How Could She? All About Love

I’ve been reading romance novels forever.  One book still sticks in my head. I must have been about twenty-two years old. Tired of working all the time and studying constantly, I took a “short” break from homework to read “just a chapter” of a full length contemporary romance novel I’d picked up from a used book store.

I have no idea who the author was or what the book was called, but that book made me so mad!


How Could She? All About Love

The short break turned into a long break. I could NOT stop reading it.

I don’t remember the plot beyond the fact the hero and heroine were stuck together in a remote cabin, and he was a fugitive. Naturally, these close quarters made them fall in love.  But the heroine didn’t know the hero was a wanted man. Then her friend/family member (I can’t remember!!) contacted her via walkie-talkie or some other outdated method of communication and warned her there was a felon on the loose. The name? The hero’s!

My nerves ratcheted as I kept reading. The hero had been framed, but the heroine didn’t know it. But…she should know it, right? She fell in love with this amazing man, and she should know he could never rob a bank/kill a person/whatever the plot was!

I couldn’t put this book down. The room grew darker. I flipped on the light without looking up from the page.

About 3/4 of the way in, my nerves ratcheted. My fingernails? Chewed off. The hero and heroine knew their little interlude was ending. The law enforcement friends of the heroine were on their way.

Don’t turn him in! You know he’s not a criminal!

And guess what?

She turned him in!!

How COULD she??

I bawled! I just sat there and sobbed. Hours and hours had gone by with me emotionally invested in this book, and I could NOT believe she did it! But I kept reading. And then my heart really pounded, because the hero was so wonderful. He understood why she had to turn him in. And he forgave her!!

That book taught me a valuable lesson about romance novels. Conflict stirs up emotion in the reader. And the more emotionally invested I am in a story, the more likely I am to skip meals, read in the dark, and conveniently forget about my real life.

Am I still mad the heroine turned him in? Yes! But the author of that book wrung out every feeling inside me–and I’ve never forgotten it.

Have you ever read a book that turned you into an emotional wreck for days afterward?

Please share in the comments!!


Jill Kemerer writes contemporary romance novels with love, humor and faith. Her debut novel, Small-Town Bachelor, releases April 1, 2015 through Harlequin Love Inspired. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.

Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&MS, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.  Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website,

Five Ways To Tell If You Are a Fiction Writer

WriterOffTheLeashCoverFinalEditWhite_resize_coverpage_kindleGuest post by Michelle Griep

Writers are strange animals. They’re solitary mammals, prone to long stretches of hibernation unrelated to weather conditions. Generally, they’re pale, wear glasses, and for some reason I’ve never been able to figure out, tend to wear flamboyant hats. What’s up with that?

If you suspect there’s a writer gene in your DNA, here’s a surefire test that doesn’t require a blood draw or even a swab of the inside of your mouth.

1. You kill off your imaginary playmates.

Authors invent people. You craft words to connect readers to your characters, pulling at their heartstrings, making them best buddies. Then all for the sake of story, you take those imaginary friends and ramp up the catastrophes. Bam. Bam. Bam. All leading to a horrific climax.

“Meet Susan. She’s blonde, friendly, the girl next door with good dental hygiene. Her freckles are endearing and she helps little old ladies across the street. Everyone loves Susan.

Whoopsidoodle! A Mack truck just hit Susan. Her dog died. And now there’s a one-armed stalker with an eye patch who wants to drink her blood. Poor, poor Susan.”

2. Your skill at lying is exceeded only by those in Washington.

Photo by rendo79

Photo by rendo79

Writers get paid to tell whoppers, kind of like attorneys, only without the debt of law school. It’s an author’s job to convince others of the plausibility of their story, to pull the reader into a whole new world—one they can taste, touch, and smell. Remember Susan? Yeah. Enough said.

3. You’re an über-frustrated control freak.

You sit around all day, controlling what your characters say and wear, manipulating how they act and feel. You are god of your fictional realm. Nothing happens unless you make it so.

Enjoy the feeling, minion, because when you surface from storyland, you don’t get to control reviews, contracts, publisher advances, or book placement, and you’re at the complete mercy of the Amazon recommendation algorithm.1

4. You long for a raging bout of tinnitus just to shut up the voices in your head for a while. 


When you’re asked about where you get your story ideas, you respond with, “I just listen to the voices in my head.” At least that’s how you answer the first time. After you’ve been scarred by the horrified face-twisting that answer produces, you learn to reply, “Oh, here and there.”

