Monday, March 15, 2010

Guest Ruth Axtell Morren

Missy here. I really enjoyed meeting Ruth Axtell Morren at a conference this past year, and am so pleased to introduce you to her today! Of course, many of us are fans already (Melanie!) :) and know her work, but maybe we'll learn something new about her. Also, Ruth will be giving away a copy of her new Love Inspired Historical release, To Be a Mother, so be sure to read the details at the end of the post to enter!

Next month Ruth Axtell Morren will see the publication of her eleventh historical romance, A Family of Her Own. This is her shortest work, a novella, in a 2-in-1 anthology with fellow Love Inspired author Cheryl St. John. The anthology is entitled To Be a Mother, and features a Mother’s Day theme in time for that holiday.

The interesting thing about this novella is that it was only the second inspirational piece of fiction Ruth ever wrote—and the first thing that she considered “publishable.” But it was a long road before it ever came to print—more than ten years!

She always knew she wanted to be a fiction writer, ever since she wrote her first story—a spy thriller—at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, taught English and worked as an au pair in the Canary Islands, worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the next several years, she juggled both writing and raising her children. In 1994, her second-ever manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart competition.

It didn’t find a publisher until last year! It will be published sometime this year by a Dutch publisher, Mozaiek, who is first translating into Dutch. One of the reasons it caught the eye of this publisher is that the story takes place in the golden era of Holland’s history, the age of Rembrandt and the Dutch explorers who sailed around the world bringing back riches to this tiny nation.

Ruth currently lives on the down east coast of Maine with three kids and three cats.

And now from Ruth...

Meeting a deadline when that manuscript is just not inspiring!
What do multi-published authors do when the story idea they had has lost its spark or momentum…When the plot seems to fizzle and you can’t think of any good twists to keep your reader reading? When every romance device seems clichéd and used ad nauseam: Marriage of convenience, secret baby, regency rogue, female disguised as male, doctors, ministers, dukes & duchesses…Jane Austen has been done to death, oh, woe!

I found myself in this predicament recently on my current Love Inspired Historical. Well, first thing was to continue thinking about the story and research the time period and the characters’ professions or situations in life. The deeper you delve into your story, the more you begin to forget about other things (what did your editor say; what will readers say; what is the latest romance you’ve read about) and the more you begin to recapture the magic of the story, who this hero is, who the heroine is and why it matters. The clamors of their hearts begin to resonate in you and you begin to feel their yearnings. Before you know it, you get an idea(!) It might be a small plotting idea, but it helps move the story forward. Or, it might be an unveiling of some internal conflict that one of them is suffering. You get new insight into why they’re behaving as they are; why they can’t just fall in love and declare their love. Then, you begin to write again, maybe a few pages, but when you leave your manuscript for the day, you find yourself thinking about your hero and heroine, and once more, you get another idea(!) about them and their story. You mull on it, and it builds and suddenly you know where you need to take them the next day…

Before you know it, you have added a whole new chapter to your manuscript, then you reach the quarter point or the halfway point….

Who knows what’s around the corner? All you know is that you are leading the hero and heroine to that magical day when they can declare their love to each other, when all barriers are smoothed away and you can leave them, confident that they will ‘live happily ever after...’

Missy again. Ruth, thanks so much for sharing with us! Readers, please be sure to leave a comment with your contact email address to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of To Be a Mother! If you don't leave an email addy, I won't know to enter you! And here's a blurb for Ruth's story:

A Family of Her Own by Ruth Axtell Morren
In To Be a Mother, Love Inspired Historical 2-in-1 anthology, April 2010

War and tragedy destroyed Rianna Bruce’s chance at happily ever after…or did it? Reuniting with her first love, Noah Samuels, proves that her feelings haven’t gone away. In helping his young daughter, can Rianna show the disillusioned Noah the blessing of a second chance?


  1. Oh, good morning, Ruth!!!

    Great name, by the way. I'm just sayin'!

    I brought coffee. Lots of coffee, various kinds, no chocolate velvet...

    I couldn't find it and Sandra was hiking the Andes or some such nonsense.

    I hike, too. To the refrigerator. And the mailbox. Yup, that's me. A Hike-a-holic.


    Anyway, back to this delightful post, Ruth!!!! Lovely advice. I think you hit the nail on the head about research helping to push the plot forward, that little delve into characterization a thrust for plotting. Wonderful advice indeed!!!

