Canadian Politeness by Patricia Johns

I’m delighted to have fellow Canadian and Love Inspired author, Patricia Johns, here this week with a special guest post.

Patricia Johns

Patricia Johns writes from Alberta, Canada where the winters are long and cold–a perfect recipe for writing! She lives with one husband, one child, and two birds. She writes for both Harlequin Love Inspired and Harlequin American Romance.


Take it away, Patricia!


Thank you, Sandra.

Have you ever noticed that every country seems to have something that they’re known for. Mexico has their food. Germany has their chocolate. America has baseball and apple pie. Canada has politeness.

We’re famous for it.

If you were to come across a Canadian in his or her natural habitat and you stepped on his foot, he’d apologize to you.

“Oh, excuse me! I’m sorry. Didn’t see you there.” And that is from the person who was trampled!

Our public debates are rather sheepish, too. No one likes being too aggressive.

Every once in a long while there is a political demonstration where about fourteen people with placards wander in uncomfortable circles, observed by even more uncomfortable passers-by. We aren’t comfortable with angry statements. We’re much more comfortable saying something like, “I’m pretty sure I’m right, but I’m happy to sit down and talk this out, because I think a meaningful dialogue would help us find a good middle ground.” That doesn’t really fit on a placard. Nor work as a slogan. I’m not even convinced that it helps anything get done!

Mostly, people just get cold and tired and wander off to get a coffee.

As a Canadian, I’m hesitant to “just come out with it,” and I’ve had to learn how to think more “American” in my writing. For example, I’ll write a scene where my hero and heroine are having an argument, finally saying all the things they really think. My heroine will glare at the hero and say, “Frankly, I don’t see myself marrying a man who could do that.”

To me, that’s a strong statement. There is so much between the lines that remains politely unsaid, but it’s still there, right?

Sandra: absolutely.

My editors disagree! More than once I’ve gotten a note that reads: “Just SAY IT!! They can’t dance around this!”

And I think, “I thought she did say it…”

I’ve gotten much better at saying things straight–at least in my writing. And never fear, the editors don’t let my over-politeness past their desks. It gets corrected pronto.

But if you ever meet a Canadian in his natural habitat, go ahead and step on his foot to see what happens! If the Canadian responds with an apology, but gives you a rather arched look and goes a tiny bit pale… there might be some subtext there. 😉

LOL, Patricia. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia has a new release this month:

firefighter's promise cover


When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.

I have to admit she had me at “firefighter.” 😀 

If you’d like to connect further with Patricia, you can find her at:


Your Turn: What do you think about Patricia’s take on Canadian politeness? Has that been your experience?

Introducing Debut Love Inspired Author Jessica Keller

Home for Good

It’s Valentine’s week. What better time to read some romances?!

This past week, I treated myself to Home for Good by debut author Jessica Keller. It was an extra special treat for me, because it has a bit of suspense, too. 🙂

Here’s the blurb:

“I made a promise to protect you.”

But pregnant Ali Silver’s husband broke his vow and walked away from her. After being injured in combat, Jericho has finally come home to Bitterroot Valley to make peace with his father and regain Ali’s trust. But the single mom’s keeping secrets of her own. And someone’s killing off Ali’s cattle and sabotaging her horse therapy business. Jericho will do whatever it takes to protect his wife and be a real father to his son. Because when it comes to love and second chances, he’s one determined cowboy.

I loved the therapeutic horseback-riding angle, as my daughter has volunteered in such a program, and I have two friends whose physically-challenged children use the program.

And… I loved the names Jessica chose for her characters and setting. They are very meaningful. So… I hunted her down to ask her if there’s a story behind the story.

I learned that, in addition to celebrating her debut novel, she’s celebrating a new baby, who, not to be outdone by the book, arrived about the same time the book was due to hit bookstore shelves!  😉


Congratulations, Jessica! (Btw, the pic isn’t of Jessica’s baby…Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield at

Here’s what Jessica shared about the story’s inspiration:

First about the horses:


I did volunteer at a therapeutic horseback-riding program! I feel the same passion that Ali Silver does for it. I’ve seen unspeaking children say first words through therapeutic riding and children locked in their own head come out and become social through it as well. The bond that God created between humanity and the animals He called us to rule over really amazes me.

And about the names:

Choosing Names

When I set out to write Home for Good, I never intended to write it in a western setting. As I picked names for my characters I gave them each a name that meant something important to the story (some of which I can’t explain without giving away plot points!) and then I decided it could be fun to put the book in a setting that held meaning as well. I started looking up real names of towns all over the country and came upon–not a town–but a region called Bitterroot Valley. One of the main themes of the book is not letting bitterness take over. What better place to set a book with a theme of dealing with bitterness than in Bitteroot Valley?! Especially when I learned the meaning behind the name of the Bitteroot flower (how the valley gets its name), which I explain in the book, then I know the location was meant to be!

