Thursday, July 20, 2017

RWA RITA Finalists Spotlight Blog Tour - Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Image result for rwa 2017

The excitement is growing for the RWA Annual Conference next week at the Dolphin Resort on Walt Disney World.  One of the highlights is the RITA Award Ceremony.  Readers can watch it from the comfort of their own home:

The 2017 RITA Award Ceremony will be streamed live from the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort on July 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET. Tune in at to watch your favorite authors decked out in dazzling red carpet looks as New York Times bestselling author and emcee extraordinaire Ally Carter announces the winners of the romance industry's most prestigious award. You can find a list of finalists here or follow along our RITA Finalists Spotlight Blog Tour, which runs through 7/21.

Today, I spotlight Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.  Joining me is Pamela Ferguson, nominated for the Golden Heart Award for unpublished manuscript (although she has since sold her book!)  I met Pamela here in the Baltimore area and I asked her to help me define Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

Pamela Ferguson is the author of sweet romances set in small towns. Specializing in gossips, meddlers, matchmakers, and happily-ever-afters, Pam loves dreaming up complications that wreak havoc in the lives of her characters. Her determined heroes and resourceful heroines are forever doing battle with narrow-minded mischief makers. Who knew there were so many bumps on the road to love?

When she isn’t writing, Pam can be found teaching English, travelling, and playing with her high-energy German shepherd puppy. Her small town romance Wings of Love has been named a 2017 RWA Golden Heart® Award Finalist in the Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements category and will be published by Forget Me Not Romances later this year.

How do I define inspirational romance?

The term “inspirational romance” typically refers to romance fiction about characters who have a Christian world view. If you read across the submission guidelines for various publishing houses, you’ll see some consistent descriptions of what publishers want: emphasis on emotion rather than sensuality, no drugs or alcohol consumption by Christian characters, no preaching, etc. Those publishers who follow Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) guidelines often have more detailed recommendations for writers that align with the expectations and preferences of their readers.

I see inspirational romance as a subset of the RWA contest category Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. RWA defines this category as “Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture.” This definition is broader than the definition of inspirational romance since it includes all religious and spiritual belief systems.

Why do I write inspirational romance?

As a reader, I enjoy reading all categories of romance fiction. As a writer, I find my voice goes naturally to telling sweet, emotion-packed stories about the kind of love that surprises people, fills them with hope, and bonds them together despite society’s injustices. Love that inspires them to be better for each other and for the world around them. Sometimes a character’s faith is already established, sometimes it develops over the course of the book.

What can readers expect when they open an inspirational romance in today's contemporary market place?

First and foremost, readers should expect “a good story well told” with compelling characters, intricate plots, interesting locales, well-researched time periods, and vivid descriptions that, combined, deliver an emotionally satisfying love story. On top of that, there will be elements of faith and, in many instances, an underlying message of hope that the characters will overcome whatever obstacles are placed before them on the road to their happily ever after.

Mahalo, Pamela, for giving us a clear picture of Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.  And the finalists are ... 


Close to You by Kara Isaac
Howard Books
Beth Adams, Editor


Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Ami McConnell and Leslie Peterson, Editors


My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray
Amazon, Waterfall Press
Amy Hosford, Editor


Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post
Amazon, Waterfall Press
Erin Calligan Mooney, Editor

Best wishes to the finalists ... and thank you for writing romance! I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash. To enter the giveaway,

1. Have you toured a religious or spiritual site - church, cathedral, graveyard, etc.? Two years ago, while visiting Boston, we also toured numerous churches including the Old North Church at this link.

2. Comments are open through Sunday, July 30.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, July 31.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Military Memorial outside the Old North Church


  1. Over the years I have visited many a graveyard and church.

  2. I've visited a few Buddhist temples in Hong Kong and Japan.

  3. Haven't toured any in a while. Have yet to tour gravesites

  4. I toured a very old grave yard close to where I live. Some of the headstones had dates from the end of the 1700's but lately they haven't been maintained been .Sad. They are History.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  5. We were lucky enough to be able to spend 2 weeks in Italy -- we were in Rome most of the time. There are churches, basilicas and cathedrals around almost every corner many of them were not at all impressive from the outside but contained amazing art inside. One - Santa Prassade - was the most surprising it is 1200 years old and filled with mosaics and frescoes but is very easy to over look when walking by.

  6. I have visited many. We have in Hartford The Old North Cemetery. It is 200 years old and is being restored.

  7. When I went to Italy we visited many churches.

  8. We went to Europe a long time ago and saw cathedrals in France, Germany and England - they were spectacular.

  9. Toured the National Cathedral in DC with my parents.

  10. I enjoy touring religious sites - mostly churches & cathedrals in Great Britain & Europe & some in the US like St. Pat's in NYC. Cemetary's are very interesting too, tho often a bit sad.

  11. Congrats to Pam!!! How exciting!

    I enjoy romances with religious undertone. Recently I was at Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France and it got me in the mood to read romances in the WWI era. So if you have recommendations for any good ones, let me know!!

  12. I've listened to several inspirational romances in audio and really enjoyed them.

    PATTYB 43

  14. I visited the Old North Church as a chaperone with my daughter's school trip many years ago, St. Pats in NYC and Notre Dame in Canada.

  15. Churches, grave yards, and cemeteries are stops on all our trips. Tombstones give a lot of insight into the history of the area. The old churches can often be considered works of art. Their construction and decoration were often a form of worship. They too reflect the culture and history of the area. Most recently we visited a Jesuit church in New Orleans and spent time walking around a couple of the cemeteries.