My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

It has been a very long time since I have enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed My Stubborn Heart. It is a major study in overcoming grief of a loved one, and finally letting go of guilt, but from the vantage point of years down the line, and from the viewpoint of the woman reaching out.

The story isn't a brand new one. The characters are regular people who have had problems and troubles. It's life. But more than that. The characters actually breathe. They are sloppy in a human sort of way. You can feel the elation, the hurt, the hope, the budding love, the dashed hopes, the decision to push past it all and hold on to that part of the other person that makes life worth living.

There is only one place in the story that seems contrived. The reader doesn't find out that Kate is burned out on work because of something serious that happened. When it comes time to decide to either stay or go, we find out there is something that happened with one of the kids Kate worked with and that is something that seems thrown in. However, that is such a small thing compared to the very real down-to-earth writing. Wade seems to be a master at dialogue and character development. Even the peripheral characters are well-developed and all of them have individual personalities. That's very hard to do for any writer. 

Wade had created a most delightful romance that reminds me of those anticipation moments that you expect from veteran authors. This is author is one you should be watching. It's a keeper, and very much worth the money.

Here's a 5 of 5 stars novel. Buy it!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
My Stubborn Heart
• Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
Becky Wade


Becky Wade is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas.


A Sensational CBA Debut in Contemporary Romance!

This summer author Becky Wade makes her CBA debut with a fun -- and funny -- contemporary romance. Amidst the light-hearted banter and laugh-out-loud moments is a compelling spiritual journey of one woman's choice to listen to God and wait on him. Filled with humor and authentic romance, My Stubborn Heart is shaping up to be the hit of the summer.

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate's grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house. ;Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded -- hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Kate can't help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.

If you would like to read the first chapter of My Stubborn Heart, go HERE.


3) Creating: More Magic in The Hunger Games(T by Randy Ingermanson

Third article in Randy Ingermanson's monthly newsletter reprinted with permission.

Every novelist should read THE HUNGER GAMES. It's become one of the standard works of fiction that everybody knows.

When you read a great novel, you should also analyze it to see how it works. To see if you can steal any of its techniques.

Last month I began my analysis of THE HUNGER GAMES by writing a one-sentence summary of the book.

This month, I had intended to analyze the Three-Act Structure of the novel, but I'm thinking that it makes more sense to first talk about the characters.

All great fiction is built on great characters. THE HUNGER GAMES has several superb characters. What makes them work?

We'll begin with Katniss Everdeen, the lead character. Katniss is not a completely likable character. She is sometimes self-centered and occasionally acts without thinking. Katniss has a tough outer shell and she really only loves one other person on the planet.

What makes us love Katniss? Why do we root for her?

We love Katniss because she loves her little sister Prim, one of the very few characters in the novel who is genuinely good. Katniss will do anything to make sure Prim doesn't go hungry and that she lives in some sort of safety.

Katniss hunts in the woods illegally so she can put food on the table for Prim. Katniss won't let Prim put her name in the Hunger Games lottery extra times, which would get her free food from the corrupt government. Katniss even puts up with Prim's surly cat.

So it's a massive disaster for Katniss at the end of chapter one when Prim's name is drawn to represent District 12 in the Hunger Games.

This is a death sentence and the reader knows it. How could this happen? Lots of other kids have their name on dozens of lottery tickets. Katniss has her name on 20. Prim's name is there only once. Yet her name is drawn. It's not fair!

Anyone would be in shock if their sister's name were drawn in the lottery. Anyone would take a few seconds to freak out. But most people wouldn't do anything about it.

Katniss isn't most people. Almost instantly, she goes into action, moving to intercept Prim. Before Prim can go up on the stage, Katniss has reached her. The reader doesn't know it yet, but there's one thing Katniss can do to save Prim.

Katniss can volunteer to go in her place.

You have to love somebody a lot to do that. Katniss loves Prim more than anything. She doesn't even think about it. She just acts.

That's why we love her. That's why we'll forgive her later for her harshness and self-centered behavior.

Now would be a good time to talk about values. Values are important because they drive a character's actions, and therefore they drive the story.

"Values" is a word that gets used in many different ways by different people.

Let me define what I mean by "values."

Values are "core truths" for a character that take this form: "Nothing is more important than __________."

For example, most characters in most novels would agree that, "Nothing is more important than survival."

The survival instinct runs strong. Katniss certainly agrees with this one. Yet she's just taken on her sister's death sentence. Why?

Because Katniss has another value: "Nothing is more important than protecting my sister Prim."

Two values in conflict with each other. They can't both be true. Which of them is "more true?"

If you asked Katniss at the beginning of the story, she'd probably say that they're equally true. Of course survival has the highest priority. And of course Prim has the highest priority. There's no way to know which is a stronger value for Katniss.

Until you put her back to the wall and force her to choose.

Katniss can't have both.

She chooses Prim. Prim is more important to Katniss than survival.

