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Friday, January 31, 2014

Intense and Marketable Novels? A Simple How-to - by Jennifer Slattery

Writing Intense and Marketable Novels
by Jennifer Slattery

Does the following make you cringe?
“Your story’s too heavy.”
“Too dark.”
“Readers are looking to escape reality, not read about tough issues.”
It was 2009, my first large writers’ conference, and quite a shock to my newbie ego. I came pumped and a bit over confident, one of those naïve storytellers who knew just enough craft to elevate my pride but not enough to justify such an elevation.
Needless to say, I left with a more accurate view of myself and my abilities. Unfortunately, I also began to question not only what I wrote, but who I am. Appointment after appointment, I heard that my writing was too intense. One solution was offered, again and again: Write something light, more humorous, to get your foot in the door.
Everything in me said, “No!” Because although I can enjoy light reading, I don’t feel called to write it. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t called to write or that I’d never be published.
It did mean I had a lot to learn about writing intense stories effectively.
You see, it’s not that there isn’t a market for the intense. I can think of numerous, very popular novels that deal with some very dark issues, such as Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon, Kathi Macias’ Freedom Series, the Hunger Games, Maze Runner (all books I LOVED).
The issue was, I needed to learn HOW to write about intense or heavy issues without overloading or depressing my reader. Because here’s the deal—we all want real, and real can be tough; intense. But reality is handled best when it’s peppered with lots of humor and tact and sprinkled with a heavy dose of hope.
When writing about intense issues, consider:
  1. Adding humor at strategic points throughout the novel. Some novelists will create an eccentric character specifically for this purpose. I’ve done this, but more often, I like to bring out the goofy in my main characters. Because we all have silly, less-than-brilliant moments inherent to our personalities. Find ways to exploit and expose those quirky traits, most especially following tense or dark scenes.

  1. Know the whys behind the boundary lines, and when pushing them, your whys for doing so. Does your why have purpose enough to override the whys of the boundary lines? A dark or intense novel with graphic violence or vulgarity might be pushing things too far. To find the reader-gripping balance, one must constantly keep their reader and their emotions in mind.  

  1. Continually remind the reader of hope. The darker the scene, the more necessary this will be. This can be done numerous ways such as showing the determined inner strength of a character, by showing a possible solution, or the help and support of a community.

The more I write, the more I realize there aren’t very many set rules in the CBA market, and even those are changing. It really comes down to knowing the craft, writing with skill, and always considering the effect each scene and the story as a whole will have on your reader.

Jennifer Slattery writes intense, intensely funny, and heart-pattering sweet missional romance for New Hope Publishers. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, will release in the fall of 2014. She also writes for, Internet Café Devotions, is part of a jibillion blogs (according to her handsome railroader) and has a slight obsession with Facebook. When she’s not writing or gabbing, she enjoys going for long, leisurely walks with her husband and giggly shopping dates with her hilariously sarcastic teenage daughter. You can visit her online at, on Facebook at or on Twitter at

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Filling Your Well of Ideas

By Michael Ehret

Sometimes I think my idea well has run dry. The plots I dredge up are so spare they couldn’t even flesh out a flash fiction story.

What's in your Well of Ideas?
Image courtesy of and cbenjasuwan
Can you relate?

Usually what this means is I need to switch from “creative” mode to “ingestion” mode—I need more raw material to draw from. Some writers can create a story idea from nothing except their own imagination.

That is not me. And if that’s not you, too, maybe this trick will help you fill your well.

Feed Me, Seymour!

Much like the carnivorous plant in “The Little Shop of Horrors,” I need constant feeding. Often I chow down on a great novel; less frequently nonfiction fills my gullet.

Maybe it’s my background as a newspaper reporter, but some of the best food for my imagination comes from the news—including quasi news sources like blogs. Because, as Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

When I read news, online or print (broadcast doesn’t work for me), invariably I read an article that sparks an idea or two. Now, I freely admit not all of them will produce even a flash fiction piece, let alone a full-blown novel, but the important thing is I’m filling my imagination. At the appropriate time, several of the ideas will likely congeal together and produce something workable.

