3 Questions Wednesday with Laura V. Hilton

Happy Wednesday!

This morning we welcome award-winning author Laura V. Hilton. Readers, be sure to leave Laura a comment for a chance to win a  copy of her book, Love By the Numbers.

Laura, here’s your first question.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Laura:  Quiet, bookish, family-oriented

Family-oriented. I like that! 🙂  Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Laura: Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. There is a new Amish community formed up there. Plus I’d get to see my son.

A great idea. Now…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Laura: Fame, I think.

 An upbeat song, for sure! Laura, thank you for joining us on Inspired Prompts. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Readers–don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Love By the Numbers, reader’s choice of format (print or ebook)  (Print USA only.) 

Click to tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday interview with Laura V. Hilton. @InspiredPrompt  #interview #giveaway

Love By the Numbers   

After her fiancé dies in a buggy accident, Lydia Hershberger is invited to Jamesport to manage her Mennonite aunt’s gift store while her aunt and uncle are on a mission trip. While there, Lydia gets acquainted with her aentie’s best friend, Bethel Bontrager, and her grown son, Caleb. Lydia is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome clockmaker, Caleb Bontrager. But in spite of an instant flame of attraction between them, he doesn’t seem interested. In fact, pesky Caleb treats her like he doesn’t even like her.

Bright and sparkly. That’s Caleb’s first impression of Lydia. He’s always been attracted to sparkly things. In fact, his affinity for those things, and the trouble they can cause, are exactly why he’s determined to change his ways and settle down. With Lydia’s aentie gone, he is handling the books for the gift shop and is forced to spend too much time in her presence.

When God offers Lydia a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Caleb harbors cause her even more heartbreak?

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.


visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/




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Happily Ever After or Not?

By Cammi Woodall

“…and they lived happily ever after.” Sigh! How satisfying is it to reach the end of a romance book and the main couple embrace in front of a golden sunset?

But what about when you reach the end of a romance and the couple is not together? Or one of them is dead? Or they broke up? Is this still a romance book?

Let me warn you – this article will contain spoiler alerts about various novels. Proceed with caution!

I did an informal poll among my friends and asked, “Does a romance have to end happily ever after?” The most common response was a puzzled, “Well, isn’t that what makes it a romance?” Another common response was a disdainful remark, “I don’t read romance books!” (Why do people look down on romance novels so much? That’s a post for another time!)

After the poll, I looked at the website for Romance Writers of America. If anybody knows how a romance should end, it should be them. Right? According to the site, the definition of a romance contains two basic elements: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying, optimistic ending.

So, Romeo and Juliet or Gone With The Wind are not romances? What about more contemporary novels like Me Before You or The Fault in Our Stars? Each story contains the love between the main characters as the main element, but none include an HEA optimistic ending!

(Confession time – at age twelve I thought Romeo and Juliet was the epitome of romance. A handsome boy defies his family, compares her to a rose, and dies for her? Pitter patter went my preteen heart! Now I can only see two hormonal tweens who got a lot of people killed.)

I have decided that my definition of a romance will focus on the second element defined by the Romance Writers of America – the optimistic ending. Optimistic means hopeful and confident about the future. So does an optimistic ending mean the main couple is together? Do they get married, build a dream home, have a passel of kids, and spend their twilight years rocking away on the front porch?

Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I love romance books! I grew up reading Barbara Cartland and Glenna Finley. I expected those books to end happily: i.e., the couple together, the promise of a future, an epilogue with a wedding. It never occurred to me that a romance book wouldn’t end happily ever after!

What if an optimistic ending means that each character learned an important lesson from the relationship featured in that particular book? Every person you touch throughout your life will touch you also. From some you learn patience, from some you gain strength, others give you independence. Relationships, both romantic and platonic, give you the building blocks to become the person you are meant to be.

This is represented by The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Ask anybody who has read the book and they will probably say it is definitely a romance. The story focuses on Hazel Grace, a teenage girl diagnosed with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She struggles with her mortality, worried her parents will not be able to cope after her death. Hazel pushes people away because she knows they will be hurt when she dies. She meets a boy named Augustus Waters, who has osteosarcoma. He is cancer-free after a leg amputation. In contrast to Hazel’s internalization of her fears, Augustus wants to make his mark on the world. He fears oblivion and wants to be remembered. (Remember my spoiler alert warning at the beginning of this article? Take heed!) A logical conclusion to this book would be Hazel’s death. John Green, however, rips our hearts out. Augustus’s cancer returns and he dies.

Does anybody have a tissue? I have dust in my eye. Yeah, dust in my eye.

This is a romance book? Where is the miracle cancer cure for both Hazel and Augustus? When is the doctor going to rush in and say, ‘Oops! We made a mistake. He’s not dead, just in a temporary coma!’ Where is the Happily Ever After?

