Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inside Cover Design with Love Inspired Art Director Tania Pery!

What does an average day look like for an Art Director at Harlequin, and more specifically a Love Inspired Art Director? Well, the great thing is, there isn’t an average day-and that’s what I love about it!

I do, however, have a few core elements woven into my day-to-day responsibilities. These are meetings, research, creative, approvals, managing suppliers such as photographers, illustrators and retouchers, and deadlines.

Hey wait! Maybe you want to hear more about my background; how I got into design, where I studied, how long I’ve been working in the industry…. Nah, on second thought, I’ll spare you and skip ahead to the glamorous part.  

Creating The Cover (the creative)

Perhaps it’s just my nature, but I think most everything is better explained with visual accompaniment. So, I will use a cover I art directed, His Montana Sweetheart by Ruth Logan, to illustrate each step in the creative process.

Laying the groundwork.

Meeting with the vision team for the creative brief is the first step. This team includes dedicated editors, a savvy marketer, and me, a passionate Art Director (AD). 

The editor prepares an art fact sheet (AFS) for each story and leads us through character descriptions, key themes and hooks and ultimately how they are individually unique.  Collaboratively, we determine the most relevant and saleable direction for the cover art; which elements will work best visually to tell the story and capture the audience. For example, do we depict a scene of a family in a small-town, a cowboy hero, an adorable set of twins…?  Our authors also do an incredibly fabulous job outlining some pivotal scenes in the book that we draw a wealth of inspiration from.

Here is an example of one page of an AFS (typically 4-5 pages in total) with a few key points I highlighted during the brief.

After the briefing, it’s cover concept time!

Research & Creating Concepts.

I’m off to create concepts and develop the look and feel for each of the book covers. My process starts with image research. I’m very excited at this point because it’s one of my favorite aspects about my job. I can spend hours, days, weeks on this without even noticing the time pass.  I scour magazines, the online world, stock photo sites, my environment… You name it and I’m there, on the hunt for poses, styling, scenery, lighting, mood and anything that inspires me. 

Once my time-management skills get the better of me and I’m able to convince myself to move on, I create a rough sketch/concept on the computer and attach my inspiration and reference images. It looks like this:

Now it’s time to get approvals and make sure the vision team is on board with the direction. Once I get the go ahead, I’m off to create the final cover art.

Working with Suppliers.

Creating the final cover art for a Love Inspired book works a bit differently from our other product lines. I commission the art out directly to amazingly talented photo illustrators who are also accomplished photographers. Some are based here in Toronto and others are in and around the New York area.

We discuss in detail the concept brief including content, styling, wardrobe, casting models, mood and any other important details that need to come across in the cover art.

Speaking of wardrobe and styling, I often get lots of questions on this and so, here’s the quick lowdown. We have a wardrobe stylist for each cover. He/She rents items outlined in the creative brief in sizes specific to the models cast for the role. They pull everything from clothing, shoes, socks, hair clips, blankets, jewelry and the list goes on. This is awesome as it ensures we have the most current and up to date styles reflected on our covers. Besides a couple dated wedding dresses (I’m talking like from 1995 era-ish), a wig and some jewelry here and there, we sadly don’t keep a wardrobe room in the Harlequin headquarters. I think if we did, it would take up the whole 6 floors of our Toronto office!

Back to creating the final art.

I use the direct to artist approach because of the more heavily photo-illustrated art style of Love Inspired covers. To achieve a believable scene where the people are integrated seamlessly into the background, all the elements must work together, most importantly lighting and perspective. The illustrator will first create the background in order to nail down these elements, then shoot the models accordingly, and finally add them into the scene.  The background is often a compilation of several purchased stock images and/or images they have personally shot which is how we are able to get such diverse covers each and every month.

We work very closely together throughout the entire process, which typically takes about 3 to 4 weeks. They send me sketches of their work in progress for feedback to ensure the art is taking the right path. I like to say this is where they work their magic and bring the vision to life. I am so often blown away by the great detail, care and beauty of the final product. Truly amazing, amazing work.

