HELP! Angel-Lover Rising to the Top!

2DHave you picked up your copy of Angel-Lover yet? There are some ads running on my second novel this week,  and it’s up to #15 in all issue-driven, Christian, teen fiction!
I was inspired by Frank Peretti’s “Hangman’s Curse” and wanted to pursue an evangelistic, issue-driven story about a Goth boy like Ian. ❤
Please help me beat the book in the #1 place, which is an LGBT story that defames Christians!! :-O 😦 Just one dollar will help pull a book that has the gospel into a better seen position on an important Amazon list. ❤

Clean Romance, Infertility, and Marriage Advice from Melanie D. Snitker!

MelanieDSnitker2016Melanie D. Snitker is a sweet author friend of mine from Texas.  She writes stories with a heart – an emphasis on a deep love for each character, and a romance to go with it!  I’d like to think that if you enjoy my novels, you’d enjoy hers.  🙂

Melanie has prayed for me, knit baby cutesies for me, and encouraged me at the hardest of times.  I hope all of you can support her worthy books!  Thanks for being you, Melanie!

You can purchase Melanie’s books here on!

Snitker All Books 2

Me: Hi, Melanie! Here at BlondeRJ, we’re all about Myers-Briggs types.  Share about being an ISFJ and what your personality is like. 🙂

Melanie: You know, I’d never thought much about the Myers-Briggs types until I met you, RJ! I find it all fascinating. Like you mentioned, I’m an ISFJ. I’m definitely quiet and very introverted. I get along well with people, and I tend to be a really good listener. If I say I’m going to do something, not only will it get done, but I’ll do my best while I’m working on it. I’m organized, and I rely heavily on lists and my online calendar. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced ties into my being an introvert: I also tend to worry about what others think. I’m slowly getting better about this as I get older, but it was something that held me back for a long, long time. I think that it will always be something that’s in the back of my mind to a degree. I have to admit I really admire those who can say and do anything and not worry what others will think!

Me: Even we 100% extroverts can be people-pleasers and worry what others think, for sure.  I’ve been LOVING the book When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch, and would love to recommend it right now to my readers.  It’s helped me put God in His proper place, and see my need to love others instead of just *need* them.  🙂
Speaking of loving people, you write the sweetest romances ever. What first inspired you to help and write about clean romance for Christians?

Melanie: I enjoyed romance novels as a teen, but didn’t really read much beyond Janette Oke, Dee Henderson, and a few other Christian authors. When I got into high school, I started to browse through some of the other romance novels at the library. I was shocked to find that clean romance was a difficult thing to find. That’s when I decided I would start writing the kind of romance novels I wouldn’t mind my own daughter reading some day.

Me: What a sweet legacy!
How many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Melanie: I’ve lived in Arizona, both in Flagstaff and Phoenix. A lot of people that haven’t been to Flagstaff are surprised to find that it has a lot of mountains, and it can get a fair amount of snow in the winter. I’ve also lived in many different places in Oregon as well as Texas (where I currently reside). My favorite place to live overall is Texas. The people here are incredibly friendly, I like the mild winters, and I love all the wildflowers (bluebonnets, especially) in the spring. My second favorite place would be Oregon, especially in the fall when all the leaves turn. Gorgeous!

Me: I live in the gorgeous pacific northwest as well!  Love it!
Melanie, you were a huge encouragement to me two years ago. Can you tell us about one of the hardships you’ve experienced and how God has used that in your life? ❤

Melanie: I have endometriosis and it has resulted in a lot of infertility issues that I’ve dealt with for a long time. It took two and a half years of tests and a surgery for my endo before we found out our son was on the way. After he was born, we’d hoped that the next baby would be much easier. Four and a half years later (after another surgery and different medications), we were finally able to try one round of IVF. Praise God, one of those sweet embryos burrowed in to stay, and our daughter was born eight months later. There were so many times during this journey when I wondered where God was and why this had to be so hard. But I learned more about patience than I would’ve liked to, and I also learned about God’s perfect timing. There have been many times in the last six years since our daughter was born where I’ve looked back and realized that, even though I didn’t think so at the time, God really did know what He was doing!

