Posts tagged with: inspirational romance

2019 Golden Heart Finalist Kellie Parker on What She’s Packing for Nationals!!

Today we’re joined by another lovely Omega, Kellie Parker, a 2019 Golden Heart Finalist whose manuscript THE INN AT MILL CREEK has been nominated as Best Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

Kellie Parker writes inspirational romance and young adult fantasy novels about flawed characters finding courage to face hardship, love in unexpected places, and a dash of danger. In her quest for adventure, she earned college degrees in biology and nautical archaeology before figuring out what she really wanted to do was write novels. Kellie lives in west Michigan, where she homeschools her four kids, helps her husband with DIY projects, and looks for new ways to eat local. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking, gardening, and camping.

You can connect with Kellie online at, where she blogs about the writing life, and on Twitter at @KellieMParker. Her inspirational romance Fatal Flashback debuts with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense in December of 2019.

Here’s a blurb for THE INN AT MILL CREEK:

Katie Morris has spent the last six years caring for her sick father and struggling to keep the family bed and breakfast afloat. When news breaks that a major resort will be built in her tiny town of Mill Creek, Maryland, Katie is determined not to let it affect her life or her business. But when the resort owner’s handsome son arrives with an offer to buy her property, Katie discovers that following her own heart may be the most complicated business of all.

 Nick Reynolds will be the next CEO of Reynolds Resorts, if he can convince the board he has what it takes to fill his father’s shoes. The task should be easy enough—all he has to do is get stubborn B&B owner Katie to sign on the dotted line. Between his charm and his father’s unethical tactics, the sale should be easy…until his heart gets involved.

 It isn’t long before Katie becomes painfully aware of her growing feelings for Nick, but is his interest in her purely an act? And will Nick’s increasing respect for Katie and her faith be enough to change his heart?

That’s a fabulous set-up!! (Future Lifetime Channel Christmas movie????) I feel happy just reading the blurb!!

Kellie’s here today to share her plan for what she’s bringing with her to Nationals. Kellie’s a conference newbie, but I think we all could learn a thing or two from her approach!!

Take it away, Kellie!!


What I’m Packing for My First RWA National Conference

Thank you, Rubies, for having me as a guest on your blog! What a thrill it is to be an Omega and join so many amazing writers as a Golden Heart finalist! I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a national writing conference before, especially not one as big as RWA. As you might imagine, my head has been in the clouds for the past three months ever since I got “the call” and decided I had to go to New York.

I’ve spent way too many hours shopping for dresses, thinking about shoes, and reading blog posts on what to pack for RWA National. But today I want to add a few of my own ideas to the packing list. Some of them are a little unconventional for a list like this (don’t worry, I won’t forget the basics like my toothbrush and business cards), but hopefully they’ll help you get to know me a bit.

CourageI’m a homeschool mom to four kids ranging in age from toddler up to thirteen. My imagination is a whole lot bigger than my actual day-to-day world. So the prospect of traveling alone into New York City to a hotel right on Times Square, to a conference where I’ll hardly know anyone and be expected to mingle with industry professionals, is just a bit daunting. While I know it’ll make a great adventure in hindsight, I’m going to need my courage to get me there and back again in one piece.

My phone – My courage needs a sidekick, so I’m coming prepared with Google Maps (hey, a girl’s gotta eat, and that means finding restaurants!), the RWA app (where am I supposed to be?), and pictures of my kids (free warm fuzzies).

My Extrovert Hat – Sadly, it’s not a literal hat, though I bet something hot pink with ostrich feathers would make a great conversation piece. Since I’m a tried-and-true introvert, who almost always prefers a book to large social gatherings, I’ll be bringing along my extrovert hat. Pop that little puppy on my head, and I can smile, make pleasant conversation, and try to set others at ease for as long as need be. But you can be sure as soon as I reach my hotel room, I’ll hang it back up, throw on my cozy jammies, and curl up with a book to recharge.

Tea bags and snacks – Speaking of recharging, a scalding hot cup of tea is like a mini-getaway in every sip. I might not be in my room very often to make a cup, but when I am, I’ll have my tea bags on hand. And snacks. Maybe some Larabars, apples, and chocolate. Which I won’t have to share with any kids. Bonus!

Respect – With all the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion swirling through RWA right now, it’s a given that I’ll meet people from different walks of life, with views and ideas unlike my own. I feel very strongly that the foundation of every conversation should be respect for others. We’re all unique, beautiful in our own way, and have something to contribute.

Ribbon to decorate my RWA tote – Because nothing says respect like not mixing your stuff up with everyone else’s. 😉

Humility – I’ve been writing seriously for about five years now, which is long enough to know that there’s a lot I don’t know. Being teachable is a good first step, and I look forward to soaking up writing wisdom from my fellow Omegas, other writers I’ll meet, industry professionals, and the amazing workshops. And I hope to be able to share a bit of what I’ve learned already with writers coming after me on the journey.

