Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A New “Kid” Visits Seekerville

I’m a new kid (at heart) on the Christian fiction scene, and I’m honored to be here in Seekerville with you today!
Yours truly had the distinct privilege to sit between the esteemed Mary Connealy and Julie Lessman at the 2010 ACFW conference where I was graciously invited to write a guest blog when my book released.
I’m currently embroiled in my SMP (Shameless Marketing Phase), but the Lord is my Partner in this fascinating writing journey, and I prefer to think of it as following His will by sharing the stories He’s laid on my heart. If you like a story where you can escape with well-drawn characters, lots of romance, humor and fun repartee, emotionally-involving drama and a hint of mystery in an adventurous plot, then I hope you’ll add my debut novel, Awakening to your reading list! Here’s the back cover copy (short version):

Lexa Clarke signs up for a short-term summer mission in San Antonio with TeamWork Missions, hoping to make a difference in the world. TeamWork director Sam Lewis has a job to do and can't afford to be distracted by the petite, feisty blonde. But when she tumbles into his arms from the top of a house they’re rebuilding, Sam suspects his life will never be the same. A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. It’s a combustible combination.
I’ve noticed something about Seekerville. You like to talk about food, especially chocolate – a lot. I fit right in! For the record, I’m a certified chocoholic but prefer homegrown Hershey’s to fancy Godiva. You also talk about history quite a bit, probably because a number of you either write and/or read historical fiction. Although my novel is set in 1997, Sam in Awakening is a huge history buff (and prefers peaches to chocolate). Quirks, pet peeves, expressions and habits infuse life into characters. One of Sam’s quirks is that he starts spouting history lessons as a way of dealing with stress.
Like Sam, I believe in fun facts to know and tell. If you’re a reader, I hope you appreciate when characters leap off the page and into your heart and mind. As a writer, I’m sure you understand how life experiences lend invaluable insight into the human mind and behavior. Awakening is actually loosely-based on my love story with my husband, Jim. Here are a few observations from my own personal archives, all of which have helped me in character-building and plotting:
*I’ve “been around” in the nicest sense of the word. In a nutshell, I was born in IN, met Jim (from RI) in TX, moved to CA, married in KY, honeymooned in HI, moved to PA after the birth of our first child, had two more children, moved to MA, then came to my senses and moved back to “home in my heart” (Kentuckiana, where IN meets KY at the Ohio River). Jim’s in ministry, and thank the Lord for a highly-adaptable family. Sam asks Lexa where home in her heart is early on, and it throws her a bit. She figures it out.
*I’m short. Going back a minute – growing up, I was always the cheerleader teetering at the top of the pyramid and thrown around by virtue of being the shortest. Wised up in high school and became a pom pon girl (also the end of my so-called athletic career). Being short does have advantages, and for some reason tall men (like my Jim) often gravitate toward short women. Case in point: Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke. Sam’s 6’5” and, although petite, Lexa has long legs and is much better proportioned than me. It’s called living vicariously through your character.
*I’m a shameless stargazer. I can say I’ve seen Yul Brynner in a stage production of The King and I (at the Cotton Bowl, of all places), Liz Taylor and Richard Burton on the stage together in NY (close enough for him to spit on me and the entire early cast of Saturday Night Live and many old-time Hollywood screen legends in attendance), and sat in the bleachers at Pebble Beach to see Clint Eastwood (yes, it made my day) and O.J. Simpson (prior to if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit) strolling together toward the 18th green (it helps to have a professional golfer in the family). Okay, this has nothing more to do with Sam and Lexa than some punk kid saying (in reference to Sam), “Dirty Harry’s here to save the day.” The closest I got to being part of the jet-set crowd? Being flown in a private plane from Visalia to Monterey (CA) for dinner. Pretty awesome; I felt like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman when she boards the plane to attend the opera in San Francisco.
* I’m impatient. That particular fruit of the Spirit called patience eludes me. I have a sign in my kitchen which reads, “Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!” Sam and Lexa can be impatient, but they’re also strong, determined, resourceful and resilient when it counts.
*I’m getting older by the minute. If you're scratching your heads and asking, “Who are some of those people she just mentioned?” I was officially old when someone gave me a quizzical look when I mentioned Barry Manilow. For the record, I also adore Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams! Jerry Vale, anyone? Sam and Lexa are my core characters in a series, and while they naturally grow older, they will always be young and vibrant in my heart.
Thank you for allowing me to share a little about my story (both fictional and personal) today.

