Author of the Month

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I never imagined a Memorial Day weekend like this.

My local romance writers’ chapter hosts an “author of the month” feature, where members are invited to talk about their writing journey. These typically take place at our in-person meetings, but with Covid-19, they are taking place online.

And so it was a few weeks ago this month that I was the author of the month. Our president submitted some questions which I then answered.

But otherwise, I have a first draft of my latest work in progress which I have been reading with my romance writers’ critique group. As for the previous one, I am currently revising. The critique group gave me some feedback in April.

Have you heard of 1531 Entertainment? They serve as a clearinghouse for inspirational novels: link.

In addition, have you heard of the #Rombklove hashtag on twitter? The host offers great discussion questions about novels: link.

Here are the questions:

What made you choose contemporary romance?

I’ve always been interested in contemporary stories, the modern day challenges that people face in finding and building relationships, so when I chose to become a romance writer, I focused on writing the contemporary period.

Why did you move over to inspirational?

I began writing sweet and sensuous (a tad sexy) romances, which was great. My inspirationals are still sweet, but I’ve added a different edge, the challenges people of faith might face in dating relationships. I was drawn to this from my own ordination process.

A few years ago, I was at a retreat when the bishop held a workshop for all of us. He invited the partnered people to go to one side of the room and then invited the single people to go to another section. He then asked each group to chat on their own about the challenges they imagine they might face as clergy people or even as people training to become clergy, through the ordination process and beyond. Why did he do this? “MeToo” was a major factor, how might clergy face boundary problems? Whether in relating to other clergy or even parishioners: clergy who might press boundaries or even parishioners who might chase clergy. A lot of room to think and learn and write.

I address these in my latest novels and works in progress, except that my characters are in the ordination process. They are interested in dating at the same time they are pursuing their call to ordained ministry. What makes their ordination process unique? My characters explain exactly why.

These are the two earlier books. I could have done a four book series, but I can only juggle two books at at a time! So I’m glad to be in the revising process with respect to the two books I wrote after finishing Ayanna and Suzette’s books.

A cute update: the couple that inspired one of the works in progress, well they got married last year and are getting ordained together in early June! It will be a virtual service, when I was so used to attending services at the cathedral.


Is this really May?

It’s hard to believe that we are halfway into spring at the same time we are halfway into this quarantine.

But here we are. So what have I been doing, besides getting used to going out less and doing more virtual meetings on Zoom? Outside of watching music videos and movies on line?

What I’ve always been doing, besides my writing? Reading a lot. So I am going to blog today about a fantastic book I just finished reading: Lean on Me, by Pat Simmons, a well known writer of contemporary inspirational romances. The book is described as fitting within romantic women’s fiction.

I posted a review on Goodreads:

I am always on the look out for books by other inspirational romance writers. When I saw this one, I was interested because of the story’s emphasis on eldercare ministry.

I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary romance: the characters’ arc of growth and their journey through their happily ever after.

The books in this series focus upon the stories of three sisters who undertake the daunting task of taking care of their elderly Aunt Tweet, a lady with dementia. The agreement was that each would be caretaker for six months at a time. Aunt Tweet’s deterioration over time will likely be the sobering sub plot that will unite the three sisters through their own happily ever after.

Tabitha never realized what being a caretaker would really mean, and Marcus didn’t have a clue, believing Tabitha was just neglectful in failing to keep the elderly lady off his property.

The characters grew on each other and on us at the same time, and as they grew in their faith.

It took a lot of faith for Tabitha to gain the strength and patience she needed. As Marcus grew in his affection for Tabitha and Aunt Tweet, he grew in strength, patience and faith in being supportive of Tabitha.

The sermons of the preacher they heard on Sunday mornings provided excellent context for their faith journeys. In addition, the challenges Marcus had as a business owner helped in clearing his path towards growth.

Ms. Simmons did an excellent job in presenting Aunt Tweet as a dementia patient–it was poignant yet heart-rending–so I wasn’t surprised that her character was based upon Ms. Simmons’ own grandmother who had dementia. Her understanding of the pastoral care needs of patients and their families was clear.

Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.