About the hero’s injury:

The injury that takes Jericho out of the Army really happened. Not to Jericho of course, but to my father. He’s now had two knee replacements and doing well, but before that, he had even more trouble getting around and knee pain than Jericho even experienced.

And…about Jessica:


As a child Jessica possessed the dangerous combination of too much energy coupled with an over-active imagination. This pairing led to more than seven broken bones and countless scars. She’s worked as a zookeeper, a librarian, camp counselor, horse wrangler, housekeeper, and finance clerk, but now loves her full-time work in law enforcement. Former editor of both her college newspaper and literary journal at Trinity International University, Jessica received degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats. Jessica writes Young Adult fiction and Romance.
Twitter: @KellerAuthor

Thanks so much Jessica for answering my questions and joining us here today!

Your Turn: Any comments or questions for Jessica? What names have you come across in a book that seemed especially fitting? 


Book with letters image courtesy of digitalart at

The Story Behind the Story…

Please join me in welcoming Lisa Jordan.

I featured the first novel in her Lakeside collection here last fall–a novel that is a finalist for ACFW’s prestigious Carol Award in the romance category. Congratulations, Lisa!!!
By day, Lisa is an early childhood educator. In her free time (ha!), Lisa enjoys good books, chick flicks, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. 
Welcome back, Lisa. Please tell us how the characters of Lakeside Family came to life.

I didn’t expect to write Lakeside Family. When I planned the books in my Lakeside Collection, I wanted to write at least three books, and Lakeside Family wasn’t one of them.

When I wrote Lakeside Reunion, I wanted a fun name for a coffee shop. So I played around with names, coffee puns and Cuppa Josie’s was created. I introduced Josie as the owner of Cuppa Josie’s and Max’s daughter who was a single mother.

A friend mentioned she liked Josie’s character and I should write her story. I pondered it and had to figure out how Josie had become a single mother? Why wasn’t Hannah’s dad in the picture? I decided not to have Josie divorced or widowed because let’s face it—single mothers are a reality.

Josie needed a strong enough reason to find Nick after nearly a decade, so it needed to be something life threatening. The mothers I know would do anything it took to keep their kids safe and healthy. I remember walking through my kitchen and coming to a sudden stop as I realized—that’s it…Hannah had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Josie needed to see if Nick would get tested to see if he was a match.

God provided connections in ways only He could—one of my writing support friends just landed a job with the National Marrow Donor Program in Minnesota. Through Vacation Bible School at our church, I met a local pastor’s wife who had just returned home after donating bone marrow for an unknown patient dying from leukemia. Total God moments.

I interviewed Amy and Kym, did more of my own research and the premise of Lakeside Family was created—He was the one man she never wanted to see again but the only one who could save her daughter’s life.

Nick had his own challenges to face. He vowed never to abandon his family the way his father did. When tragedy struck his family, Nick shouldered a lot of guilt and felt like nobody’s hero. Then he learned he had a daughter. He stepped up and promised to always be there for his daughter.

Josie struggled to include Nick into their lives—she wanted what was best for her daughter, but her own fears of abandonment built a wall around her heart. She needed to forgive and trust in order for them to be a family.

After choosing this illness for Hannah, Josie’s daughter, my heart ached for those dying of leukemia or other blood-borne diseases. I registered with Be The Match to become a bone marrow donor. I wanted to do my part in being someone’s hope for a new lease on life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be called, but I wanted to be ready in case I was.

Your Turn: What about you? Have you considered being a bone marrow donor? Registration is free. Imagine the joy and hope you could give another person simply by saying yes. For more information, visit Be The Match.

Giveaway: Lisa is celebrating the release of Lakeside Family with a month-long party of giveaways, including Coffee Lovers and Tea Lovers baskets. For more details and to enter the gift basket giveaways, leave a comment here.

Read Excerpt

When Stories Save Lives…

This past week I read a special Love Inspired novel, one I hope will both help transform lives and save them. I love stories that give me insight into the struggles that people around me are facing and how I might encourage or help them.

Lakeside Family by Lisa Jordan is such a book. It’s a fabulous romance, too, which is why I chose it to launch our new season of conversations about characters. So many great questions are raised by this book that I had a difficult time settling on just one. So…

I’ve invited Lisa Jordan to stop by on Wednesday to share with us the inspiration and research that went into creating her characters.

Now… on to our discussion.

Well, first, some background on the story:

The one man she never wanted to see again is the only one who can save her daughter’s life.

