Once Upon a Time

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello! Happy Thursday morning! I’ve got my  cup of coffee, and I’m ready to work. So, what’s stopping me? The squirrels playing outside my window. The robins hopping around the yard, enjoying the springlike weather. Distraction is a writer’s worst enemy.

I know the phrase, “once upon a time” is clichéd, over-used and abused. But those words still get my imagination going. Like the castle and fireworks, along with Disney’s theme music. You settle in, prepared for a treat.

I used to tuck my little ones into bed and after prayers, I’d say, “Once upon a time, a long, time ago…” and make up a story, usually silly, but always sprinkled with characters who shared their names. It never failed to make them giggle.

The thing is, that little phrase never failed to conjure up a tale. It’s ancient, but it works. You can’t really use it in writing, unless you’re being sarcastic or ironic. An editor would view those words much as she would “a dark and stormy night.”

Backstory-effective. Once upon a time often sits in the back of my mind as I begin work on a new historical. It helps me slip quietly out of the here-and-now, into the “that was then.” [Click to tweet]

I close my eyes and let my imagination carry me places I once knew so well. Riding along in the back seat of my parents’ car, the windows are down, and it’s dark outside. I hear the croak of the bullfrog, peep of tree frogs, millions of insects. The call of the whippoorwill. The lowing of cattle.

The night air, heavy with the scent of freshly-turned earth, cools my cheek. My parents’ quiet voices lull me to sleep. What sweet memories I have of days gone by.

These are just the things to stir the juices of my imagination. My characters come alive as I recreate long-ago scenes. I need to get better at it. Too often, I forget to include enough to help my readers “see” the imaginary rooms where my characters live. I forget, because I’m so familiar with them.

Walking in the barn lot at Grandma’s, I almost always heard a sound as if a dog followed along behind. Yet, there was no dog. It may have been the echo of my own footsteps. It never frightened me, only intrigued me. Stirred my overly active imagination.

I pretended it was one of my grandparents’ old hound dogs, long ago turned to dust in the ground—a faithful old friend that just couldn’t leave—couldn’t be parted from his favorite people. I never told that story, but I might someday. If I do, those old memories will serve me well. Maybe I’ll even start it out with once upon a time.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite memory, or an intriguing thought from days gone by? I’d love to hear it!

Welcome to Sutter’s Landing

Ginger – expert mouser

I’m interrupting my normal blogging schedule to introduce you to some very special friends of mine. If you’ve read Annabelle’s Ruth, you already know most of them. This time around, you’ll find a few new names and faces in the bunch.

Joseph David Cross

Connie is loving her new role of motherhood.

Is there romance? Oh, yes, the romance–(spoiler alert if you haven’t read Annabelle’s Ruth)–Alton amps up the romance in Sutter’s Landing. He’s determined not to let his brother Jensen discourage Connie and send her running for the hills or maybe back to paradise.

Why Sutter’s Landing? Alton’s big house (known to all the locals as Sutter’s Landing) welcomes Connie with open arms. Or, maybe it’s the folks who live there. Alton, his mother (Miss Lillian), their cook, housekeeper, and friend (Regina). And it seems everyone loves Connie.

Surprises are headed their way, including a hundred-year flood, and a puzzling dilemma for Annabelle. I love Annabelle. She’s tough, but in this sequel, we see what’s going on beneath the calm surface.

Samson has  a new friend, too. I think you’ll like him.

The Kindle version of the book is available for preorder for the low introductory price of $2.99. That special price won’t be around long, so secure yours today.

What I write. If you love inspiring historical fiction with a heaping spoonful of romance, I think you’ll like Sutter’s Landing. If you’ve never read one of my novels, I hope you’ll take a chance on me.

So come, sit a spell–maybe we’ll enjoy a glass of sweet tea, or ice cold lemonade. You can almost hear Miss Lucy a-sangin’ in the field.

I hope you’ll stay in touch. I’ve got exciting plans for the release. I’ll give away some copies of the book, and maybe a gift or two. You can follow my blog, or like my Facebook page. I’m @batowens on Twitter, and sometimes I even remember to post on Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by!


Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

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Robin Lee Hatcher – Authorview

Award-winning, multi-published author and speaker–just a few of the words I found describing Robin Lee Hatcher. She has written many beautiful stories combining faith and romance, both historical and contemporary. I am honored to have her as a guest at Authorview.

Robin Lee Hatcher
Robin Lee Hatcher

I am a…Woman of faith who writes fiction.

You would like me when I’m…In a silly mood.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m…Suffering from too little sleep.

