JOANN DURGIN is a full-time estate administration paralegal and lives in southern Indiana with her husband and three children. She is a winner and finalist in several writing contests, an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and its Indiana chapter, as well as the Romance Writers of America. Awakening, JoAnn’s debut novel featuring the adventures of Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke, released in November 2010. Second Time Around, the second in The Lewis Legacy Series, released in September 2011. It’s her desire to touch hearts with the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. She’d love to hear from you at www.joanndurgin.com or send her a friend request on Facebook.
SECOND TIME AROUND
by JoAnn Durgin
Published by Torn Veil Books (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
ABOUT THE BOOK
A fateful misstep steals a newlywed’s memories and becomes her groom’s fall from grace. Determined to help her reclaim her life, Marc Thompson makes great strides until a ghost from the past threatens to destroy it all. Join their journey as Marc and Natalie travel from Massachusetts to Montana and enlist the help of Sam and Lexa Lewis and the lively TeamWork crew. Along the way, they discover that surrendering all isn’t failure, it’s faith, and it might be the only way back to one another . . . the second time around.
Second Time Around has grace as its central theme, with Hebrews 4:16 as the key verse: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB). Other themes are also present−forgiveness being a major one. The pervasive truth I’d like the reader to see is that when we put ourselves aside and give it all to the Savior, He will bless. So many people have trouble surrendering their lives and their troubles to Someone more capable, but when they do, they find strength, solace, comfort, peace and joy. As Marc Thompson, my hero in Second Time Around, learns, surrendering all at the throne of grace isn’t failure (his greatest fear), it’s simply faith.
Readers, buy your copy of Second Time Around today!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR
“Getting to the Heart of Contemporary Christian Romance”
Lately I’ve been pondering why romance novels in general are popular, and more specifically, what elements make them popular. While I’m aware there are detractors who look down their noses and believe romance equates with “fluff” or claim not to read romance for various reasons, based on sales figures and the preponderance of romance novels available, it would appear romance is alive and well and will be around for a long time to come. Thank the Lord! Not to be flippant or discount any of the following, but−strictly for the record−here are some of the predominant reasons I’ve heard for not reading (or writing) romance novels: Never had it, don’t want it, had it and lost it or (perhaps saddest of all), don’t think I’ll ever find it.
Let me start with the reason I personally write romance. First of all, I write what I love to read, and nothing is more precious than love. God first loved us, after all. I’m blessed to have great love in my life and have been married to the same man for almost a quarter century. While not a prerequisite for writing romance, of course, I know it’s helped in my own writing. Of course, there are many forms of love, but is there anything more exciting than that first blush of love, that tingly feeling, that shortness of breath from a glance or a touch, when a man and woman first realize there’s something between them? Sometimes it’s at first glance (it can happen!), but most often love takes time. Depending on characters and circumstances, a lasting, lifelong kind of love can take anywhere from days, weeks, months or years to develop.
If you’ve read my debut novel, Awakening, you’ll know that I don’t write formulaic romance. Sure, it follows the basic formula, and I’m a great believer in happy endings. When you start the book, you pretty much know how it’s going to end, but it’s the unique journey of the characters that makes the difference. I’ve had those who shook their heads and told me I got Sam and Lexa together too quickly in the book, they kissed too early, there wasn’t some earth-shaking event that kept them apart, and I was even told several times over that no one would want to read a book about a couple working together in a summer missions camp. Good thing I didn’t listen and followed the Lord’s leading, and readers are responding in a very positive way. Almost a year after its release, I’m thankful Awakening is still selling very well, especially as a debut author with a new publisher. I give all the praise and honor to the Lord as He gives me the inspiration and the impetus to keep going when arrows are slung my way (it’s inevitable and, trust me, it does happen – one of those hard, but important, lessons to learn as a new author).
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to propose the following as reasons why Awakening is a marketable novel. Please understand I share these not from any "Look at me!” viewpoint but because I’ve been asked by other writers, especially those starting out, wanting to know how I broke “out of the mold.” These are my specific ideas and thoughts concerning Awakening, but many of the following elements would apply to any romance novel.
1. A hero and heroine who are attracted to one another physically, mentally, intellectually and emotionally (they challenge one another on certain levels)
2. A spiritual journey on both the part of the hero and heroine
3. Circumstances that force them together, willingly or not
4. Something in the past of both the hero and heroine that impacts their outlook on love
5. Internal and external conflicts
6. A lively cast of secondary characters
7. Realistic, smart dialogue
8. Humor and identifiable situations even in the midst of unusual circumstances at times
9. Good pacing – action interspersed with dialogue for a plot that moves
10. Something that breaks the hero and heroine apart (no matter the length of time), but they find their happy ending by the end
The last item on the above list is key in Awakening. Sam and Lexa experience a breakup halfway through the novel, but based on the strong foundation and mutual respect they’ve developed, they overcome it. I’ve heard that once a couple is “together” in a novel, there’s no reason for the reader to keep reading. This is why most romance novels build up to the romantic reunion in the final pages. But it’s my belief this “formula” is stale for many readers, and it’s why they find Sam and Lexa’s story refreshing. The reader will keep reading if the writer gives them a reason to keep reading. With my characters, there’s a maturity level, and a willingness to seek the Lord’s will, that helps them face the obstacles. They’re more tentative with one another and don’t immediately resume their romance, but they work through difficulties together, and that bonds them and strengthens the friendship. When their love is later tested by a geographical separation, this couple stands the test of time.
The most important element in my romances is faith. My readers know when they pick up one of my books, they’re going to get a solid biblical message. The spiritual journey of a character should be interwoven, natural and seamless. My books aren’t literary, but they’re the books of my heart. As long as I stay true to the Lord, I know He’ll continue to open the doors of His choosing−but in His time, not mine. The story of my journey to publication is posted on my website at www.joanndurgin.com.
Thanks so much for allowing me to share with you today! Blessings. Matthew 5:16
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Thank you, JoAnn, for sharing with us today.
Guest Question: What is the one element of a Christian romance (whether historical or contemporary) that makes it memorable for you as a reader?