This series of images shows the process in a nutshell. First, choosing a pose from the photo shoot (one shoot captures on average 500-600 frames!). Next, selecting stock images for the background and lastly illustrating the final cover:

Once the final art is complete and approved, I lay out the full cover (front, back and spine). It is then passed to the production department who readies the files for print. Here is what a final cover file looks like.

Credits: Artwork by Blake Morrow ,Twitter & Instagram @shootblake

I hope you enjoyed this quick glimpse into the making of a Love Inspired cover. His Montana Sweetheart is available now!!!! So be sure to pick up your copy in-store or online!

Ruthy here!!! I love this inside look at how our covers come together, and honestly, I wouldn't have believed that it was possible to make such lifelike covers by bleeding technological wonders together! I'm crazy impressed!!!!!

Hey, I had Tim Horton's bring breakfast along and the staff at Tim Horton's is building coffees and latte's for you, too! Leave a comment and I'm going to toss your name into the NEWEST cat dish for a chance to win copies of His Montana Sweetheart or (if you've already gotten His Montana Sweetheart, thank you!!!!) I'll send out some copies of Carolyne Aarsen's "Her Montana Twins" the next book in our Big Sky Centennial series!


And here's a great shot (via debut Love Inspired Suspense author Mary Curry!!!!) of the elevator wrap they have in San Antonio right now!!!!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Visit With Margaret Daley

Today we have a lovely guest from Love Inspired Suspense.  I have known Margaret Daley for years and she has been a wonderful role model and mentor. She has visited us here on Seekerville before, but today I wanted to honor her achievement as a multi-published author.

Hi Margaret,  It is wonderful to have you visit with us in Seekerville today.  I read on the Harlequin Website that you have written over 60 books for them that have been published. I also understand you have written several books with other publishers. She told me a secret also—she has several books written that haven’t even been published.

Margaret Daley

Wow. That is a lot of books.

I would love to talk to you about that amazing accomplishment.

1. Do you ever have difficulty sustaining your enthusiasm for writing? What do you do to keep your creativity charged up? Do you have any secrets you can share? 

Yes, I have struggled with this during my over thirty years writing. Sometimes I just have to slosh through it because I’m on deadline. I try to take time off between books, if possible, and pace myself writing a story. I figure out how many days I have to write a book and divide it into my word count to see how many words I have to write a day to make my deadline. Try to write and read what you love, exercise, pray and connect with others.

2. How do you find new ideas and/or ways to make a boy meets girl with a happy ever after romance fresh and different? 

I honestly don’t know. Usually a concept or a seed of a story comes to me. I brainstorm with myself and others, and it develops. I feel it’s the Lord working within me. I can go to sleep with a problem concerning the story and wake up with an answer.

3. You have also written in several different sub genres of romance. What is your favorite genre? Why? 

Most definitely romantic suspense. That is my favorite genre to read. I love the fast pace, the adventure, the suspense, the excitement.

4. What was your favorite setting for a romance and why did that appeal to you? 

That’s a hard question.  I have several—the jungle, the mountains, the canyon lands in the Southwest. Often what I love to write is the setting becoming another character in the suspense story. Since I write romantic suspense mostly, I like the setting to challenge my characters.

5. You mentioned you were attending the RWA national convention in San Antonio. In fact, you are already there. How many years have you been a member of RWA?  Please share some of your roles and contributions as an RWA member. 

I first joined RWA when it formed in the early 1980s. For a few years I wasn’t in RWA, otherwise I’ve been a member since its beginning. I have been involved with some of the local RWA chapters, and I was a president of FHL chapter of RWA for a year. I’ve volunteered at the national conference and was on the committee to determine the classes at the national conference.
Lacy Williams and Margaret Daley

6. You have been putting out novellas with other Love Inspired authors. Can you share what it is like working with authors for an anthology of novellas? 

I have enjoyed working with Lacy Williams, Debra Clopton, Janet Tronstad, Camy Tang and Linda Goodnight. They are fantastic authors to be with in a novella collection. They are professional, supportive and easy to work with.   

7. I hear you are working on a special project. Can you tell us about the series Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations?  What instigated this series? 