Me: I loved your faith when I was going through that hardship myself!  And you have absolutely beautiful kiddos!!  You have absolutely beautiful characters too.  😛 Which character, in all of your books, is your favorite?

Melanie: I’m going to have to go with Lexi (although Lance is a close second). She’s introduced in Finding Peace, the first book the Love’s Compass series. Then she and Lance get their own story in the second book, Finding Hope. She’s my favorite because she goes through a lot in her life with a cancer diagnosis that leads to a complete hysterectomy which saves her life. It also means she’ll never have children of her own. What causes her inability to get pregnant may be very different from what I or many of my friends have experienced with infertility, but many of the emotions are the same. She’s definitely a character that was written straight from my heart.

Me: Awww.  I remember Lexi!  So what’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

Melanie: I’ve had several readers thank me for creating quality, clean romance novels that they can read without the guilt, and that they wouldn’t hesitate to let their teen daughters read as well. It’s what I originally set out to do, and even though the road of an author can be a rocky one at times, it’s encouragement like that which reminds me it’s all worth it!

Me: Amen! On a real-life front, how do you think we, as Christians, can learn to love like Christ more in our marriages?

Melanie: I think it’s easy to get caught up in every day life. Things get hectic, the kids always need something, and by the end of the day, it’s easy to feel like we have nothing left to give. But it’s the little things that show Christ’s love in a marriage. Like when my husband is completely exhausted, yet takes the trash out with a smile. Or when I’ve had a rough day and I’m tired, but I bake my husband the cookies he loves because it will brighten his afternoon. The other day, we had a busy afternoon full of cleaning and grocery shopping. I’ll admit, I was a complete grump by dinner and not much fun to be around. Instead of getting upset with me, or even letting my mood change his, my sweet husband made a trip to the store to find something I was looking for, and even brought something else back that made me laugh. Finding ways to put our spouse first, even when it isn’t easy, can give us even a small glimpse of the kind of unconditional love that Christ has for us!

Me: I think your home must be very joyful and warm.  🙂  Thank you, Melanie!

Melanie: Thanks again, RJ!

In Which I Say the Big, Bad C Word: Courtship



…is a hot button these days, and I’m not always sure why.  Some Christians have been the victims of dictatorial, patriarchal homes, but most don’t even have a clue what the word actually means. As a society, I think we’ve swung back and forth so many times on relationship norms that most of us are dizzy.  I think every generation “does it differently.”

Recently, my uncle, Richard Briggs, in an author Q and A query, asked me about my own ideas on courtship (I had a very successful and happy one!) and how it plays into my writing love stories.

Since we’re raising a new generation of children – my own included – and I’m seeing the pendulum swing again to “get rid of courtship altogether,” I’d like to say to look past the big, bad C word.  What even IS “courtship”?  Every single group I’ve ever been in defines it differently.

Let’s just talk relationships on the whole. My girls are young now but it is NEVER too early to start planning for and being aware of this.  You are raising children not just to be obedient kiddos in your home, but to be godly adults out in the real world.  Your home is just a stepping ground for all of life and, let’s face it, most of our kids are going to get married. So that relationship with their spouse will last the rest of their life, and be the most important relationship in their life.

So what are my views on courtship?  Here’s my succinct personal definition:

Committing to love, serve, and honor God by being intentional in doing the best for others and looking at relationships through the lens of future marriage. Being future-mindful and Christ-centered in your relationships, not selfish in your physical affections and giving into lusts, and not causing anyone else to sin, including yourself. Eschewing the worldly, selfish ideas of playing around before finding a spouse.

Beyond that, my ideas are so simple, and yet so foundational.  I think, when you muddy it up with more than this, you get into legalism. Let’s leave out all the common sense physical rules like what’s your curfew, if you’re chaperoned, if you kiss before your wedding day, etc. etc.  That’s up to your home and your child. My husband and I haven’t set any of those in stone. We’ll see what we decide when the time comes and where the child’s heart and temptations are.  And our “common sense rules” may be different from yours – and there should be no judgment from house to house on those types of safety rules.  But honestly, that’s not what I’m thinking about or looking for when I’m training my children to be spouses.