In the space of a minute, Nick Brennan learns he has a nine-year-old daughter— and that she desperately needs his help. All this time, his high school sweetheart, single mother Josie Peretti, thought he knew about their child. And that he just didn’t care about the ill little girl—or Josie, the woman he’s never forgotten. But Nick made a long-ago promise never to forsake his family the way his father did. A promise he vows to make good on now… if only Josie will bless him with a second chance.

Josie’s daughter has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Nick is no stranger to tragedy, either. His brother suffers from a brain injury–a condition Nick blames himself for.

I feel overwhelmed just thinking about coping with such situations, yet many face much worse on a daily basis. So here’s my 3-part question: 

When you feel your circumstances overshadowing your hope, how do you respond? What strengthens your faith? What are some practical ways we can help those who are caught in such deep waters? 

P.S. Are you facing difficult circumstances or know someone who is? I also highly recommend the non-fiction book Finding Glory in the Thorns and the ministry of Walk Right In.

They recently started a Facebook page where people can share their Glory Stories–how you are seeing God’s presence and power in your life. These stories serve to encourage and reassure all of us that God is working among us.  They are inspirational.  Most of all, Glory Stories bring our attentions and affections on HIM.  

Blog Tour Announcement

Today, I’m a guest at Lyn Cote’s blog Strong Women, talking a bit about the ministry behind the real Hope Manor, which inspired my fictional youth detention center in Shades of Truth


This week…I’m the featured author at American Christian Fiction Writers. 

I had fun with one of the questions on the interview–and would like to hear your answers? 

Your Turn: What’s one piece of trivia that most people people don’t know about you?

A House Full of Hope – Character Interview & Giveaway

I first met author Missy Tippens at a conference a few years ago and she’s as sweet as her book. In addition to being a wonderful writer, she’s the mother of three, wife to her pastor husband and an adjunct instructor at a local technological college in Georgia.

I’ve invited Missy here today to share an interview with Hannah Hughes, the heroine of A House Full of Hope.

1. What’s the most important thing in your life?

Without a doubt, the thing most important to me is my four beautiful children. They’re my pride and joy!

2. What do you like to do with your children?

I love to play hide-and-go-seek with the kids. And to read to them. I don’t have much time for free time, but if I did, I’d love to take them for a day at the beach.

3. What are you afraid of most in life?

I fear not being able to provide well for my children. Since I’m a widow, it’s tough to provide for them in the way I’d like. I want them to have a nice home with lots of room. I’m working toward owning a home to help give them a place to feel secure.

5. Beside your kids, what is the most important thing to you, personally?

Feeling secure and loved. Feeling like I’m important to someone. I guess it’s part of my “baggage” that I continually have to deal with. 🙂

6. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

Who has time to read?! 🙂 Right now, my favorites are the books I read to my children.

7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d worry less and trust God more.

8. Do you have a pet?

We have a pet on our rental property that the kids have pretty much adopted. A black Labrador retriever named Blue. He’s into everything and about drives me crazy! But I’m growing more and more attached to him.

9. What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I’d have to go way back to elementary school–before my parents started having trouble and my sister got involved in the wrong crowd. I have good memories of laughing a lot with my dad (teasing my mom about being so uptight). And great memories of family vacations at the beach.

Wow, I can so identify with Hannah, right down to the dog that drives me crazy. LOL. Is it any wonder I enjoyed the book so much? One of the things that drew me to Christian fiction in the first place and inspirational romance in particular was seeing the characters face similar circumstances to what I was facing or circumstances I feared (losing a spouse) and overcoming. They inspire and give hope. 

Your Turn: How has a book inspired or given you hope in your circumstances or fears?  

Btw, A House Full of Hope is now in stores or you can order it directly from Harlequin. Use this link and coupon code SAVE10AFFO to receive an extra 10% discount off its already discounted prices before 3/31/12. 

I’m also giving away a copy on Friday to one of my commenters from Monday’s or today’s post. Be sure to check back on Friday. 

Talking about A House Full of Hope

This past weekend, I read Missy Tippens’ newest Love Inspired release, A House Full of Hope. I became a fan of Missy’s after reading her 2011 release, so I snatched this latest book up the day it hit the shelves. Best of all, it has lots of great questions for discussion. But first let me give you a description of the story: 

From black sheep to father of four…

Before becoming a Christian, Mark Ryker ran with a bad crowd and broke hearts. Including his father’s. Now a successful businessman, Mark has come home to Corinthia, Georgia, to make amends. But no one will forgive him. So when the widowed mother of four renting his dad’s run-down house needs help fixing up the place, Mark gets to work. Pretty Hannah Hughes and her sweet kids have him longing to be part of the clan, but Hannah isn’t ready to let go of the past. Still, they are working together on a house full of hope—and that’s all Mark needs.