I was ending my Guardians, Inc. Series for Love Inspired Suspense, but I still had readers ask me if there were going to be any more of the stories about female bodyguards. I started thinking about why the readers enjoyed those stories. Many told me they loved seeing a strong woman in the book. That’s what gave me the idea to do the first one in a series about different strong women—from a law enforcement officer to a doctor to a mother. I’ve started with a female bodyguard and a female Texas Ranger. I’d love to know from you all what you think a strong woman is and what occupation you would like to see me write about in the series.

Thank you Margaret for joining with us today.  Please share with us some of your conference experiences in your comments today.

Those who comment will be entered into a drawing for some gifts from Margaret. One winner will win an ebook copy of Deadly Hunt.

A second winner will win an ebook  copy of Deadly Intent from the Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations Series.

A third winner will win a print copy of Christmas Bodyguard which is the first book in the Guardians, Inc. Series about female bodyguards.

What lovely gifts. Thank you Margaret.  I know you need energy for the conference, so I’ve set out a table filled with chocolates from Sees Candies.  Have fun.

Photo from

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who Controls The Media Delivery System

Sandra here with steaming mugs of hot chocolate all frothy with whipped cream for the late night owls. For the early morning birds, I have a large pot of Chocolate Velvet coffee. And for those of you who drop in this afternoon, I have iced coffee, iced tea and some mint flavored sparkling water on ice.

Because its summer, I have my grandma’s large crystal platter (the one that goes under the punch bowl) piled high with fresh fruit.  There are apricots, figs, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I’ve sliced pineapple, melons and apples. My favorites are the cherries. I have the yummy Rainier cherries and regular sweet bing cherries. So help yourself for some of nature’s perfect sweets.

How many of you are heading for San Antonio today?

Or maybe you are already there?

I am so thrilled that so many Seekers will be there. This is the first RWA National  conference I’ve missed in a long time and I’m kind of sad about it. I always love hanging with my writer friends. This business can be lonely when you work at your desk at home. (Trust me, I’m not complaining. I love sitting here with my characters). But it is fun to network with other authors. I especially enjoy meeting editors and agents also.

So if you are there, please comment and share what’s happening.

Tomorrow, Margaret Daley will be sharing tidbits of information also.

I was reading an article the other day about the handful of people that control the content and delivery systems of media. The Internet has linked the world’s people to an extent never before seen. Television brings visual images into your home—images from places you may never travel to or see first hand. Radio broadcasts information worldwide in every language. Smart phones and tablets connect every square meter of the global geography with satellite communication.

Smartphone advertised on

And in regards to our world of writing; music and print media bring entertainment, information and education worldwide.

Who are the gatekeepers of all of this information? There are surprisingly few power brokers and they vary in ideology and values. They have the power to manipulate and control the way we think. Scary thought, isn’t it?

I have seen the power of their influence first hand.  My master’s degree is in Bilingual Multicultural education so as a public school teacher, I taught children whose primary language was other than English. Most of these children came to our schools from other countries. Parent conferences were very interesting because parents would complain about the behavioral changes of their children. They were acting like the children in our sit-coms on television. The children wanted so much to be American and they thought being American was acting like what they saw on television.  Consequently, I worked hard to teach the children that what they saw on television was fiction. I taught them that American television reporting and shows were exaggerations. I taught them that comedy was based on tragedy. Did it help? Maybe, maybe not. But there are several studies that show how much television influences our own children let alone how the world sees us.

Television advertised on

More first hand experience: As RVers, we meet a lot of people visiting from other countries and often they comment on how friendly Americans are. They act so surprised and we ask them, "Did you think we wouldn't be?" And their response is often: "We were afraid to come here because of all the violence, crime and murders."  What are the most popular prime time television shows?  Police crime, CSI shows, lawyers, etc.  No wonder they are afraid if they think that is what it is like here.

Of course as Judeo-Christians, we can arm and protect ourselves with God’s word. And as Judeo-Christians, we have been commissioned to pray for world leaders.  We need to also pray for media’s power brokers because they have such influence and power. I contend that we should be praying for them foremost and every day.