I want only three things.

A. I want them to so love God that they’re committed to honesty, morality/godliness, and Him most of all.

(See the previous blog post in the link above.) It’s why I’m seriously, seriously addressing sneakiness and dishonesty and selfishness and other traits now.  My child lies to me or selfishly hoards me or is disloyal to friends?  He’s going to be those things to his spouse too.  They don’t just disappear in marriage or adulthood.

B. I want to so strongly have my kids’ hearts – be such good friends with them and be so close to them that they trust me and communicate with me.

It takes two to tango on this one.  I can only do my part, and pray that God leads them to value me as their mother and counselor and friend.  ❤

C. I want them to so love others and think much less of themselves that they’re committed to protecting and doing what’s best for the opposite gender always.

At the heart of the “courtship model” that I know is protecting others because you value them so much as fellow human beings, and you love and care about their safety, their hearts, and their emotions.  Leading the opposite gender on when you have no intention of marrying or committing to them – whether it’s through mass dating or just being too affectionate as friends – can injure them greatly.

At the heart of relationship values that I was taught was protecting and loving others as better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

This starts in just sharing toys as toddlers and choosing to go last to getting your piece of candy.  These foundational things prepare them for why they choose what they do with the opposite gender in the future.


2DRJ Conte is a Christian, realistic, issue-driven fiction authoress with six books on Amazon, including the novel, Heartsick, for young adults. In Heartsick, the main character, a homeschooled college student, who has devised a picture-perfect courtship model with her father, turns her back on it to get entangled with a guy who has a very mysterious and dark past.  The novel has been likened to A Walk to Remember meets Hitchcock, and is recommended to any young Christian lady starting out on her own.

$2.99 on


Asian TV for the American Newbie Viewer

Want to recommend some anime or J/K-dramas and anime to a normal American who doesn’t know what to make of Japanese or Korean culture? You think they’d love what Asia has to offer, but don’t want to scare them away with too much moe or yokai or plot-lines involving getting kicked out of the family register.

Breaking your typical American viewer into Asian TV

I’m going to suggest anime and k/j-dramas that either have fascinating plots that no sci-fi/fantasy lover could resist, or are understandable plots between cultures. You won’t find any Studio Ghibli on my list because I, personally, found his stuff unattractive when I was first breaking into anime. His heavily Buddhist, strange-creature themes or more simple slice of life films could not be appreciated coming straight out of watching non-stop-action American TV. This isn’t going to make me very popular, but I wouldn’t recommend Ghibli to your average American viewer, personally. My recommendations are clean, relatively family-friendly shows and movies that aren’t so overtly Asian that you lose people. Things you could show your next-door neighbor without being labeled a weirdo nerd.



(Most can be found legally on, and one or two on

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

7facd20f5216202349ad2fc3119e2e5b1329936788_fullYeah, I’m going there.  Honestly, this one has lots of bizarre elements, but the plot is so epic.  It is a deconstruction of the magical girl genre, but totally works as a deconstruction of any superhero genre.  We Americans have been inundated with superhero movies lately, so a show that portrays the real psychological hardships of being a Black Widow or Scarlett Witch? Yes, please. I’ve shown this to most of my non-anime-watching family members, and it’s gone over pretty well.  You’re going to need to sit and discuss a lot of the final episode, however, as it’s big-picture epic with a lot of symbolism.

Warning: Violence and thematic elements in this one.  PG-13

2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

the_girl_who_leapt_through_time_posterStarts out like a Disney channel show with a little bit of teenage silliness, but quickly turns into a fascinating sci-fi plot.  I really enjoyed this one, and it was the very first anime I ever watched. Only movie-length (not a TV show), this will give viewers a taste of creative YA sci-fi from Japan that makes sense and tugs at their heartstrings at the same time.

Warning: One really stupid sexual line from a side character at the beginning that feels hugely out of place.  There is NO sexuality in the rest of the movie, so one just has to ignore it as bad writing in an otherwise squeaky clean movie.