But that does nothing to clamp the lips of the story Sirens tempting you to listen to the best plot idea in the history of mankind. And don’t bother buying the sound-cancelling earbuds. They don’t work.

5. You fly your freak flag high.

Hey, if being nutty-nuts was good enough for Tolstoy, Hemingway, and Poe, you’re all for it. Besides which, you know you’re not batty, bonkers, or berserk. You’re eccentric.

Any one of these symptoms gonging a bell in your head and heart? If so, guess what. Yep. You’re a writer, Hoss, and/or possibly psychotic. Don’t worry, though. In this day of political correctness, no one will dare label you a nut job for fear of a lawsuit.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

What crazy writerly things do you do?


Michelle Griep HeadshotMichelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Super Sleuth Wednesday – On the Run

Before we jump into today’s mystery, did  you guess the right answer for Jessica’s Super Sleuth–A Pinch of Murder?

Remember the story? Grady Stile Jr. AKA Lobster Boy at the carnival was murdered. So who killed him and why? The answer is . . .

3. Sideshow performer, Chris Wyant. In need of some extra cash, he accepted $1500 from Grady’s first wife (Maria) who divorced him then remarried him and her stepson, Harry. The nineteen year old boy waited until Grady was well into his liquor and put three bullets into the back of his head.

photo by tome2013

photo by tome2013

On to our new mystery! On a cool December night in Denver, a police officer made what he probably thought was a routine traffic stop. He pulled over a green Lexus for a lane violation. Upon interviewing those inside the car, he discovered a young man named Andrew Blackman.

Blackman, who was sitting in the car’s back seat, grew nervous as the officer ran his name. He knew they’d find an active felony weapons warrant–one that would almost certainly mean an extradition to and jail time in Michigan. When the officer asked Blackman to step out of the car, he did. Then immediately took off running.

The police arrested the young man within several minutes. How did they get him?

Leave your guess in the comments section and remember that this month’s super sleuth will win a great Christian romantic suspense novel.

  1. He ran across the street, right into a passing car. Blackman received only minor injuries from the accident, but he was unable to continue running. The officer quickly apprehended him, and he was arrested.
  2. He ran down the street, hopped a fence, and landed in front of a police station. Surrounded by police officers, Blackman quickly surrendered and was promptly arrested.
  3. As he was running down the street, a German Shepherd began chasing him. The dog tried to bite Blackman, who was so afraid of it that he fell to the ground and curled up in a ball. The dog’s owner quickly put it on a leash, and the officer arrested Blackman.

How do you think the night played out?

What’s Your Favorite Writing Program?

from Printmaster

from Printmaster

When I first started writing, I wrote the old-fashioned way. No, not with a feather quill. And not with a pen. A portable typewriter that I still have. Somewhere. Do you know how many times I typed each page (with a carbon copy) of my first submission, a short story to Woman’s World? At least three or four times. And never got it perfect. Thank goodness for those little white correcting papers!

But at least I didn’t have to learn Word or any other program to write it. Then with my first sale–that short story–I bought an electric typewriter. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. And then after selling another short story, I bought a computer that ran DOS. It, too, was a simple process. Well, it was after I learned there was a proper process to turn the thing off. That’s when I learned the value of SAVE. I still have those 5 inch floppy discs somewhere.

And then I bought my first Windows PC and learned WordPerfect and then Word and for the next fourteen years, Word was what I wrote my stories in. It was adequate but clunky. I had a file for my WIP (Work in Progress), one for each character, the setting, research…you see how it can get cumbersome? But it was comfortable. As was my Windows PC. It was also frustrating to deal with the way Microsoft kept improving Word. Never have understood why anyone would fix something that wasn’t broke.

About four years ago I discovered Scrivener. For a year, it sat in my computer waiting for me. I mean, I did not want to learn a new program. But I kept hearing these wonderful things about it. So, I stuck my toe in the water and started my next WIP in it. Oh.My.Word. I loved it. I had everything I needed right at my fingertips, even my research websites that I constantly forget their location. Now, mind you, there is a learning curve, but there are so many wonderful coaches out there. Gwen Hernadez is one that I use. Her website has a lot of tips and you can sign up for trainings.

