Christian Romance Author Liz Isaacson: May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

EXIT STRATEGY by Shirlee McCoy

Okay, so I think I have a problem. Every time I read an amazing romance, I want to write one in that same genre. Read FIVE DAYS IN SKYE, felt the pull to write an inspirational romance (I had already started one, and it just fueled by fire). Read A HOPE REMEMBERED, wanted to write a historical romance.

And now I've read EXIT STRATEGY by Shirlee McCoy, and I want to try my hand at a romantic suspense! See? A definite problem.

Let's take a closer look at EXIT STRATEGY: Lark Porter thinks she'll find answers about her husband's death when she returns to their former home, but someone doesn't like the questions she's asking. She's quickly taken captive, and all that stands between her and certain death is a mysterious stranger telling her to trust him if she wants to get out alive. 

Hostage Rescue and Extraction Team member Cyrus Mitchell marvels at Lark's strength and determination to survive. The closer they get to freedom, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Once free, though, it takes all the skills and training Cyrus has to outmaneuver the deadly killers on their trail.

I got this book from NetGalley, as it doesn't come out until next week. I would definitely recommend buying this book, and I just discovered that it's the second book in a series, so I've purchased the first Mission: Rescue title, Protective Instincts.

My thoughts:
1. Lark is multi-faceted. Strong, yet scared. Capable, but vulnerable. I really liked her as a heroine--someone who obviously needs the help of someone with more training and expertise, but someone who has a goal of their own.

Cyrus is equally as dimensional. I really liked that he had a past that drove some of the decisions that he made in the present. I liked his strength, smarts, and sincerity. At the same time, he had flaws, which is hard to do with a protector hero.

2. The suspense was suspenseful -- and believable! I've read some books that are supposed to be thrillers or suspenses, and they feel so far from reality that I'm not scared or kept in suspense. But EXIT STRATEGY keeps the tension on the page, the thought that Lark and Cyrus are just moments from being found, constant.

If you've never tried out a romantic suspense novel, give EXIT STRATEGY a spot on your list. You won't be sorry!

What have you read lately that has inspired you to write?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pinch Point, Pinch Point

So I've been working on a new romance. It's actually the second in a series, and I feel like I know the setting and I've been working on the characters. One of my biggest problems, though, in writing writing romance is maintaining the conflict between my hero and my heroine. I think I tend to let them get together too fast.

I've been reading some articles (Harlequin did an amazing Boot Camp this past week, with a fabulous article by Harlequin Superromance author Vicki Essex on how to write memorable characters), and I bought a book (The Complete Guide to Writing Heroes & Heroines, above), and I've really been trying to map out the highs and lows in my books before I start writing them.

I also attended a conference over the weekend, where a speaker spoke about pinch points. I'm familiar with them, because hey! They're in the romance planning sheets I found on Jami Gold's website. (You should totally be using these! I love them!)

The presenter said that the pinch points pull the character back to their starting place and the turning points push the character toward their new state.

  • Pinch points -- pull the character back
  • Turning points -- push the character forward

I loved that. It made so much sense inside my head. It's helped me map out the ebb and flow of my hero's and heroine's relationships.

Do you outline using pinch points? What advice do you have for outlining a romance?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Learning From Rejection

So the Harlequin announcement for the From Blurb to Book announcement was last Friday. It was happening for me at 10:00, and I was attending a writer's conference that day, with a pitch session with an editor at St. Martin's at 10:10. 

I should've waited to check the announcement, but do you think I did?? Ha! No way. And when I didn't find my name on the list, I'll admit, I was disappointed. 

Which is ridiculous really. When you've been rejected as much as I have (which is A LOT), I know better than to be too hopeful, or too optimistic, or too whatever. But still. For some reason, which I still don't know, I really wanted to move on to Stage 3. I still really want to place my books at Harlequin. 

Anyway, I wasn't on the list, and I was with my critique partner and friend, and I had a pitch in literally four minutes. It was a tumult of feelings, and I didn't quite know what to do with them. So I hitched on my smile and went to my pitch session. It went well, and she requested the full manuscript. So yay!