But I can guarantee that nothing workable will be produced if raw material isn’t imported into the processor.

Is he talking about you?

What are the costs of living together?
Image courtesy of and Ambro
For instance, I read this commentary from Regis Nicoll the other day called “The High Costs of Living Together.” It included this gem:

In 1969, although the vast majority of people, 82 percent, reported having had sex before marriage by age 30, only 21 percent felt that was morally acceptable.

… Over the next 40 years, as public acceptance grew three-fold (to 63 percent) and (more) people (94 percent) admitted to having “done it,” there was far less social pressure to restrain it or keep quiet about it.

This sea change in attitudes and practices can be attributed to two things: “no-consequence” sex and a morally-compromised Church.

… With roughly 80 percent of the U.S. populace Christian and 94 percent admitting to pre-marital sex, that means that a lot of Christians—very likely the majority—are guilty of sexual sin.

Woah … right? I know a lot of people who will take offense at a study like this. But that’s what makes great fiction!

Is that giving you ideas? (Story ideas, guys, story ideas.) It sure did me. My oeuvre, the framework within which I write, includes marriage, fidelity, trust—and all the antonyms of those, of course. I took the entirety of Nicoll’s piece and fed my imagination with it. Who knows where it may lead, but now that information has been uploaded and is available. (And also stored electronically.)

Fill your well

The point is there are ideas for fiction everywhere if you open your eyes, your heart, and your mind to them. If you read something that sticks with you—good or bad—file that away in your Well of Ideas. Maybe you’ll use it, maybe you won’t. But you for sure won’t use it if you don’t have it stored away.

Obviously our world is ever in need of the transformative power of story—and of Story. What ideas have you picked up from news sources and used in your stories?

Want to play?

Screenshot from Jan. 25 home page
Go to the front page of your local paper (or to the home page of CNN or Fox News or your favorite online news source) and read the main story—no cherry picking. Choose one fact or one quote or one idea from that story as your idea seed and freewrite a paragraph or two in the comments.

Here’s my example. I wrote this on Jan. 25 based on this story, but the story has changed since that day and my idea seed is no longer in it.

My idea seed from that story: The scene was “believed to be secure” police said in a tweet issued at about 12:36 p.m.

Ethan was dead. True. He’d been an effective triggerman. Also true. But there were others. Many others.

Captain White’s tweet that the mall was “secure” made Gaston—almost—laugh out loud, but he did not "LOL." When he laughed, and it was rare, it was real not some fake social construct. But that “out loud” part was a luxury he couldn’t allow himself right now. Later? Most definitely.

Stupid twerkers. Ethan got a few, but they’d be back prancing through the mall in their tight clothes and loose morals soon enough. It was “secure,” after all. White said so. Truth. 

So not true.
And then he did chuckle—but quietly. After all, the shoppers trapped in his store from the lockdown were still shook up and hyper aware—no sense in giving them something odd to remember if the police did questioned them.

They’d soon enough embrace again the fragile cloak of security they thought protected them. True, always true.

So, if you want to play leave a comment. Or, if you want to talk about where you get your ideas fromhow you fill your Well of Ideasleave a comment.

Michael Ehret loves to play with words as a Marketing Communications Writer for CHEFS Catalog and as a freelance editor at Ehret is the former editor of the ACFW Journal and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Editor, Novelist, Liars Club ~ Meet Kathryn Craft

by Ane Mulligan

Kathryn Craft was a developmental editor at, following a career as a dance critic. Having served on the boards of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and the Philadelphia Writers Conference, she hosts writing retreats and is a speaker. She is a contributing editor at The Blood-Red Pencil blog and a monthly guest at Writers in the Storm with her series “Turning Whine into Gold.” She is a proud member of the Liars Club, a Philadelphia-based group of novelists supporting independent bookstores, literacy, and other forms of paying it forward. She lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA.

Kathryn, you've written memoir essays, articles on the craft of writing for blogs and Writers Digest, and hundreds of articles on dance and other arts. How and when did you decide to turn your hand to fiction?

I was a confirmed nonfiction writer—with so many fascinating true stories in the world, I posed, why make anything up? Then tragedy upended all reason when my husband committed suicide after a daylong standoff at our farm. As story slowly brought order to chaos, I learned that sometimes fiction can feel more “true” than reported facts.

