots of coffins, but one in particular grabbed everyone’s attention.

It contained the remains of eight people—and a thirteen-foot walrus.

No one knows how it got there, where it came from, or even why. In the early 1800’s, a walrus would’ve been considered a sea monster, and there were precious few of those roaming the London streets. Okay, none, but obviously there was one, because they found the bones to prove it.

An Unusual Code

On the grounds of an English country manor, there is a beautifully carved monument. No big deal, right? Wrong, Watson. Not even Sherlock could solve this one.

The inscription on Shepherd’s Monument at Shugborough Hall is a cryptic sequence of letters that has contemporaries and historians scratching their heads. It reads:
DOUOSVAVVM

Those ten letters are known as one of the world’s top uncracked ciphertexts. From Charles Dickens to Charles Darwin, no one who’s put his mind to it has been able to figure out what the message means. Some speculate it might’ve been left by the Knights Templar as a clue to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail . . . yet no one really knows.

These mysteries remain unsolved, but if you’d like to read an intriguing tale that ties up all the loose threads by the end, pick up a copy of my latest release, BRENTWOOD’S WARD . . . 
 

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order…she’s stolen his heart.

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.





About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.


She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.


Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.
      

Let's get talking:

Do you love English mysteries?

Are you excited to see a Sherlock Holmes meets Dickens book like this one?

Do you have a guess at cracking that code above?


Tiffany Amber Stockton: Grace Braxton Character Interview

Please welcome inspirational historical romance author Tiffany Amber Stockton. She has brought with her Grace Baxton, the heroine in book 2 of Brandywine Brides (Stealing Hearts), who will be answering a few fun questions for us.


Has anything significant happened in your life in the past two weeks?

I would have to answer that in the affirmative, as we had a thief break into our home and steal a treasured family heirloom book, among other items. The judge sentenced him to work for my father, and since I have to see him almost every day, I am constantly reminded of what he did to us. Forgiveness is not an easy thing in such circumstances.



What is your most embarrassing moment?

I am still embarrassed to even report this to you and relive the event, but there was a day I had gone down to my father’s shipyard to visit Andrew and he wasn’t fully garbed due to the work he was doing on one of the ships. In fact, he wore only his shirtwaist and breeches, and he actually caught me staring at him. I was so flustered, I momentarily forgot what it was I had come to tell him. He has not allowed me to forget that moment so easily.



What is your first reaction when you meet a handsome gentleman? Blush? Stutter? Run? Flirt? Engage them in intelligent or witty conversation? Start an argument to see how they handle anger? Offer a helping hand? Ask a friend what they know about him?

Initially, I often do not speak unless first presented with a question or introduction of some fashion, as I do not wish to appear forward or lacking manners. Once an introduction is made, engaging the handsome gentleman in conversation often comes quite easily to me as long as the topics remain polite. It is the personal topics where I find myself stuttering or avoiding an appropriate response.



Do you have any grandparent figures in your life? How have they influenced you?

Yes. Aunt Charlotte’s mother and father live not too far away from us, and they visit often. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time with Grandmother Pringle in place of a ladies’ finishing school, as she was once an instructor in one. Aunt Charlotte thought it would be prudent to have me learn from Grandmother instead of sending me away, and I am truly grateful.



Siblings? How many? Do you get along?

Unfortunately, I do not have any siblings, as my parents both died when I was young. Uncle Richard and Aunt Charlotte have two children, though, and we have been raised together. I must say, it is both a challenge and a delight to live with my cousins. They do get themselves into the most peculiar circumstances sometimes, but when they are not getting into mischief, they are great friends and confidantes.



What are your hobbies?

I absolutely love to read, and my mother has taught me to play the piano as well as sew and crochet. My mother has also recently begun teaching me to quilt, though Grandmother Pringle has a much more refined skill at this, so she spends more time with me. Mother has her hands full with my two cousins anyway.



What is your dearest dream?

