Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Angsty Romances

I’m linking to Top 5 Wednesday (#T5W) on Goodreads to share five of my favorite angsty romances. So that we’re all on the same page here, let’s define the term:

adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.

Angsty Romances

  1. My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade I’m really trying to figure out how to fit a re-read of this book into my schedule. As a grieving widow, Matt Jarreau is the depressed, broody hero who needs the determined Kate Donovan to draw him out.
  2. The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp Have you noticed how often I mention this series? It’s because it’s that good. My intention is to wear you down until you just buy it already. And I’m pretty sure you can’t find a more brooding hero than Mr. Thorne. (This is, after all, based on Jane Eyre.)
  3. This Dread Road by Olivia Folmar Ard The mood of this book isn’t dark, but it doesn’t sugarcoat the anger, grief, and bitterness that have a way or weaving themselves into life and relationships, even marriage.
  4. Blue Columbine by Jennifer Rodewald The author did a masterful job with an alcoholic hero, Andrew Harris. The result is an intense, moving – angsty – romance that ultimately is filled with hope.
  5. Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter Riley Callahan is returning home from active duty in Afghanistan as an amputee. He endures the assistance of Paige, his best friend, who has relegated him to the friend zone. A recipe for some angsty, heart-tugging romance.

What are your favorite angsty romances?

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Author Interview with Robin Patchen

Author Interview Twisted Lies by Robin PatchenRobin Patchen has released the second book in her Hidden Truth series, Twisted Lies. Robin is a fellow 10 Minute Novelist, and a terrific writer and editor. I can’t wait to get started on the Hidden Truth series!

She thought they’d never find her.  And then her daughter vanished.

Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions of dollars from his financial firm, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.

Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade.

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?

Author Interview Finding Amanda by Robin PatchenMaybe it’s merely my perception, but it seems there’s been a surge in Christian romantic suspense, which includes your Hidden Truth series and Finding Amanda. The best-written books in that genre, in my opinion, are those able to resolve the mystery, develop the romance, and deliver a cohesive faith message, perhaps while developing a series-long arc for the main characters, without short-changing or rushing any of those aspects. It’s a lot to juggle. What appeals to you about the genre?

I love suspense. It’s probably my favorite genre to read, because I love to see how characters react under pressure and in fear. I think we can all wear lovely masks when we feel safe, but when our lives are in danger—or worse, when the lives of the people we love are in danger—the masks fall off, and we show the world, and maybe discover for ourselves, who we really are. In my latest book, the hero and heroine are not believers, but when they fear for their lives, they both pray. Not the Scripture-laced prayers that believers might come up with, but desperate, terrified prayers for help. Let’s face it: when the guns are pointed or the headlights are coming too fast to jump out of the way, everybody in the world says, “Oh, God.” Even atheists will call out to Him in that moment. So I like to put my characters in peril, to see who they really are. In this book, along with the peril that’s caused the hero and heroine to seek God, I use a four-year-old girl to open her mother’s eyes to His presence. It’s subtle. I hope it works.

You’ve written several novels and several novellas. How does writing at varying lengths affect your storytelling? Any tips for writing short or writing long?

Author Interview One Christmas Eve by Robin PatchenI wrote my first novella because, honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. My first (terrible, never-to-see-the-light-of-day) book weighed in at over 300,000 words. When I decided to attempt a novella, I knew I had to stick to one story objective and give myself limited characters and a limited time frame. One Christmas Eve takes place in less than 24 hours. I’ve loosened up on those self-imposed rules a bit, and I’ve managed to write four novellas that all come in at about a hundred pages.

With the long books, I usually aim for about 90,000 words, and I usually go over that by 10,000 words or more. I can’t seem to get my word count under control with the longer books, so perhaps my advice would be, don’t take advice from me.

Faith House and One Christmas Eve are both Christmas novellas. What liberties can you take with Christmas storytelling? What do you think makes these stories uniquely appealing to readers?

Most of us love Christmas and all it represents, so Christmas stories can add to readers’ holiday experience. And don’t we like to believe in the idea of Christmas magic? A writer can write perfectly “normal” books the vast majority of time but add a little supernatural to a Christmas story. Normandie Fischer did this with great success in her delightful novella, Twilight Christmas. If I do another Christmas story, I’ll be adding a little magic to it.

Author Interview Faith Home by Robin PatchenHow do you think being a hybrid author (being both independently and traditionally published) can be beneficial to authors?

I love indie publishing, but there is a huge portion of the population that doesn’t read e-books and still buys their books at bookstores or borrows them from the library. I’d like to reach those readers, too, and traditional publishing is still the best way to do that. There are pros and cons to both indie and traditional publishing. By doing both, an author can reap the benefits of both markets and can mitigate a lot of the negatives they each bring to the table.

In addition to your own writing, you are active in helping other writers through the Quid Pro Quills blog, Robin’s Red Pen editing services, and your contribution to 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. What aspects of writing and publishing are you most compelled to share with writers and aspiring writers to help them accomplish their goals?

Author Interview 5 Editors TackleThat’s such a great question. I certainly don’t know everything about writing, and there are so many fantastic authors who are farther along this path than I am, but I do feel a responsibility to share what I know with fellow authors, especially Christian authors. We believers have been given a message, and we’ve been tasked with taking that message to the world. As novelists, we have a unique ability to share Truth through the medium of story in a way that can reach people who might not otherwise want to hear what we have to say.

