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Writing Inspirational Romance - Guests Linda Ford and Lyn Cote

November 6, 2009 | Deborah Cooke | Comments (11)

One subgenre of romance that has grown at a phenomenal rate in recent years is inspirational romance. I've invited authors Linda Ford and Lyn Cote to drop by today and tell us a bit more about this niche. (As an aside, I met both of these authors online through RWA's online chapter, which provides a great way to connect with writers from all over the world. Lyn and I subsequently met in person at an RWA National conference.)

LindaFord Linda Ford writes from her home on a farm/ranch near Olds, Alberta. She shares her home with 4 adult men which probably explains why she seeks escape in her writing. One of the men is her husband, two are grown sons and the fourth is her client, a wheelchair-bound man who requires nursing care. When not writing or cooking and caring for the men in her life, you can find her in her large vegetable garden, reading, watching TV or cooking. (Whoops did I mention cooking already?)

Linda Ford's website is HERE and she blogs HERE.

LynCoteLyn Cote is an award-winning author of both contemporary and historical inspirational romance. She speaks at state, regional and national writer’s conferences and is an active member of RWA and the American Christian Fiction Authors. Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn’s “Women of Ivy Manor” series published by FaithWords was a 2006 Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National Readers Choice Contest. She is also one the top-selling authors in Harlequin’s Love Inspired category line.  Lyn and her husband live in Wisconsin.

Lyn maintains two websites: Strong Women Brave Stories, and her Lyn Cote site HERE.

In the Q&A below, my questions are marked DC, Linda Ford's answers are marked LF, and Lyn Cote's answers are marked LC.

DC - Welcome to both of you! Let's start by defining our terms. What is inspirational romance?

LF - Inspirational romance is still pure romance (if you take out the romance you don’t have a story) but with the added element of a faith journey.

LC - Inspirational romance is a romance between a man and a woman with a spiritual theme. All novels have themes but in Christian inspirational romance, the theme is one about faith and how it impacts the lives of our characters.

DC - What makes inspirational romance distinctive as a sub genre of the romance market?

LF - One of the things that attracts readers is that they can count on stories without material many consider offensive, gratuitous or stuff they are simply tired of it (i.e. Swearing, premarital sex) and yet these stories still have sexual tension and strong conflict.

LC - An inspirational romance has a three thread plot: the external conflict, romantic and the spiritual. The inner conflict in an inspirational one, usually is an issue such as the burden of unforgiveness, the inability to give love or receive love unconditionally, the shedding of inappropriate guilt. An inspirational romance's bedrock is that God wants us all to live and love in the abundant life, free of negative beliefs and emotional baggage. The hero and heroine work out redemption as they open themselves to the healing power of human and divine love.

DC - Are there key story elements expected by readers, or particularly popular with readers?

LF - First and foremost, a satisfying romance. After that, strong characters and a compelling story. In other words, the same basic elements that all good romances have. Popular themes (in my experience) are small town settings, cowboys and ranchers, men and women struggling to find balance in their life situation.

LC - Prairie romances are a perennial favorite. Amish novels are popular in both religious and secular readerships. Historicals never lost their place in the hearts of inspirational readers. And romantic suspense is very popular. (DC - Lyn also maintains a market page on her website about Christian book publishers and agents - look HERE.)

DC - What inspirational authors do you think are must-reads? What writers are doing innovative and exciting work? What writers are consistently producing "keepers"?

LF - I can’t begin to keep up with reading all the inspirational books out there. However, I think Linda Goodnight consistently produces a good solid satisfying story. Lyn, I’m sure you have more to contribute.

LC - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a modern classic which should be in every library. It is an amazing historical set in Gold Rush California and is a parallel story to the Prophet Hosea who was married to Gomer, a prostitute. In Redeeming Love, we follow God's pursuit of Angel, the prostitute who is loved by Michael.

Angela Hunt always comes up with wildly imaginative plots, such as The Note which became a Hallmark TV movie and even spawned a sequel.

Donita K Paul has written a Dragon Keeper Chronicles fantasy series. Kristin Billerbeck was one of the first chicklit authors.

For every genre of fiction in the secular romance market, there is an inspirational counterpoint.

DC - What are the challenges in writing inspirational romance?

LF - There are several I contend with. One is staying within the boundaries of the genre. It makes me realize how affected I am by the culture around me that I often stray too far in describing even a kiss. I’m told to keep it emotional not physical which one of the strengths of the genre—deeply emotional writing.

Secondly, the faith element creates another thread that must be worked in with its own growth arc so instead of having two threads--the romance and the external plot-- inspirational writers also add the third element. It means a little more plotting and intertwining.

The third is that to make the faith element integral to the story. I grow as my characters grow and I hope and pray the readers do too. No preaching. The faith element must be so deeply entrenched that whatever the characters do is characteristic for them. So adding a prayer or sending them to church on Sunday won’t alone create the element. It can be a challenge to get it all in balance.

LC - I think the same challenges that writers face in other romance subgenres, being orphaned by an editor, etc.

DC - What do you love about writing inspirational romance?

LF - I love that I can write romances that I could fit in to, that my characters reflect the faith and morals that I cling to.

LC - I love the response from the readers. We are often told that at the NYC Harlequin-Silouette office, letters from readers of all the Love Inspired lines outnumber all the responses to other lines. I also love when readers write to me and tell me that my stories inspired them to rise above what has been holding them back.

DC - Before we take questions, please tell us a bit about your upcoming releases.

LF - Coming up I have three releases from 51bJ1asqqWL__SL500_AA240_Love Inspired Historical set in early Dakota Territory. Dakota Child is out in Sept. 09. The Cowboy’s Baby is out in April 2010. I don’t have release dates for the other one. The stories in this series began as an idea of how couples can be brought together by a child needing a home or parent(s).


Following that, with the same publisher, I expect to have another Depression Era series.

I also have a novella included in a omnibus, A Prairie Romance
. It's an honor to be included in this collector's item.

DC - Lyn Cote sent me the press release for her current book, which follows:

Inheritance HER INHERITANCE FOREVER is book two of the Texas: Star of Destiny series.

In 1836 Texas, Alandra Sandoval is the Tejano lady of Rancho Sandoval. She is determined to show the world of men that she, a woman, can run the ranch successfully without a male by her side. Yet she still longs for future love and a family.

Scully Falconer, a loner, is the top hand on a nearby ranch. He has given his loyalty to the Quinn family and doesn’t ask more than honest pay for an honest day’s work.

Alandra, the lady of Mexican descent, and Scully, the American cowboy, think they have very different paths set before them. But greedy relatives burst onto the scene, threatening to change their way of life. And when General Santa Anna crosses the Rio Grande and marches north to keep his rendezvous with destiny at the Alamo, Alandra and Scully’s lives will never be the same.

The Library Journal says Lyn Cote “demonstrates her skill at creating strong female protagonists in compelling stories that will captivate historical romance readers.” HER INHERITANCE FOREVER attests to Cote’s ability to create page-turning, riveting romances with wonderful historical details that also allow readers to watch the forming of the Texas state.

DC -
Thanks so much to both of you for stopping by to tell us more about this market and your experiences. Now let's take questions from our blog audience. Who's first?


Toronto Public Library's Romance Writer-In-Residence Deborah Cooke discusses writing and getting published in the romance genre.

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