Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How My Faith Impacts My Writing

In a recent interview I was asked this question: In what specific ways does your faith impact how you write fiction? The question gave me pause because in all honesty, I didn’t set out to be a Christian writer, per se. I set out to be a general fiction writer, hoping to appeal to as broad a spectrum of readers as possible, irrespective of religious persuasion, nationality, political affiliation, and so on. Over the years, however, I have come to realize that it’s impossible for my faith not to impact my writing, and in looking back I can see that it has been a constant influence.

So how has my faith impacted my writing? In every way! For example, I will not use inappropriate language, gratuitous sex, or graphic violence in my books. I want my children and grandchildren to be able to read and recommend them without reservation. I believe in God and His goodness, and I believe that I am accountable to Him in all I do, say, and write. So I want my books to be positive and uplifting.

But here’s the qualifier. I don’t want my writing to be “preachy.” My faith will naturally shine through, but it needs to be in a manner that’s not “in your face.” Not all of my readers are Christians, but we are all members of the human family. As such we have much more in common than our religious differences might suggest. So I paint with a wide brush and am careful not to slip in my personal doctrinal beliefs and then chuckle to think I pulled one over on my readers. I have no hidden agenda. I simply want to tell a story—shaped by my faith—that appeals to a broad base and makes my readers feel better for having spent some time with me.
These are my thoughts on the subject. Anyone have additional insights? I’d be curious to hear your comments.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Inspirational Military Heroes

Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy  /

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. That means pool parties and barbecues, or, if you're older than Justin Bieber, it brings back memories of our mothers and grandmothers'  warnings not to wear white until the last Monday in May. How many of us still follow that old rule?

More important than summer fun and white pants, Memorial Day is a holiday reserved for those who have fought and sacrificed to make our country great. I remember my grandfather's stories of how he led a platoon of soldiers through northern Africa. My heart swelled with pride, because I knew that in WWII, it was uncommon for an African-American man to hold a leadership position in the Army.

Grandpa's recollections stuck with me, so much that I found myself creating heroes in stories of my own. Those familiar with the romance genre know that the male lead is referred to as the hero. I didn't want to take that term for granted. Rowe Winford, the hero in my upcoming historical romance, The Preacher's Wife, is a Civil War veteran. The strength and integrity he displayed during wartime is still very much a part of him when he has to make a decision to stand up for an ostracized and ridiculed young woman. I enjoyed writing his story and wanted to continue featuring military men in the Brides of Assurance series. I am currently working on the tentative third installment featuring a courageous Buffalo Soldier named Adam Campbell.

I also happen to have a hero in real life. My husband currently serves in the armed forces. His dedication to God and the Army Chaplain Corps shows in his work ethic. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Have a great Memorial Day, and if you see one of our country's service members, please show them your appreciation!

What's your favorite barbecue food?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Popular Genres


I have written in a number of different genres, but my romances seem to be the most popular. My stories have romance or romantic elements in them, and because romance is always the top selling genre, I want that genre in what I write.

Romance covers a wide and vast group of readers who enjoy all different types of romances. Contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, inspirational, multicultural and more. All of these genres can work without the romantic element, so as romance writers we are weaving a love story into what every one of these genres, we just add another element.

Romance stories have been around for a long time. The first romance was written in 1740 titled simply, Pamela. In the next century Jane Austen expanded the genre and we all know that her books still live on today. A decade later Mills and Boon began releasing romance novels, and their books were resold in America. In North America, romance novels are the most popular genre in modern literature, compromising 55% of all paperback books. Despite the popularity, the genre has attracted diversion, skepticism and criticism. The more controversy the more interest readers have for the very thing that is causing the diversity, meaning more books on the shelves. Although there isn’t as much in the CBA market, there are some CBA writers who have pushed pretty far. But if we’re going to reach readers in the ABA market we have to be real in our writing.

As for Amish, it’s seems to be here for awhile, but like any popular genre it will eventually find it’s place behind the next popular genre that surfaces, but I will keep writing them as long as people will read them. Writing Amish stories fits my roots, having a father who was raised on a farm and my mother on a ranch brings out the pastoral side of me. It’s familiar to write about life in the country, and seems real when I’m writing about how they live, the struggles they go through, which are not so too much different than ours. But the way they deal with everything God centered always amazes me, and I have grown to admire their ways.

So for those of you who enjoy a good Amish story, read on. And for those of you who haven’t given it a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I decided to discuss something that everyone I know considers an essential element in relationships, and that's trust. Since most of our books are about relationships—whether they’re romance, fantasy, mysteries, westerns, women’s fiction, or whatever—trust is important to both readers and writers.

