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) 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'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!

Friday, July 17, 2015

FREE Short Romance Story

Recently, in searching through my email archives for something, I happened to find the submission of a short story I'd made to a woman's magazine a few years ago. The editor had written back once to say they'd received the submission, then I never heard another word regarding the story. Ah, there was something that didn't happen often, LOL!

Anyway, it's very short, just a little over 1,000 words, a pleasant and light read you can enjoy while waiting to go into the doctor's office or with your morning coffee. It's called "Autumn Fireworks," and we're in July, but that's okay. Bringing a little autumn cool to this hot summer. Rated "G" for General Audiences, just FYI. The magazine was rather old-fashioned in nature, and so I tailored this read for them. Enjoy!

By Connie Keenan

            Laura Rosen had no time that morning for daydreaming, yet she couldn’t help herself. Through the shop’s window she could see the most gorgeous day, with playful autumn breezes sweeping leaves from the streets into mystical circles of red, brown, gold and burnt orange.
            You’re a little too old for daydreaming, she scolded herself, and a lot too busy.
            Talk about an understatement. A new shipment of greeting cards had come in and the stationery aisles needed tidying up. She loved the kids coming into the shop but dreaded the tornado-style mess they left in their wake following the mad search for school supplies. There were other chores on her To-Do list and no guarantee she’d get everything done before closing up her shop at the end of the day.
            Sunday—that would be her day. After church, it would be her time to reacquaint herself with that sweetly familiar old town. She’d grown up there, living on her parents’ dairy farm. That is, until she’d headed off for college and to see the world.
Well, she’d seen it. Then it had only been a matter of time before her heart had led the way back home, where she felt the strong sense of belonging.
            “Mary?” she called out, hearing the bell tinkle over the door, announcing someone had entered.
            Mary Simmons was a spry, little sparrow of a grandmother, a retiree who’d answered Laura’s ad for a part-timer to help her out in the shop. She couldn’t have asked for a better employee or friend, for that matter. But the visitor that morning definitely wasn’t Mary, being that he was definitely a guy. A tall, lanky guy. It took Laura a moment, but she finally recognized the blue-eyed police officer standing right in front of her.
            “Cal Becker?” she asked.
            “Yeah. Hey, Laura.” Her former classmate suddenly remembered his manners and removed his police hat. “Never thought I’d see you again. Where’ve you been?”
            “Trying to escape the big city. And I finally succeed,” she quipped, laughing with him.
            “Well, good. Glad to hear that.”
            Laura tilted her head, studying him. Since Cal was about three years older, he had to be about thirty-five now. There were lines on his plain but pleasant face that hadn’t been there before, as there were now on hers, as well. Still, he’d lost none of that boyish shyness of his that she recalled.
            “Married now? Have a family?” she asked.
            “Me? Oh, no. But as a matter of fact, I’m—I’ll be attending a wedding next week,” he explained. “Guy on the force is getting married. I’m here to pick up a card.” Turning to the display of greeting cards, Cal scanned them quickly before selecting one and dropping it. “That’s good enough—oops.”
            She bit her lower lip to keep from chuckling. “That is a nice card.”
            “Uh-huh. You know, they, uh, told me you bought this place.”
            “I did. Funny thing, huh?”
            “Yep. I remember we spent a lot of time here as kids. You worked here, and . . . ” Cal licked his lips as he pulled out some money to pay for his purchase. “ . . . I usually came in for stuff.”
            “Mmm-hmmm. Funny, too, that I worked here and now I own it.”
            “More than funny. It’s nice. Real nice.” He hesitated after she gave him his change. His badge, with BECKER in huge letters, caught the light. “You married some city guy, Laura?”
            “Almost. But it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. I’m still single, too.”
            “Oh, good! I mean—” Cal shook his head and frowned. “It’s good to see you again. I’m still here all the time. Some things never change.”
            The bell over the door tinkled again. This time it was Mary, wearing a delightful sweater the colors of autumn. She exchanged a greeting with the policeman. Laura caught her mischievous smirk when Cal wasn’t looking.
            “Some things shouldn’t change,” Laura told him. “It’ll be wonderful seeing you in here again.”
            “Thanks. ’Bye.” Those long legs carried him to the door. He paused and turned to say softly over his shoulder, “Laura, you were sorely missed.”
            Mary didn’t wait long after the door closed behind him. “Boy, a girl could get hurt with all that TNT flying between you two!” she exclaimed.
            Laura was confused. “TNT?”
            “Yes. As in, what puts the boom! in fireworks.”
            She laughed. “Very funny, Mary. Cal is just an old friend from school.”
            But now, all these years later, it dawned on her: As a teenager she had worked in the shop and Cal—gangly, shy Cal—had always found some excuse to come in. He’d buy pens or a fishing magazine, or a book from the rack. She remembered he liked mysteries.
            The fascinating thing was that he had never once made her heart skip an excited beat the way he had now. How different it was, now that he’d grown into a man and she’d become a woman. Laura knew she hadn’t imagined it: relief had sparked in his eyes when she’d told him she hadn’t married in all those years.
            She also knew she hadn’t imagined the tingle that had gone through her. Now, remembering back, it wasn’t for the first time since she’d known him, either. It had happened in their youth, too, sometimes when those eyes of electric blue had met hers.
            Again the bell sounded. Whirling around, she saw Cal in the doorway again. He stood, squaring his shoulders as he removed his hat again. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Mary discreetly step away.
            “Forgot something?” she asked him.
            “Well, Laura, about the wedding next week . . .” Cal took a deep breath. “Besides the card . . . I could also use a date. If you’re not doing anything, I’d really enjoy having you on my arm.”
            Laura’s smile grew wider, winning one from him. “Well, Officer Becker, I thought you’d never ask. . . . ”


Copyright 2015 by Connie Keenan

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 2015 in Pictures

Yes, I know it's early to post pictures for the month! But the birth of grandchild # 4, Billy Keenan, has made this July awesome. The little guy is the first child of our elder son Joey and his wife, Iris, and we're all thrilled to welcome him to the family! Our trip up North included a visit with my cousin Pep and his family and my bestie forever, Linda Sherman, plus we stole away for a few hours to the one & only Jersey Shore. Earlier in the month, we enjoyed the 4th of July with our grandkids here in NC, Aubrey, Matthew & Shannon.

So how's your July going?

Sunday, July 12, 2015


With August right around the corner, time to unveil my upcoming book's cover!

As I said in my earlier post this month, I've been busy with family goings-on that have been highlighted by the birth of our grandson, William Joseph Keenan (yes, he's named after his Grandpa, my husband). But I'm now back at work on the book, which is still on the way. That means this may be a late August release, but that's okay! This "baby" is on its way to your reading device shortly.

More news, plus a little background on the book (or "the story behind the story") to come.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Welcome Baby Billy!

As you can tell, my new book has been slightly delayed--and that's because we've been in New Jersey for the birth of our fourth grandchild, William Joseph Keenan. Of course, we just call him Billy!

This is the first child of our elder son, Joey, and his wife, Iris. So this month has started off with quite a blessing! Hopefully, he'll be meeting his excited cousins, Aubrey, Matthew & Brody, within a few months. Thank the Lord for grandkids!