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#FirstLineFriday: The Christmas Ranch

We’re one week away from release day, so I thought I’d participate in this week’s #FirstLineFriday. In The Christmas Ranch, I wanted to get the message across that my heroine, Megan, is new to Texas. Here’s how the book starts:

If Megan passed another “Don’t Mess with Texas” sign, she was going to scream.

So, do you think this line gets the intended message across?

Megan, a New York journalist, is new to Hill Country, Texas and she has to drive hours to get to her destination, The Christmas Ranch. Used to living in the City, where everything is at her fingertips, driving for such a long time is not easy for her. But, don’t worry, she soon falls in love with Texas, among other things. (ahem — Brody Blackstone — ahem).

I’ve lived in Texas for four years and whenever I cross the state lines back into Texas, I get excited to see the “Don’t Mess with Texas” signs. I already feel the Texas pride as if I were a true-born Houstonian.

The slogan is actually based on a littering campaign, but many proud Texans take the slogan to a whole new level. What do you think? Is it too far?

I hope you enjoy reading The Christmas Ranch. It releases on Friday, December 13! Don’t miss it and ….

 

Author Christina Sinisi Visits!

I am so happy to have fellow Anaiah Christmas author with us today! Let’s meet Christina Sinisi and learn more about her new book, Christmas Confusion.

Hi, Christina! Welcome!

First, what sparked your interest in becoming a writer?

First, I want to thank you so much, Melinda, for hosting me. I truly appreciate you!

I have always wanted to be a writer, almost literally as soon as I could write. In my Virginia farm community, there was no kindergarten. So, I learned the alphabet and how to write in first grade. By third grade, I was writing poetry and by fifth grade, I wrote my first play. I was and still am an avid reader and simply am in love with the world of story.

What was the first romance novel you read that made an impression on you?

In high school, I would stay with my Grandma Zimmerman for a month or so in the summers. She herself had only an eighth grade education, but there were books in a back bedroom. I found one by Victoria Holt, The Mistress of Mellyn. The combination of murder mystery and romance haunts me to this day. I still like there to be a story within a story.

I love that your Grandma had romantic suspense! 

What is your favorite scene in your new release?

Surprisingly, the epilogue is my favorite scene. It was an add-on at the suggestion of my editor, Kara Leigh Miller. I won’t give away the content because I don’t want to spoil it for the reader, but I will say I get teary-eyed every time I edit it. There is a raw need for the Lord on the part of the hero that strikes a chord with me. We all have worries and fears, and then there’s the joy when God brings us out on the other side of our fear.

Oh, I can’t wait to read the epilogue! I always enjoy seeing the couple in their happily ever after. 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

A few years ago, I saw Nora Roberts speak at a Romance Writers of America meeting. She said simply, get your butt in the chair. Treat writing as a job. Just show up.  That advice has gotten me through the many years of waiting for something to happen.  Many, many people have also stated that you write because you can’t not write. If you can do anything else, do it. If you love writing, so I’ll write no matter what–which is a good thing in this tough world of sales and competition for people’s attention.

And what about the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

This isn’t writing advice per se, but life advice. I’ve had many, many other people state that they didn’t understand how I kept writing. They would have given up long ago. My thought was what else was I going to do? Make candles? Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with making candles, but I’m passionate about writing and when something’s your passion, you don’t give up.

I totally get it! I think most of us writers get to a point of wanting to give up. Giving up is the easy part. Continuing with a difficulty is what makes the difference.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My family is supportive. My husband is a history professor and has published several academic books. My son is a hopeful writer as well and posts fanfiction on Reddit that is very good. My daughter can write, but art is more her thing. At the same time, she was the first to post on Facebook when The Christmas Confusion came out saying how proud she is of me. Further, my church family has been incredibly supportive–the church book club is reading my book in December and they featured the cover in the monthly newsletter. Oh, and do they read my books? Do they have a choice? 😉

Thank you again, Melinda, and I hope everyone has a wonderful, blessed Christmas!!

Thank you, Christina! Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!


Readers, Christina’s book, Christmas Confusion, can be found at the link

behind the book image. I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy the season!

Blessings,

Melinda

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Every Day Joys!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is a Thanksgiving freebie, so we can come up with our own idea of what we’re thankful for this year. This is also my first Top Ten Tuesday and I’m excited to share, but I’m going to start small with a top 5!