It is there, just not in the traditional sense. Hazel’s love for Augustus helps her realize she has been living in a shell. Her parents will be sad when she dies, but it is because they love her. She impacted their lives. She made her mark on the world. So did Augustus.

Seriously, a tissue? Anybody?

So does a romance have to end happily ever after? Some people will still emphatically shout YES! Nothing else will do! I used to be one of those people. The longer I live and the more I learn, however, I find I am changing my opinion. Or rather, I am changing my definition of Happily Ever After.

You have to live and learn in your life, but most important you must love. Love is the glue that will get you past sickness, heartache, stress, or anxiety. Romantic love between two people, love between parents and children, love for your best friends.

Just open your heart and let love in. That way you can live your own Happily Ever After, whatever that may be.

Writing prompt – I love prompts that can go in a hundred different directions. Here is my idea: The note wasn’t signed. It simply said ‘Meet me. You know where.’

Click to tweet: Does a romance have to end happily ever after? Cammi Woodall of the Inspired Prompt Crew shares her views. #romance #amwriting

Historic vs. Contemporary Romance

by Hallee Bridgeman


Anyone who spends any time around me knows how much I love Almanzo Wilder – the eventual husband of Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series. To me, he was my perfect first book crush. He adored Laura Ingalls, and you could see his adoration in everything he did for her. Clearly, his love language was acts of service.

He rode his horse through a snow storm to get home to her for Christmas, carrying a pocketful of oranges with him. He picked her up from the place where she was teaching during the week so Laura wouldn’t have to spend the whole weekend with the crazy woman who wanted her to die out there on the prairie. And he built her this amazing house – in between his manual farming labor – complete with a kitchen she described with such love that I could see it perfectly in my mind.

But one thing that often comes to the forefront of my mind when I think about the love story between Laura and Almanzo was, after a long courtship, when he asked her to marry him and after she said yes, she declared, “You may kiss me now.”

Gasp! I could not believe how I just assumed all of those long Sunday rides and choir rehearsals didn’t end in a goodnight kiss! And then they finally kissed!

Cue sigh with love-eyes-emoji.

That wasn’t a fictional book, though. That was real life. That was the real-life courtship of a couple in the late nineteenth century. So, when writing historical romance, it’s something I have to remind myself—that the physical freedom even Christian couples experience today was not acceptable or appropriate behavior in most of history.

I have written many contemporary romances and, due to the way that I write, my couples often kiss out of desire, affection, and/or romance. They kiss passionately or sweetly, depending on the scenario. And, like real life, once that physical barrier has been breached, a couple in love will kiss often.

However, in my World War II series, even at the end when the hero is professing his love to the heroine, he hasn’t touched her other than to offer her his arm to walk. And the book ends with them simply holding both hands. I so wanted to end it with a kiss, but it wouldn’t have worked in that time period in the circumstances of my characters the same way it would have worked in a contemporary romance with similar circumstances.

It’s better to know how a couple should act culturally when entering into writing (or even reading) historic romances. There have been couples breaking social norms throughout history (have you read the book of Judges?) but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be thoughts, feelings, worry, guilt, defiance or any other host of emotions about those who break the norm. Added to that, when you know what should be, you’ll be able to know what your characters have as far as expectations with each other. Almanzo didn’t expect to be able to kiss Laura without her permission – though we’re talking about a twenty something man who had courted this woman for over a year, who loved her and served her unselfishly – so we know he wanted to. There was a social, cultural barrier that kept him from acting on that desire, despite his desire.

In Christian romances, even contemporary ones, our characters struggle with desire and a social norm that accepts sexual behavior as a norm. So, we’re being anti-cultural when our characters don’t fall into bed with the first hint of desire. Yet, even in a Christian setting, it’s more okay now for a tall, dark, handsome hero to sweep the heroine off her feet and plant a steamy kiss on her lips when that desire grows to that point of sweeping – even if she hasn’t uttered the words, “You may kiss me now.”

BOTH instances can be sigh-worthy romantic, if written true-to-time period. I didn’t need a sweep-her-off-her-feet moment for me to fall in love with Laura and her Manly. But I need to give my readers that moment sometimes in my contemporary romances.

[Click to Tweet] “I #love Almanzo Wilder – the eventual husband of Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series. To me, he was my perfect first book crush.” Historic vs. Contemporary #Romance @halleeb via @inspiredprompt

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee Bridgeman finally settled in Fort Knox, Kentucky with her family so she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a daughter in college, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. Find out more about Hallee and her books at www.halleebridgeman.com.

Jade’s Match by Hallee Bridgeman

Two Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

3 Questions Wednesday with Katie Clark

It’s my pleasure to welcome Katie Clark to 3 Questions Wednesday. Stay tuned to find out more about Katie and today’s giveaway.

DSC_8889Good morning, Katie! Can you describe yourself in three words?

Hopeful, determined, boring (hee hee!)