As a reader, I choose a genre based on what type of mood I’m in. If I want rugged adventure with a romantic element, I’ll pick up a western, trusting that the good guy will always win. When I want to have a book grab my heart so I can swoon as I turn the pages, I choose a romance novel, trusting that the author will take me on an adventure that will end up with the hero and heroine ultimately getting together after overcoming whatever obstacles their conflict created. Of course, it’s the author’s job to make me worry, but with genre fiction, I have a safety net that gives me that “Ah!” moment at the end.

As a writer, I get to know my characters before I write the first word of my story. This is a necessary step in my process so I can have every action and discussion clearly motivated by something that makes sense. Only after I know who my characters are and what motivates them can I write my plot outline that shows the conflict and character growth. The details will probably change while I write the book, but it’s nice to have some direction to keep the story on track. I trust my story characters to face their problems and make the necessary changes, and they trust me to keep them in line.

I want my readers to trust me and know that when they pick up one of my books, they’ll have characters who make sense and preferably at least one that they can relate to. Authenticity is important, so I do research when needed, use reality if necessary, and fictionalize what I can without making the book unbelievable. And more important than anything else, I want readers to trust me to tell my stories in a way that acknowledges and respects their Christian beliefs and sensibilities. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zebra Stripes

I have been in Orlando, Florida for a week now working on a slew of writing projects. My co-author and friend, Mark Sutton lives in Orlando. I came here for a “writing week” to work on my fiction projects and to meet with Mark and work on our upcoming depression book. Most of the week I spent working on our “platform” to promote not only the depression book, “Conquering Depression” but also for my own fiction work.

My wife had to stay home with her home bound mother (who lives with us) so there were many days I was totally alone and very “lonely”. It is in those moments that I tend to get depressed. For me, depression is a constant companion; a buried and mostly subdued beast that, like Jekyll and Hyde, tends to dominate my mood when my defenses are at their weakest. Fortunately, writing and creative endeavors tend to help push the beast back into its cage.

I am currently sitting on the terrace overlooking a savannah. At “Kidani Village”, the Disney Vacation Club villas that are part of Animal Kingdom Lodge, there is a huge open savannah surrounded by the villas. It is populated by zebras, ostriches, Thompson’s gazelles, Bongo cattle, and wildebeest (no stampedes, please!). I am sitting in a rocking chair looking down upon three zebras engaged rather lazily in the process of eating what must be for them a scrumptious feast of grasses and grains. In the distance, the gazelles are doing what gazelles do best; leaping and frolicking. The sky is partly cloudy with an occasional cloud and drops of cold rain. The wind brings a balmy breeze in the upper 70s and it is truly relaxing. And, inspiring.

I read an article a few months ago about the stripes on the zebra. The traditional thinking has always been that zebras have stripes to help them blend in with the savannah. But, as I watch them move in and out of brown and green grasses, I can’t imagine how the black stripes can blend in. I suppose to color blind animals, the black stripes against a pale brown grass wouldn’t make any difference. But, to me, the stripes just make them stand out. Here I am! Come and get it! Dinner is ready!

But, an amazing scientific experiment has shown the true reason for the stripes. A group of biologists placed white placards with differing types of black and white patterns on them near a watering hole in Africa. The placards contained an odorless, tasteless adhesive. The goal was to determine what kind of insects and just how many insects were either attracted or repelled by the pattern. The discovery was amazing.

The stripes of the zebra (and by inference, the tiger and other such striped creatures) tend to disrupt the normal visual pattern of the multi-faceted eyes of certain types of biting flies. In other words, the stripes are not there for camouflage. They exist to repel these flies. What an amazing development! Or, was it?

You see, I believe that far from a mere development, the stripes are an element of design. I believe in a hands on God who designed these patterns for the protection of the zebra. I see the stripes as far more than just an evolutionary development. I see them as evidence for a caring, creative God of the universe. But, that is just me, I suppose. So, I will sit here a bit longer, reveling in the cool breeze, the occasional rain drops and the pleasing, relaxing movement of the zebras. And, in that process, I am closer to God than I was an hour ago!

It is in these moments that my creative juices really flow. It is when I realize that my creativity comes from God. God is the Creator; the Beginner and Sustainer of all. We are made in His image. As writers, is it any wonder then that we strive to put the word out there? That we long to fill the emptiness and the void around us with story?

In the beginning was the Word. And, as long as we, as writers are filled with the Word we can continue to look at the world around us and see God’s Story in every creature, every cloud, every breeze, every drop of rain!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Book ThreeHi Readers,
The Return of Cassandra ToddIf you have a blog and are willing to do a review you can currently get either Mike Dellosso's new book, FEARLESS, Darrel Nelson's book, THE RETURN OF CASSANDRA TODD, or my latest novel, MYSTERY OF THE HEART, FREE!

Check it out here:

Have fun!