Top Ten Every Day Joys I’m Thankful For!


God’s Word: My daily devotionals are what get me going in the morning. He speaks to me in every one of his messages and I’m so truly thankful that it can be that simple to connect with Him on a daily basis.

My Own Home: This summer we bought our first house (a little later in life than normal). Every day I pull into my driveway in wander and amazement that this is my house. This is the place my kids will always call home. They’ll bring their kids here, their spouses and share fond memories.

My Morning Coffee: It’s a fact that I’m a coffee connoisseur. My husband grew up on a coffee plantation, and since marrying him and learning about the coffee process, I’ve grown to love the tastes and fulfillment I get from drinking a good cup of coffee. My mornings wouldn’t be complete without it.

My Work: I love my work! Sometimes it can drive me crazy, but most of the time, I feel true joy in what I do. I’m so thankful that I get to do what I do. What is it exactly? It’s actually several things. First, I am a writer, hence the reason I am here on my writing blog. Second, I’m a middle school teacher and have been at it for 25 years! Third, I work for a small press as Marketing Director, which I love, love, love! I am very busy, but I don’t regret the direction my life has taken and the work I get to do making a difference in so many people’s lives.

My Daily Talks to My Children: My kids get me. It’s as simple as that. I’m not one of those uptight moms who nags about cleaning rooms and sitting up straight (most of the time.) I like to have fun and have serious discussions with my children. My three boys are now older and we have the opportunities to sit and talk — like really talk. My oldest is in his early twenties and he reminds me of ME so much that it’s a little spooky. We have so much in common, namely sarcasm. My middle is in the National Guard and currently on active orders in Missouri. He Facetimes us every morning as we drive to work. I cherish those calls! My youngest goes to school where I teach, so we see each other all the time. He hangs out with me in my classroom after school and we are very close. I’m so thankful we talk and have grown closer as the years move on.


Well, that’s my first Top Ten Tuesday (minus five.) Come back next Tuesday to see my Top Ten Holiday Reads (fun!)

 

Welcome Delaina Netherland Smiley, author of One More Santa!

I’m happy to have fellow Anaiah Press and Texan author with me today to talk about her new Christmas novella, One More Santa!

What was your favorite scene in your book?

I really enjoyed writing the scene where Talent, Cassie, and Ruby created the Christmas rainbow with their bows and arrows. My son is a competitive archer and I, being his #1 fan, enjoyed using his expertise in my writing. Plus, it was something I haven’t read before so I loved getting to be creative.

Best writing advice you ever received:

“Don’t wait until it’s perfect, or even published to share your writing with the people you love.” That advice came from my late friend, Monica Barter, and I wish I had heeded it much sooner. My close friends and family were my catalyst to putting content out in the world and I’m so grateful.

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

I usually have an idea for the main character, but the rest of the cast and crew develop around that person. I did have a head start on “One More Santa”, though, because I wanted to use the names of my grandmother and her three sisters: Rosemary (my grandmother), Cassie, Betty, and Brenda. That made it easy because the characters suddenly took on a life of their own once named. 

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

I think they love it. They have been so supportive through both the writing process and then the final products. They share everything and talk about the books when they’re out and about. I’m grateful they are so supportive!


Welcome Laura Nelson Selinsky, author of Season of Hope!

I’m so happy to have fellow Anaiah author visiting today. Her Christmas novella, Season of Hope, released last week, and you don’t want to miss it!

What sparked your interest in becoming a writer? I’ve been a passionate reader since I was a little girl, I studied and teach literature, and my husband, children and their partners are all academic writers…writing was inevitable for me. That I write fiction is the plot twist.

What is your favorite scene in your new release? My favorite scene in Season of Hope is when *Nick rescues Grace from the icy fire escape, endearing himself to the protagonist Claudia, who is Grace’s half-sister. The idea of that little girl falling thirty feet frightens me when I read it, and I’m the one who imagined it.

*Yes, I wrote a Christmas novel in which I deliberately names a character “Nick.” Feel free to chuckle.

Best Writing Advice You’ve Ever Received– “Write what you know.” Season of Hope is set in a community I know well and love. I could see every inch of the setting from the moment I began writing.

