Guess what? I’ve been busy, and I have another new release! I’m pleased to introduce Heart’s Design to you lovely readers of Inspy Romance! I’m giving away one Kindle ebook copy, but please note that you must leave a comment to be eligible and answer this question: What most appeals to you about Heart’s Design that would make you want to read it? Your comments and input always help authors, and we value your opinion, so this is your opportunity to speak up and be heard! Let’s start with the “back cover copy” blurb:
Caroline wants to grab hold of the future. Seth can’t let go of the past.
Recent Wellesley College graduate Caroline Prescott’s future is set in stone. After Harvard Law School, she’ll step into place beside her two brothers in their father’s legendary Boston law firm. Caroline secretly longs for the quiet, peaceful life and a career designing jewelry with precious gemstones instead of life as a hotshot Boston attorney.
On a hiking trip with her two best friends weeks before entering law school, Caroline meets Seth Barnes in charming Evergreen, Maine. A mineralogist and part-time college professor, Seth drives a truck sporting an I DIG ROCKS license plate, lives in hiking clothes, flannel shirts and jeans, and loves Jesus.
Two years later, when they meet again, Caroline and Seth confront both the promise of possibility and the pain of past heartaches. What’s a girl to do when the man she secretly loves has a serious girlfriend and seems determined to hold her at arm’s length? And what’s a guy to do when he can’t stay away from a certain irresistible woman no matter how hard he tries? Does the Lord have His own design for their hearts?
Heart’s Design, a love story filled with love, friendship, family, and the power of forgiveness.
Next, let’s examine the fine art of conversation (a/k/a dialogue) in fiction. I’ll state it upfront right now: if you don’t like conversation between characters, and prefer action-packed sequences as a way of getting to know characters better, you probably won’t care for my books. My characters spend a lot of time talking, and I consider the art of conversation not only the key to effective communication between characters, but the key to wonderful fiction! Assumptions and misunderstandings aside, characters need to talk and share with one another. I especially love flirty banter back and forth between my heroes and their heroines, not to be mistaken with put-down insults. Banter is fun, it’s effective, and it endears the characters to readers!
*Conversation/dialogue is a method in which characters get to know one another (and then maintain ongoing relationships), but it’s the way the reader gets to know them, as well.
*Dialogue can fill in the missing, important blanks of a character’s life.
*Dialogue, even when recounting a moment in the character’s past, can move the story forward into the future.
*Meaningful conversation gives a story color, depth, and richness (much like an artist’s painting).
*Characters can share their faith through conversation, both purposely and in various not so in-your-face ways, depending on the situation, the topic, and the other person in the scene.
*Dialogue is one of the most engaging and effective tools an author can use to capture the reader’s interest and hold it steady.
A lovely writing method I sometimes use is subtext. Subtext is when characters share a conversation; they say one thing on the surface but there’s a hidden, underlying meaning beneath what they say. Usually that meaning is somehow significant or important for one or both characters, a comment on the human condition, or an observation about something in their own lives. For instance, in one of my recent releases, Prelude, the hero—an Air Force veteran—returns home to his small Texas town. When he walks into the small hometown diner where the heroine works, the song playing on the jukebox is Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” That, my friends, is subtext, since the reader knows this is the love story between these two characters. In some ways, it’s similar to a sly wink from the author to the reader.
Let me give you an example from Heart’s Design. This is a conversation between Seth and Caroline. They’re sitting on the front porch of Landon’s Bed & Breakfast in little Evergreen, Maine, a short time after both have attended a wedding reception. Seth is aware that Caroline is burdened by her family’s pressure to follow in her brothers’ footsteps to attend Harvard Law School and join their father’s legendary law firm. Okay, here is that excerpt:
Seth gestured to the smaller yellow and black bird, still frolicking about the large front yard. “That’s the Black-capped Chickadee, Maine’s state bird.”
Caroline smiled. “I can understand the black cap description. The black markings on his head are distinctive.”
“You know, the birds here in Maine are like people in more ways than you might think.”
Her book started to slide off her lap. Closing it, Caroline put it on the table and caught Seth’s smile when he noticed the title. “Tell me about the birds of Maine, Dr. Barnes.”
“Okay.” He chuckled and stretched out his legs again, keeping them on the floor this time. “You have your year-round residents. Then you have your breeding birds that spend the growing season here in Maine to raise their young. Of course, there’s the migrants who pass through with the seasons. And then you have the snowbirds that spend part of the winter here to escape even colder conditions up north.”
“I never thought of it in that way,” she said. “I’ve never really thought much about birds at all, to be honest, although I can appreciate their beauty.”
“Sometimes we don’t think about birds, or people for that matter, unless they’re in our constant range of vision. But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about them.”
Caroline snapped her gaze back to his. “Seth, what are you saying? I mean, really saying?”
“I’m saying we also have the rare bird who stumbles into our lives, into our region, on occasion.”
“A vagrant?” She laughed but sobered when she saw he was serious.
“No. I’m talking about the rare beauty that’s not part of Maine’s ecosystem. Maybe she got lost in her travels between her summer and winter residence. Or maybe she got displaced by bad weather.”
“Or maybe she’s not sure where she belongs,” she murmured. “Or needs to gather the strength to separate from the nest and fly where she needs to go.” Caroline’s breath caught at what she glimpsed in Seth’s eyes. Caring that went beyond mere acquaintances. This man somehow understood her and she couldn’t begin to fathom how that could be possible.
He nodded. “Exactly.”
A slow grin creased her lips. “Are you always so direct and blunt in a roundabout way?”
Resting his head on the back of the chair, Seth laughed. “When it comes to the birds, I am. Want to ask me about the bees?”
“Wouldn’t think of it although I’m sure it’s equally fascinating.”
See what I mean? The conversation shared between Seth and Caroline is not so much about the actual habits of birds in Maine—although it is that, too—as it is about Caroline. I love when I get bursts of inspiration for a conversation like this! What does it reveal to the reader? Seth is knowledgeable about the birds of Maine, but he’s also a sensitive, compassionate man. Caroline is amazed by how Seth seems to understand her although they’ve only known each other for a day at the point of this conversation. They feel a connection to one another, and thus, the reader feels that same connection and doesn’t want these two to say good-bye forever at the end of Caroline’s weekend in Maine. In so doing, I’ve set up a conflict and a reason for the reader to want these two to be together again in the future.
Thank you for allowing me to share a little about my writing and Heart’s Design with you today. Remember to answer the question in the beginning of this post to qualify for the free Kindle copy of Heart’s Design. Blessings, friends, and many thanks to all of you lovely readers for supporting contemporary Christian romance fiction and its authors!