How was the process different to your non-fiction, and what is your process? Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?

With a strong anecdotal hook I could often rely upon intuition, interesting quotes, and flow to structure a cohesive feature. Not so for a novel. I drafted both my first and second novels by the seat of my pants, reaching toward perhaps a dozen predetermined emotional turning points as touchstones—then spent years undoing the damage. I needed to find a better way.

Have you discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing?

Thankfully, yes! I recently employed a process touted by novelist Molly Cochran—writing an extended synopsis. She says hers end up about 75 pages; mine ended up being 100. Writing “about” the story really helped me get to the heart of it and stay on track. When I was really feeling the heat in a scene I did allow myself to take down dialogue notes as well, so I wouldn’t lose them. This really worked for me, and boiling it down to 7 single-spaced pages gave me the multi-layered depth needed to try to sell on proposal.

Was there a specific 'what if' moment that sparked The Art of Falling?

There were several. First, I needed empathy for the kind of despair my husband experienced, even though I’m an optimist. What if a woman felt that way? I create a woman who had always wanted to be a dancer but was at war with her body, then started taking away career, lover, and support systems until I thought she might just give up—then, rather pulling her back from the edge, I let her fall right over it.

The fall was the result of the second “What if.” I read in the newspaper that a woman had fallen fourteen stories and walked away with only a broken arm—and this was the second time she’d failed to kill herself! I thought, “What if this happened to my protagonist—would she get the message it wasn’t yet her time to die?”

The third was what if a woman whose body is unstoppable but her spirit is flagging befriends a woman whose body is failing but whose spirit is enduring—what could these women give one another?

With those layers in place I was ready to write.

Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?

I envision my characters and places, certainly, but I don’t look at pictures. That feels too limiting. I also can’t listen to music! I need as much quiet as possible.

Some say a writer is born and others say anyone can learn. What do you say?

Not sure biological birth has anything to do with it. I believe a writer is born of her desire to order her thoughts through the written word, in whatever form that takes. As for fiction, I think most novelists have been influenced from an early age by older storytellers in their lives.

What are your thoughts on critique partners? 

The role of critique partners cannot be underestimated while you are acquiring the early skills of a creative writer. Writing for publication assumes a public, and you need a sample public to see how your work adds up in a new reader’s mind. But at some point you need to commit to writing the book, and have it evaluated as a whole. Because no novel can suspend disbelief over a one-chapter-per-month reading, I now only use full manuscript swaps with trusted readers.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing?

Editing. For me, that’s where I fully orchestrate what was once a simple melody.

What's the most difficult part of writing for you ~ plotting, setting, characterization?
I don’t think any of these things are particularly difficult on their own. The real trick is in interweaving them to tell an effective story.

What's your strength in writing?

Those early attempts as a pantser failed because I did not yet understand classic storytelling structure. So I brought teachers into my life—Juilene Osborne-McKnight, James N. Frey, Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, Nancy Kress—and over many years of concerted effort I turned my weakness into my strength. For the past seven years working as a developmental editor my specialty has been in assessing story structure.

Did you have any surprising discoveries while writing this book?

Since this novel reflected my own healing journey, from acceptance through empathy to forgiveness, my protagonist evolved as well. Let’s just say she was once a much angrier, less empathetic character! I knew I’d be done once I’d created a woman who could be pushed to the brink, fall off, and then find new heights—in other words, someone whom I’d admire.

When you're not writing at your summer home in northern New York, where do you write? Do you have a favorite chair at Starbucks or hole up in a cozy attic nook?

I’m usually in my lovely, light-filled loft office at home—a real change for me, because before moving four years ago, my office was in a basement walled with exposed stone—also lovely, but much darker. At least once a week I can be found among other women with open laptops in the second floor café of a Wegman’s grocery store, adding a social element to our solitary work.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

I love this quote from Virginia Woolf: “Each sentence must have, at its heart, a little spark of fire, and this, whatever the risk, the novelist must pluck with his own hands from the blaze.” Not a spark on each page—a spark in each sentence. And when writing fails, I think it’s because the writer did not dare to get close enough to the fire.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Join organizations. Go to conferences and workshops. Network with writers further down the path. Only you can set the words on the page, but a writer’s life does not have to be lonely. Drink in the support that surrounds you and then pass it on to someone else. We are all mentors.