Worst Writing Advice You’ve Ever Received “Write what you know.” The first piece I published was a Lovecraftian horror piece that illustrated a theological concept. Trust me when I say that I didn’t know that world and I hope I never will. So many of the best literary worlds come from imagination. We’d be pretty bored if my heroes Tolkien and C.S. Lewis limited themselves to writing about post-war Oxford.

Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? This is not exactly an object, but Marie, a secondary character in Season of Hope, is a fabulous cook. I loved writing her food masterpieces; I even composed recipes for them.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books? My family has been emotionally and financially supportive. Most important, my husband has helped me find the time for writing; not easy when I have a more-than-full-time job teaching students with significant learning differences. My children and nieces have beta-read my fantasy novels—Season of Hope is the first long piece that none of them read until it published.

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you? For ten years, I’ve belonged to a wonderful critique group under aegis of Pennwriters. It’s an open group, but there is little turn-over. Visitors are often surprised at how much commitment and time is required to prepare helpful critiques, and that’s in advance of the meetings. The group critiqued early drafts of Season of Hope and of everything else I’ve published. More important, we keep each other going when the rejections hit the double- and triple-digits. Seek out such groups through regional and national writers’ organizations. For example, if you write YA or children’s book, SCBWI can help you find a good critique group. If any writer has the opportunity to participate in a group like mine, joining is worth the effort.


Thank you for visiting and pick up a copy of Season of Hope today!

Cover Reveal: The Christmas Ranch!

Coming Dec. 13!

Megan Palmer, a TV journalist for True Faith Network, is assigned to report on Flying B Ranch, which is known for its Christmas lights and tree farm. She assumes it will be an easy assignment—until she meets owner Brody Blackstone, a single father and cowboy. Now she must decide what’s truly important — her career or her heart.

With his ranch in jeopardy and family responsibilities, Brody has given up on relationships. But when Megan shows up, his life is turned upside down. Can he move forward and learn to listen to God? Or will his usual stubborn ways cause him to lose everything? 



New Series Coming, Y’all!

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve signed a three-book series with Anaiah Press!

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve signed a three-book series with Anaiah Press!

As many of you know, I’ve been on a writing hiatus. Mostly because I’ve been learning how to live life in the fast-paced world of the United States, but there’s a bigger, broader reason why. I hadn’t been happy with where my writing was going, and after much soul-searching and prayer, I decided it was time to write what I read … Christian Romance! So, I did a 180 switch and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m also very pleased to be working with my long-time favorite Christian publisher, Anaiah Press. I’m confident my books are with the right people, and most importantly in the place God wants my new writing career to begin.

About Hill Country Series

Since moving to Texas four years ago, a cowboy series has taken shape. If you know anything about the enormous state of Texas, there is the most beautiful area called Hill Country. I thought it’d be a good idea to create an actual community called Hill Country. Soon, the Blackstone family materialized and they have been so fun to write! Take a look at the unofficial blurbs below.

Book covers coming soon!

Book 1: THE CHRISTMAS RANCH Christmas Novella (Hill Country Series)

Megan Palmer, a TV journalist for True Faith Network, is assigned to report on Flying B Ranch, which is known for its Christmas lights and tree farm. She assumes it will be an easy assignment—until she meets owner Brody Blackstone, a single father and cowboy. Now she must decide what’s truly important — her career or her heart.

With his ranch in jeopardy and family responsibilities, Brody has given up on relationships. But when Megan shows up, his life is turned upside down. Can he move forward and learn to listen to God? Or will his usual stubborn ways cause him to lose everything? 

Book 2: THE COWBOY RESCUE (Hill Country Series)

When Colton Blackstone comes to the rescue as the new horse vet at Davis Animal Clinic, he meets and becomes friends with office manager, Lauren Davis. Fed up with unwanted advances from an old friend, Lauren seeks Colton’s rescue again, asking him to pretend to be her boyfriend. Soon, the whole town thinks they’re a “thing”, despite Colton’s serial dating tendencies. Will Lauren be the one to show Colton that he is a forever kind of cowboy?

Book 3: THE RODEO REBEL (Hill Country Series)

Sadie Blackstone, rodeo star and queen, won’t let a little accident get in her way. Despite her brothers insisting she not race anymore, Sadie accepts help from her neighbor and ex-boyfriend, Ethan Franklin. Soon, sparks fly between the two again. Will Sadie hop back on the saddle and win the big Hill Country Rodeo title and Ethan Franklin’s heart?


So, what do you think? Ready for some cowboys?