Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome Steeple Hill Author Merrillee Whren!

First, I would like to thank the ladies here at Inkwell Inspirations for inviting me to blog. I appreciate this opportunity to share with their readers.

God has given us song so we can praise him and so we can speak in song and encourage each other. I like what Colossians 3:15-17 has to say.

“15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

My taste in music is varied. I listen to a little pop, a little country and a lot of contemporary Christian music, now that we have two Christian radio stations that reach the area where I live. And my books are often flavored with a touch of all those musical tastes.

When I was told that the theme here has to do with songs, I thought the topic was perfect because the idea for the first book that I sold to Steeple Hill came from a country song—“Ain`t That Lonely Yet” by Dwight Yoakam. The song tells the tale of a guy who was dumped by a woman, and now she’s back, calling him on the phone and leaving him notes. His attitude about rekindling the relationship—“ain`t that lonely yet.”

(Listen to Dwight sing the song here.)

The song made me ask this question. How would a Christian guy respond to the return of the woman who had left him standing at the altar in front of a crowded church on their wedding day? The answer to that question resulted in the book, THE HEART’S HOMECOMING. I wrote the story and could hardly wait until I got to the scene where the hero would use the line, “ain’t that lonely yet,” although he had better grammar and didn’t use “ain’t.” But he finally realized he was wrong.

The topic of songs also lends itself to promoting my new Kellerville series from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. The first book of the series, HOMETOWN PROMISE, is available now. The heroine Juliane Keller and the hero Lukas Frye both love to sing. When Juliane discovers that Lukas has joined the church choir, she can’t understand why someone like him was even in church, much less in the choir. But Juliane slowly comes to see Lukas in a different light, especially after she hears him sing the song made popular by Meredith Anderson, “You’re Not Alone.”

(Listen to Meridith sing here.)

Music is a big part of this story because, not only do the hero and heroine love to sing, but two secondary characters, Juliane’s sister Elise and her father Ray also love to sing. Elise worked as a singer on a cruise ship, and Ray gets out his Karaoke machine at every opportunity.

The second book in the series, HOMETOWN PROPOSAL, Elise’s story, will be available in August 2010, and the third book, HOMETOWN DAD, will be available in February 2011. Both of these books have their share of songs as part of the story because Ray Keller is always there with his Karaoke machine. Singing is a family affair in the little town of Kellerville, Ohio.

Do you or your family love to sing. Have you ever done Karaoke?

Please leave a comment for an opportunity to win a copy of Merrillee's newest release, HOMETOWN PROMISE.

Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes for Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Chicago but now makes her home on one of God’s most beautiful creations, an island off the east coast of Florida. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis or walking the beach, where she does the plotting for he novels.

Please visit her Web site at

Kellerville: Finding family, community and love in one small town

For six years Lukas Frye has fought to regain control of his reckless life. He comes to Kellerville, Ohio, hoping to settle down and be the man his ailing grandfather can depend on. Lukas thinks he can put down roots in a place unsullied by his past--until he sees Juliane Keller. Juliane knows the secrets that could ruin his chance of being accepted in the place he wants to call home. But she isn't just a reminder of his past; she's a woman with secrets of her own--and a heart capable of the forgiveness and love he needs.


  1. Merrillee, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

    I must confess that my home is much like a Broadway Musical, complete with random bursts of singing, dancing, and even a few dramatic monologues. LOL. We're a bunch of hams. We don't have a Karaoke machine, but we do play rock band together sometimes, and I always like to be the singer. I can rack up some pretty big scores.

    I enjoy books with lots of singing and dancing in them as well. Your new series sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Beautiful. Thank you!! God has definitely put a song in our hearts.
    Blessings, andrea

  3. Hi Merrillee. Thanks for visiting with us today. I love the souond of Hometown Promise and can't wait to read it. I use music to inspire me when I'm writing, too. Sometimes when I'm working on a particular book, I'll listen to a song or CD over and over again.

    Re Karaoke: While I'm sure no one wants to sit in front of me at church, I love to sing. But you would never catch me doing karaoke.

  4. Dina,
    Your family certainly sounds as though they have a good time with song. I could have modeled the Keller family after yours.

  5. Andrea,
    Isn't it wonderful how God created us to sing?

  6. Suzie,
    In addition to often using references to songs in my books, I'm just like you and usually have a song or two that I listen to over and over while I write a certain book. Something in the song speaks about the characters I've created.

  7. Merrillee,
    So wonderful to "meet" you at the Well!

    It's fun to connect with writer/singer types! I can't imagine a writing day--or any day--without my tunes!!!

    May God use Hometown Promise to spread His glory!!!


  8. Patti,
    It's nice to be hear. Thanks for your thought about God using Hometown Promise to spread His glory. I pray that God will put my books in the hands of the person who needs the message in that book. One of my books, THE HEART'S FORGIVENESS, is about a widower who loses his faith because his deceased wife was having an affair at the time of her death. I received a letter from a reader who had received the book from her pastor because she was going through a similar experience. Jesus used parables to teach us lessons. I think Christian fiction can also teach lessons today.

  9. Just in reference to your last comment, Merrilee, I TOTALLY believe we can learn so much from Christian fiction -- life lessons, dealing with relationships, etc.
    Our family used to sing around the piano a lot when I was growing up. Now that we're grown up and have our own families, it is rare to do that -- plus my sister is the only one with a piano anymore!
    The books sound good!
    Elaine King elaineking1(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. Suzie, the best part of karoke is that no one expects the singer to sound amazing. You're free to sound bad. Or mediocre.