The Art of Falling

One wrong step could send her over the edge.

All Penny ever wanted to do was dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

Kathryn Craft's lyrical debut novel is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to come to terms with her body and the artistic world that has repeatedly rejected her. The Art Of Falling expresses the beauty of movement, the stasis of despair, and the unlimited possibilities that come with a new beginning. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Make Money Promoting Your Books

by Ane Mulligan

Jo-Anne Vandermeulen: Google Play App & Twitter Developer & Publisher | International Nonfiction & Fiction Author | Radio – TRN – Talk Radio Network | AOP – Appy Our Publishing | PPS – Premium Promotional Services | eMerce Content-Read Listen & View Marketing Tips |

Another door is opening. All I have to do is walk through and enter the foreign room.

I’m never alone. Messages of encouraging words filter through daily dialogue, newspaper articles, blogs, social media network discussions, and personal interaction with others. God speaks to me in ALL ways.

I have a goal – I need an income…I have to earn money.

In order for me to meet my goal, I must market and sell my books—make money promoting books.

How would you like to earn money while your book sells in bulk?

What opportunity awaits?

Professional speaking. An effective tactic to sell your books. Now, before you click off this page and venture to another because your palms are beginning to slip with sweat, just hear me out…

Let’s chuck the phrase Professional Speaker, and replace it with something a tad less threatening (for those whom may consider themselves as ‘introverts’)….let’s replace Professional Speaker with Discussing Your Passion.

For example: when mothers come together, they talk for hours about their children; sport fans can spend an entire afternoon exchanging dialogue and cheering for their favorite team. Time flies. Nothing is forced. No one is threatening, judging, or setting up unrealistic expectations.

Can you just imagine speaking from pure adrenalin?

You’ve done it before…and did it quite well. Pure enjoyment from all.

Okay, let’s exchange the word audience with listener.

How do I gain confidence?

I keep new ventures in proper perspectives. I keep a positive frame of mind. I replace those scary words with friendly phrases – Now my heart is beating normal.

Discussing my passion to receptive listeners is a way I can PROMOTE MYSELF, SELL MY BOOKS; thus, MAKE MONEY.


So here’s the plan—what can YOU do?

1.) Volunteer to lead a discussion group. Choose a group with the subject/topic of your book.

2.) Volunteer to join a reading group. Offer your services to present a short ‘question/answer’ period about authorship or around the topic of your book.

3.) Encourage book groups to use your book. Hand members your business card, give a short pitch, and offer your time. Be their next featured guest. Create a draw for a free personalized autograph book.

4.) Approach non-profitable organizations and offer your time to speak. For example, if you have a:

- Christian book – there are bible study groups, congregations.

- Self healing book – support groups, hospitals, wards, centers

- Teen mystery book – schools, libraries

*For ideas, check out your local paper under UPCOMING EVENTS*.

ALWAYS have your books handy to sell before and after your discussion. Set up a display table in the back – show pictures of your Author’s Journey. Fan-out your business cards. Stack in many piles, dozens of your books. Pen in hand, be ready to add a favorite encouraging message and personally autograph the next customer’s purchased book. Be prepared to talk—make suggestions as to ‘the targeting audience’—really pitch your book (short ‘elevator’ pitch). Smile and greet…relax. KISS (Keep It Simple Silly).

As you do more speaking (like writing) you’ll become more comfortable. As my mother use to say, “The more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you’ll be”.

Discussing your passion to listeners CAN EARN YOU MONEY, PROMOTE YOURSELF, AND SELL YOUR BOOKS!

· Expect nothing. Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer your services.

· Speak to entertain, NOT to sell.

After time and experience more doors may open—opportunities to earn money while speaking PLUS selling lots of books. Can you imagine answering the phone from those administrators of organizations and corporations, calling, asking YOU to be as their next Key Speaker? Can you imagine fans coming to your display table wanting to order more and more books for each of their employees, customers, or board members?