And yet, I still struggled for the rest of the day. I had to leave early for my daughter's dance, and I went home uninspired and kind of down. I missed an super-inspirational keynote, and as I was reading the tweets, I was further discouraged that what I apparently needed (inspiring words from someone who's been where I currently am), I hadn't gotten.

I got my feedback email from the editors, and it's honestly not bad. The things are fixable. It's just a matter of me doing the work--which honestly, sometimes I don't want to do. I think that's the real problem. I always feel like I'm working, working, working, but never making it to SOLD.

I went back to the conference the next day, and I attended an intensive editing workshop. I got the inspiration I needed! The instructor said things that reminded me that I CAN do hard work, that I CAN edit my writing to make it better, that I CAN move forward after rejection to success. 

So that's what I'm going to do. 

What have you learned from rejection?

Monday, May 18, 2015


So I've been reading a lot of inspirational fiction in the past few weeks. One of my new favorites is THE ACCIDENTAL BRIDE by Denise Hunter. I know it's not a super-new novel, but she's a new author to me.

About THE ACCIDENTAL BRIDE: When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay finds she's an accidental bride.

Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can't seem to keep her head above water--and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.

Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders' Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart--the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.

Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.

Shay isn't sure if the recent events are God's will or just a preacher's blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

My Thoughts:
1. While this was inspirational, it was light on this end. I've been realizing that there are different degrees of the inspirational element in each novel. I didn't mind that it didn't have more of a Christian element, it was just something I noticed. Maybe I'm reading with too much of an author's eye!

2. I really liked Shay as a main character. I thought her grudge against Travis was realistic and deserved. I liked that she was vulnerable in some ways, and strong in others. She had a real past, and it was communicated through her choices and actions now.

3. I loved the premise of this book! When my friend recommended it to me, I was sold just on the idea alone. And the book delivered. I loved the accidental marriage and the proposal that Travis comes up with. I really wanted him and Shay to work things out, and since it's romance, we already know they will!

I hope you'll pick this book up if you haven't yet. What inspirational romance have you read lately that you loved?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Joining RWA

So after several years of writing, now that I'm starting to look at it with an eye toward publication, I decided to join RWA. I'm well-versed in online forums and groups, so I don't think that's a problem. What I'm not sure about is what I can do with all that stuff on RWA. 

I poked around a little bit, but honestly, I didn't find all that much. Is there more than what I'm seeing? 

I joined my local chapter too, and I think that might be a place where I can really sink my teeth into. I just don't know. I've joined national organizations before, and never gotten much out of them. But, I thought since I'm getting serious about writing and publishing romance, that joining RWA made sense. 

I'm just wondering how to get the best use of it. Any ideas?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Reading and Editing, A Writer's Recovery Period

So I sent in my entry for the Harlequin contest, and it was intense getting those pages ready. Afterward, I was completely burnt out. I couldn't read, and I couldn't edit, and basically I sat on the couch like a slug for a few days. 

Thankfully, that passed, and I've read a few books since then, and I got right to cutting those extra 13,000 words from my novel. See, Love Inspired has strict word count guidelines, and my book was too long. I'm happy to report that I've cut just over 12,000 words from the book, so I'm in the 60,000 range, but I still have about 900 words to trim.

Even that got old. The thought of opening the book one more time and reading it again... Nausea may have set in. 

So I took a few more days off. Watched a lot of Burn Notice. Every reality TV show available. 

I think these recovery periods are essential for writers. Deadlines are important, and it's good to learn how to work with them, but there's always a price to pay afterward. For me, my recovery periods include a lot of movies and going to performances and just getting away from the computer.

Now that I've had several days, I've decided to write again. Yay! I outlined (sort of) and started a new book over the weekend, putting in almost 8000 words. Drafting is my favorite thing to do, so I'm glad I'm most recovered and ready to dive into that pool again.

What do you do during your recovery periods?

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