I am not certain this will ever happen, but I would dearly love to see Aunt Charlotte’s bookshop open again. She does not seem to have much interest, though, and every time I speak of it, she changes the subject. I gather there is a secret somewhere I am not being told, and from the looks on her face, it might be some time before I discover what that secret is. I am determined to not give up on this dream, though, even if it means I have to wait several years before seeing it happen.



Do you have any current romantic interests?

Although I avoided it in every way possible initially, I must say this Mr. Bradenton is growing on me. I am beginning to believe he isn’t the thief he seemed when we first met, and instead, comes from a rather cultured life. It is fascinating discovering more about him—if only he wasn’t also such an infuriating gentleman.



What is your worst fear?

For a great deal of my life, I found the lives of others more fascinating than my own. Some might consider me a busybody, and others have been known to be angered at my interference. It is really me attempting to find my place and determine who I am or what I do best. My worst fear is those I love might misunderstand me and not wish to be in my company, or worse yet, they would be angered by something I have done and do everything within their power to avoid me. After losing both of my parents and not having any siblings, my only wish is to find a place of belonging with my family. Perhaps if I can locate the missing items stolen from us, I can prove to everyone how much I love them and that my involvement in their lives is only to show that love.



Are there any hardheaded people in your life right now? What’s the issue?

Do you mean stubborn or determined to be correct in everything they say or do? I would have to say that is Aunt Bethany, Aunt Charlotte’s older sister. She is meticulous down to the minutest detail. If you ask others though, they would say I am the stubborn one. I suppose some of it comes from my family relations.
 
Thank you so much for answering these questions, Grace!



Here's Amber:

research tidbits: From the first day I began digging deeper into research in historical Delaware, I discovered a treasure trove of unique facts and details impossible to cover in a brief blog appearance. One thing I can say, though, is when asked what I write, I often reply with historical fiction containing romance. This means my books are classified as romance, but the romance is only what keeps the two main characters flowing in each book. The historical tidbits and happenings are the core of each story, and I love being able to showcase some lesser known details somewhere in the pages of my novels for my readers to discover. That being said, I hope you enjoy delving into each of these 3 books contained in this anthology. May your knowledge of Delaware history be increased and perhaps your desire to learn more as a result.


blurb:  —Bound by Love and Literature—

Discover the booming industry of the Wilmington riverfront in historical Delaware during the Gilded Age, and share in the journey of an heirloom book as it brings together three couples in the Brandywine River Valley.

Nestled amid the beauty of historical Delaware, three generations of bookstore owners find love grows out of a shared love for great literature. Charlotte Pringle is pressured by her parents to marry advantageously, but while Richard Baxton loves her, he cannot provide for her because all his finances go to help his niece walk again. Grace Baxton is on the search for a missing heirloom book. Andrew Bradenton offers to help her, but his past mistakes cast him in a suspicious light, even while a dashing suitor catches Grace’s eye. After the loss of his friend and her brother on the Titanic, Aaron Stone encourages Lillian Bradenton to restore her hope by bringing a boarded-up bookstore back to life. Will each woman’s literature-inspired dreams lead her to the right man of faith and devotion?

author bio: Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who has partnered with Nerium International in the anti-aging skin care industry, helping others look younger and live better. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, a Retriever mix named Roxie and and Australian cattle dog named Timber. She has sold seventeen (17) books so far and is represented by agent Sandra Bishop of the TransAtlantic Agency. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.






Tiffany has graciously offered a giveaway of her book. To enter, comment with your email in the following spam-free format: email (at) address (dot) com.

For extra entries, tell us you followed us on social media (if you follow on more than one site, tell us which). Drawing will be held at 8pm Central Time Feb. 13, so feel free to enter until then. Winner will be announced in a post on Valentine's Day! :)

Darlene Franklin Hero Inspiration + Double Giveaway

Happy Wednesday-Before-Valentine's Day, y'all!

Today through Friday, we're counting down to Valentine's Day with three historical romance authors and their brand-spanking new books. Then on Valentine's Day, I'll be blogging about "Why Romance"--the reason I write love stories. Be sure to check it out!

Starting off our countdown, Darlene Franklin is here with TWO historical romance books and TWO giveaways!

