Sunday, August 30, 2015

Excerpt from ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE

That's me, to the right, with a friend! Is that not cool? While on vacation with my husband, Bill, I couldn't resist getting a shot with a REAL painted horse!

And with the release of ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE only weeks away, I thought I'd give readers a little taste of what's on the way.

So here goes, an excerpt from my new, soon-to-be-published Christian romance novel (which as I said before, has paranormal elements).

Enjoy!






“Welcome to Meridian Amusement Park,” Tom said softly. “Opened in 1908. For many years it was a dream come true. That is, for the first owner.”
“Was that your great-great-great grandfather?” she joked.
He led the way in, shaking his head. “No, it was another man. He sold it to my great-grandfather in 1958. That was the real heyday of this park, 1958 to about 1968. He sold it to my grandfather because he was afraid. He was the first one to say it was haunted.”
“By the farmer who killed his family and then killed himself?”
Turning to her, Tom didn’t seem either annoyed or surprised.
“That, and the little girl who fell out of the roller coaster,” he said. “She wasn’t restrained properly. She was also too young and probably shouldn’t have been on the ride anyway. That was in 1924.”
“How old was she?”
“Five, almost six. Her name was Bridget.”
“Ohhh…”
They were walking past a couple of old-fashioned ticket booths. Seeing the park from behind the gates was different from being inside it. Tom flashed her a kind smile.
“I don’t want you to think it’s always been tragic here,” he explained. “Yeah, there was also a man who was said to be disturbed who pushed another man off the Ferris wheel—and he fell about fifty feet to his death. But all that’s happened here hasn’t always been bad.”
“So there were happy times here, too?”
“A lot of happy times. Like—well, this way…”
Deeper into the park with him. With Tom, a guy she barely knew. Her parents knew him from church. Interestingly, Heather didn’t feel threatened by that at all. She felt safe with him.
And where were the ghosts? The spirits hidden in every shadow in that place?
The park wasn’t as scary as it was sad. Sad, lonely—and yes, a tragic place.
She thought back to all the scary movies she had seen. Now that Heather thought about it, she had seen more than she could name, including “classics”—or at least, a friend of hers at Barton Lamplight had called them classics. Movies like Night of the Living Dead, The Omen, The Exorcist. Lots of those slasher-style films, too, like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
The amusement park wasn’t like that. Just an old place, frozen in time. They walked past an old, rusted Himalaya ride. A shop that might have sold baseball caps, T-shirts and plastic cups, other souvenirs, with the park’s logo. An area with games, like the one with the sign that read WIN A TEDDY BEAR, 25¢.
There had been fun there. Once, a long time ago. Heather found herself wishing it was still like that. Wishing the park was still alive.
“From what my grandfather told me,” Tom recounted, tossing out an arm showily at the entrance to the Tunnel of Love, “there were more than a few wedding proposals in this place.”
Heather smiled. “Wish it was still working.”
“Me, too. The water either was drained or they let it all evaporate over the years. Even if it wasn’t,” he told her, “there’s no electricity running through the place.”
“Nowhere in the park?”
“Nowhere.”
“Not even the lights?”
“Nope. I use a flashlight. I try not to come here at night, though.” Tom paused. “Since I was jumped.”
“You were jumped?”
“Yes. That happened in broad daylight, actually. They beat me and they left me there. Made off with my wallet and about thirty dollars. I guess they thought there was more money or something to find here.”
Heather sighed. No wonder he was that way around her the day he’d found her snooping around at the gate.
“Did you ever think about opening it again?” she asked.
“My dad did. He went broke. Not because of the park. He closed it a long time ago, back in ’74. Want to see something amazing?”
“I think the whole place is amazing.” She was being truthful with him. “Sad and old—but amazing.”
Grinning appreciatively, Tom took her gently by the arm and led the way.
“Well, then, you’ll really love this, Heather,” he promised.
He’s like the park.
Where had that thought come from? But it was true. Tom Clayton, though not old, was sad and rather haunted. Heather clasped her hand over the one he had on her forearm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Now Available for PRE-ORDER

So excited to report that ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE is now available for pre-order from Smashwords! Check out the little widget on my sidebar.

Of course, if you prefer to pre-order from Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo or the others, that should be coming very shortly.

Also, please note that this book will actually be released on September 19, 2015. But if you wish, go ahead and reserve your copy!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 2015 Updates

A couple of updates for readers today, to keep you abreast of what's happening on my end:


* ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE -- First draft will be finished TODAY. Although, for editing purposes, as well as preparing this baby's paperback version, I'll be pushing back the "official" release date to September 2015, the book will be ready for pre-order as early as THIS WEEK. I'll keep you updated so that you can reserve your copy!