3. Hotarubi no Mori e

hotarubi-no-mori-e-full-1174801My personal favorite.  Just a beautiful, beautiful little 45-minute film.  Totally an inspiration for the writing of my own book, Lucent Sylph, this movie is tragically gorgeous in every way, and one of my top favorite movies of all time.

Warning: There ARE Buddhist spirits in this one, and Buddhism has something to do with the main plot.  However, one can still follow the movie really well by ignoring this aspect – and, in my opinion, it doesn’t get too weird.  Nothing weirder than Star Wars. Make sure your child is old enough to know that forest spirits don’t exist.

4. Hyouka

A sweet, clean, and pleasant little family show, Hyouka is about an apathetic high schooler who is inspired by a group of friends, including a pretty cute, curious girl, to solve little mysteries for his school. He is intelligent and quirky, and his personal growth as a character is delightful. This anime also has some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen.  Just look at that eye!


Warning: Japanese hot springs are very popular in anime. There is one episode where the characters go to a hot spring.  No body parts are shown, but one character gets woozy thinking about girls bathing behind a fence.  If you ignore this episode and chalk it up to the writer being in a weird mood that day, the rest is just charming.

There are 22 episodes in this show, and the pacing of the cutesy mysteries might be slow to some.  However, the characters themselves and their interactions make this one a favorite.

5. Kanon

56301Heading the liminal fantasy + break your heart open genres are works by the visual novel company, Key.  (visual novel = interactive computer game story) Many of their visual novels were turned into anime shows. Their best work, in my opinion, isn’t the Clannad series, but Kanon (the 2006 version). It’s not terribly long with a second season like the ever-popular Clannad, nor does it have over-the-top characters.  Instead, each of the Kanon girls have highly fascinating backstories. I was obsessed with this anime, and also watched it very early on in my anime career. The liminal fantasy was modest and subtle, instead of throwing us into a highly elaborate world.  It brought soft elements of fantasy to us, while still focusing on the inter-personal relationships and romance. The story could’ve been set anywhere, and there’s even an English dub (although I don’t think it’s a good one) for the viewer who’s set against subtitles.

The music is gorgeous, the girls are amazing, and you care about their deeply personal and often tragic stories. Highly recommend this one.

Warning: Thematic elements. There’s also a surprise violent scene or two but nothing graphic.  Still definitely a PG.

One character makes a joke about asking another character to buy a pornographic magazine for him.  She refuses.  Again, nothing else is sexual about the entire show, so the line was completely pointless.

6. Patema Inverted

patemainverted_dvd-fTruly gorgeous, imaginative movie, where the sky animation is so amazing you’ll get acrophobia. I showed my whole non-anime-watching family this movie at Christmas and even my dad enjoyed it. They said it was unique and a really entertaining story.

Basically, the world has been divided into two groups of people with opposing gravity, and one girl and boy find each other.  Think a younger Upside Down without all the terrible plot holes and bad pacing.  So much better.

Warning: None. Just a fantastic movie. The plot isn’t even set in Japan, so there’s nothing culturally confusing about it in the least.


rwby_poster_contest_submission_1_by_vnixxir-d6etrosThis anime-style show is actually American, but is always grouped with its Japanese sisters. The art and graphics in the show get better with each season, but can take getting used to in the beginning. A story about hunters and huntresses in a magic-type school learning to defend their nation while working together.

Warning: Many of the females in this show are pretty immodest, so it might be one I recommend to watch by yourselves, ladies. The first season has silly teenage drama, but when you get to season 2, the plot thickens. By season 3, you’re thrown into an epic story that’s highly entertaining.  RWBY also has some of the best animated battle scenes I’ve ever seen.

8. Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar-the-last-airbender-free-downloadAgain, this is American, produced on the Nickelodeon channel, but it’s no secret it was succeeded in borrowing a lot of Japanese anime elements.  Safe enough for kids (who can look past the Buddhist-undertones), this show thrilled many adults too. Highly recommend if you’re thinking of breaking into the anime scene but want a safe marriage between something American and something Japanese-feeling.  Poignant characters and huge battles between good and evil, it’s one of those shows where I wish I could wipe my brain just so I can rewatch it with all the delight of seeing it for the first time all over again.