I do this by subscribing to Mastermedia International. This organization maintains that Hollywood is a mission field in dire need of prayer and evangelism. They list in alphabetical order the 50 most influential leaders in the motion picture media as well as actors, television shows, directors, writers, etc. So every day of the year you pray for two people and/or groups.

From webpage

As authors we are influencers also. What we write influences as many people as read our work. I have written a list that I added to my Mastermedia list. These are editors, agents and publishers in our industry of international media.  Also on my list are authors. So every day of the year, one of each gets a prayer.

I have attended many screenwriting classes over the years and one impacted me. He was a Christian screenwriter and he worked on the writing staff of several well known sitcoms. Someone commented that those shows were not particularly representative of Judeo-Christian values. He said he could not control all of the values portrayed, but he did have impact on limiting violence, overt sex and bad language. He pointed out that the shows would have been much worse without his influence.

So we can’t dictate what we see on television, movies or other social media. Boycotting those events is not the answer. The answer is get out there in the mission field and bring God into the mix.

This week especially, I’m praying for all of the media influencers attending the RWA National Convention. The fact that so many of you will be there means there will be ambassadors and witnesses of our faith. We need to be there so that our point of view and values are represented. Thank you. Thank you.

Have a great time. The rest of us at home will be working on our own contributions to the Social Media.  Writing, writing and more writing.

Those who comment will be eligible for a drawing for one of my books (novel or children) plus a lovely carving made by Dennis, a pickleball friend who carves wood to sell at the craft fairs. He volunteers to teach children how to carve also. The lucky winner will be blessed by this gift.

Please check the weekend edition for winners and email us your contact info.

Carved by Dennis

Have a great day.

Have fun at the conference.

Monday, July 21, 2014

FROM SWEET TO SWOON, PART 2 ... Ramping Up the Sigh Factor in our Heroes!

Question: What’s one of the most, if not the most, important component in a romance?
Answer: The Hero.

Let’s face it, when it comes to romantic fiction, the only one who can make a woman swoon is the hero. So, what exactly does it mean to “swoon”? Well, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as follows:

To become very excited about someone or something; to become enraptured; to suddenly become unconscious.

Now, for the sake of today’s blog, let’s go with the first two definitions, although I have to admit that in my tenure as a die-hard romance reader, there have been one or two heroes who were so flat and swoonless that I wished I were unconscious. But I digress …

I contend that when it comes to romantic heroes, all women swoon. Just not in the same way. For instance, the Novel Crossing blog recently ran a poll among Christian romance readers as to the “Five Swoon-Worthiest Heroes in Christian Romance, and there were no less than 25+ contenders. Now that’s a lot of swooning if I must say so myself, proving that the parameters for “swoon-worthy” are as diverse as the number of heroes in Christian romance.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, yes, I’m pretty darn proud that my bad-boy Collin McGuire from A Passion Most Pure made it to the top five because frankly, he needed the boost. Trust me, if you know anything about Collin regarding his lack of athletic ability and the heckling he takes from his brothers-in-law in the next five books, you would know why! And … I also thought it’d be fun for you to check out the heroes who were nominated in the first place as well as the top five, so here’s the link: FIVE SWOON-WORTHIEST HEROES IN CHRISTIAN ROMANCE.

But … the main reason I mention the poll above is because it validates my point that swoon-worthy heroes are as diverse as the women who read about them, so there’s no cookie-cutter approach or template to create such a hero. However, there are characteristics, flaws, quirks, etc. that can help ramp your hero from sweet to swoon-worthy in the blink of a word.

That said, this is part 2 in a 3-part series entitled From Sweet to Swoon: Ramping Up the Sigh Factor in our Heroes!, so if you missed PART 1, you can read it here and then arrow back to today’s part 2.

So … how do I like to ramp up the swoon factor in a hero to take him from ho-hum to hot?

Well, the ways are ENDLESS, but here are a few of my favorites that I employ over and over again. For the sake of brevity (and, yes, Ruthy, I really do know what that word means), I’ll cover points 1-4 today and then finish the other points in subsequent blogs on this subject over the next two months.