YOU can *conquer all obstacles* – make money promoting books – by taking one step at a time, and gaining confidence, knowing…YOU CAN DO IT!

Premium Promotional Tips for Writers

A "must-have" ­resource book filled with practical online marketing tips for those who have books or other products to sell. Although this book was written for writers promoting their books, these ­promotional tips can be applied to any products you may wish to promote via the Internet. You will learn how to target your audience, create massive exposure, and drive traffic back to the site where your books or other products are sold. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

7 Ways "Clean" Fiction Can Harm Us

by Mike Duran

One of the most common reasons evangelical readers give for reading Christian fiction, is that they want to read something "clean" -- that is, something that does not deride their values, offend their moral sensibilities, and undermine their parental objectives; something that is free from profanity, gratuitous sex, excessive violence, and spiritual garbage. 

This desire is not without Scriptural grounding. For instance, the Bible commands us:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

So there IS a legitimate biblical basis for avoiding "crap" and taking heed to what we read, listen to, and view.

But just because someone reads Christian fiction or watches only "family friendly" films, does not automatically make them any more holy, healthy, or happy than someone who doesn't. In fact, the Bible warns that there may be a subtle danger in consigning ourselves only to what is "clean."

In Jesus' day, the Pharisees followed the Law to a "T." You could say, they were "clean freaks." They washed ceremonially before meals, said their prayers at the precise times, and stoned those who required death. You'd think Jesus would applaud their righteousness. But He didn't. In fact, He called the Pharisees "children of the devil" (Jn. 8:44). And if that weren't enough, Christ told a story about those who would stand before God pleading their good works -- "Didn't we heal the sick and cast out demons?" -- only to be told they were "workers of iniquity" (Matt. 7:22-23). In both these cases, it was the "clean," the seriously religious, who were deceived.

In light of this, Reading clean fiction doesn't necessarily make us clean. In fact, the notion that it might, can actually deceive us and distance us from God!

Here's seven ways that "clean fiction" can harm us:
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it replaces actually living good -- It's like the person who thinks that going to church on Sundays gets them off the hook the rest of the week. Just because you read "clean" fiction does not make you a good Christian.
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it causes us to be self-righteous and holier-than-thou -- We think reading only Christian lit earns us brownie points with God and makes us better than the masses of dumb, indiscriminate, consumers. "I thank Thee, God, that I am not like those general market readers..."
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it disconnects us from the real world -- We become so enamored with the world as we want it to be, that we disengage from the world as it is; it becomes an echo chamber of escapism.
  • Clean fiction can harm us if its theology is askew -- Just because something is G-rated does not guarantee that its worldview is biblical; after all, the demons believe in God (James 2:19) and the devil appears as an "angel of light" (II Cor. 11:14).
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it limits our appreciation for other art --If the absence of nudity is all we're after there are many classic paintings we must shield our eyes from; if the absence of profanity is our standard of measurement, then there are many classic novels we must shun.
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it causes us to look down upon those who don't share our values -- Choosing to avoid R-rated movies or books does not make you morally superior in any way to the brother or sister who chooses the opposite.
  • Clean fiction can harm us if it becomes an idol -- We worship the thing God uses, rather than God; we defend the genre as if it were "God-breathed"; being "clean" becomes our god.
The desire to keep our minds focused on what is "pure, lovely, and admirable" is a great thing. Heck, it's biblical! Nevertheless, that same Bible says that Satan disguises himself as an "angel of light"
(II Cor. 11:14). In other words, Satan is more likely to deceive us with something that looks good ("clean"), than something that looks evil. Just because some stories are free of profanity, violence, and nudity, does not make them impervious to spiritual deception. In fact, the desire to read only what is "free of profanity, violence, and nudity" may itself be a spiritual deception. 

* * *
Mike Duran is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The TellingThe Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea. You can visit his website at, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rachel Hauck Gets Stuck

Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel loves to come alongside writers and help them craft their novel. She's the Book Therapist for My Book Therapy. Otherwise, she lives in Florida, where she is also a worship leader, with her husband and dog.