I don’t think anyone who writes fantasy could be boring. (Laughing)  Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Oooh! Tough one. My favorite place is Disney World (no judgment, right?), but that’s not really where I’d choose to go if someone was offering a fully-paid trip. I think I would choose Europe. I love rich history, and I want to see the castles! Those things would help me in my fantasy and sci-fi writings.

We’re not judging. 😉 Europe would be fun too. Now…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

For some reason, the Jeopardy song keeps going through my head. Ha! Seriously though, I’m going back and forth between “It Is Well With My Soul” and that song that goes, “I get knocked down, but I get up again…” (sorry, I don’t know what that song is called…wait, I have this neat thing called Google. Hold on while I Google it…wait a sec, it’s called “Tubthumping?” OK, let’s go with “It Is Well With My Soul.”)

“Tubthumping” is a new one for me. “It Is Well With My Soul” is a good one. Katie, thank you for joining us today on Inspired Prompt.

Click to Tweet: “For some reason, the Jeopardy song keeps going through my head.” 3 Questions Wednesdays with Katie Clark @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

Readers, Katie is offering the winner of today’s giveaway a choice of an ebook of either her upcoming novel (once it’s released), or one of her other books (Vanquished, Shadowed Eden).

Rejected Princess by Katie Clark

TheRejectedPrincess_ws12465_680When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the mysterious and backwards kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees, accepting that peace must be put ahead of her lifelong relationship with Prince Benjamin of Lox.

But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own.

Roanna becomes locked in a battle between kingdoms. Rebels wish to eliminate people who possess powerful anomalies. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in—not to mention how her own family, and Benjamin’s, would react if her anomaly was revealed.

Tensions rise when Lox is attacked. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs. But will Prince Benjamin and her family accept her when the truth of her heritage is finally revealed?

KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes inspirational romance for adults as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her upcoming YA romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Loving Your Points of View

young couple walking hand in hand

Love is everywhere

By Bonita Y. McCoy

Romance, romance, romance. It’s February, so it’s everywhere.

Cute little cupids sit on store shelves proclaiming love and admiration. Heart-shaped balloons float above the checkout lines in the grocery stores. And romance novels fly off the shelves.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and all things romance, we are taking a closer look at the points of view used when writing a romance novel.

Point of view is defined as the perspective from which a story is told.

Single Point of View

Now, some stories are told from a single point of view. We enter the action in the head of a character, and we remain in that same character’s head throughout the entirety of the story. We see and experience everything from that character’s point of view.

Many romances are told from a single point of view. While this is an effective way to keep your reader in pace with the story, it limits your reader’s experience. The reader only sees the thoughts and emotions of that one character–whether it’s the hero or the heroine–and misses out on experiencing the struggles and setbacks of the other main character.


If you chose to tell your story from a single point of view, be sure to put in a lot of dialogue so the reader can get a feel for the other character’s thoughts and emotions.

Multiple Points of View

Most authors use multiple points of view to tell their stories. It’s standard practice. However, the author needs to know the best way to make the switch from one point of view to another.

For example, have you ever picked up a novel and by the end of the first chapter felt completely lost? You had no idea which character’s head you were in or what you were supposed to be feeling.

That experience is called head hopping. The author switched between multiple points of view too often and too fast, leaving the reader, frustrated and confused.

According to Jami Gold, an Indie Author, and Developmental Editor, the best places to switch from one point of view to another is at the end of a scene or a chapter. When you switch in the middle of a scene, you risk losing your reader and causing the above-mentioned frustration.

If you chose to tell your romance from multiple points of view, limit the number. Most books on writing suggest no more than four or five points of view. Any more than that and the story tends to get bogged down, making it hard to follow.

So then, if one is too limiting and five is too confusing, what is the ideal number of points of view for a romance?

The ideal number is two. It’s what the readers expect. After all, most romances do involve two people, and the reader wants to see both sides of the romance as it develops. They want to be privy to the inside scoop. Using two points of view meets this need.

Advantages to Two Points of View

There are also some advantages for the author when using two points of view.

One, it gives the author the ability to cut away at pivotal points in the story by ending the scene and switching to the other character’s point of view, causing the reader to keep turning pages to find out what happened.

It also allows the author to use deep point of view with both main characters, giving the reader a greater understanding of the fears, hang-ups, and past baggage that each of the characters is bringing into the relationship.

The use of two points of view adds levels of complexity to the story. It allows the author to show the world through two different value systems, ideologies, and social strata.

Plus, two points of view gives the author the chance to show the protagonist through the eyes of another character. The hero can admire the heroine for her kindness or can comment when she’s not around about her fears. It gives the author another outlet to paint the picture of the protagonist for the reader.

So, not only does the use of two points of view work for the reader’s benefit, it also works for the author’s benefit as well.

Now we know, two is the magic number both for Valentines and for Romance writing.

Writing Prompt: Carol laid the romance novel down with a thud. The author had used five points of view in the first chapter. Frustrated, she felt cheated.