1.    Make the Hero Decidedly Male through Speech, Body Language, and Mindset.
2.    Make the Heroine Affect Him Like No Other Woman.
3.    Make His Attraction/Love for the Heroine Reform Him.
4.    Make Him Be Able to Walk Away From Temptation.
5.    Make Him Sacrificial.
6.    Give Him a Sense of Humor.
7.    Show His Love for Kids, Family, and Animals.
8.    Make Him Dominant.
9.    Give Him an Endearing Quirk.
10. Show Him Aware of the Heroine’s Interest.
11. Make Him Aloof and Unavailable.
12. Show His Humility.
13. Show His Mental Desire for the Heroine.
14. Show His Spirituality.
15. Give Him a Noble Cause.
16. Give Him a Wounded Heart.

1.             Make the hero decidedly male:  Let’s face it—there are MAJOR differences between men and women and as the old saying goes—VIVE LA DIFFERENCE! So it just stands to reason that when we see guys doing guy things or talking like a guy talks, it’s a natural pull for a woman even if we are shaking our heads and smiling at the time. Now, there are a zillion ways to make a guy “decidedly male,” but here are a few of the more important ones that will help make your guy all male:

A.)  SPEECH: Statistically speaking, women say 20,000 words compared to men’s 7,000 per day, which means most men have a tendency to talk in short, to-the-point and sometimes clipped conversation. They do NOT dwell on things like women do and their rationale for doing something is usually pretty basic, bottom-line and right up there on the surface. One of my favorite examples of this comes from an old Tool Time TV episode where Tim “the Toolman” Taylor holds up a stop sign to the audience and says something like:

“This is a stop sign, and it was invented by a man—do you know how I know that?” “No, how do you know that?” the audience shouts back. Tim taps the front of the sign and says, “Because it says ‘stop,’ and if a woman had invented it, it would say …” He then flips the sign over to reveal: If you really loved me, you would know what to do right now. :)

B.)  BODY Language: Facial and body expression in a male is usually calmer, more relaxed with just a hint of something going on under the surface, be it a tic in his jaw, a muscle flickering in his cheek or twitch in his temple. A male look is never wide-eyed like a female’s, but generally more slatted or shuttered, pupils possibly dilated in surprise. Some men will run their fingers through their hair—slashing or gouging for anger, threading, fanning or tunneling in frustration or confusion, or just combing and spiking after exertion or exercise.

To me, most men (especially cowboy types) seldom stand ramrod straight, tending toward a more relaxed, leisurely stance with a slack of a hip, hands propped low on his hips or sitting positions where they straddle a chair, brace the back of their neck with elbows flared or hands clasped on knees splayed wide. To show fatigue or frustration, they’ll do things like knead the bridge of their nose, gouge their foreheads with the ball of their hand or massage their temple. When angry or frustrated, they may kick or throw things, slouch shoulders or bury hands in their pockets or grunt and swear. Whatever they do, they’re male, not female, so language and thoughts are more abrupt and movement, more casual.

In this scene from A Passion Redeemed, the hero is a gruff, no-nonsense type with no patience, so I utilized monosyllabic language as explained in Point A above, abrupt action, and almost rude manners to convey him as such, which I bolded for ease of identity.

“Do you think I could have a glass of wine?”
He turned around. “What?”
“You heard me.”
He scowled. “No wine. How ‘bout ginger ale?”
“But I don’t want ginger ale. Can’t I have wine instead? Please?”
His mouth snapped closed. He snatched the pitcher and poured two glasses of water. “It’s water or nothing at all.” He set the glasses on the nightstand and sat back down.
She squared her shoulders and cradled the basket in her lap. “Fine. No wine, no food.”
His jaw shifted back and forth the tiniest bit, a mulish habit she was quickly becoming familiar with. “No wine,” he ground out.
She turned away and closed the basket. “Enjoy the dining hall, then.” She felt the heat of his stare and released a deep breath when he finally stormed out. The door slammed behind him.
Minutes later he returned, mouth flat and a bottle in hand. He poured her wine, then clunked the bottle on the table and handed her the glass. “One per night. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it, thank you.”
Plopping into chair with a grunt, he reached for his bread once again, shoving a hunk in his mouth. He stared straight ahead, chomping hard.
She smiled. “Now isn’t this nice?”
He gave her a half-lidded glare and continued to chew.
She took a sip of wine, then held it out. “Would you mind setting it on the nightstand?”
He muttered under his breath and got up to lift the table—water pitcher, wine bottle and all—to the side of her bed. He nabbed several pieces of meat and sat back down.
“Perfect. Thank you.”
He watched as she picked at the meat in the basket. She foraged through the pieces, fiercely intent on selecting just the right one.
He stopped chewing and swallowed hard. “Are you always this much trouble?”