For a chance to win an autographed copy of Awakening, answer this question: What one quality must a Christian romance have to make it a book you’ll never forget?
Buy Awakening from Barnes & Noble
Buy Awakening from Amazon

JoAnn Durgin lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana. An estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky, law firm, she also works part-time at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. A graduate of Ball State University, JoAnn’s debut novel, Awakening, a contemporary romantic adventure, released in late 2010 from Torn Veil Books of Winnipeg, Canada.

She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as its Indiana chapter. JoAnn finaled in the 2010 Romance Writers of America/Faith Hope & Love Touched by Love contest in the long contemporary romance category. She has either won or been a finalist in My Book Therapy flash fiction contests and was a “Best Back Cover Copy Blurb” champion on the Clash of the Titles website. JoAnn is also a regular blog contributor with Reflections in Hindsight and Hoosier Ink. Visit JoAnn at her website at


  1. MM, am I first? I'm bringing hot cinnamon rolls from Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook! I have an autographed copy, thanks to my college roommie! Ok, what must the Christian book have to make it stand out? I can forgive a plot that winds around, or a setting I don't really care for, but the characters have to be GREAT! They have to be funny, and real, and have all sorts of interesting quirks, just like real friends. Sounds liek AWAKENING is going to be my next book buy!

  2. Whoah, too many exclamation marks. Gotta cut down on the coffee... :D

  3. Morning, JoAnn! Just borrowing one of those extra exclamation marks Virginia brought :) Oh, and I brought green tea, although I could use a dose of caffeine this morning :)

    How fun that you're from Kentuckianna, I'm a Louisville girl, born and bred who got transplanted to Georgia a while back. Awakening sounds great. Love the mission angle and I absolutely love "drama and a hint of mystery in an adventurous plot." Have fun doing the SMP for Awakening:)
    BTW, I left an excess of :) so Virginia and I can swap out :) What is it about writing in these little comment boxes that makes us all want to !!!!! and :) :) :) :)????

  4. Joann!!!! Welcome to Seekerville, honey! So fun to get this glimpse of you!!!


    You're in good company, Chica!!!


    Sorry, couldn't resist. Gotta use up my exclamation points in Seekerville, where genteel and forgiving people gather 'round tables of great food (YUM...Cinnamon rolls) and fresh, hot coffee.

    And Joann. You sat between Mary and Julie and survived????

    And didn't run screaming?

    Obviously they were medicated.

    Super, mega congrats on this first book. It sounds delightful and a guy who blurts history under stress should go on Jeopardy and share the pot with moi.

    I'm just sayin'! What a great quirk. Love it.

    I'm diving into hot cinnamon rolls. Just shoveled the walks before the freezing rain turns the 6 inches of snow into hard-crust. Warm, cinnamon deliciousness sounds perfect right now.

    Thank you, Virginia! I'm setting up coffee, flavored and straight up for you tough girls and guys.

    But flavored creamers for your softer sides.

  5. Hi JoAnn, I met you at RWA at the FHL meeting. Glad to see you here.
    Your book cover is beautiful!! I have some roses in a vase that are "awakening" right now---they're white and they smell awesome.
    Congrats on the release of your book. It sounds great.

  6. Morning, ladies! Oh, I'm going to love it here. You've made me feel so comfortable already. With the wind howling outside (at least it's not ice or snow here in Kentuckiana!), a cup of java and some of those cinnamon rolls sound great (thanks, Virginia)! We're in for a fun day, and let's pass them around! Blessings!

  7. Morning, JoAnn!

    Awakening sounds great! I love that Sam blurts out history lessons. I love that quirk because it's one I share (to the point my friends and family usually ask if they'll be tested on the information later).

    I agree with Virginia, characters make or break a story for me. It's something I obsess about in my own writing.

    Congrats on the release of Awakening and I can't wait to get a copy.