    I can't wait to read this. I love mothering stories. Just love 'em. And doesn't every simple MAN need a good woman??? Jane Austen said it best, so it must be so! "In want of a wife..."

    This is only one reason I LOVE THIS JOB!!!!

    Breakfast coming at ya' country style today. Flapjacks with triple berry topping. Whipped cream. Real maple syrup because it's sugaring time in upstate New York. At last!!!

    We've got eggs, potatoes, fresh-smoked country ham, to die for. I'm totally serious.

    Ruth, thank you so much for being our guest today. I'm grabbing coffee, (again, to be honest) and enjoying a day with you. And you're only 10 hours away from me, so maybe we can do lunch someday.



  2. Welcome to Seekerville, Ruth. Your cover is just delightful. I look forward to reading your book.

  3. Good morning, Ruth

    Good advice on how to advance our plots.


    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  4. Ruth, welcome! Thanks for your wonderful, honest post! I've been at that point, too. Feeling like I don't have a creative bone in my body.

    I've found that pulling out my character charts really helps get me going. It reminds me again where the characters are coming from and what their big hangups are. And somehow that reminds me of where they're heading and what needs to happen to them to make them grow. So thanks for sharing today how you get past those difficult writing times!

    Good morning, all! I just knew if I held off a little while this morning that Ruthy (Logan Herne, not our guest!) would provide breakfast--much better than anything I can cook up. I'm afraid I'd be offering Poptarts or cereal. :) Plus lots of nice, strong coffee, of course.

    Hiking to the fridge...what a hoot, Ruthy! That's my type hiking activity, too. I'm sure Sandra would leave me eating her dust, panting and out of breath. :)

  5. Good morning, Tina and Rose. So glad to see you!

  6. Good morning everybody Happy Monday!:)
    Mrs. Morren your book looks Wonderful! Reuniting with her first love! Swoon!:) I would love to have a chance to win and, read this book:)
    And Ruthy you brought coffee, eggs, and fresh smoked country ham! Girl you have made my day!:) I love just about anything savory, and I need it this morning especially the coffee :)

  7. Good Morning Ruth and welcome to Seekerville. Interesting publishing history.

    I love that the Dutch are publishing your book. And that you write different genres. That helps me keep interest up.

    I DID bring Chocolate Velvet and hot chocolate. Enjoying the food you brought. yum

    Did have a lovely hike yesterday. The desert is gorgeous. Lots of wildflowers.

  8. Hi Ruth,
    Wonderful advice! I would love to read your book.

    And Ruth Herne, pancakes, warm syrup and coffee sound delish right about now.



  9. Hello Ruth,

    So nice to put a face to an author! Believe it or not, I have one of your books in my bookcase -I think it was a giveaway at a conference. So now I will dig it out and read it! Yay.

    So glad to hear about other writers not having a clue where to go next in their books. This always happens at about the 2/3 mark for me. It's too early for the black moment and I've run out of ideas. Usually I take time off and, as you say, mull it over until an idea hits. Love that!

    Could sure use some coffee today, after that time change. I didn't even hear my radio go off this morning - plus it's been raining for 4 days straight. Spring is here!

    Have a great day everyone.

    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  10. Lindsay, I'm with you! I don't want sweet for breakfast. I like to have omlettes. Or often (I hate to admit) just my coffee.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Sandra, you just gave me my excuse for not hiking. We don't have any wildflowers around here yet. :)

    Although I've been seeing daffodils!! I'm so excited to see flowers after the coldest winter in decades.

  12. Good morning, Edwina! It's always nice to see your smiling face. :)

  13. Sue, I have that problem at chapter 4 or 5! It's like hitting a wall. I usually think of it as the lead in to the sagging middle. If I can just figure out what's going to happen at that point, I can usually keep going. I may take Mary's advice someday and drop in a dead body. I wonder what my LI editors would think! ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Ruth!! I'm delighted for this chance to hook up with you between conferences!

    Thanks for sharing how you jump start your creativity and crowd out that nasty doomsayer that creeps into our brains intent on shutting us down.

    Like you, the more I know my characters the easier it is to tell their story and to discover things about them they love to hide. :-)

    Thanks for breakfast, Ruthy! The Ruths rock!!!!


  15. Welcome to Seekerville, Ruth, and our thanks to Missy for bringing you here.

    Ruth, I consider meeting you in the dinner line at ACFW last year one of the highlights of my conference because I had heard lots about you (all good!!), so it was fun to run in to you there.