C.)  MINDSET: Pride is a huge factor in the male persona, so generally you’ll see more stubbornness, control, and obsession with achievement, be it sports, work, competition with other men or just plain dominance in a relationship such as in this scene from A Passion Most Pure where the father Patrick O’Connor’s pride has been trampled.

In several abrupt steps forward, he loomed before her, his eyes intense. He didn't touch her, but pressed uncomfortably close, hands fisted at his sides. "When it comes to the welfare of my children, Mrs. O'Connor, you will, in the future, consult me regarding your decisions. Am I making myself perfectly clear?"
For a moment her breath wedged in her throat before spilling forth in a rush of angry defiance. "And you, Mr. O'Connor, in the future, can find somewhere else to sleep! Am I making myself perfectly clear?" Her tone was shrill.
He flinched, as if she’d just spat in his face. For a brief moment, hurt flecked in his eyes before giving way to the coldest of steel. His jaw hardened to granite. She watched in disbelief as he reached for his coat and jerked the door open wide, the wind banging it against the wall.

2.             Make the heroine affect him like no other woman:  When I first read Gone With the Wind at age twelve, I was mesmerized by the emotional tug-of-war between Rhett and Scarlett. Here was a strong, dominant male in total control of his life and whom no woman could tie down and then, BOOM! The moment Scarlett sears him with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, he’s a goner, spellbound by this woman he just has to have, even if it means marriage—something he vowed he’d never do! So it’s key to show the impact of the heroine on the hero, which can be done in the following ways:

A.) This can be as simple and subtle as A LOOK such as in this clip from A Passion Most Pure where the hero Collin McGuire is engaged to one sister but in love with the other:

A hush settled on the room as her father read the Christmas story. Collin closed his eyes to listen, his face calm. Faith found herself watching him, amazed at the way he seemed to fit in so easily. Her heart melted into an ache. All at once, his eyes opened and met hers. She dropped her gaze, heat fanning her cheeks. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him draw Charity closer.

B.) Or more definitive by showing the hero’s internal monologue or thoughts such as this clip from A Passion Most Pure when the hero is adamant he does not like the “control” the heroine has over his heart. (Note: These incidents need to be short and infrequent since men do not dwell on their feelings like women):

Collin had never felt like this, and it scared him. She scared him, and he didn't want anything to do with her. From that moment in the park when he kissed her, it was like he’d been possessed, cursed to dream of her, think of her, want her. He’d known woman far more beautiful, far more accommodating, far more easy to control. But this! Two encounters and she traveled his system like poison, the very same poison that had killed his father.

C.) Or showing the heroINE’s internal monologue or thoughts such as this clip from A Love Surrendered when the heroine, who was disfigured by an abusive husband and feels anything but beautiful, is not only made to feel beautiful despite her scars, but knows to depth of her being that her husband loves her.