  8. Virginia, I can't speak for our hosts, but I don't worry about exclamation marks here in Seekerville. It's one of the few places we can use them freely and not feel intense shame.

    Okay. Jerry Vale. Oh yes! I think my mom had every Eddy Arnold album there was. JoAnn, we must be near the same incredibly young age.

    I'm trying to imagine sitting between Mary C and Julie L. I can't.
    Congratulations on your debut!!

  9. Ruthy, I am going with the opposite tactic. Let the ice build up on the snow rather than the cleaned surface.

    These are the kind of days you need a garage. I hope everyone is here because they haven't lost power.

  10. Me again. I'll share another fun little tidbit about Awakening. Lexa has a romance novel hidden in her purse and then keeps beneath her pillow in the mission camp (and she forgot to bring her Bible). She figures it's her one vice in life (reading spicy novels), so surely God must forgive her. The interesting thing? Sam happens to catch a glimpse of that book (and it's a shirtless cowboy who strongly resembles HIM), and he has some very interesting observations. Sam has some GREAT lines in this one. Trust me. Hey, I warned you I'm in my SMP. I have to drag myself into the shower now to go to work, but I'll check back in with you a little later. Blessings, and happy birthday to my son, Matthew, today! Did the groundhog see his shadow?

  11. The ground hog hasn't seen his shadow here yet - it's still dark-thirty in Kansas! And blowing to beat the band. Wind chill today minus 20....but we're warm compared to South Dakota where my dh is enjoying a real temp of minus 13. Ahhh, winter!

    JoAnn, I loved your question - "What one quality must a Christian romance have to make it a book you’ll never forget?" I was just thinking about this last night as I was reading Audra's book - A really good romance (Christian or otherwise) needs to have a hero that the reader can fall in love with and a heroine that is worthy of him. This is the combination that keeps me reading a book instead of cooking supper!

    On another note, although I've never lived in Kentuckiana, I've lived in KY (Lexington area) and IN (N. IN), so I'm almost there....

    I brought a ham, egg and cheese breakfast casserole this morning. I thought we might all need some protein to help us get the snow shoveling done!

  12. So Joanne, did you develope whiplash after sitting between Mary and Julie? And c'mon, tell us true, who talked more???

    Exclamation points and question marks definitely have their place in Seekerville, LOL!

    Awakening sounds like a fun story of irresistable resistance. And who can resist a guy who knows his history?

    So glad you joined us today, Joanne! Cinnamon rolls? Yummmmm. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

  13. Lindi, you have a rose opening? Wow.

    It's 16 below zero here. The only thing that's opening is me chiseling out a hole on my windshield so I can get to work!!

  14. Welcome to Seekerville, JoAnn! I'm a Hoosier and travel through your part of the country fairly often. That makes us neighbors. :-)

    Congratulations on your debut! Awakening sounds like a lovely story. Send Sam over to help me with research.

    Happy birthday to Matthew!

    Ruthy, are you sharing the cinnamon rolls? Pretty please!


  15. I enjoyed learning about you and your book, JoAnn. I hopped over to see it on Amazon, where it received some great reviews. So congrats on that! . . . As far as romance books, or any books go, characters draw me to a story. I either love the characters or I don't. I've read books which presented wonderfully fleshed out characters with quirks, great dialog, the whole nine yards. But if I didn't love the characters I didn't care what happened to them . . . And I can tell by some of the books that make it to the best seller list that the same is true for others! . . . Hope all goes well with your marketing. Blessings!

  16. JoAnn,

    Congrats on your book release! I love your cover...yellow roses are my favorite.

  17. I have curlers in my hair (yes, some of us not blessed with naturally curly hair still do that!) and I'm dressed for work, but I couldn't resist another peek. Debbie K., waving to a Louisville girl! And Jan D., Lexington (KY) is what I call "God's country." So gorgeous. Lindi, I remember your smiling face at the RWA/FHL, and that's where I met you, Janet D.! I thought I knew you from MBT, but realized it was the IN ACFW. Wow, all these initials...LOL!

    If it's not against the Seekerville rules (Mary, you can lash me with a wet noodle), hop on over to the Reflections in Hindsight website from last Wednesday and read my observations about heroes in Christian romances. It's entitled, "Where Are All the Men?" You might find it interesting and amusing. Later, and blessings...stay warm, everyone!