    I'm convinced the next big thing in corporate church worship is karoke. Think about it. The body isn't limited to one person choosing what we sing. Plus that person chose earlier in the. By waiting until the body is together, the Holy Spirit can impress upon each member what He wishes us to offer in worship. :-)

    Sadly, no one but my oldest son has caught my vision. I'm sure it's because they're all too busy judging the hearts of the future karoke singers. Oh ye of little faith. ;-)

    Merrillee, thanks for sharing. As I was uploading your post last night, I kept listening to "You're not Alone." Amazing song!

  11. I think this series will defiantly up-lifting to me and others who get to read it! I love music even if I don't sing wonderful, I do make up songs to God and usually he is my only but best audience :)! Please enter me in the contest. I am looking forward to reading your books!

  12. Hello, Merrillee! I've got to say, I can't wait to read your books. They sound like so much fun.

    I don't write well without music. Background music may be distracting to some writers, but it's how the Lord helps me to focus. Some of the themes and scenes are inspired by lyrics, riffs or entire songs, so like Suzie, I'll sometimes listen to a song or a disc over and over, until I'm finished writing the particular scene.

    No one's begged me to join the choir, LOL, but I do love to sing. Like Dina, we sing our way through things at our house ("You need to clean the sink!" sounds better in song, doesn't it?). Nevertheless, I'd have to feel pretty safe to do karaoke. I'd be easy pickin' for mockery.

    Thanks for visiting the Inkwell this morning.

  13. Welcome to Inkwell Merrilee!

    Song is an an amazing and powerful form of communication.

    I alwasys listen carefully to the lyrics of songs, because I am so often blown away at the powerful, skilled writing that goes into them. Songwriters can tell a whole story in one line. And what better inspiration for a book than a great line from a song!

  14. Hey Merrilee, you know I'm one of your fans. Both of your books and that wonderful smile you flash all conference long. :D

    My daughter is licensed to teach voice. She has a beautiful voice and was a worship leader at our church since she was 16. She's now in a Bible College choir. She used to have a small karaoke machine but moved up to professional equiptment to play her performance tracks, and a Passport Speaker System, both of which she's left behind.

    Good thing, too because 14 yo Nick (who took voice for 2 yrs under her tutelage) is now being slotted as a worship leader. I'm fine with it as long as they don't request me to join him,

    They get their music ability from their dad, a play-by-ear guitar player. I cannot sing on key. Even with the karaoke.

    We got Rock Band for Christmas and the kids don't even want me to do vocals for them because I fail and they all fail. :(

    Thanks for joining us, Merrilee. You're so sweet.

  15. Merrillee, thanks for sharing how songs have inspired your stories :-)
    And Suzie, I'm a very ordinary singer and console myself that God cares more about the state of our heart and soul when we're singing than how we sound :-) Although, we have a pretty cool band at the Church service I attend so I can sing loudly without anyone needing to move seats!

  16. Gina,
    Thanks for the great job of putting up my post. That is such an interesting idea about using Karaoke for worship.

  17. Michelle,
    God loves to be our audience when we sing praises to him. We always kid my husband because he's not a very good vocalist. He's making a "joyful noise" to the Lord.

  18. Susanne,
    There's not better way to do housework than to do it while singing.

  19. Wenda,
    You are so right about songwriters being able to tell a story in a few words. I'm never going to be a songwriter. I'm too long-winded. LOL

  20. Elaine,
    My family used to sing around the piano, too, while I was growing up.

  21. Hi Anita,
    You have some very talented children. It's funny how you mentioned that your children got their singing talent from your husband. In HOMETOWN PROMISE, the Keller girls, Juliane and Elise, also get their singing talent from their dad.

  22. Narelle,
    Isn't it nice to be able to shout to the Lord and not have to worry about those sitting in the pews around you?

  23. Welcome to our blog, Merrillee!

    Dwight Yoakum, huh? I haven't heard a thing about him in years.

    One little thing I'll share about music is how...when you get to a certain age...songs that have been popular over the decades seem to pop up out of our brain. My co-worker and I, being of a similar age, break out in song often with the least provocation. If two words happened to have been part of popular lyrics 30 yrs ago, we have to sing them!

    Music does have some major abilities to give us joy. Isn't it amazing how one song can take us back to an emotional moment--good or bad--that we 'thought' we'd forgotten?

  24. Debra,
    How true that a song can make a person recall something that happened when the song was popular.

  25. Hi Merrillee!
    I'm late but I wanted to say hi and ask you, if you're still here, how you've grown as a writer from your first book for SH to your latest release?
    Thanks for visiting the Inkwell! Will you be at ACFW in September?

  26. I am also a writer/musician and I have discovered that I must put music into my stories. They're singing and listening to music and taking piano lessons. Of course! Thanks for sharing your writing journey.

  27. Hi Jill,
    God willing, I'll be at ACFW this year. I was so sorry to miss last year, but I was watching my precious granddaughter while her parents were house hunting last September. (A very good reason to miss.)

    I'm not sure that I can pinpoint how I've grown as a writer. I'm an organic writer (aka pantser)so the story comes to me as I write. I can't fill out charts or plotting arcs. I just write the story. I try to pay careful attention to the edits that I get, so I can make the writing better in the next book. I can't say enough good things about the editors at Steeple Hill. They are wonderful. Even though I'm working on my tenth book for Steeple Hill, the writing process is still somewhat of a mystery to me. LOL

    My second book won a number of awards, and I'm still trying to figure out how to duplicate that one.

  28. Mary,
    Life is so much better with music in it. I'm so glad God gave us music.

  29. I have your button on my blog

    I follow you on google



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