I’ve gotten quite proficient in Scrivener, but it was made for a Mac. Don’t get me wrong, Scrivener for PCs is great, but a week ago I bought a Mac (because I was so tired of getting viruses), and I love it. As good as Scrivener is in a Windows PC, it is even better in a Mac.

One other program I use is Scapple. It’s a mind-mapping program that is so easy to use, and I’ve worked out several kinks in my story using it. It’s also a great brainstorming tool.

There are other writing programs out there, but these are the ones I use. Leave a comment and tell me what program you write in. And which operating system you use.

And as a bonus, I’m blogging at the MBT Ponderers about adding words to your manuscript if you want to check it out. I’m also doing a giveaway and to one person from the two blogs…just leave a comment and you’ll be added to the drawing.

Patricia Bradley
Follow me on Twitter: @PTBradley1
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Shadows of the Past – Revell February 2014
A Promise To Protect – Revell October 2014
Gone Without a Trace – Revell Coming July 1, 2015
Matthew’s Choice – Heartwarming September 2014

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write



Start a Fire: Music Monday

Start a Fire

I listen to a lot of Christian contemporary music. One of my favorite songs right now is “Start a Fire” by Unspoken. It’s kind of a grown-up version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Some days my light feels as if it’s under a bucket. You know–those days when you yawn seventy times within an hour of waking? Then you plod through your to-do list, barely listen to what your kid/parent/loved one is saying, make a mediocre dinner and collapse into bed before starting all over again? Yuck. How can any light shine through that?

The thing is…it does.

God sees things differently than we do.

God sees:

The smile you gave the stranger in the supermarket.

The patience you showed waiting on the phone with the doctor’s office.

The love that prodded you to whip up a mediocre meal when you had little time or energy to cook.

The prayer in your soul when you read a friend’s sad Facebook update.

The faithful way you go about your day.

Some days we’re going to be on autopilot. That’s okay! We don’t have to spend every day in a daze though. One thing that lights my fire? Daily prayer. I need it most when I have the least amount of time. Prayer eases my anxiety, reassures me I’m not alone, that I have help, that even imperfect, I’m enough. Spend time in prayer. Like the song says, “Light a fire in my soul, fan the flame, make it grow.”

Ask Got to light a fire in your soul. He listens, He cares, and He answers!

 Do you listen to Christian music on the radio? What’s your favorite song right now?

If not, give it a try!

Unsolved Historical Mysteries

Brentwood's Ward Cover Peek (1)Guest post 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:


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 HeadshotMichelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Sheseeks 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 shegets, 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, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

All About Love – 60 Years In the Making

photo by marceloto

photo by marceloto

If you’re single, or if you have a single friend, you’ve probably heard the timeless debate. How long should a guy wait before calling a girl for a date? How long should a girl wait before giving up hope that she’ll hear from him? The generally accepted rule seems to be three days.

Have you heard the one about the guy who waited 62 years?

Yep. He waited more than six decades before asking out his crush. So what did she say?

Well, first, let me tell you a little about their story, which I first read about in the Boston Globe.

Eighteen-year-old Cynthia spent a summer in California working at a marine geology lab where she befriended one of her coworkers. Howard, then 28, was kind to the young intern, and they carried on a conversation via coded messages on paper towels all through the summer. But all the while, Howard knew that he was falling for his young friend, but she would leave to return to school in the fall. So he never said anything to her except good bye.

They each went their own ways, finding love, getting married, and raising families, Cynthia on the east coast and Howard on the west.

And then, when she was 80, Cynthia received a box filled with old paper towels–the same towels she’d written to Howard on. He’d saved them for 62 years, along with a fond affection for the memories of his young friend. Their letters turned to emails and then to calls and finally a visit. But Cynthia wasn’t as young as she had been, and she worried that Howard would be disappointed that she was no longer a young woman.

“Of course I remember the THEN Cynthia, but is it the NOW Cynner that is with me. You are the one,” Howie reassured her. “NOW is the person I love and not the shadow of the past . . . but she sure set the stage and what a beautiful introduction.”

Sixty-two years after they said their first good byes, he finally asked her out–for the rest of their lives.

And she said yes!

You can read more about Cynthia and Howard’s story here. I love this tale of a long-time love that was never forgotten. It speaks to human insecurities and the joy that can be found when we face those fears head on. It’s a lovely reminder too that you’re never to old to fall in love. The romantic in me just swoons at the very idea.

What do you think of this story? Would you want to hear from someone after 62 years?