    And I have to admit, reading about your story of your 2nd ms. that took ten years to come to print is a real inspiration to me. I often hear authors say their first or 2nd manuscripts were the stories of their heart back then, but never got published and now they know why and are glad. Personally, I can never understand that type of thinking. If a story or a plot is strong enough to inspire you to finish a ms. in the first place, why can't it be rewritten/revised once the author acquires additional experience and know-how and then transformed into a salable story??

    Anyway, our warm thanks to you, Ruth, for being here today and to Missy for inviting you.


  16. Hi Ruth and Missy: Love all the Love Inspired books, but have been on the historical kick lately! Can't wait for yours.

    I've put my historical idea aside temporarily until I can do a little more research. I'm visiting the location again in June and hope that between online research and in person, I can understand the time and the place a little better and make my charachters come to life.
    Great post!

  17. Oh, I AM TOTALLY THERE with you.
    Last night inked the last word on my third baby.

    It was akin to siphoning blood from a collapsed vein. Only through prayers and HOLY SPIRIT guidance deep the words eke out.

    Thanks for a great post, Ruth!!!


  18. Hey, Janet and Jules! So glad you stopped by!

    Julie, my book of the heart is in a drawer. But maybe someday I'll take the basic idea (like I had it originally, not the way it ended up after re-writing it several times post-contest feedback) and start over fresh.

  19. How fun, Debbie! Where is the location of your story?

    Hope to see you Saturday at the March workshop!

  20. Woo hoo, Patti!!! Celebration today for Patti typing The End!!!!

    (But I'm still cracking up about your comment that it was like siphoning blood from a collapsed vein!) :)

  21. Hi, Ruth. I read your A HEALING SEASON a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. I would love the chance to win this latest offering.

    ~Karen Witemeyer

  22. I'm sorry to say I have a couple of boxes of these books in my closet right here and still haven't had time to read your story! I have it on my nightstand for the upcoming weekend, however.

    You might be interested to know that my ten-year-old grandson reads these books, and he read your story and enjoyed it a lot. He's been reading since he was five, and we can't keep him in books. The books the other kids his age are reading aren't a challenge, so I figure a Christian romance beats a lot of the material he could be picking up, lol

    Cher :-)

  23. I joke a lot about shooting someone to pick up the pace of the plot but I'm at one of those spots right now.

    I know the scene I have to write but for days now I've been writing around the edges of it. Back tracking, rewriting the build up, going back and filling in some plot holes I've made notes about. I can FEEL myself procrastinating.
    So, last night I just forced myself to write a hard, fast version of the scene. Knowing it would be bad. Knowing it would most likely all be gone, including most of the plot of it by the time I was done revising. But it had to be done.

    Now this morning, I'm standing over a steaming pile of manuscript pages and grimly crawling through to fix the damage for the first of what will be ten times.


    Plotting. Boo.

  24. Your book looks great, thanks for posting!!


  25. HI RUTH!!! I was so excited to meet you at the conference in Sept, since I'm such a huge fan. I hope I didn't embarrass you too much in that elevator when I declared to a bunch of total strangers that you were one of the greatest romance novelists alive today. That wasn't too gushy, was it?

    Anyway! It's so great to see you here in Seekerville! I love these guys here. They'll make you feel welcome. And I can't wait to read whatever you've got coming. And I would love to know what you do have coming! What is next for you? I hope lots more historical romances, hopefully set in romantic European places--my favorite, and you're so good at it! And talk about evoking emotion!!! People, Ruth is tops! A master! You have to read her books. Simply fabulous. :-)

  26. Karen, I've got you entered. thanks for coming by!

  27. Cheryl, that's so cute about your grandson! What an amzing kid! :)

    When I was at Bible study last week, one of the women brought her grandson with her. He's 3, almost 4. He read a book to me! It was the cutest thing. The book was called I Love You, and it had words and pictures in place of words. He was just so precious reading that story!

  28. Mary, I tend to dance around scenes that I know are going to be very draining to write. The really emotional scenes. I had one I worked on this past Friday. I just re-read it a few minutes ago. It's terrible. Not nearly enough emotion. I think I'll be working on it for a while, but for now, I'm moving on. Glad to get past it.