* GOODNIGHT MY LOVE -- This one's in the works, and like many of my books has a little backstory that I'll be sharing shortly. This is a never-before-published sweet romance novel, historical (1960s), an old-fashioned, touch-your-heart tale! Again, like with CRYSTAL WAVES, I don't have the original and it almost made it to publication, so I will be rewriting it from scratch. For old-fashioned romance story lovers, I really think you'll like this one. Anyhoo, more on that later. Tentatively scheduled for an October/November release, with more info to follow.


That's it so far, but more news to come. Check back!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Movie Review: DO YOU BELIEVE?

Rating: Five doves!

Last night was movie night for my husband and me. Bill reserved a film from Redbox and told me, "We have to go pick it up at the kiosk." He didn't tell me the title of the movie nor what it was about, preferring it be a surprise.

So at the kiosk, I watched the title show up on the machine for the film he'd reserved and the pictures on the cover that formed a cross. I was elated that movie night would be spent on a Christian movie--but I was also leery. Christian movies are sometimes a hit or miss proposition.

Do You Believe, from the same people who brought us God's Not Dead, earned every one of its five doves from this reviewer. This one is a definite hit.

First off, this has quite a cast, including familiar faces that we haven't seen on screen in many years: Lee Majors, Brian Bosworth, Ted McGinley, Cybill Shepherd and Mira Sorvino. Delroy Lindo also has a brief but powerful role as a street preacher. In fact, it is his scene that lights the fire for the story.

Or should I say stories? Other reviewers have commented that Do You Believe? is like a Christian Crash, and to a point, that's true. Like Crash, there are several characters, along with their individual storylines--but that's pretty much where the similarity ends.

Make no mistake: This is definitely a Christian film. The gospel is not at all watered down but rather both presented and demonstrated through the story, which well written and well acted, to the credit of its fine screenwriters and actors. I found myself caring about every one of the characters.

Do You Believe? is about broken people: a runaway pregnant teen with nowhere to go...a soldier who's returned from war and is suffering PTSD...a young woman who has attempted suicide...an older couple who are still grieving the loss of their only child...two brothers involved in crime and headed for an early grave...a dying ex-con...a homeless widow and her daughter...an EMT whose marriage and career are at serious risk, all because he's about to stand up for his faith...a pastor and his wife, who have been unable to have children. Each of these characters will have an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and His cross, and as is the case with every person who has ever lived, each will have to answer the question for themselves: "Do I believe?"

No spoilers ahead--but I will say this movie is an emotional and powerful ride. It's a storyline that moves swiftly; you can't look away for a moment, because each scene is used to develop the characters or move the story along, and that's what's called "good storytelling."

Unlike Crash, Do You Believe? is guaranteed not to win an Academy Award. Do You Believe?, as a reviewer noted on IMDB, is not a movie striving for an earthly award that sits on a mantle and gathers dust. Instead, it seeks to plant a seed of faith in believer and nonbeliever alike, to offer hope to a hopeless and dark world. Its simple and timeless message is that, no matter what trials you face in this world, there is victory and peace to be found at the foot of the Cross on Calvary.

That is worth more than any award on this planet.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blog Title Change

Quick Note to Readers:

I realize "Connie Keenan, Romance Author" has been the name of this blog for, well, probably since I first started writing a blog in the first place!

For some time, though, I've been giving it thought, and ever since the publication of my Christian mainstream work, THE LARKSPUR VALLEY SERIES, I've actually been branching out and writing mainstream, short stories, a little bit of chick lit (blended with romance--that was CHAMPAGNE TASTE). In light of other works, my books really encompass other genres, not just romance anymore. Even my upcoming book is more of a blend of romance and mainstream.

For that reason, "Connie Keenan, Romance Author" is now "Author Connie Keenan." That doesn't mean I won't be writing romance anymore, because I will, most certainly, still write and publish romance novels! But I feel the new blog title is more true to form now I've branched out into other areas.

All in all, hope you enjoy what's coming, and that you be blessed!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Character Interview with Tom Clayton

Though I had originally planned to give readers some background on my upcoming book, sometimes it's a lot more fun--and makes even more sense--coming from the mouth of one of the characters themselves! That hasn't happened since Violet Dunne from FOREVER IN MY HEART came for an interview.

Now we've got Tom Clayton, the hero of ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE, who has graciously agreed to stop by and talk about this upcoming Christian novel which, as it turns out, is about romance...and more. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, relax & enjoy the interview!

ME: Welcome, Tom, to my humble, little blog!

TOM (smiling shyly): Thank you, writer! (Whispering) Um...do I pretend we haven't seen each other every single day since the book began? I'm not sure how to do this.

ME (whispering): Oh, you're doing find, sweetheart. The readers know we've been working together. You just be your wonderful self, answer my questions--but don't give too much away. Okay?

TOM: Got it!

ME: Good. So tell us about ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE. In a nutshell, what is it about?

