For Every Love: A Romance Writing Journey

A woman's hand writing in a notebook

Because people sometimes ask me how I get ideas for my stories, here’s a little about how For Every Love: Three Romantic Reads came to be.

The face of a smiling young woman with dark hairLove Unfeigned

I gathered key scenes from twelve emotional dreams I had and wove them together for this love story, with memorable pieces of my own life sprinkled in. Yeah, I know such a mishmash could have the potential to turn into a disjointed mess, but even I marveled at the way the scenes began flowing together, once I realized who the heroine, hero, and villain would be.

It’s like characters lead the way in these matters at times. “Youwith the pen. Here’s what we’re gonna do, here. Write it down for us.”

The face of a smiling young man with a mustacheHope Unashamed

There are times when we wish a supporting character in a previous story had a “Happily Ever After” of their own. So I wrote this sequel to Love Unfeigned. It only took me four years after the first book to finally get this one finished 😀 , but I trust the characters still appreciate the outcome.

As for me, I have an extra dose of appreciation for this book because it’s a hero’s story. I’m rather sure it’s much more common for a fictional romance (one that isn’t a dual-point-of-view romance) to be a heroine’s story. But romantic love is universal, and women aren’t the only people in the universe. Men fall in love too.

The face of a slightly smiling young woman with a dark AfroKiss and ’Telle?

Two supporting characters from Hope Unashamed nudged me for a few years to write out their own story. So I finally did! While the previous two books deal with some heavy issues, the characters called for more comedy in this third book.

What’s more, given the pandemic that began early in 2020, I wanted to write something for readers who’d be in need of something lighthearted. In mountaintop seasons, valley seasons, and all the seasons in between, laughter is so good for the heart.

For Every Love Series Boxed Set beside a stack of Christmas giftsFor Every Love: Three Romantic Reads

Though it took seven years for all three of these love stories to come into the world, they were meant to be together.

Also, because the Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year, it’s no wonder that these three related romances include a bunch of holiday happenings. A horse-drawn carriage ride through Christmas-lit downtown streets. A Christmas food and gift festival. A family (and friends! 😉 ) Christmas movie night. “Christmas jams” to dance to at a romantic wedding reception… They’re year-round stories that are also holiday-friendly.

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Meet Nadine C. Keels

Writing Romance While Asleep—or Awake

A woman's hand writing in a notebook

Because people sometimes ask me how I get ideas for my stories, here’s a little about how Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads came to be.

Come to Yourself Mr. Jones cover shows a young man in sunglasses with concert lights flashing behind himCome to Yourself, Mr. Jones

This first contemporary romance I ever wrote is heavily based on one of my nighttime mini-sagas (a long dream I had). The saga’s leading man was originally a music artist, movie star, and professional athlete all rolled into one. It made natural sense in the dream, but I had to iron it out once I decided to develop the dream into something readable for the public.

So, then. What’s the hero’s career in the story I wrote? I know what it is, and readers may or may not piece it together. But I purposely left it a little ambiguous because the hero’s career is rather beside the point. It’s his status, not his specific job, that matters to the plot. Besides, sometimes it’s fun to leave things up to a little interpretation.

The "She" Stands Alone cover shows a woman's legs walking in high-heeled bootsThe “She” Stands Alone

In addition to my dreams, I get story ideas from a lovely combo of my imagination, life experiences, personal convictions, and passion. This romantic comedy comes from all of that—minus the “dreams” part. I got the idea for this chick-lit dating adventure while wide awake.

It isn’t every day that I write something for which fun is my main motivation as well as my main hope for the folks who read it. Granted, there’s still a meaningful journey for the heroine to take in this book, since I’m not sure if I could ever write something totally frivolous. 😀

Eminence cover shows a serious young woman in front of a lake at sunsetEminence

This inspirational romance is based on one of my dreams set in historical Japan, somewhere between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, as I developed my nighttime mini-saga for readers, I decided I’d rather not restrict the story to a factual place or specific culture.

So, I worked the dreams’ themes and its major scenes into an unidentified (made-up) country with fictional customs during an unspecified historical era, with characters of no specified race(s). I even took the characters’ names from a hodgepodge of origins and incorporated a few different languages into the dialogue and narration, to keep the basis diverse. (Albeit I bent some language rules here and there, since the characters’ language is also unspecified.) It’s humanity, period, not certain races or nationalities, that Eminence means to represent.

Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads

Because Come to Yourself, Mr. Jones; The “She” Stands Alone; and Eminence are each short and sweet tales of hope, I thought they’d make for a touching trio of assorted but complementary romances in Inspiring Love.

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Meet Nadine C. Keels

Authors are Brave Somebodies

A cartoon figure wearing glasses, holding a stack of books, and another cartoon figure wearing a Superman cape

Sure, the opposite of this blog post’s title may seem true to plenty of my fellow authors. We know this authorship business firsthand and the fears, worries, and insecurities that often come along with it.

But of course, bravery doesn’t have to mean you feel no fear. Bravery is also when you feel fear but choose not to let it stop you.

When writing is your passion, the work is personal. It takes courage to put your personal work out there, subjecting it to other people’s eyes, ears, and opinions. Subjecting it to their praise but also to their criticism. Even subjecting it to their possible indifference.