Warning: Some New Age/Buddhist talk – maybe for the older, mature child and adults


Live Action (Korean/Japanese Dramas and Movies)

(Most can be found legally on and

1. Bara no nai Hanaya

172252356144716358_9af14e52_medOne of the most Christian dramas to ever come out of Japan, this is a show with the most selfless male character I’ve ever seen.  In a slow-paced, beautiful display of love (both to his little girl, as well as to the woman pretending to be blind to cheat him), Shiomi Eiji is a fantastic character. I watched this drama a second time and showed it to my mom and sister.  My mom cried every single episode without fail, and then went out and bought the show for herself.

Unfortunately, though, this show is pretty unknown and hard to find.  One would like to imagine the writer was a believer himself, so maybe it wasn’t as popular in spiritually-dark Japan. This is a beautiful Christlike love story in every way.

Warning: There is the most random cross-dressing character that shows up for one quick scene near the end.  It makes no sense and has nothing to do with the story.

2. Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name (movies)

46791113980218_5e2be54e_c2xI don’t recommend the Death Note anime to American newbies, even though it’s fantastic, because the ending goes down a very strange path that frustrated a lot of people, including me. The Death Note movies clean up the ending and change it a bit to make it more tidy and sensible. If you want to get this highly intellectual, cat-and-mouse thriller, but you’re not a purist who needs it in its original manga form with its bad ending, choose the Death Note movies instead.

Basically, an intelligent high school student finds a notebook that claims if he writes someone’s name in it and picture their face, he can kill them on the spot. The highschooler is then forced into a moral dilemma of playing god and goes to battle against the world’s most brilliant – and quirky – detective.

Warning: There are a lot of warnings on this one.  Definitely a PG-13, there is a death god spirit who is pretty scary-looking who follows the main characters around. A very morbid set of movies, I recommend it for the mature viewer.  However, it’s not about blood, guts, and action like you’d have to put up with in America.  Instead, this slower-paced dark show treats the viewer like an intellectual equal by letting you into some really brainy heads. Very well-written.

Do NOT watch “L: Change the World” as it is a non-canon, highly violent side story that I couldn’t stomach or get through.  It has nothing to do with the original plot and should be ignored.

3. Dream Knight

w475oerl_fc8273_c2xIf you enjoyed High School musical, you can put up with the one or two song and dance numbers in this adorable short drama from Korea. A teenager’s dream, a girl has a group of guys magically show up when she’s alone and having trouble in school. The short series takes a very serious and meaningful turn, though, and I was enchanted by how much emotional sweetness they packed into the twelve 13-minute episodes. A really charming liminal fantasy highschool romance that would make sense to any American viewer who watched Disney channel.  I might have squealed out loud a time or two.  *cough*

Warning: (Cute) teenage drama, and a mention of suicide

4. Healer

fullsizephoto531120Have you ever wanted more Jason Bourne coupled with a sweet romance? You got it in Healer.  Having nothing to do with medical illness, “Healer” is the codename of a night courier, basically the Korean version of Jason Bourne, who faces a big moral dilemma when he starts falling in love with the woman he’s been hired to investigate and protect. This Korean drama has it all: action, love, backstory, political evil, mystery, a hilarious computer guru, and outstanding acting. I also had to watch this one through twice – showing it to my husband the second time, and I still enjoy reruns of my favorite scenes.

Warning: PG-13 for the action and thematic elements.  A couple is shown in bed after kissing, but it’s not clear that anything sexual happened.  A few scenes later the young man tells her father they didn’t do anything. Korean shows tend to be very modest, culminating the romance with kissing only, so even while sleeping they are shown entirely clothed and purity is often implied.

5. I Hear Your Voice

ihyv2Imagine if a little boy had the super power of hearing people’s thoughts, and was the only witness to his father’s murder, along with an older high school girl. Now imagine that girl grows up to be a lawyer and the boy a young man whose only goal in life is to protect her so that when the murderer gets out of prison, she can survive.

