Wednesday, March 04, 2015

GUEST POST: Terri Blackstock on What Romance Novels Can Teach Us

What Can Romance Novels Teach Us?

by Terri Blackstock,, special for EIR

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things books taught me when I was younger, and the things they continue to teach me. Books teach us empathy when, as children, we see someone different from ourselves stuck in a situation we’ve never been in. The new kid who has no friends, the kid who’s bullied, the kid whose parents are divorced, the kid who’s experienced the death of a friend—all these situations in books teach children empathy, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to be kind to people who are hurting. More than that, they teach us to see the pain of others.

I remember imagining what it would be like to be a Boxcar Kid
Click the title below to find
Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock at Amazon
living in a train with your siblings, both parents dead, and the dread of a mean grandparent hanging over your head. I remember reading to my own children
Bridge to Teribithia and sobbing with one of my daughters as one of the characters had to endure the death of her best friend. I remember so many other books that took me into strange places and adventures, but the ones that burn on my memory are the ones that taught me something about the human condition, about my own spirit, those that made me a kinder and gentler person who had empathy for others.

Now that empathy is what makes me a writer that some people like to read. Because I can put myself in someone else’s head and experience their heartbreak, I write stories that teach those virtues, as well. I help people understand situations they might have judged differently. I help them see what the “other side” looks like in their own situations. My Moonlighters Series features a messy character named Holly, who’s had problems holding a job, maintaining relationships, and staying sober. In Book 3, Twisted Innocence, she’s just given birth to her first child, and she struggles with trying to live a more stable life for her child. But the unstable father doesn’t make that easy for her when he takes her and the baby hostage to escape arrest for a murder charge. When I started that book, I honestly didn’t know where it was going to go. Would Creed Kershaw turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy? As my empathy kicked in and I began to understand how he got here, the story took an unexpected turn. Romance kicked in, and I was able to see Creed as someone who could be redeemed, someone messy like Holly, someone who also needed a life change.

I hope when readers close Twisted Innocence, they’ll love people like Holly and Creed more deeply, understand more clearly, and care about the people around them who have similar challenges. And if they relate strongly to those characters because they have messy lives too, I want them to know there is a God who loves them enough to die for them, and can wipe the slate clean. The best happy ending is complete redemption, isn’t it?

What books resonate in your memory as those that taught you something about life?


Twisted Innocence 
by Terri Blackstock
Holly Cramer’s past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Though Holly’s stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily’s father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family—she never even told him about the pregnancy. Now he’s a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller—the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he’s innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can’t trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.

Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

TERRI BLACKSTOCK is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of three Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist.

To keep up with Terri Blackstock, visit, become a fan on Facebook (tblackstock) or follow her on Twitter (@TerriBlackstock).

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 10: Suzanne Woods Fisher and her book ANNA'S CROSSING

On today's episode of The Author's Casting Call, Casting Director (and author!) Suzanne Woods Fisher dreams about who she would cast in a film version of her historical Amish fiction novel, Anna's Crossing

*note: Click the names to see pins of these actors on Serena's Pinterest Board "Author's Casting Call" on Pinterest

submitted by Suzanne Woods Fisher, special for EIR

Scarlet has a quiet boldness, a self-assurance, that is so appealing. Her looks suit her personality—natural and confident. I can picture her as an 18th century woman, complete with prayer cap and somber clothing, beautiful without a stitch of make-up.

Hugh has Bairn’s tall, long-legged stature and rugged good looks. And an accent, too, though Bairn has a Scottish one, not Australian. Like Bairn, Hugh can seem intimidating, but inside is a tender heart.  

Remember Opie from The Andy Griffith Show? That’s the spitting image of Felix. Cute, naïve, and all boy.

ABOUT ANNA'S CROSSING (from publisher Revell):

Click on the title below to find
Anna's Crossing at Amazon
Some endings are really beginnings . . . 

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home--assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known. 

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people--dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands--who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing--and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it

SUZANNE WOODS FISHER is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including "Amish Peace." She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. 

For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Be sure to visit and follow Serena Chase's Pinterest Board for links and images to all previous (and upcoming) episodes of The Author's Casting Call at EIR!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 9: C.E. Laureano Picks Her Dream Cast for a Film Version of BENEATH THE FORSAKEN CITY

On today's episode of The Author's Casting Call, Casting Director (and epic fantasy author!) C.E. Laureano (aka Carla Laureano) chooses her cast for a film version of her Song of Seare series. Book two, Beneath the Forsaken City is available now . . .but more on that, later!

Let's get on with the show!

by Carla Laureano, special for EIR

I was well into the Song of Seare series before interviewers started asking who I would cast in the roles, so that mean a last ditch scramble to find actors who resembled the characters I’d been working with in my head for years. I imagine it’s a lot like casting directors feel when they’re tasked with the job of bringing a book to life on the big screen. Fortunately, I didn’t have very far to look…I was stunned when I found actors who looked just as I’d imagined my characters when I first conceived of them years ago.

While this series has casts of hundreds, here are the main characters from the latest installment, Beneath the Forsaken City.