I was stuck.

So what else is new?

Writing a novel is hard work. We are creating characters, worlds, emotions, problems, solutions, eiphanies, black moments, grand endings… all within the context of a readable, relatable story.

My hero, Tanner Burkhardt, in Princess Ever After, was not alive to me. So I decided to interview him.

I asked a few standard questions: dark moment of the past, related to the lie, wound and fear journey. Otherwise, I rambled. I asked and let “whatever” come off my fingers.

I liked Tanner after this. I used about a third of what we talked about but the goal was to get to know him.

Here’s a bit of our conversation.

RH: What bothers you the most when the story opens? 
TB: That everything will change. Regina will ruin my country. Shell fail.
RH: Why does failure bother you?
TB: Who wants to fail? Do you? I dont want my country to fail or fall into turmoil. 
RH: Did you fail at something?
TB: Excuse me?
RH: Did YOU fail at something?
TB: Yes, everything. Let my parents down.
RH: When?
TB: When What?
RH: When did you let your parents down?
TB: Really, thats where youre going? (Here, I found his spunk.)
RH: Yes
TB: In prep school? You happy? Some blokes and I got into some mischief and I was “removed.” But then I was sent to Brighton and …
RH: Thats a long way away from Hessenberg
TB: Only a 100 kilometers by boat.
RH: Did you see your parents much?
TB: Certainly. Yes. Some. More than some boys, Ill tell you that…
RH: When?
TB: Holidays. They sent for me. I went home for Festive and Christmas. We always holidayed together in the spring and summer.
RH: Birthdays?
TB: They sent money. Gifts.
RH: So you liked boarding school?
TB: I never said I liked it. I said it was all right. Sports were fun.
RH: What would you have preferred?
TB: To not enter this conversation with you. Just what is it you want? (Okay, I really like him now.)
RH: To know what you want?
TB: You want to know what I want? Peace. World peace.
RH: Har, don’t be a wise guy. You want peace for yourself.
TB: Doesnt everyone? Youre not a very smart writer are you?
RH: Actually, Im quite brilliant. So, you want peace. Inner peace.
TB: Of course, Im not an ogre.
RH: Why dont you have it? What troubles you?
TB: Youre a nosey one, are you not?
RH: Youre an evasive one, are you not?
TB: Touche.
RH: So?
TB: So?
RH: What is bothering you? You have 2 Ph.Ds. A standing in politics and in the community. A favorite professor. A leader. Whats missing?
TB: You Americans… always want to dig into a chaps heart and dig up all the personal stuff. Well, I wont fall for it. Speaking out what I want wont make it true and Ill be sure to regret it later.
RH: Love? Acceptance? Is that what you want? You mentioned failure. Are you afraid to fail.
TB: Yes, you bloody know-it-all. Who wants to fail?
RH: Some dont mind. At least they tried.
TB: Well, they can have their try, and the mess it created.
RH: You dont like messes?
TB: Bloody hell, can we talk about what I do like?
RH: Sure. Go for it.
TB: I love a crisp Hessenberg morning. I love when the snow falls in the mountains and my feet tingle in anticipation of strapping on my skiis. I love the sound of my heels clicking on the polished marble of the university halls. Debating the merits of supply side economics with my students or the merits of a constitutional monarchy. Or the new reforms in the House of Lords. I love sculling on Reems River when the sun is cresting over the mountain. Dipping my oar into the glassy surface of the still waters and surging forward. I love the sound of wild birds nesting. I love racing my car over the back roads, engine at full throttle. I love a good rugby game. I love a good wine, grilled meat with bernaise sauce. I love the sound of rain on my balcony. The rooting of a football crowd. Dancing. The sound of the church choir raising their voices to God in Burkhardt Cathedral. Women with long dark hair. The soft lilt of a the female laugh. Making eye contact when she thinks Im not looking. A roaring fire. A good night at the pub with my mates, discussing everything from cars to women to the meaning of life. 
RH: Any family memories?
TB: Yes. The stiff handshake of my father when he dropped me off at school. The quick kiss of my mother. Saturday evening calls to see how I faired. Mother did love Christmas. She made a point to do it up well. My brothers and I tried our best to get her the best gift we could every year.
RH: What were some of those gifts?