Friday, May 10, 2013

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Every year at this time the nursing students in the college where I am employed as a counselor graduate. There are many speeches and congratulations, tears and smiles, and promises to stay in touch. This is just the beginning of their careers. There is the encouragement to be life long learners. Also, there is the reminder of the parable of The Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37).

My prayer for our students is that they will remember to show mercy and compassion when they are up
against the day to day difficulties of being a nurse; and I pray they will take care of themselves. I thought about what I would tell them as I sat in the pews with the other faculty and staff of the college in the beautiful cathedral. And then I thought back to what I would have told my graduating self if I knew then what I know now. Things like:

Cincinnati May 2013
  1. Get out of debt as fast as you can and live simply.
  2. Learn how to forgive often and easily.
  3. Pursue those passions you may have given up in order to go to college; you're allowed to have more than one.
  4. Trust yourself, you're smarter than you think.

So what about you? Looking back at your high school or college graduation, what would you tell your graduating self?


Monday, May 6, 2013

The winner of the FREE book, "Threads of Love" is Katie J.! Congrats to Katie!!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Big Day in May

By Andrea Boeshaar
Follow me on Twitter: @AndreaBoeshaar

Next week, (May 7), I’ll give birth to my third and final book in my Fabric of Time series, titled Threads of Love. The very next day, my daughter-in-law will give birth to my fifth grandchild – WHOO-HOO! Unless another is chosen at the last minute, her name will either be Ashleigh Faith or Jenna Faith – my vote is for the later, that is if my vote counts.  *smile*

I had the privilege of sitting in on one of my daughter-in-law’s ultrasounds and the baby turned just at the right time and I saw her little face! I told my son, who sat beside me, that she resembles her sister Alyson (who is 2 1/2). What a thrill to get a peek inside the womb at my granddaughter! 

My granddaughter -- coming soon!
Way back in the stone ages (ha, ha…) when I delivered my three sons, ultrasounds weren't common practice unless doctors felt that there was something wrong with the baby. Epidurals weren't given on a regular basis either. Funny, how I recall my mother and mother-in-law peppering me with stories about when they gave birth to their children in hospital maternity wards – forget about that having your own birthing suite business. Back in the 1950s women had roommates! Hospitals had visiting hours. Female nurses wore white dresses and caps.

My, my, but times do change!
My great-grandmother  and her sons
(including my grandfather,
sitting in front of the dog).

In my novel Threads of Love, readers can see how much has changed since 1902, the year in which the story is set. I had so much fun writing this novel because my great-grandparents were married in the year 1900. My grandfather was born in 1906. The early 1900s are years I just can remember – not because I lived them, obviously, but because of the tales I heard from my grandfather and grandmother and others as well as the pictures I still have today.

I believe handing stories down from one generation to the next is biblical. Take a look at Psalm 78:5-7.

He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
 that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;

While it's fact that not everything I heard from older relatives was godly, all of it worked together for God’s good in bringing me to Him. 

We learn from the past – which is why birthing both a new book and a new baby is so much more pleasant today than a century – or even 50 years ago. Wouldn't you agree?

I’d love to hear from you -- and you can win a FREE, signed copy of Threads of Love. Simply leave a comment along with your email address and you’ll be entered into the contest. I’ll select a winner on Sunday afternoon. Happy reading!

*Threads of Love will be available after May 8th in traditional print and e-book formats. Ask for it at your favorite bookstore or order it online!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feel Better--Write Better

Along with studying grammar and style tips on how to become a better writer, I found another ingredient that has helped me in the process: feeling better physically. Translation: eating more healthily, and exercising.

As part of our New Year’s Resolution, my wife—Marsha—and I joined a nice little program called Feel Great in Eight. (Eight, in this case, means eight weeks.) It’s a plan that balances the physical dimensions of becoming healthier (eating better, drinking eight glasses of water per day, exercising, getting enough sleep, etc.) with the spiritual dimensions (reading your scriptures, saying your prayers, doing service, etc.). Points are awarded for each area of activity. You total your points for each day and then add them up to get the weekly total. You submit your weekly total (first names only) to the Feel Great in Eight website, along with your weight loss. The results are posted each week and you can see how you are doing in relation to others in your group. (Again, it’s first names only, so it maintains your anonymity.)

Marsha and I liked the eight-week program so well that we signed up for a second term, which we just completed on Monday. Sixteen weeks of eating right, doing exercises, and keeping up on our spiritual activities! It’s been great!

So how does this apply to my writing? It’s simple. I feel better so I write better.

I’m not promoting this program necessarily. I’m just promoting the idea that when you feel better, you can’t but help have more energy. And when you have more energy, obviously you can do more, which includes writing too.

Anyone out there have an exercise/healthy-eating program that has worked for you?