  18. Nice to meet you, JoAnn! Your book sounds great. I love interesting characters. Something I need to work harder at. My heroines especially all end up sounding the same.

    In answer to your question, Christian romances must have lots of good chemistry between the couple (as well as many kisses!!)

    I checked out your publisher and they are very new it seems. And based in Canada (or so the site claims) which is where I am (near Toronto).

    Yay, we have a snow day here! What fun to get an unexpected day off. The kids are mad because they are on holidays between semesters anyway. Tomorrow the second semester starts. And today there will be SHOVELLING!

    I'd love to win a copy of your book.

    Best wishes,

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  19. Hi, JoAnn! Congrats on your new release! And welcome to Seekerville. Your life sounds very interesting! Some of us turn to writing because our real lives are so BORING (talking about me) but that wasn't the case for you, I see. :-)

    Your book sounds really fun! I love romantic comedy, second only to historical romance.

  20. JoAnn, enjoyed your blog today and your mention of the crooners who still sing so Mr Johnny Mathis. You may want to check out our 3-hour Valentine's special with Johnny Mathis...

    Join Baltimore Net Radio for a very special Valentines Day Tribute to the Magnificent Johnny Mathis and his incredible career! Streaming from from 12 Noon - 3pm NYT on February 14th, you'll be treated to Johnny's music and a special interview with Johnny. Fans and friends are invited to call the station to leave a Valentines greeting for Johnny that will be aired during our broadcast, time permitting. From within the USA call toll-free 877-577-2630 Option 6; International fans may call 540-288-4001 Option 6. Fans may also send an e-mail greeting to that will be read during the broadcast. (All Valentines greetings should be called in or e-mailed no later than February 12th, for planning purposes.) From just click LISTEN RIGHT HERE at the top of the page.

    Baltimore Net Radio plays THE BEST MUSIC from the '40s, '50s and '60s...think you will enjoy it, JoAnn!

  21. Congratulations Joann!!!!!

    (Yay Virginia for saying what needed to be said about !!! - with the weather and all, we'll be in full-blown !!! today no doubt)

    Good on ya for the debut! Beautiful cover, full of promise too! What's next?

    I'm enjoying this genre, being introduced to it through Seekerville. So.... I'm probably not the one to ask about what a Christian romance novel must have. Maybe marriage or promise of marriage - meaning characters with integrity. But then, I like characters with integrity in fiction and in real life. :)

  22. Ooo - I'm intrigued!

    Plus sitting between Julie and Mary?! Oh. My. Cow. That had to be interesting! In the nicest way!


    I'll stick this on my Amazon list. But the four packages that were supposed to come today [including Cowboy Christmas by the aforementioned Mary] now say "Delay in delivery due to weather or natural disaster". Just because I70 [from STL to KC] and I44 [from Springfield, MO to Tulsa, OK] are closed... Good grief. Looks like I70 is reopened but they're saying it could be the weekend before I44 is [mainly b/c it's closed in OK - so they closed it here so people weren't getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and Joplin was full...]

    Anyway - Dad used to live in Louisville. Ex-stepmom was a legal secretary there. He, at one point, sold cars in Indiana. He's in Tulsa now.

    I've brought mini-donuts. Both chocolate and powdered. Plus glazed and maple long johns. And muffies. Paneras were closed yesterday. The mall is closed again today. But Chick-fil-A is open so here's some Chick-n-Minis to go with them.

    Off to edit...

  23. Hi JoAnn!
    I'm sorry I haven't stopped in until now. The party has clearly been raging for hours.
    I've got a calf in my basement this morning and that's been distracting.
    He's asleep for now.
    I just checked the tempurature. SEVEN BELOW.
    And this baby was born outside into that.
    Uh...we're talking about cattle here today aren't we?


  24. JoAnn was an absolute delight to sit with.

    Not sure how she liked it.

    At no time was a swat team called in to get her out of the situation, so that seems like a good sign.

  25. Although I think maybe I did notice Julie wrestle JoAnn's phone away from her once when JoAnn was trying to contact outside help.