TB: Funny, now that I think about it. It was always perfume. The same one. Channel no 5 cause she told us she liked it once. 
RH: Did she wear it.
TB: I believe so.
RH: What about your father?
TB: Books. Always books. The man put a high price on education. And staying educated. When he entered the House of Lords, he was the most knowledgable one.
RH: Did you feel pressure to be like him?
TB: I see what you’re doing. 
RH: Pretend you dont. Humor me.
TB: Of course, I felt pressure. As did my brothers. We didnt want to let the old man down. He was one of those chaps you felt like youd spend your whole life trying for his approval. Just one none, one “well done” one “attaboy.”
RH: Did he ever say those words to you?
TB: Still waiting. Though, I think hes proud. Mum tells me he is. Talks all the time about his boy with 2 Ph. Ds.
RH: Speaking of… two? Really? Kind of overachieving, no?
TB: Im a diverse fellow, what can I tell you. I loved politics and economics. Figured the two go together anyway. I had a mentor who had degrees in both.
RH: Who is this mentor?
TB: Lord Edmund. He was in some ways like a father to me.
RH: But not your father.
TB: Does it matter?
RH: Did you please him?
TB: I think so? He said as much when I graduated. 
RH: You know, God is not like them? Not like any man youve ever known.
TB: I know. I understand the word holy.
RH: Do you?
TB: Totally other than. Set apart. Not like anything youve ever encountered before. Do you really want to take me on?
RH: No, just trying to meet you. At the end of this story, Tanner, what will you have learned. What do you hope happens to you? What is your epiphany?
TB: I hope that I learn I dont need mans approval. That Gods is enough. I hope I know in my heart that HE does approve of me. I hope above all men that I please God. I wish to hear “good on you” from my father but if I dont, I want my heart to be whole.
RH: What will cause you not to hear it?
TB: If I help Regina. Father is a Brighton man, through and through. He will not want a restarted Hessenberg. He doesnt believe our economy can afford it. 
RH: But youll do whats right, wont you.
TB: Dont I always.
RH: Does that make you mad?
TB: Mad. No. Girl YOU are mad. It does make me feel all too safe. I always do whats safe. I stick to the rules. Even the self imposed rules. Some days I just want to…
RH: Let go? Let God?
TB: If were quoting cliches yes. I just want to not be in control. To not have it all buttoned up.
RH: You want to fall in love with Regina?
TB: I don’t know, youre the brainchild author. Do I?
RH: I think you do.
TB: Why?
RH: Hey, Im the one asking the questions here.
TB: Why do you want me to love her? What about this Felicity lass? She seems more my type.
RH: Exactly. Too buttoned up, as you say. Regina is messy. Outside your boundaries. She scales your walls and messes with your heart and head. You cant contain her.
TB: Sounds like a challenge.
RH: And you like a challenge?
TB: Within reason. Sure. Is she smart?
RH: No, shes dumb. Of course shes smart goofball.
TB: Will she love me?
RH: Ah, is that important to you?
TB: Yes. Ive never been in love. Not that I know of and Id kind of like the first girl I whisper love to would return the sentiment.
RH: Wow, arent you romantic? Good grief, Tanner. You wont even put your heart out there for love?
TB:Do you want me to get all gobsmacked and mushy?
RH: No, but I want you to loosen up. What about doing something completely selfless?
TB: I can do selfless.
RH: Then lets see it. Give up everything for Regina.
TB: Is that what I do at the end I cant do in the beginning? Be selfless? Give up everything  — my reputation, my desire to hear good job from my father, my loyalty to Brighton, for her.
RH: Yes for her! For love. For the “kingdom.”

In the end, I understood his heart. Names and situations changed as I wrote the book but this was my introduction to Tanner Burkhardt, kind of a brooding type with a deep heart.

Princess Ever After

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess. 

But she's content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother's hand-painted book of fairytales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation's future---and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. 

Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she's destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love. 

'Hauck can be counted on for captivating, page-turning stories and sincere characters with heart.' ---Romantic Times Review, 4 stars5