First off, I want to let readers know that writers don’t usually get to write their own back cover blurbs. Moreover, the person who writes them has usually only read an early synopsis of the story and perhaps the first two or three chapters. I mention this, because although I’ve included the blurb above, I think it failed to nail the vast scope of the conflict, not to mention the first line gives away the ending! Of course, we always know the hero will get his HEA, but the hurdles in Mark’s path seem utterly insurmountable.

First of all, he’s returned to seek forgiveness for causing his brother’s death and then walking out on the family, cutting off contact so that they couldn’t even find him when his mother died. His father is not about to forgive him.

Mark starts fixing up the house, because he wants to stick around long enough to make sure his financially-struggling dad is okay, and because he wants his dad back in their family home, not renting it out to the heroine and her four kids while his dad lives above the garage.

If that weren’t enough to worry the widowed heroine, as a youth, Mark destroyed her sister’s life and as a consequence their family’s, and while the heroine may come to realize he isn’t a monster, her mother will never forgive him. As a single mom, the heroine relies on her mother to help with childcare and can’t afford to alienate her. Moreover, Mark’s home and business is three thousand miles away–not exactly condusive to an ongoing relationship. 

I love getting half way through a book and wondering how the hero and heroine could possibly ever end up together. But…onto today’s question…

Your Turn: Mark wanted to achieve success before coming home so he’d earn respect. What pitfalls do you see in striving for material success, or in striving for affirmation in other ways? Have you ever fallen into that trap?

Giveaway: I’ll mail a copy of Missy’s book to a randomly selected commenter from today and Wednesday’s blog. You DO NOT have to leave your email address. I will announce the winner Friday along with a real-life romance story that you won’t want to miss!

Breaking News!

I know, I know, I usually don’t post on Thursdays, but…it’s just too exciting to wait.

Shades of Truth won’t be in stores for another 40 days, but it is available NOW from the Harlequin website at 20% off the cover price!!! And I have special coupon codes to save you even more…

For regular or larger print copies, click here, choose the version you want and use coupon code SAVE10AFFO at checkout to save an additional 10%


if you’d rather stock up on your favorite titles, use coupon code BUY2AFFO to buy 2 titles and get one free. Shipping is always free for 1st time customers, or for purchases over a certain amount

For Adobe Epub version, click here, choose the Epub version and use coupon code SAVE10AFFO to save 10%


if you want to stock up on other titles, use SAVE5DOLLARS to save $5 when you spend $15 on Ebooks.

Identities Revealed…

For those who are wondering who all the smiling Love Inspired Authors were in Wednesday’s Post

The answers are:

#1 Kathryn Springer and hubby
#2 Debra Clopton and hubby
#3 Kelly Anne Riley
#4 Merrillee Whren
#5 Betsy St. Amant
#6 Liz Johnson
#7 Naomi Rawlings
#8 Camy Tang
#9 Debbie Guisti
#10 Janet Dean
#11 Allie Plieter
#12 Irene Hannon
#13 Ruth Logan Herne
#14 Laurie Kingery
#15 Sherri Shackelford
#16 Lenora Worth
#17 Linda Goodnight
#18 Gail Gaymer Martin
#19 Roxanne Rustand
#20 Lyn Cote
#21 Terri Reed
#22 Leann Harris
Editor #1 Melissa Endlich

Editor #2 Elizabeth Mazer

Jackie Smith wins a signed copy of Deep Cover for guessing the most right first. 

Thank you to all who participated! 

Love Inspired Authors at ACFW

For those of you who read Love Inspired books, I thought it’d be fun to share some photos of LI authors. 

How many you can name? 
You get one point for each author you’re the first to name correctly…yes, there’s a prize. 😀
Skip the guys, ’cause we’re all gals.

Romance writers #1 and #2 with their real-life hero husbands
 Hint: Couple #2 are newlyweds
Hint: writer #3 is a Golden Heart winner and Rita finalist
Left to Right are Writers #4 to 8
Hint: #7 is a newly-contracted author and Genesis finalist
Writers #9 and 10 
 Hint: #9 writes for LIS; #10 writes for LIH
Writer #11 is known for her sense of humor
Writer #12 walked away with a Carol Award
Writer #13 loves to tease
Writer #14 and 15
 writer #15 is a newly contracted historical author
Writers #16-17
Writers #18-22

Bonus Points if you can name Editors #1 and 2
Have fun! 
I admit I’ll have to bring in a couple of LI experts to help me out with judging because there are a few authors I’m not sure I know either! 
So double points to anyone who gets those right.