    But the uprising was SUPPRESSED and Julie and I went back to charming JoAnn with our wit...Stockholm Syndrome must has set in because it only took me SIX MONTHS to convince her to be on Seekerville.

  26. Great characters and a plot that sustains them.

    Hello JoAnn, good to get to know more about you! It's been fun. :)


  27. Welcome, JoAnn! LOVED your post (and your book cover--it's lovely). ~ I know the plot of a story is so important, but for me it's the memorable characters that really make the difference in a book. So characters would be the main "selling point" for moi! ~ Had to laugh when you mentioned Barry Manilow - - I thought EVERYONE had heard of him! (He's a classic, LOL). ~ Blessings from Georgia (where I'm hoping our groundhog didn't see his shadow when the sun peeked out for a minute!), Patti Jo :)

  28. Lovely cover! So glad to see you here at Seekerville, Joann (and you forgot the "e" in your name :::wink:::).

    A good Christian romance a compelling conflict. Enter me. PLEASE!!


  29. Welcome to Seekervill JoAnn!

    Your books sounds like fun!! And the cover, I agree, is lovely.

    I'm a See's chocolate fan. Once you taste you will never go back.

  30. Okay, checking in from work, um, we're talking about cattle now (nudging Mary)? Well, KC, you asked what's up next. In the second book of the series (with Torn Veil now for review, so I'd appreciate your prayers), it just so happens my two urban cowboys, Sam Lewis and Marc Thompson (a high-powered advertising exec from Boston) are out on a ranch in Montana (imagine that) and find themselves milking cows with another cow named Reagan imminently giving birth. Then comes the henhouse. Hilarity ensues. You never know where you'll find my TeamWork crew!

    And, Mary, sweetie, your memory is starting to slip (gasp - may it never be!). I detest cell phones and it wasn't MY cell phone anyone had to take away before the swat team was called in for a rescue at the ACFW. I'm stating right here for the record - and all the world to see - it was a thrill to sit between Julie and Mary at the ACFW. They're genuine, personable, funny as anything and incredibly wonderful. Sure made this new kid feel incredibly welcome. More later! Thanks for visiting today!

  31. Morning JoAnn:) Thanks for sharing your story, both personal and fictional. Sounds adventurous!

    A Christian book that I would probably not forget would have unique, quirky characters. Probably alot like your character Sam...who quotes!
    Would love to be entered for a chance to win your debut book, it sounds like a fun read!

    thanks for sharing,

  32. See Ruthy, I told you Julie and me are nice.
    So there.

  33. Jan, I have a son named Matthew and though it's not his birthday today, he's here "following Mom at work" today!

  34. Well, it was only a suspicion before, but now it is definately a foregone conclusion. Humor. You're either born with it and everybody falls instantly in love with you or you're cursed with a serious nature that makes everyone roll their eyes and say, "Get a life!"

    JoAnn, if your book is anything like you're post, you've just sold several copies. Seriously!

    However, I would still LOVE to be entered into your wonderful drawing. If I don't win, I'm sure I'll be buying the book anyway!

    Thanks for popping in and charming your way into all our hearts!


  35. Welcome, Joann!! So glad you joined us today. Congrats on the release!

    Hey, we have seeing Yul Brynner in The King and I in common! Although I think I saw it that time in London. Amazing performance!

  36. Linnette, thanks for your wonderful comments. One of the things I'm adamant about is that Christians can laugh as easily as they can cry. There's enough angst and drama in life. Not that I don't have conflict in my books...there are plenty of roadblocks, but Sam and Lexa work through their problems and tackle situations together. With plenty of witty banter between them in the vein of the old Adam's Rib movie with Spencer and Hepburn and the like. Wow, I really AM showing my age. But with age comes wisdom. I'm saying that more and more these days! I must share, too, that I just read an e-mail from a dear friend who's reading Sam and Lexa's story and said that she loves them, especially because she never knows what Lexa, in particular, is going to say next. You gotta love those unpredictable, feisty females, right, ladies?