But Katniss has a third value that she believes in, and it's a value that's going to dictate many of her choices throughout the novel. This value is implicit. Katniss never says it anywhere, but she does believe it:

"Nothing is more important than avoiding love, because the more people you love, the more people you have to lose, and losing them is intolerable."

Katniss once loved her father, but she lost him in the mine explosion.

She once loved her mother, but her mother went into a stuporous depression after the death of her husband and Katniss has lost the ability to love her.

The only person Katniss loves now is Prim, and the government has used that to put Katniss in the arena. That is the hazard of love. Katniss is terrified of love.

There's another person Katniss is tempted to love in the novel -- the other tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark.

Peeta is a decent guy. Honest, hard-working, kind. Peeta once saved Katniss's life, years ago when she was starving to death. He got a beating for it, but he did it anyway, knowing he'd be punished.

Peeta is a wonderful guy, and he's been in love with Katniss ever since he can remember.

If Katniss were free to love him back, maybe she would. But she's not free. Peeta is going to the Hunger Games right along with Katniss, and they can't both survive.

Whether she likes Peeta or not, Katniss doesn't dare love him, because it'll hurt too much to lose him.

So there we have it. Katniss has three core values. Two of those are put in conflict very early in the story, forcing Katniss to make a horrible choice.

Once the choice is made, she has to live with it. What's going to guide her through the rest of the story?

Two things: her ambition and her goal.

It's easy to confuse these two things. By the word "ambition" I mean the abstract thing Katniss wants most. That thing is "to stay alive."

The problem is that "staying alive" can take many forms. Katniss needs a specific, concrete strategy -- a "goal."

Katniss has a simple goal: When the Games begin, she will avoid fighting. She'll run and hide while the others kill each other. If somebody finds her, she'll run if possible. She'll fight as a last resort.

This strategy might keep her alive or it might fail, but it's in line with Katniss's values and it tells her clearly how to behave. It's a good goal going into the Games.

If Katniss were the only character we cared about in the faceless mob, then the story would be a simple survival tale.

But Peeta makes it a lot more complicated. Peeta is a genuinely good person and we care about him because he once saved Katniss from starving.

Peeta has three values:

* Nothing is more important than survival.

* Nothing is more important than keeping Katniss alive.

* Nothing is more important than being true to who you

We never get inside Peeta's head, so it's not so easy to know how he handles the conflicts between these values. Eventually, we realize that he values the survival of Katniss more than his own survival.

So Peeta's ambition is identical to Katniss's. The abstract thing he wants most is to keep her alive.

He translates this into a specific and concrete goal. When the Games begin, he will join forces with the brutal "Career Tributes." He'll help them hunt down the weak. He'll be there when they corner Katniss. And when they swoop in for the kill, he'll take them out -- as many as he can, giving Katniss her best chance against the rest.

This is a hard choice. To execute this plan, Peeta has to violate his principles and kill the weak. He has to sacrifice himself. He has no guarantee that Katniss will survive, but it's the best he can see to do.

Going into the Games, Katniss and Peeta have clear goals. Things ought to go simply, but they never do in combat. The rest of the story shows us Katniss and Peeta shifting their goals a bit as things go horribly wrong.

But always, their goals are guided by their shared ambition -- keeping Katniss alive.

And always, their actions are guided by the best balance they can find between their conflicting values.

What makes THE HUNGER GAMES WORK? At its core, it's the tectonic conflict in values for both Katniss and Peeta.

To survive, Katniss has to pretend to be in love with Peeta. But actions have consequences, and once you've kissed a guy, you've opened the door for that deadly thing called love.

To help Katniss survive, Peeta has to sacrifice his own safety. But his self-sacrifice arouses love in her, and love will get Katniss killed if she isn't careful.

There's more to say about THE HUNGER GAMES, and we'll say more of it next month in this column.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced
Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 31,000 readers.
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Special interview with Robert Liparulo - 13th Tribe

Robert Liparulo 

I loved The 13th Tribe just released by Thoma Nelson which I reviewed here, and every other novel he's written. So I asked Bob if he had time for another interview. He did, so we did it.  So here it is~

Gina:  Here are things that I know about you… you are kind, generous, focused, love God with all your heart, married with children, and you have a good memory. What else? Tell us about some of your hopes and dreams, please. Tell us about the real Bob Liparulo…

Bob: Hmmm . . . what else do you know about me? 

Gina: LOL

Bob: No, thanks for those kind thoughts. I know God wired me to write, so I’m living my dream. I hope that He will allow me to do it until I die. I like to travel, and would like to take my family to live for at least three months in each of my favorite places: Tuscany, London, the Azores Islands, Berchtesgaden (Germany), Maui. Then find some new favorites.
I’d like to eventually start a program for new writers, in which a foundation I create gives them a place to stay and living expenses for a year, so they can finish a novel and have a little time to find an agent and (I hope) a publisher. That’s a dream that may be in the far future, but I’ve been thinking about it for ten year; I hope I’m closer than when I started. I know how difficult it is to have a full-time job and a family to support, and this burning desire to get a novel-writing career off the ground. It could be extremely frustrating.