Ah, Conor. He’s one of my favorite characters ever. The naive musician turned deadly but principled warrior. By the second book in this series, he’s been wounded by war (both literally and figuratively) and has come to realize that the most important thing to him is his true love, Aine. But his responsibilities to his homeland come in conflict with his desire to keep her safe…and there are still many obstacles keeping them apart.
To find
(Song of Seare, book 1) at Amazon
click HERE
I cast Alex Pettyfer in my head as Conor, partly because I’ve seen him grow up in print and on screen much as we watch Conor grow up in this series. Not only does he have the right look—handsome without being too pretty—but he’s always carried a sense of maturity and a little bit of rebellion with him even in his younger roles. Once I saw him in the movie I Am Number Four, as a young man with powers he didn’t quite understand, I was sold. See a pin of Alex here:

In the books, Aine has an innate kindness and belief in the goodness of others that make people rally around her, but she also has an inner strength that carries her through ordeals that no one should have to experience. Even when she’s threatened, she sticks to her principles, which is something that Conor deeply admires about her.

Autumn Reeser was the only possible option for Aine. She’s best known for her roles on The O.C. and Entourage, but it was her sweet and bubbly real-life personality that most appealed to me. She seems like a girl I’d like to chat with over a cappuccino, and it’s that warmth that I was looking for in Aine.

I have to admit, I was surprised by how much readers loved Eoghan after the release of the first book, but he really cements himself as a hero in Beneath the Forsaken City. He’s both Conor’s mentor and rival, and while he has a deep sense of compassion, he doesn’t shy away from making hard decisions. Marked to take the leadership of the Fíréin brotherhood, the reclusive sect of warrior-monks in which he was raised, he finds himself having to sacrifice his deepest personal desires for the greater good.

I’ll confess, I cast Tyler Hoechlin as Eoghan strictly on looks. The last thing I watched him in was Road to Perdition playing Tom Hanks’s son as a much younger actor, though I have plenty of friends who nodded enthusiastically when I mentioned him for this role, so I must have gotten it right.

Thanks for joining me on this edition of EIR’s The Author’s Casting Call. Happy reading!

About Beneath the Forsaken City

To find
at Amazon,
click HERE
A Storm on the Horizon.
A Brotherhood Scattered.
A Future Denied. Who will Stand Against the Darkness?

Conor and Aine have barely escaped Seare with their lives. Conor knows he must return to find the harp that could end the Red Druid’s reign of terror, but in the midst of their escape, he and Aine are torn apart once more. Surrounded by despair and thrown into as much danger as they left behind, Conor and Aine must cling to the whispers of Comdiu’s plans for them and the homeland that depends on their survival. But at what cost? Will they learn to depend on Comdiu completely? Or will they give up hope?

CARLA LAUREANO is the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C.E. Laureano), as well as the RITA® Award winning romance Five Days in Skye. She's an avid cook, an enthusiastic but untalented singer, and a thwarted world-traveler. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons.

Connect with her at: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Highly Recommended Epic Christian Fantasy: BENEATH THE FORSAKEN CITY by C. E. Laureano

Click the title below to find
Beneath the Forsaken City
by C. E. Laureano at Amazon
What it's about (from publisher NavPress):
A brotherhood scattered. A future denied. Who will stand against the darkness?
Conor and Aine have barely escaped Seare with their lives. Conor knows he must return to find the harp that could end the Red Druid's reign of terror, but in the midst of their escape, he and Aine are torn apart once more. Surrounded by despair and thrown into as much danger as they left behind, Conor and Aine must cling to the whispers of Comdiu's plans for them and the homeland that depends on their survival. But at what cost? Will they learn to depend on Comdiu completely? Or will they give up hope?
Why you should read it: Better known for her 2014 RITA-award winning contemporary romance Five Days in Skye, author C.E. (Carla) Laureano once again proves her exceptional range with the second installment in her Song of Seare series, giving authentic voice to medieval characters within a world that rings true to the spirit of Celtic fantasy.
Although Conor and Aine spend the bulk of this book apart, their love story stays in the forefront of their minds — as well as the reader's — while evil hunts them, threatening their happiness on every front. With a few gasp-worthy moments — including one in which you might just shake the book in your hands saying, "No, Conor! STAHP! No, no, no!" (I may have actually done that …) — this romantic fantasy reaches out, grabs you by the knuckles and pulls you right into the tale. Fantasy lit fans will definitely want to put this romantic, nail-biting page-turner on their TBR lists, but make sure you read book one first!
MORE: Check out my HEA rec of Oath of the Brotherhood (The Song of Seare, book 1)

(This review originally appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog)

CONTENT: Edgier for Christian Fantasy due to violence
STORY: 5 magical STARS!
Come back on Friday, February 27 for episode 9 of The Author's Casting Call at EIR in which Carla Laureano plays Casting Director and dreams up the perfect cast for a movie version of this book!

Monday, February 23, 2015


Do you have some burning questions you've always wanted to ask prolific author Rachel Hauck? Here's your chance! Leave your questions in the comments below, and we'll gather them up and send them to Rachel for you.

To find How to To Catch a Prince
by Rachel Hauck
at Amazon
click HERE
Then, come back right here on Monday, March 2nd to find a new post with Rachel's answers to YOUR questions!

In the meantime, make sure you check out Rachel's latest novel (I loved it, btw! Watch for my review!) How to Catch a Prince (Royal Wedding Series, book 3)


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