A cartoon figure standing in front of stacks of papers and holding a red box that says Feedback

Authors who decide to make their personal work public (also known as publishing, heh heh) know full well that not everyone is going to love, like, appreciate, or even understand their work. At least, we should know this full well before we go public. And people who don’t love, like, appreciate, or understand our work have as much right to speak up with their opinions as people who love our work have the right to speak up.

Two cartoon figures standing and talking with speech bubbles over their heads

That can be scary for authors who care deeply about what they put out there. But we put it out there anyway because we believe in it.

Brave somebodies, I tell you.

And I deliberately added “Somebodies” to this post’s title because the vast majority of authors aren’t famous. The vast majority of authors can’t just slap a book up onto a retailer’s website and expect it to start selling boatloads of copies because their famous name will draw mega attention and interest and excitement.

Besides, writing is a pretty isolated activity. Yes, we confer with other authors about the business, and we meet with readers to talk books. But much of the nitty-gritty grind of studying and researching and thinking up words and more words and getting them down on paper or onscreen to read and revise and edit—many of those hours and hours, authors spend alone.

A cartoon figure wearing glasses, sitting at a desk with a computer and a coffee cup

When you’re a less-than-famous name who’s laboring in isolation, or looking at the underwhelming results of a marketing push that’s left you feeling unseen and unheard, it can be easy to feel like a nobody.

But a nobody can do nothing. No means. No ability. No thoughts.

No words.

You’re already a somebody, or you wouldn’t have been able to write anything in the first place.

A cartoon figure writing with a giant pen

So come on, fellow author who’s reading this. If you’ve got words worth writing, keep on writing. If you’ve got work worth sharing, keep on sharing. Keep at it, because to be an author is to be an originator. No one else can originate your work for you.

And whenever you submit the work you’ve originated, publish the work you’ve originated, market the work you’ve originated—know that you’re a dadgum brave somebody to do it.

A cartoon figure in a Superman cape, flying next to a stack of books

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Do You *Enjoy* Being a Writer?

The word "smile" in casual script, with a black pencil underneath

On social media, a reader recently asked a bunch of us authors which book was our favorite to write and why. I answered that my favorite book to write is the one I’m writing at the time.

Later in the discussion, the reader mentioned authors talking about “how much fun they had writing a particular book,” and it gave me pause.

“Fun.” Hmm…

Book covers of My Name is Asher Lev and The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

If you were to ask the serious, abundantly gifted painter in one of my all-time favorite books, My Name is Asher Lev, if painting is fun for him, I’m 100% sure he wouldn’t start describing any rollicking good times he’s had at his easel. And in the sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev, when Asher’s father asks if art makes Asher happy:

“Does it satisfy you to do those things? Does it make you happy?”
“I’ve never known of a serious artist who was happy. Except maybe Rubens.”
“Then why do you do it, Asher?”
“I don’t know. I do it.”

Now, I don’t subscribe to an idea that all great artists and writers have to be grave or melancholy individuals, or that art can’t be satisfying to anyone who’s serious about creating it, but still.


I had to admit that the soul-deep fulfillment of writing doesn’t exactly translate to “fun” for me. I mean, sometimes it does, but not always. And not always in the moment.

YES, I absolutely enjoy being a writer overall, but many times (especially in critical times) when I’m working to finish a book, there’s a crucial sense of urgency to it.

I have to write this.
I have to complete it.
I have to get this story out there.
Somebody must need it.

Book covers of Eubeltic Descent and Embracing the Outcast by Nadine C. Keels

I was in the midst of a ten-year-long stretch of maltreatment when I got the idea for Eubeltic Descent, the first book in my Eubeltic Realm series. But I couldn’t write that story while I was still trapped in the cage I was in. Even once I escaped that situation, it took another four years of pain and growing before I was ready to write the book. When I finally got to that place, my time pounding it out at my computer was a heavy time. I felt the weight of the work.

Hey, sometimes even in the beginning stages, while I’m scribbling out initial notes… I hadn’t even officially started writing Embracing the Outcast yet, the second book in my Crowns Legacy series. But writing about something that sensitive and close to my heart, something I’d never read about in Christian Fiction before… Just getting to know the characters better in my head and planning some of their dialogue had me weeping before I even started the actual manuscript.

And, no. It wasn’t a “tears of joy” kind of weeping.

Book covers of Kiss and 'Telle, The She Stands Alone, and The Movement of Crowns by Nadine C. Keels

Now, a couple of the contemporary romances I’ve written, Kiss and ’Telle? and The “She” Stands Alone—yeah! Pretty fun thrills I had while writing those. And when I was finally able to write The Movement of Crowns after imagining it since my teens, it was an utter pleasure.

Even so, the sheerest pleasure of writing for me comes afterward, when I get to take a little time to be my book-loving self and simply read the book I wrote and published.


A multicolored pair of glasses sitting inside of an open book

Oh, that pleasure may include laughing, sighing, crying, throwing the book down, picking it up and hugging it—whatever the case may be. Other emotional and demonstrative bookish types know the deal.

But still. 😀

For any other dedicated writers out there, would you say that writing is fun for you?

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