NM: Darlene, what was your inspiration for your heroes' occupations in these books?


Darlene:
In Priceless Pearl, my story in Homestead Brides, the occupation was dictated by the setting: the 1893 Oklahoma land run. The majority of the hopefuls who took part in the land runs became farmers. My hero, Rick Eady, was an experienced but poor farmer who was able to help the heroine’s inexperienced family survive their first winter. 
 
In My Candy Valentine, I had a harder time deciding on Gilbert Williams’ occupation. He needed a reason to check out the heroine’s candy making. I considered a newspaper reporter, but settled on a recruiter seeking promising businesses to bring to his employer’s attention. 

NM: Both these stories sound like real attention-grabbers! These occupations are definitely ones I'd want to read about! Thank you for sharing with us today, Darlene!


http://www.amazon.com/Homestead-Brides-Collection-Pioneering-Couples-ebook/dp/B00RPVRWEY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
 
Homestead Brides: 9 Pioneering Couples Risk All for Love and Land: Through nine historical romance adventures, readers will journey along with individuals who are ready to stake a claim and plant their dreams on a piece of the great American plains. While fighting land disputes, helping neighbors, and tackling the challenges of nature the homesteaders are placed in the path of other dreamers with whom romance sparks. And God has His hand in orchestrating each unique meeting.




http://www.amazon.com/Candy-Valentine-Holidays-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B00SI2214K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423679865&sr=1-1&keywords=my+candy+valentine+darlene+franklin

My Candy Valentine (Book 2 of the Holidays of the Heart series): Gilbert Williams sweeps Catrina Jensen off her feet when he arrives in Loveland, Oklahoma, shortly after New Year’s Day 1916. When the reason for his interest in her delicious candies is revealed, her affection turns to fear. Is her hero a traitor in disguise?



BIO:
Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over thirty books and has written more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at http://darlenehfranklinwrites.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Poet.Darlene.Franklin.

Darlene is giving away a copy of each of these books! A print copy of Homestead Brides and an e-book copy of My Candy Valentine! That means two winners! Comment with your email for a chance to win! Earn entries by letting us know you shared the post, liked either my and/or Darlene's Facebook page, follow Darlene and/or me on Twitter, or followed her blog and/or mine. You can also get an extra entry by signing up for my newsletter (right).

Drawing will be held at 8pm Central Time Feb. 13, so feel free to enter until then. Winner will be announced in a post on Valentine's Day! :)
 

What's the strangest hero or heroine occupation you've ever read about?

What about one of the funnest or most interesting?

Have you ever enjoyed reading about a character occupation that you'd never want to try in real life? What was it?

What are some hero occupations you'd like to see in a historical romance story?

My Valentine's Day Date with the King

   

Deep breath. I’m in my mid-twenties, I’m single, and I'm going on TWO dates this Valentine’s Day.


You read that right. 

One date is with my sister. We’ve developed a Valentine's Day tradition that as long as we’re single, we’ll do Valentine’s Day together. This year on 14 February (I love saying dates UK style), We’re going to see the new Christian film Old Fashioned, a fresh, sweet, sigh-worthy love story that’s about respecting women and adoring them instead of exploiting and abusing them. *cough* Unlike another movie coming out that weekend. *cough*

My other date is scheduled for the morning of Feb. 14. I’m going to a local coffee shop. My date won’t be meeting me at the coffee shop. He’ll actually be riding with me from my house. We’ve been together since I was eight.

The best thing about our relationship is that He knows everything about me and loves me anyway—me, an overachieving country girl/piano teacher/Christian romance writer/movie junkie/fashionista wannabe.

He’s written me the longest love letter ever recorded, each word true and an out-breathing of His love. He’s perfect. He has never, and will never, let me down. He has held me during the hardest times in my life. There is no one on earth who knows me like He does. He calls me His beloved and chosen.



Am I gushing? Sorry. I’m just so very blessed to have Him. Everyone loves Him and admires Him. People even write songs about Him and everything. Oh, did I mention He’s rich? You could say He’s the CEO of the biggest social network in the world—and it’s FREE. Well, free to everyone else. He actually paid for it at an exorbitant price—I’m rambling aren’t I?