“Are you conspiring with those cats, Emma O’Connor?” Sean assessed her with a shuttered gaze, arms folded and hip cocked in the doorway. Sculpted chest bare, he ambled into the room in boxers and blond hair damp from his shower. A slow grin of warning stretched across wide lips as he eased onto the bed to lie beside her. Elbow cocked and head in hand, he massaged Guinevere’s ribcage, warming Emma with a dangerous smile. Leaning close, he grazed her lips, then pulled away, the blue eyes tripping her pulse. “You’re next,” he whispered, and Emma was certain he could unleash a purr from her throat as easily as Guin’s.
“I best get ready for bed,” she said, attempting to get up.
A firm wrist gently tugged her near. “Not yet,” he whispered, and with the grace of an athlete, he rolled on his back and pulled her along to lie on his chest. His tall frame dominated the bed, prompting Lance and Guin to find elsewhere to sleep while Emma’s body relaxed against his. His kiss was slow and sweet, and her eyelids fluttered closed while magical fingers kneaded the nape of her neck to coax her closer. His scent surrounded her, drugging her body as much as his kiss—the clean smell of soap and shaving cream and the taste of mint in his mouth. Never had she felt so alive, so loved, so beautiful as she did in Sean’s arms. “I love you, Emma,” he said softly, “more than Snickers and baseball and beating Brady and Luke at sports.” The tease in his words faded with another tender kiss, and when he pulled away, he caressed her with a look that nearly stole her breath away. Never had she known a man more who could make love with his eyes. “I adore you,” he whispered, and sometimes I wonder how I survived without you.”

D.) Or it can be a bold STATEMENT such as Rhett Butler’s declaration to Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s classic, Gone With the Wind:

“I want you more than I have ever wanted any woman—and I've waited longer for you than I've ever waited for any woman.”

E.)  Or an ACTION, either bold or reluctant such as in this clip from A Passion Redeemed where the hero does not want to be drawn to the heroine, but he is when be brings her home in his car.

His gaze settled on her mouth, and a rush of heat chased the smile from his face. His heart began to pound. Friends. Only friends.
She pulled away, slowly scooting to her side of the seat, poised to open the handle of the door.
His hand clamped her arm. “No.”
She turned. Shock flickered across her features. “No?”
His throat worked as his eyes settled on her mouth once again. “Stay. Please.”

3.             Make his love/attraction to heroine reform him: Nothing is more exciting to a woman—especially a Christian woman—than a man who is willing to change and become a better man, not only for her, but because of her. Again, this can be accomplished by the hero’s thoughts, statements or actions such as in these excerpts from A Passion Most Pure, the first clip depicting the hero’s thoughts after he just turned his life over to God and in the second clip, his statement to the heroine:

Slowly Collin rose from the dirt, astounded at the serenity he felt. He breathed in deeply to fill his lungs with the cool, night air. He couldn’t have her, but she would always be a part of him. He knew to the depth of his soul that it had been her prayers that had saved him. It was a debt for which he would always be grateful. He wished her well. No, he thought, there was no wishing to it. He would pray that God would bless her with the marriage she deserved. He owed her that. Quietly, he entered the billet and returned the Bible to Brady’s side. Crawling into his own bunk, he closed his eyes and slept, finally, the slumber of a man with peace in his heart.

He gently stroked her cheek, blotting a tear with his finger. “Look, I didn’t mean to make you cry. I just wanted you to know you’ve had a profound impact on my life, and I’m grateful. Because you see, Faith, just knowing you has made me a better man.”

4.             Make him able to walk away from temptation: Yes, we want the hero to have an almost irresistible attraction to our heroine, but … we still expect him to resist! After all, this is Christian fiction, and to the Christian woman, a man who can control his passions demands a lot of respect from the reader, which is what we want for our heroes—a man we can respect! Here’s a scene from A Passion Redeemed where the hero (who the family thinks is married to the heroine and he will be within mere hours) resists the heroine’s temptation via internal monologue, action and finally a statement:

“Mitch, please . . . ,” she whispered, and his gaze trailed from the deadly source of that plea to the soft curve of her nightgown as it clung to her body. Lust invaded his mind, bidden by thoughts of what lay beneath, and against his will, he found himself moving toward the bed.
All at once, he thought of her sister in a room down the hall, and his ragged breathing stilled. Faith had given him a glimpse of something holy and rare, a passion most pure. And despite the raging desire pumping through his veins at the moment, he meant to have it as well. With—or without—the woman before him.
He turned and ripped the cover off the other bed and retrieved his shoes. “I can’t do this, Charity. I’m sleeping downstairs.”

Okay, that’s it for today, so leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of a signed copy of any of my books, including my upcoming release in October, Surprised by Love.

Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at