  37. I know this is off subject, but my 5 yr old baby is now running 104. Please pray. Trying teppid bath first...

  38. I've read Awakening and I can say it was a fantastic book! You definitely want to purchase a copy.

  39. Good afternoon, JoAnn. If anyone would like to read another guest blog by JoAnn, drop by A Fiction-Filled Life.

    I loved some of what you said about preferring homegrown Hershey chocolate to Godiva and being short. Me too! :) I also love a good romance, but for it to be memorable, the characters have to be real to me. I want to see them with real jobs, real problems, real quirks, and real solutions, not just plot contrivances. Throw in a bit of history, and you've got a winner.

    Glad to see you here on Seekerville with all these zany folks. :)

  40. Hey, fyi, I just had a MAJOR breakthrough in my book yesterday. Figured out the killer was SOMEONE ELSE than I'd thought all along.

    And the motive is so, so sweet.

    I was writing a scene for a really thinly fleshed out character and the stuff that came out of her MOUTH.


    No wonder he's dead.

    Going back to work now. :) With renewed energy.

  41. OH-MY-GOSH, OH-MY-GOSH!!!!! The one day I come late to Seekerville, and it's my good bud, JoAnn!!!!

    PLEASE forgive me for showing up so late, sweetie. I don't have a calf in my basement like Mary, but I did something this morning I almost NEVER do -- I got right up in the morning and started writing like crazy (a love scene, don't you know) before my devotions, my treadmill, my Seeker blog, e-mails, everything!!! When I wake up with a scene burning in my head like that, everything else goes out the window, I'm afraid.

    So I finished the scene, then my devotions and exercise (2:30 PM!!) and hopped right over here to see you, sweet stuff.

    GREAT BLOG, girl, and I'm right there with you on the Hershey's over Godiva. I want you to know that I just received your beautiful book from Amazon two days ago, and I cannot WAIT to dive in, especially after this post!! I do have a few ahead of yours, but you will hear from me before February is history, guaranteed.

    It was a pleasure sitting with you and Mary at ACFW, and NO, Ruthy, nobody left the table screaming NOR did anyone get whiplash, Audra, sweetie!!

    And finally, what one quality must a Christian romance have to make it a book you’ll never forget?

    P-A-S-S-I-O-N ... both spiritual and romantic ... and PLENTY of it!!


  42. JoAnn, You are TOO funny! I am SO looking forward to reading "Awakening" when it arrives!

  43. Linnette, so sorry your baby is sick.

    Mine are grown now but I remember those days.

    poor little tykes with fevers.


  44. Linnette, praying for your baby. My "baby" turns 15 today and he towers over me (thank the Lord). That's what marrying a tall guy will do. I always prayed I'd marry someone halfway tall (whatever that means - halfway to what? so that my kids would have half a chance. Remember that line. It might show up in a book sometime. LOL...

    Julie!! So glad you made it, and trust me, I understand about writing when the inspiration hits. I'm so happy you received your copy of Awakening. Keep writing! You too, Mary!! How's that calf?

    I'm off to dinner with the b-day boy and the family and then to choir practice (and yes, it's snowing now), but I'll be back on later tonight. Thanks again, everyone - stay tuned!

  45. Great post, JoAnn. So thrilled about the release of Awakening. Sounds like a great story.

    For me, a Christian romance must have a heart-satisfying happily ever after.

    lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

  46. For me a romance, Christian or not, must have a great plot. No matter how great or witty the characters, if I'm not into the story, I'll put it down to go switch the laundry or something and never pick it up again.
    I'm easily distracted.

    But I also like quirky characters so I just want it all.

    BTW--Cold and icy here in Texas. And Dallas is getting ready to host the Superbowl. The airport cancelled most of its flights and the roads are dangerous to travel. A lot of the big events and concerts have been cancelled or postponed. Texas is just not suppose to be this cold.


    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

  47. Connie, I don't think it's your fault if the book doesn't call your name...

    With or without Texas cold and calves in the basement.

    Mary, how soon do you have to return him to Mama?

    Or will he be bottle fed now?

    Linnette, sending up prayers for baby. Oh my stars, there's a nasty 2 week RSV going around infecting all the under-two-year olds. It might be infecting older kids, but they don't get as sick. And it does a number on their faces, their eyes, their throats and ears. Poor little things...

    I can't believe someone wondered who talked more, Mary or Julie. This is a no contest. Jules is fast-and-furious. Mary is languid and dry....