What qualities I like to see in others:    Generosity, great sense of humor, a love of worship.

Favorite way to spend an evening: Curled up with a great book.

Who I love to spend an evening with:  My husband, Jerry.

Am reading (or want to read): The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.

If I had a hammer…I’d hit the nail.

My favorite genre is: Inspirational romance (either historical or contemporary).

My work-in-progress: A new contemporary romance.

My favorite food is: Hard to choose. I love a perfectly cooked steak. Stir-fried peppers and onions with chicken that my husband prepares to perfection. Lemon-pound cake with a glaze frosting (and just about any other dessert).

I’m a collector of:    iPhone apps.

My favorite happily-ever-after:    Jerry’s and mine.

Betty: I love that, Robin!

Thank you so much for participating in Authorview.


Robin’s Bio:  Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher, author of more than 70 books, is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Her 2015 releases are Whenever You Come Around (May 2015) and I Hope You Dance (June 2015). She and her husband make their home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).

Whenever You Come Around (A Kings Meadow Romance)

Whenever You Come Around     Will writing a romance help this author find a real-life hero?

Charity Anderson turned her back on Kings Meadow years ago, with good reason, and has avoided visits to her hometown whenever possible. But with her house in Boise damaged by floodwaters and a book deadline bearing down, staying in her parents’ empty home seems her only option. However, being in Kings Meadow dredges up a painful secret, and old fears threaten to overwhelm her.

Charity’s former high school classmate Buck Malone never left town, instead sacrificing his dreams to take care of his family. Now he enjoys an uncomplicated life as a wilderness guide and confirmed bachelor. The last thing on his mind is settling down.

When Charity’s dog causes an accident that leaves Buck with a broken ankle and wrist at the start of prime tourist season, Charity has little choice but to render aid while he recuperates.  Soon Buck becomes the inspiration for Charity’s hero, both on the page and off. Can he also help her face and overcome her fears so they might find their own happily ever after?

Purchase links can be found on the book’s page on my web site:

http://www.robinleehatcher.com/books/whenever-you-come-around/

Readers can learn more about Robin and her books at:

http://www.robinleehatcher.com

Becky Wade – Authorview

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Becky Wade

Welcome to Authorview, Becky Wade. She is an award-winning writer of historical fiction and contemporary romance. Her latest novel, Book 3 of The Porter Family Novels, released May 5, 2015 –  A Love Like Ours (see below for details). I’m so excited to host one of my mom’s favorite writers! Can you tell I’m excited? I used an exclamation point to illustrate it. I know you will love her candid answers to my questions. Then read her bio, follow the link to her website and check out her books. If you’ve never read a Becky Wade novel, you’re missing out.

So Becky, tell us about yourself–

I am a…Mom, wife, writer, chocoholic. Just typing the word ‘chocoholic’ makes me wonder how many steps are currently separating me from the chocolate in my pantry….

You would like me when I’ve…Just finished a yoga class. I’m quite peaceful for the five minutes afterward.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m…Still trying to wake up in the morning. The process takes about two hours. It involves a lot of rushing around, trying to get the kids to school on time, and very little conversation.

What qualities I like to see in others:    Humor. An open, genuine spirit. Humility. Warmth. Kindness.

Favorite way to spend an evening:  At a show! It’s a rare treat for me, but I love to see musicals performed live.

Who I love to spend an evening with:  My husband.

Am reading:  A romance novel that I’m judging for RWA’s RITA awards.

If I had a hammer…I’d give it to someone interested in using it to repair my patio.

My favorite genre is: Romance.

My work-in-progress: Is a contemporary Christian romance that will become the fourth and final book in my Texas-set Porter Family series.

My favorite food is: Chocolate.

I’m a collector of:    Chocolate. I also collect Department 56 Dickens Village pieces and set them up each December for Christmas.

My favorite happily-ever-after:    My great grandparents had a wonderful, joyful, long marriage full of family and faith. I can remember them laughing together and the closeness and trust of their relationship. My great grandmother passed away first, my great grandfather soon after. It was almost as if, once she went to heaven, he was extraordinarily impatient to join her there.

I inherited their wedding band when I was a teenager. Years later, I had the inside of the ring inscribed with their initials and their wedding date in 1919. It became my own wedding band when I married and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

Betty: What a wonderful story! And readers, do you get the feeling she likes chocolate? I think the message is very clear. Becky, thank you so much for participating in Authorview. 

Now — more about Becky Wade:

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves penning funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn HeartUndeniably YoursMeant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

A Love Like Ours

LoveLikeOurs_mck.inddFormer Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

http://www.beckywade.com/my_books.html