Notepad and pens – I’m very picky about my pens. My favorites are Pilot EasyTouch (black for notes, blue for revising/editing, red for grading kids’ schoolwork), and my kids almost always swipe them off my desk. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a new pack for the conference, because I suspect I will want to take a lot of notes!

Excitement – This one’s kind of a given, considering I haven’t stopped being excited in nearly four months! I never expected to be chosen as a GH finalist, and I had no idea what it entailed before I finaled. Considering how amazing this experience has been so far, I can only imagine what it will be like to meet so many of my Omega sisters in person and be part of the conference!

So, if you see me wheeling my little suitcase along the sidewalk, looking lost and confused in the neon lights of Times Square, be sure to remind me to pull out my courage. My extrovert hat will already be on. See you in New York!

Now it’s your turn! What have I forgotten? What are your must-have items for RWA National?

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Piper Huguley!

Today we’re welcoming back the wonderful Piper Huguley, 2014 Golden Heart Finalist in Inspirational Romance. Not only is she a Dreamweaver, she was a Lucky 13 as well (see her previous guest post with us here), which means she pulled off the impressive feat of finaling in Golden Heart two years in a row, with two different books.

piper2Piper’s five-book series of inspirational historical romances, “Migrations of the Heart,” is set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters. Book one in the series, A Virtuous Ruby won the Golden Rose contest in Historical Romance in 2013 and is her Golden Heart finalist in 2014. Book four in the series, A Champion’s Heart, was her Golden Heart finalist in 2013. Her novella, The Lawyer’s Luck, prequel of the “Home to Milford College” series is already an Amazon bestseller. She blogs about the history behind her novels at

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Here’s a blurb for A Virtuous Ruby:

 If 1915 Winslow, Georgia thinks shame would keep her from speaking out against lynching, they’re wrong. Town troublemaker mixed-race midwife Ruby Bledsoe resolves never be quiet, and loves her baby–the result of an arranged rape by the town’s leading scion to stop her lynching protests. Since her son’s birth, she is more determined than ever to make Winslow a good place to live. When a mill worker falls ill in the town, Ruby doesn’t anticipate meeting a handsome stranger who offers her and her son brand new opportunities.

Dr. Adam Morson has spent years in Michigan as a white man earning his medical degree. His arrival in Winslow stirs up the shame he had always felt about his lineage. When he encounters the beautiful young midwife who still practices with old country methods, he determines she has plenty to learn. However, something powerful draws him to protect the beautiful and fiery midwife-activist who teaches him how to be true to himself. The inner peace he comes to know compels him to offer Ruby a job up north. Will she stay to fight for the soul of the town or seek her own happiness with the handsome doctor?

 Piper’s here today to talk about some of the complexities of her experience with the Golden Heart.

Take it away, Piper!


piper-huguley-rigginsWhat the Golden Heart Really Means

When I was nominated for the Golden Heart last year, I kept hearing one thing as I put forward my book to agents and editors: “Sometimes, the Golden Heart doesn’t really represent what’s in the marketplace.”

And I would wonder what that meant.

Now that I’m embarking upon my own indie publishing journey, I’ve come to understand that this particular comment means Golden Heart nominees reflect something different in the publishing world—books that might appeal in a new way to readers.

And I wonder why those stories can’t be seen as innovative or “breakout.”

From where I am, on the threshold of making myself ineligible for the 2015 Golden Heart contest, I don’t understand why this is a drawback. I don’t get it. I need someone to explain to me. The contest has stories that have been vetted by real readers. The judges volunteer to go through piles of manuscripts, score them and put them forward a list of nominees and the whole exercise is dismissed as “weird” and “eclectic.” The contest itself is a built-in pre-reader approval board, but resulting nominees are somehow dismissed as “unusual.”

For a long time, I still had stars in my eyes about being published by a traditional publisher. I thought they had vision, but I’m not seeing that so far. They publish what they know. What they know is fine and enjoyable, but there should be room for innovation somewhere in the picture. I should have been prepared when I was told by a publishing official at last year’s RWA that my books would never be published in twenty years. Or when I just got the word last month from a Big 6 publisher that this year’s nominated story, A Virtuous Ruby was a great book, great story, but the pub board thought the audience was too small.