I love to help writers improve their prose. So many writers have good stories but need help in communicating them. I love to replace boring words with strong ones, to find ways to make the prose more impactful, to teach devices that draw out readers’ emotions. I love help writers make their good writing great or their great writing sparkle. And I love to see those stories reach the market and reach readers’ hearts.

I interview a lot of authors who are juggling their passion for writing, the business of publishing, and their mom duties. What tips do you have for establishing a healthy balance that allows you to meet the needs of yourself and your family as well as your writing?

Author Interview Convenient Lies by Robin PatchenIt’s probably easier for me, because my kids are teenagers. I write when my kids are at school and my husband is at work, and I leave other tasks, those that don’t take as much concentration and mental energy, for when my family is home. The key for me is to prioritize my time. Writing comes first, then emails, then editing, then marketing tasks. If I spend my first two hours of work every day writing, then I feel like everything else I do that day is gravy.

Author Interview Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen





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Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes

Fish Fry Edition


Celebrating 20 Years

SSBVM Fish FryOur parish, Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Middletown, Pa, has been hosting an annual Lenten fish fry each Friday of Lent (excluding Good Friday) for twenty years! It’s a local attraction of sorts with delicious food and a fun and friendly atmosphere. More than 100 volunteers are required each week to keep the operation running.


The Queue

Fish Fry QueueThe line starts here in the gym. It’s hard to make out in this picture, but the line wraps around the perimeter then weaves back and forth between rows of chairs. The area in the center is set up with balls and hoops to keep the little kids occupied while they wait. Lenten comic strips decorate the walls along with the menu.


The Dining Room

Fish Fry DiningOnce you make it through the gym, you are seated downstairs in the upper or lower cafeteria where you are greeted by volunteer servers and a basket of rolls.



Fish Fry Menu 1Fish Fry Menu 2Here’s a peek at the menu. The fish & chips are most popular, but you can choose crab cakes, macaroni and cheese, baked haddock, shrimp, scallops, pierogies, and more!


All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat FishThese are the all-you-can-eat fish & chips baskets. The two- or three-piece fish & chips are enough for us, but these are extremely popular.



Fish Fry DessertsYou’d better hope you didn’t give up sweets or dessert for Lent because these desserts are out of this world. My son and I are fans of the coconut cream pie. The most popular dessert – also delicious! – is the lemon-berry mascarpone cake.


Chocolate-Dipped Eggs

Dipped EggsIn case you didn’t have room for dessert after all that fish and French fries, you can buy one of these hand-dipped 2.4-oz. chocolate eggs for $1.00. They come in peanut butter, butter cream, peppermint, and coconut cream and are dipped in either milk, dark, or white chocolate. In 2016, volunteers made 62,000 eggs!

Do you patronize a local fish fry during Lent?


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

 Thanks for stopping by! Stay a while and look around. Leave a comment. Share with a friend. If you like what you see, please sign up from my author newsletter to keep up-to-date on new releases, extras, and hot deals!
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Catholic Writers Guild Writers Retreat Slated for October 2017

Catholic Writers Guild logoIf you are surrounded by sufficient silence and solicitude to nourish your creativity . . . I simply cannot relate. My dearly beloved noisemakers are always nearby, sometimes physically clinging to me. Often completing thoughts, let alone sentences strung together to complete a novel, is a struggle of epic proportions.

Even if you, however, have ideal conditions for writing, a change of environment, away from the daily distractions of home or office, could be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

Dangling the words “writers retreat” before me when I am unable to participate, tempts me to envy. But maybe your circumstances are different. If they are, I recommend a writing getaway. Continue reading

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Rightfully Ours Recipes

Unlike in Stay With Me (Rebecca Rhodes) and Ornamental Graces (Grandma Malone), no character in Rightfully Ours is known for baking. Mrs. Mueller can apparently make a mean casserole and a delicious apple dumpling, but Paul and Rachel are preoccupied by things other than what hits the dinner table – namely each other and the search for buried treasure.

Still, Rachel fills a boring afternoon by making lentil soup and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Both of these recipes are delicious and simple enough for any teen to make!

I shared my lentil soup recipe at CatholicMom for Meatless Fridays.

The chocolate chip recipe is my go-to cookie recipe, which is easily adapted to make jumbo or bar cookies. The recipe can be found in Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook. I typically use butter rather than margarine, milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet, and forego the nuts.

Meatless Friday: Lentil Soup

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. granulated sugar

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. margarine or butter, softened

1 egg

2 – 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. coarsely-chopped nuts (optional)

1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix sugars, margarine, and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. (Centers will be soft.) Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Yield: about 6 dozen cookies; 90 calories per cookie.

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Rightfully Ours Playlist

While you won’t find the lyrics in the book, real songs were connect to the writing of Rightfully Ours. With this playlist, you can follow along with the songs on Paul’s iPod – the one that belonged to his dad and mysteriously “speaks” to him. Somehow, the right song comes along at the right time. Also included are a couple of songs that Paul and Rachel dance to at Sean and Amanda’s wedding reception. This list follows the same order the songs are encountered in the book. Enjoy!

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Rightfully Ours Discussion Questions

BookshelfThe questions below are recommended for use in classrooms or other settings, such as book clubs. Have you considered reading Rightfully Ours with your book club?

Click the link below for a .pdf file of ten reflective questions about the book to deepen your discussion or jumpstart your conversation.

Discussion Questions for Rightfully Ours

If you’ve never been part of a book club, here are some tips to get you started: How to Start a Book Club and 10 Tips for Starting Your Own Book Club.

I’d love to visit your classroom or book club, in person if possible, but via Skype if you’re not within driving distance of my Hershey, Pennsylvania home.

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