TOM: Well, the story starts out with Heather Blackburn--that's my Heather, though we don't know each other at the very beginning. She's just been laid off from a very prestigious job in New York City.

ME: She was an editor, right? At a publishing house?

TOM: Yes, that's right. Her dream job. Anyway, she's let go and she doesn't know what direction her life is supposed to take. Her parents have been living in Western North Carolina, and their pastor and his family are planning to take an 11-week sabbatical. They offer Heather, who is coming down to North Carolina because she has lost her apartment up North, as a house-sitter. She's just gotten to the house and is driving around, checking out her surroundings, when she sees signs for an amusement park. That's when she meets me. I own the amusement park.

ME: How cool! But there's something...let's just say, unusual about this amusement park, isn't there?

TOM: Y-yes, absolutely. The amusement park hasn't been used in decades. In fact...it's said to be haunted.

ME: Ahhh, exactly. Okay, well, let's go back to that, but first...tell us about Heather. It's love at first sight between you two, right?

TOM (laughing): No, I wouldn't say that. We don't get off on the right foot at all. But she ends up going to church with her parents, and guess who's also there? Because I'm the piano player for the church. I accompany the worship team.

ME: Very nice! You're also a high school teacher and a coach, but it's the summer, so you're currently not working, right?

TOM: Right. I had decided to spend the summer trying to get the park--or rather, the land it's on, sold.

ME: But nobody wants to buy land that is "haunted," right?

TOM: Unfortunately, that's true. But it's not haunted by ghosts. As a Christian, I have to deal with what is on that land. And I can't do it alone. That's something I have to learn in the story.

ME: Yes, and that's what makes this book a lot different from other Christian romances I have worked on. You're a very brave hero, by the way, and Heather is a very brave heroine.

TOM: I appreciate that, but it's not always easy. There are elements of spiritual warfare. This used to be a beautiful park, a playground for families, but there were tragedies there, and there are things there that don't want to leave. They would also like to come between Heather and me.

ME: That's right. It's important to warn readers that there are elements of horror within the story, too, but at heart, what is really going on there is what you mentioned--spiritual warfare. This isn't easy for either of you, either.

TOM: No, because I've been a Christian since I was younger, in my 20s. I'm 30 now. But I'm at a hard place in my walk, where I'm wavering in the faith. And Heather is just coming to the Lord. This story is also about re-dedication to the Lord and trusting Him no matter what you face, and trusting Him to be Lord over the most important relationship of your life--aside from the one with Him, of course.

ME: Of course! I think we're going to leave it there, Tom. You've given the readers a good idea of what to expect.

TOM (smiling): A good story and, I hope, a blessing!

ME: I agree. Thank you for coming, Tom.

TOM: Thank you, writer! See ya this afternoon! Meet you at the laptop!

ME (giggling): Meet you there!

And remember...ONCE UPON A PAINTED HORSE will be released sometime in August 2015!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Morning Walk and Devotion

Say "Good Morning, Lord" with a walk!
There's a saying (and I don't know who came up with it, but whoever it was, you are truly cool!) that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. This applies to any GOOD habit you would like to make a part of your life.

I'm happy to say that this has been true for me. Earlier this year, I blogged about starting a yoga practice, which has now become a part of my regular routine. Since I also love walking, I began alternating yoga with walking: One morning, I get up early, get my running shoes on, and hit the pavement; the next morning, I get up, put on stretchy pants and head into my office/yoga studio for a half hour or so of my practice. A friend of mine who is a nutritionist loved it when I told her that, and it sounds like she wants to incorporate that idea, of alternating!

For me, music usually plays a role in either activity. Either I take my Ipad Mini along and play yoga/spa music on Pandora or on YouTube, or I tuck my MP3 player into my pocket and listen to music through headphones as I walk.

Except for the past few weeks, I've left the music home and instead have begun to pray throughout my morning walks. Silently--because no one needs to hear me but the Lord. During the walk, I praise Him, pray for family members, for special needs, for my husband's ministry and mine, for the Lord to bless the day with opportunities to share Him with others.

I'm not sure if I've been doing it for 30 days or more yet, but I look forward to those alternate mornings when I invite Jesus to join me. Sometimes I do bring my headphones, and my devotion takes the form of inwardly singing songs of praise to Him, simply being with Him. His holy and sweet presence has elevated walking for me; it is more than an exercise. Rather than face the end of the day, thinking I "couldn't find time" to pray, I instead had the opportunity to spend time with my precious Heavenly Father as the sun was coming up over the horizon.

That's more than bodily exercise. It sort of brings new meaning to the term "walk with the Lord."

I know the Lord looks forward to our walks, too. It sets the pace for the rest of the day. The physical activity strengthens the heart; the spiritual activity prepares it for the day ahead.

A morning walk & devotion. Try it for 30 days...or more!