    But what a pair to have dinner with. My fork would NEVER reach my mouth. Seriously.

    What a fun group today. Oh my stars, reading your comments has warmed the kitchen. Or it might be those gas burners I'm using for heat...

    What? You're not supposed to do that???? It's dangerous?

    All right, guess I'll go grab a sweater. And socks. You can never go wrong with warm socks.

    I want a calf in my basement now.

  48. I am going to choir practice.

    I am cold.

    I need a sweater and warm socks.

    But I'm more worried about the calf.

  49. All this snow has fogged my brain but I'm so glad I finally came to Seekerville today. JoAnn, I'm also in Indiana ACFW, so we have something in common.

    I am also a star chaser! And this shows my age, too. I saw Sylvester Stallone filming in London, and Dustin Hoffman, also in London, after he performed in Death of a Salesman.

    I was working at a restaurant/hotel in Bloomington going to IU when Willie Nelson played "You Were Always on My Mind" in the bar after he played at the Indiana State Fair.

    What do I like in a romance? Well, this will sound vague, but it has to touch my heart. I have to feel their feelings and be moved, possibly to tears.

    That happened for me in Seekerville Janet Dean's book "Courting Miss Adelaide," and in Kim Vogel Sawyer's book, "Dear John," to name just a couple! I loved Seekerville Debbi Guistui's "Protecting Her Child," so suspense and emotion works for me, too.

    I'd love to win your book and home to meet you soon.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  50. JoAnn, glad you could come to Seekerville today! Congratulations on your book.

  51. Urgent calf update. a she.
    And SHE is with her mama. Only mama seems to have forgotten she gave birth. It was, after all, a near four hour separation.

    I always forgot I'd had a child when I was away from them for four hours.

    Uh...this is why they don't let cows vote. In fact, this is EXACTLY why we eat them.

  52. Your book sounds so great, JoAnn...would love to read it. I like a book with some mystery and lots of romance!!

  53. Thanks again, everyone! It's been so much fun reading your comments today. Connie, I think if you'd give Awakening a chance, you'd find it does have a very fast-moving plot and holds your interest very well. I like to think it's both character-driven with a hero and heroine the reader becomes invested in emotionally as well as plot-driven with a number of subplots woven in and around the romance. As a matter of fact, if you are so inclined, send me a message through my website and I'll write back with a personal challenge - just for you.

  54. Mary - I always forgot too. Overnight. You know while they were in the nursery. Especially the last two because they wouldn't hold their heat and had to stay under the lamps for like 6 hours.

    But then hubby showed me pics of me holding them and I was good.

    Maybe that'll work with your cow.

    Otherwise, steaks are yummy.

  55. Uh, let me clarify. You're book sounds wonderful Jo Ann. LOL.

    And I sent you email.

    Mary--I'm glad to hear the calf is doing well. I used to raise dairy calves on the bottle and I just told my husband a couple of days ago that I was glad we didn't have anyright now. I'd stay awake all night worrying about them. And ours didn't have their mamas to keep them warm...

    I do miss the little fellas though.


  56. JoAnn,
    I love Louisville! I met and married my hubby at Fort Knox, KY...just down the Dixie Die Way (do they still call it that?)from Louisville.

    Congrats on your debut and so good to have you in Seekerville.

  57. Welcome to Seekerville, JoAnn - where the flavor of any day is chocolate. :-)

    Congrats on your novel - and I can't think of sitting at a more delightful spot, than with Mary and Julie...
    unless it's across the room with Patti Lacy and Missy Tippens :-)

    I'd love to be in the drawing

  58. LOL, Debby! I haven't heard it called that, but it doesn't surprise me. These days, it's the Gene Snyder Freeway that's really bad. Thanks to all my friends from MBT and elsewhere who have shown up today with encouraging notes. I couldn't do this without my writer friends. You all are the BEST!! Blessings! And, um, Mary, have you hugged a cow today? LOL! Thanks for having me here today. I've had an absolute blast here!

  59. Only Mary would think that a motive for murder was sweet!

    Good grief

    JoAnn, so good to have you in Seekerville today!