Fortunately, a few pubs have gotten some sense and so some of my Dreamweaver sisters have gotten “The Call.” I’m so proud and pleased for them. However, it’s not nearly enough. What happened to the eager editors ready to judge before the nominees were announced? Are they are waiting until after RWA is over? I hope so. Traditional publishing needs some innovation and they are about to miss out on a lot of opportunities. It may be that the Dreamweavers will transform as many of the Lucky 13s did. Some of my fellow Luckies grew tired of publishers not seeing their vision. Some of them have been very successful over the past year—and I have enjoyed all of wonderful variety of their stories. When the Dreamweavers get tired, then they may go out and do the indie thing as the Luckies have. If they become tired, as I did, something like this may be in their future:

lawyer luck


So whatever you do, whatever GH class you belong to, even if you don’t belong to a class—do not give up. Stay strong in what matters to you, stay honest. You are sharing the heart of you– the truest, most pure reflection of yourself in your fiction. That true reflection of yourself, through your story’s world, is more precious than gold.

Here’s a question for our readers today: Has your writing ever been called unusual or eclectic?


Connect with Piper:

Twitter: @writerpiper

Facebook: Piper G Huguley


Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Jan Nash

Today, as a part of our ongoing series introducing 2012 Golden Heart nominees, I’m excited to present to you Jan Nash, nominated in the Inspirational category. Jan is an amazing lady with an unwavering optimistic personality. I couldn’t be more honored to interview her.

Without further ado, meet Jan Nash.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

A. Let’s see…I’m a fifty-something grandma with a passion for writing. I met my muse when I was inspired with a story seven years ago. I joined everything I could to help master my new love. My chapter, Northwest Houston RWA, has been a godsend. All the workshops, conferences, and monthly meetings have taught me so much. I write Inspirational/Romance. For me, faith comes first and I try to reflect that in my writing.

Q. Pretty powerful stuff. Speaking of power, tell us about your Golden Heart final Powerless Consent.

A.  What would you do if you discovered that your cell phone was transmitting a live visual feed viewed by an evil entity?  For my heroine, Kate Ballard, it’s a life-changing event that spirals into the loss of her family and causes her to doubt her faith.

Her and her husband, an average Christian couple, are torn apart by blackmail and struggle through obstacles and lies to uncover the truth and to reunite. The villain, a wealthy communications mogul, is obsessed with Kate and has been spying on her for the past fifteen years. He blackmails her by using his acclaimed invention, Invisible Surveillance and forces her to remain with him. While captive on a luxury yacht, she relentlessly tries to outsmart her captor and return to the love of her life. But the power her captor holds over her is too great. Kate’s husband discovers that he must revisit his past. It is there, in the past, that he finds the truth. The road to retrieving his soul mate is narrow and riddled with risk. But nothing will stop him from saving his true love. Love blossoms for two secondary characters. A loner CIA Agent and the villain’s assistant embrace the broken road that leads them together.  Surely they’re destined to be soul mates.

Q. Wow. I’m breathless! Now the question we all want to know, what did you do when you got the call?

A. It was just past 8:00am. As soon as I saw the out-of-state area code, my heart rate soared. A lovely sounding woman asked if I was Jan Nash. Truth is, it took a few seconds to say yes, but I did. She immediately stated that she was calling on behalf of RWA’s Golden Heart and was excited to inform me that Powerless Consent had finaled. I’m embarrassed to say that throughout the rest of the conversation I answered with one-word responses in the most pitiful ugly-cry-voice you can imagine. She giggled and told me how much she loved making the call. After flaring up a quick prayer of thanks and hugging my husband, I called my critique partner, Jaye.

Q. I bet your critique partner was just as thrilled for you. She may end up saying ‘I helped Jan become the mega-watt star she is today’.

Okay, back to the questions. Besides going to Disneyland <g>, what will you do if you win the Golden Heart?

A. Oh my. Probably smile, cry, and have a margarita. In that order.

Q. I’ll buy you that margarita! Win or lose, after the conference you planned to take a special trip. Please give us the details about that trip.

A. I’m almost as excited about the trip as I am the awards banquet. My book is set in Carmel, California and several scenes take place in a hotel room at Carmel by the Sea. That’s where hubby and I are going! My heroine is held captive on a yacht, so we’ve got a boat ride planned. Even though it’s kind of backwards to do the hands-on research after the book is complete, I can hardly wait!  What a blessing!

Q. Sounds fabulous! Nothing like living the part of your story. What is your writing day like?

A. Well, my day job takes up about seven hours, Monday-Thursday and I run a youth activity program on Friday nights. Maximum daily writing time is two-three hours. Some days, all the words stay stuck in my head because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. On the weekends, I write every moment I can.

Q. What is you favorite part of the writing process?

A. I LOVE editing. For me, it’s like polishing a diamond. Each pass, the scenes get brighter and brighter and miraculously reflect the story I envisioned. A close second, is spending time with my critique partners and chapter mates.

Q. Oh…I love how you explain it. And I couldn’t agree more. I, too, enjoy the editing process. So, where do you get your story ideas from?