  29. Hi, Casy. Thanks for entering.

    Mel! There's Ruth's stalker fan, now! :) I'm so glad I could make you happy today. [grin]

  30. Some of my favorite Ruth Axtell Morren books: A Bride of Honor, The Making of a Gentleman, A Man Most Worthy, The Rogue's Redemption, and Wild Rose. I think these are all Regencies and Victorian-era historicals. They're so good! Her other books are great, too, but these are my favorites.

  31. hello everyone....

    would love to read this wonderful book...thanks for the chance :)


  32. Hi All, I'm just popping in time for coffee hour. Sorry I missed that wonderful-sounding cyber breakfast, Ruthy. I'm a sweets-person myself--give me good bread, butter & jam & I'm happy!
    Thanks for the kind words Melanie. You could never be too gushy!! I can't wait to read your book!
    Julie, I agree. If a manuscript had potential at one point, I think with the added experience in the craft of writing, we can make something of it. Usually, the problem is time, when other, newer ideas are beckoning.
    Oh, Cher, I have your story in this 2-in-1 on my bedside to read, too! I don't know if you were referring to mine that your grandson read, but if so, kudos to him! The boy's got taste.
    Karen, Glad you enjoyed The Healing Season. This book will be a much 'easier' read, in that it doesn't deal with such dark topics.
    Missy, Thanks for having me over. I just read one of your LIs, His Forever Love, and really enjoyed it. I loved the geek hero, bless his clumsy heart!

  33. Thanks for this post, Ruth! So wonderful to see you here on the Seekers (I love visiting Seekerville but don't post comments very often--just usually lurk and soak up their wisdom!). I had to thank you again for praying over me at the ACFW conference in Denver--the Lord honored your prayers that weekend because I held up with minimal back pain throughout the conference. That meant so much to me for you to do that (with Leann too).~ Looking forward to reading more of your books. Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo Moore :)

  34. Karen K., I've gottcha entered!

    Ruth, I'm glad you got to stop by for coffee break. :) And thanks for your kind words on my book. I just loved writing Bill! :)

    Patti Jo, how are you liking the sunshine today??!! I'm so thrilled. Hardly remember what it is. And it's just in time for my son's tennis match today. I hope you have a great day, too.

    Now, I'm off to fix lunch. Would anyone mind having left over fettuccine alfredo with me? Or would that mortify you, Ruthy L.H., for me to serve leftovers?? ;)

  35. Oh, I love Ruth's books! And I agree, lots of research into the time period can bring up so many great things to add interest to the story. Unique occupations help, and looking at the history of the setting. Wonderful advice!

  36. Hi, Carrie. Thanks for stopping by!

  37. Oh Ruth,
    I'm a big fan (as you know) and am so excited to 'see' you at Seekerville. I'm on a late lunch break at work but wanted to stop by to say 'thanks' for your beautiful work.

    It's nice to know that even experienced authors feel the spark fizzle sometimes in their work. Thanks for the encouragement about how to get back on track.


  38. Pepper, you and I have SO much in common.

  39. Melanie,
    Great minds....
    that could be scary too :-)

  40. Your book sounds so interesting. Would love to have it.

  41. Oh I would love to read this! Ruth is one of my favorite LI authors! I've read everyone of her books! I was lucky enough to read an early copy of Cheryl's story Mountain Rose featured in this book and I want to read Ruth's very badly LOL!!!

    XOXO~ Renee

  42. Hey, Pepper! Your and Melanie's minds working together: scary thought!


    Thanks for dropping by today. :)

  43. Denise and Renee, I've got you both entered. So glad you came by!

    Now I've got to run out the door to cheer on the middle school tennis team. I'll check in later!

  44. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for sharing your great insights with the Seekers!!! I look back fondly to the first time we met. One of the conferences. We sat across the table from one another during a SH authors' dinner. Must have been an ACFW conference. I so enjoyed hearing about your time in the Netherlands. I had visited that country years ago and enjoyed sharing memories with you.

    I recently was at the where-is-this-story-going point in a synopsis I was trying to pull together. Couldn't "get" the suspense. That's when I walk and pray. Somehow bits and pieces fall into place over time. Thank goodness!

  45. Thanks for stopping by Ruth.

    Your comments are encouraging for sure. The cover of your latest is precious!!!! Know you must be so proud.

    How is that, working with another author so closely? It sounds like it's working for YOU! Very good!!

    Y'all have a great afternoon. I'm gearing up to rewrite and revise - story of my life...


    Hey - There's 18th birthday cake for Hannah back on the table. Y'all get a slice, ok?
    Let's sing!