  60. Pam,
    I thought Mary was saying it like "Sweet!" - you know, when kids score a fabulous point in soccer.
    But it's much funnier the other way. (snicker)
    Chocolate and murder on Seekerville. Whew, JoAnn, what kinds of chaos have you inspired :-)

  61. What one quality must a Christian romance have to make it a book you’ll never forget?

    A moving 'come to Jesus' moment. The ones where someone gets saved, or returns to the flock, or even a true servant of God overcomes a besetting temptation or sin. My own first novel has one of these, and many of my favorites do too.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

    If I found myself sitting between both Mary and Julie at a conference, I might pass out from the wonderfulness of it.

    I think our Missouri ground hog is probably still iced in like me and most of my neighbors. I've been asking myself for two days, "How many weeks of winter do we have to endure if the groundhog can't get out of his hole?" But if he did, he certainly saw his shadow, it was frigid, but beautifully sunny today.

    Word verifcation: roaters, I can't tell if they've misspelled "part of an automobile's brake assembly" [rotors] or "medium sized chickens" [roasters]

  62. Pepper, I'm throwing my hands up in the air. "Who me?" she asks, batting her eyes. If it's chaos I've inspired (although I believe it all started with someone whose initials are MC, ahem!), I hope it's the kind of wonderful chaos that will earn me an invite to visit this wonderful, magical place called Seekerville again sometime! I'll come back often, in any case. It's way too much fun.

  63. Sorry to come by so late. Lots of snow to shovel today.

    Hmmm... there are so many different things writers can do to make a book unforgettable. I think for today I'll choose to say that the characters have to be really likable; people I wish existed in real life.

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot mail

  64. Thanks, ladies, for the prayers! My 5 yr old ended up in ER last night. We just got home at 6:30 in time to get the big boys up and off to school. Turns out he has influenza - the genuine article! So, a few more days of fevers and keeping to a strict regimen of tylenol/motrin swapping.

    Off to bed now, while he's resting, but I wanted to update you and say thank you!


  65. A tender surprise. That's my answer to the one thing a Christian romance needs to have. It can be a plot twist, a character revelation or an emotional moment but something I just don't see coming that gives me goosebumps and cements the romance between the hero and heroine.

    Congrats on your debut, JoAnn. Oh and since everyone is making their OH-KY-IN connection, I lived in Cinti for nearly 10 years when I had my first job out of college. Loved the river restaurants; hated the airport being in Covington, KY.

  66. Thanks, Patricia W. I really like your response, "A tender surprise." Very interesting and oh-so-true. I like those, too. I hope you'll have the opportunity to read Awakening and let me know your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by Seekerville and for your comments (and yes, many more people than I knew have that IN-KY-OH connection!). Love it! Blessings!

  67. Where do I jump into this party and with what? LOL JoAnn, You must be elated to be the new kid on Seekerville. What an honor.

    Does Julie talk a lot while she's eating cinnamon buns? Could you get a word or a bun in edgewise? I love exclamation marks, because that's the way I talk! It's a bad habit and hard to stop! Oops! See what I mean?

    Your book must be wonderful. Sam and Lexa sound like a sweet couple. Seriously, I really like a story when the heroine and hero wind up equally yoked as we are told in the Bible. There is a lot more I'd be happy with, love, romance, overcomers, with a close relationship to the Redeemer Lord.

    Say Hi to Julie L. and let her know I made a comment and it's Saturday. She'll know what I mean....I hope!!

    I'm sure Mary behaved herself while you sat between her and Julie. Julie is a natural exclamation mark.

    I pray many blessings will be given to you and the other Seekerville citizens. I love you all!

    Grace & Peach,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

    P.S. Hope you don't mind my teasing Julie, She's a good sport and been very gracious to me.

  68. Oh My Goodness, did I make a boo boo in my spelling on my closing!!! I'm mortified. I was saying "Grace and Peace, and used an "h" at the end of Peace instead. I don't know where that came from!! I apologize to all for that.

    I'm interested in the First Five Pages and wanted to be sure and say that I had made my Saturday comment. I want to be a writer also. Do you think my mistake will ruin my chances?

    I wanted to say that JoAnn's writing about what she knows best is the most interesting kind. We've all been through times we don't like to tell and talk about, but when we write them down as a story, they return sensational.

    Barb Shelton