Gina: That is such a fabulous ambition. I think it would be great to for upcoming authors to be able to completely concentrate on their work, and have time to find a publisher without having to worry about bills or where the next meal comes from.

I can feel your heart for God in your writing. I also can read your heart for children and young people. You have a running theme with children in your books for adults. Why do you almost always have a child character; and how do you get their dialogue so true to life?

Bob: I write thrillers, which almost always necessitates bringing protagonists to a near breaking point. For me, the thought of my family being in danger would do that . . . or really any child. They’re most precious commodity, and I believe God had given us specific instructions to protect them. So, getting children into my stories is a way of raising the stakes for the protagonists.

And 6 Young Adult Novels
Writing children realistically I think is a matter of two things: I remember my own childhood very well. I had an incredibly fantastic childhood. My parents were wonderful, and my father was an Air Force officer, which allowed us to live and travel throughout the world. I’m still very much in touch with that inner child. And it also helps that I have four children of my own. I’m very involved in their lives; we’re always doing things and hanging out. So I get to observe them being kids. I don’t consciously absorb their vocabulary and mannerisms for my stories, but I’m taking it all in just the same.

Gina: What a blessing to be able to view up close and personal your children at play and growing up. That is a sign of a great father. And that does shine in your writing.

On a little different note, who is your favorite fiction author, Bob? What about that author inspired you to write? What book are you reading now?

Bob: My favorite author, the one whose books I most enjoy and who inspired me to be a novelist, is Richard Matheson. When I was twelve, I read his I Am Legend, and it moved me to tears. I thought, If books can do that—make a pretty tough kid cry using only words—I want to do that. Along the way, I fell in love with the stories of Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Peter Benchley, Thomas Perry, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Dean Koontz . . . it’s a long list. Right now, I’m reading Switch by Elmore Leonard (my second-favorite writer) and Eric Wilson’s Two Seconds Late.

Gina: I noticed in the Christian Fiction Magazine interview with Kim Ford that you felt God calling you to write in a different direction pouring more of your faith into the soul of your writing. You poured so much work into research of all kinds, including theology, is there any particular part of that research that made your heart resonate? Would you tell us about it?

Bob: Writing about vigilantes, about frontier justice, I was particularly interested in God’s forgiveness and grace. I wanted to make a correlation between how difficult it is for humans to forgive—especially a heinous crime—or grasp the difference between justice and retaliation and God’s forgiving nature. I thought I understood how loving and gracious God is, but even so, I was blown away be the many, many times He forgives us the most terrible things. We are unfaithful, blasphemous, cruel—and He still treats us with love and forgiveness. With Him, grace knows no bounds. I can't even get my head around it, it’s so beautiful, so not human. I pray that I may see things with His eyes a little more every day.

Gina: Now that The 13th Tribe is out, and you are working on the sequel, and you are writing a screenplay, tell us how you manage your time. What kind of discipline is required? What does your day look like? Is there anything that you find particularly challenging?

Bob: Hmmm . . . you know, maybe I need to work smarter, not harder, but I’ve found that it’s all about putting in the time. I usually spend my days on administrative tasks, setting up my schedule, lining up interviews for research, staying organized. That way I can break away if my wife or kids need me for something. Then I start writing around nine in the evening and stop at three or four in the morning, which gives me uninterrupted time to immerse myself in my story. The discipline to put in those hours took a long time to develop. It’s pretty routine now, and it seems to work.

Gina: Which characters from The 13th Tribe will appear in the sequel? Jagger???

Bob:I better not say; it might spoil the fun for people who haven’t read The 13th Tribe yet. What I can say about the sequel: As the story opens, we’re back at St. Catherine’s Monastery when a group attacks. We find out there is another group of immortals, called the Clan. These guys are really nasty. They don’t care for God at all, and their only goal is to grief God by hurting his children. They get their hands on an artifact that allows them to peel back the curtain between our world and the spiritual realm. At the same time, the Tribe returns to the monastery to kidnap someone. Our heroes have to stop both the Clan and the Tribe. I had a great time writing it.

Gina:Oh man! What a teaser :) There's no wonder you write suspense so well. I can't even imagine how intense that one will be! 

If you were sitting on the back porch on a summer day drinking ice tea with Grasshopper, who you are mentoring, and your mentor… What would the conversation be about?

Bob: I’d ask him what he was doing on the porch talking to me: He needs to be back at his writing desk finishing his latest project. Finishing things is the number discipline all writers must possess. Don’t change your mind mid-story, don’t revise the first half until there’s a second half, don’t give up. Finish everything you start, even if no one ever sees it.

(I'm thrilled that Bob took the time to answer some questions. I hope you take the time to either order his new book, or any of his previous works. To find out more about them, go to his website  here.)

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