A. Too many places to count. Dreams, people, books, nature, and the ‘are you kidding me’ moments in life, to name a few.

Q. Now for a couple of customary questions. What inspires you?

A. Wow. Again, too many things to count. I love life and…I believe. Yep, just believe. That’s sweet inspiration to me.

Q. Who is your favorite author?

A. Honestly, I have more favorite books than a favorite author per say.  But if I had to pick, number one would be John Grisham. Lately, I’m into Anna Quindlen.

Q. If Powerless Consent was optioned for a movie, what actor/actress would you see playing your hero/heroine?

A. Dennis Quaid and Michelle Pfeiffer. But, I’d be thrilled and honored if my local high school put on the play!

Q. LOL! Great answer! What’s next for you?

A. I’m working on the sequel to Powerless Consent. Two secondary characters that fall in love in Powerless Consent take center stage in Sweet Surrender. As far as my brand, I’ve got my website up and running and continue to take steps toward publication. Life is good!

Thanks Jan!

You can visit Jan at

Meet 2012 Golden Heart finalist Kristen Ethridge

 Today we’ve got another in our series introducing members of the Golden Heart Finalist Class of 2012: I’ll be interviewing Kristen Ethridge, finalist in Inspirational Romance.

 Once she got the hang of using a pencil, Kristen Ethridge was bitten by the writing bug. She wrote her first poem on the back of scrap paper in first grade, had her first publishing credit in a local newspaper in third grade, and wrote her first book—a sweeping, Civil War epic of ten pages in fourth grade. Her most recent manuscript, LANGUAGE OF LOVE, is a 2012 Golden Heart finalist.

 When she’s not writing, Kristen, a proud Baylor Bear, works in Corporate Communications for one of the world’s largest companies and loves attending as many Baylor sporting events as she can. She lives in North Texas with her husband, daughter (and Ethridge 2.0 on the way this fall), and two self-important poodles.

 You can find Kristen online at and on Twitter at @kristenethridge. She took a break about a year ago when she realized she was spending more time online trying to be a writer than actually writing…but she promises to do better with her blogging. Pinky swear.


Tell us a little about your Golden Heart finaling book:

LANGUAGE OF LOVE finaled in the Inspirational category and is targeted at Love Inspired. Here’s what I envision how the back cover would read.

Who wins when an immigrant’s dream collides with a prodigal son’s return?

Graciela Garcia de Piedra’s family emigrated from Mexico to Port Provident, Texas, in search of a better life. Now she wants others to have the same opportunity to live out the American dream through her school, where she teaches English as a Second Language.

Jake Peoples returns to his hometown to prove he’s more than his past mistakes and to claim his place as president of the development company owned by his family, one of the Island’s oldest and most powerful. The only piece of property standing in the way of the new condo project that will secure his future is Gracie Garcia’s school.

Although they both talk in English, Gracie and Jake don’t speak the same language. Where he sees profit and loss, she sees people and love. Can this teacher help a reluctant prodigal learn that God’s dreams are always bigger than our own?

What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist?

Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Karen Fleming

Today we welcome Karen Fleming, who writes as KD Fleming, the third of our special guests from the Golden Heart finalist class of 2012.

Karen is a finalist in Inspirational Romance with her novel LOVE’S ADVOCATE. She describes herself as a “Happily Ever After” addict whose favorite books are historical romances set in Regency and Victorian England.  (Excellent taste, Karen! *grin*) Her other addiction is movie theater popcorn: I’m a popcorn pig at the movies. I don’t share with anyone. I will buy them their own so they leave mine alone.”

We decided to do today’s guest blog in interview format, so grab a cup of coffee (or some popcorn if you’re ready to run defense) and join us for a little conversation.


 Congrats, Karen on the Golden Heart final! What was it like getting that coveted phone call telling you you’re a finalist?

I was sick with a sinus bug and my head was pounding. I didn’t expect to final. I had a friend who entered last year and she said her scores were all over the place, so I entered more because I had set a goal for myself to enter this year and I was going to achieve it, but hadn’t thought past that point.

When Maggi Landry introduced herself and explained why she was calling me at 9:14 in the morning ( and yes, I looked at the time) I didn’t hear much after her congratulations and question of what name I wanted them to include in the announcement. I cried when I hung up. It was the most amazing validation of all that I’ve been working toward. It still feels surreal at times.


Oh, it’s very real, Karen! You’ll know when you get to Nationals and strangers come up to congratulate you. (Okay, I guess that’s a pretty surreal experience, too.) How fabulous that Golden Heart pushed you to finish a terrific book! Can you share the blurb for LOVE’S ADVOCATE?

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You’re very welcome. I learned a lot.
  • Bev Pettersen: Such a helpful post, Thanks Autumn. And also thanks to Vivi, Rae and Judy!
  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.