    Haven't seen her here. She's probably out celebrating or something. Go figure!

    (Hey Pepper, Ruthy says I should ask you about her critiques. Do I need to get some bandaids ready to go with the truffles?)

  46. Is Hannah really eighteen? Good heaven's we've raised our first Seeker Baby.

  47. Hi Patti Jo,
    Love your cat! Good to 'see' you again. So glad the prayer helped.
    Hi Debby!

    KC, When you do an anthology, you don't actually have to work with the other author or authors; the editors are in charge of deciding which stories/authors would go well together.
    I was pleased to find out I'd be paired with Cher St. John. She's a veteran author and a whiz at promotion, so I figured I could ride her coattails! I hope we'll both benefit from each other's fans.
    Well, I'm off to a dinner at the high school, in honor of host families (for international students). We're hosting a boy from China. I heard it's Italian food tonight....

  48. Hi Ruth!
    I'm sad to say that I've never read any of your books...However, by the sounds of it, I'm going to have to change that and fast!! Lol! This was a really nice post. I'm sure it was really inspiring for all the authors in Seekerville today : )

    KC: You remembered! Wow : O Thanks for the cake! And noooooo....I was not out partying, thank you very much! Today was the first day of the tennis season, so I was at practice. Glad I got to come by now though!

    Mary: Yes! I am eighteen today (that sounds terribly odd sounding!)! And you know, I've never thought of it that way, but I guess you're right ; ) I've learned SO much from all you wonderful ladies. I'm really thankful that I found Seekerville. Can't imagine what I'd do without you *hugs for everyone who wants one/will take one*

    I'll be back later!

  49. Ruth:

    I'm not a multi-published author, but I certainly relate to these processes.

    I usually write up until bedtime, or whenever I get stuck. Then I go to bed and lie there in the dark wrestling with the question of what--or how--to go on.


    helengray AT boycomonline DOT com

  50. Enjoyed reading your post. Especially how you advance your plot. I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.


    Cindy W.


  51. Debby, I believe that was the same dinner where I got to know Ruth as well. :)

    I should follow your example to walk and pray to work out plot problems! Exercise would certainly be better than mindless trips to the fridge!! :)

  52. Hey, KC! Thanks for the cake and for letting us know about Hannah's b-day!

    Hannah! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope you have a great one!! That's amazing that you also play tennis! You are one busy gal!

  53. Mary, yes, we've helped raise a child to a young woman! ;) Of course, I imagine her mom had something to do with that as well. :)

  54. Ruth, hope you had fun at the dinner! How exciting to host an exchange student!

  55. Helen, I don't work much at night anymore. I just don't have the brainpower(now that I write all day). But once I hit the bed, my mind goes into overdrive! Sometimes a story will keep me awake. Other times, I'll fall asleep thinking of it, then will wake and pick right back up where I left off!

  56. Hey, Cindy! I've got you entered. I'm glad you stopped by.

  57. Thanks Missy. If it's cake, I'm THERE. :)

    (speaking of mindless trips to the fridge instead of hiking...)

    Thanks Ruth for that explanation.

    YAY Hannah! Wimbledon in your future?

  58. Happy, happy birthday, Hannah!
    I'm doing a happy dance for you now! Woohoo! I'll have the kids join in, their happy dances are MUCH cuter than mine :-)

  59. Hey Hannah! I'll take a hug!!! Happy 18th birthday!!!


  60. THANKS friends!!!!! : D

    No Wimbledon to play at, but we're going to Londdon this summer and visiting....if that counts! *wink*

    Lol Pepper! I'm sure that you're happy dance is very nice! ; )

    Here ya go, Janet *hug*!!

    We went out to dinner tonight, so we just got home a bit ago. It was yummy!!
    Talk to you later,

  61. OH! And Melanie....Thank you too!! I'm sorry for not including you in the last note, but now you get your own!


  62. Great post.

    Like others, I also love that the Dutch are publishing your book. (It gives me hope that a publisher in Japan mught publish my book, though I've already been told by a Japanese author that I can get published in Japan as soon as I can sell it in the U.S.)


  63. My daughter-in-law is from the Netherlands. I would love to read a book based on the history of that country.

    Your advice was helpful about how research can create enthusiasm for a project.

  64. It was nice to hear this interview! Ruth is one of my very favorite authors. I'm looking forward to reading this and future novels.

  65. Thanks, everyone! We'll announce the winner this weekend.