My Date isn’t Mark Zuckerberg. Not by a long shot. I’m going on a date with God.

What? You don’t think God can be romantic? Check out these verses:

Hosea 2:14-15 & 19-20 

     "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 

     And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. 

     And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  

     I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD."

Might want to close your mouth before something flies in it. ;)

Yes, I’m going on a date with THAT God. The One and Only, who happens to be my One and Only right now. :)

You’d like to know more?

This is how it’s going down. I’ll take my Bible, my journal, Beverly Seward Brandon’s Bible study sheet on the husbandly attributes of God (I’ll be sharing below), and a book bag filled with:

  • Come Away, My Beloved by Francis J Roberts,
  • Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand,
  • A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George,
  • Lady In Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debbie Jones
  • Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and possibly
  • Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger. 

I’m hoping the coffee shop will have some type of red velvet hot cocoa or something Valentine-y to go along with the occasion.

I’ll wade through the other shmoozy couples to find a cozy corner table, then thank the Lord for our time together, read for a while, pray for a while, and journal for a while, hoping my dreamy smiles and giggles don’t prompt the owners to press charges for public intoxication.

I had initially planned to have this date at home, but being as it’s Saturday and my family will be home, my suave romantic mood might be interrupted by the Daniel Boone theme song or music from the weather channel. Also, I’ve been known to exhibit inordinate social cowardice on Valentine’s Day—like hiding at home in my PJs browsing Pinterest just so I don’t have to see those couples holding hands and kissing in public—only venturing out for my sister date.

This time, though, I feel God wants me in public for a testimony that He is enough to satisfy the longings of every soul. Probably no one will ask (usually people keep to themselves in our mid-sized town), but if they do, I’ll tell them about my date and use it as an opportunity to tell them about my Date. Hehe. See what I did there?
 
As a single woman, Beverly Seward Brandon asked herself, "Why do I want to get married?" Then wrote this Bible study when she discovered how God can meet those needs:

Longing: I want to be loved.
Bible: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3

Longing: I want someone to adore me.
Bible: The King has brought me into his chambers to adore me. (Song 1:4)

Longing: I want someone to hold my hand.
Bible: “I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)

Longing: I want to be accepted and valued.
Bible: I am accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6)

Longing: I want a place, a nesting place that is my own to create and use.
Bible: I can rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Ps. 91:1)

Longing: I want help in my days of trouble.
Bible: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you…” (Ps. 50:15)

Longing: I want to share my life – the joys and the struggles – with one person.
Bible: God will share with me the treasures of darkness and hidden riches. (Is. 45:3)

Longing: I want a champion of my causes – one who is willing to fight for me.
Bible: The Lord will fight for you. (Ex. 14:14)

Longing: I want someone to meet my needs.
Bible: God is meeting all my needs. (Phil. 4:19)

Longing: I want intimacy.
Bible: The Lord is intimate with the upright. (Ps. 140:13)

Longing: I want someone to help me in my life.
Bible: There is no one like God who rides the heavens to help you. (Deut. 33:26)

Longing: I want to walk through life sustained and carried. I don’t want the whole load of life.
Bible: Even to my old age, God will sustain me, carry me, and rescue me. (Is. 46:4)

Longing: I want a companion for this life.
Bible: God invites us to humbly walk with Him. (Mic. 6:8)

Longing: I desire children.
Bible: God gives us spiritual children like the numberless grains of sand if we invest in lives. (Is. 48:19)

This study was also published in Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall and Debbie Jones. BTW, Lady In Waiting is a FABULOUS book for single ladies, and they have a guy version, too! It's called The Right Guy for the Right Girl.


This Valentine’s Day, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. I challenge every single person to dump your PJs and Valentine’s Day self-pity. Grab your Bible and favorite devotional. Head somewhere romantic and get to know your Creator. Let Him be the Lover of your soul. Who’s with me? #mydatewiththeKing 

Do you have a fun idea for your own date with the King? Share in the comments! Would love to hear new ideas!