Mixing in great Perry-Mason-courtroom scenes with a budding “noona-romance” (younger guy with a woman older than he), I Hear Your Voice is a deep, thoughtful, psychological courtroom romance with a fantasy twist.

Warning: Definitely violence and scary characters.  There are a couple of murders and very tense scenes.  PG-13


63232769622524244_057fa50c_c2xI repeat again, the Japanese drama from 2012, NOT THE ANIME.  The anime is a piece of disturbing, violent nastiness that I refuse to see, being so revolted by the descriptions of the show I couldn’t sleep at night.

HOWEVER, the Japanese put out an 11-episode drama with the same name that supposedly bears only a slight resemblance to the manga and anime with the same name. This drama was a real treat! Fascinating mystery, kept us guessing the whole time, and, I repeat, CLEAN.  A great clean drama that we could enjoy without feeling in the slightest bit dirty. I highly recommend it to an American breaking into watching Asian dramas.  Just please avoid the anime.

Warning: Definitely psychologically tense and thriller scenes.  PG-13


Happy watching!  And remember to watch everything at your own risk.  My recommendation is, by no means, infallible for every viewer.  Do your research and enjoy eastern storytelling!  🙂





Heartsick is available on Amazon for purchase!!  Celebration time!

Click here to buy!

Paperbacks will be available in around two more weeks.  Ordering myself a proof copy first.  🙂

Here’s the blurb:

Blessing Spivey didn’t expect to cause such an uproar on her first day of college.

She’s a missionary kid, outgoing and eager to achieve her dreams, and when she leaves behind the harder life of Mexico and arrives at her small Bible college, all she wants is to obtain a teaching degree – and maybe a man as well.

But she’s barely set foot on campus before a shadow looms over her. She is told she’s an exact doppelganger for Tessa Lyme, the popular school sweetheart who shocked the college last semester with her unexpected suicide. And now Tessa’s mysterious ex-boyfriend, Shale Westin, seems to have it out for Blessing.

Despite Shale’s hostility, Blessing is irresistibly drawn to him, and to the strange story of his girlfriend’s death. What secrets did Tessa’s glamorous life hide? And can Blessing protect her own heart from danger?





Everything You Need to Know About My New Release: Heartsick!

I did rather a bad job of keeping up with the #JanuaryWIPJoy on Twitter that Bethany Jennings so cleverly came up with.  (Smart bestie, that girl!) It’s probably because it required me to post daily, and my family and I have been so sick this month.  All four of us had colds.  One child’s turned into pink eye in both eyes, the second got an ear infection, and then I was just diagnosed with strep throat.  Blech.  A lot of staying at home, which is probably good because we’re about to move 25 minutes north to the first house my husband and I have bought!  Moving time next month will be busy, so let’s get all the illness out of the way now!

Heartsick comes out next month.  🙂  Two of my editors got back to me.  Thank you, Bethany and Catrin Lewis!

Therefore, I think I’ll just do all of February’s next list right here on my blog.  I hope this 2D(1)gives you a lot of fun details about Heartsick, and sparks your interest.  The book releases February 26th, and is already available for pre-order here.  🙂

My Books:

Can be found here on  Lucent Sylph is always free.  The Hotline Girl and The 12th Girl in Heaven will be re-released through Clean Reads press in the spring.  🙂

My Author Photo:

It’s a watercolor anime self-portrait.  I like to protect my privacy here on the web.  🙂


My Last 5-Star Read:

I think that would have to be Linda K. Rodante’s Amber Alert.  She has a heart for realistic, life issues like I do.  I appreciate her as a new friend!

Fun Heartsick Art:

In the beginning, I really liked this model for Blessing Spivey, my main character.

I also really thought that Jesse McCartney looked like Shale Westin from my book.  I played arounGreeneyed.jpgHeartsickd with images when I was first writing the book and made my own for-fun cover.  😛

Writing Music:

Oh yes.  I have a Youtube playlist for Heartsick.  The first song is a long guitar piece that I imagine Shale playing.  😀  The first songs on the list are bubbly and fun, as describes the beginning of my book. I warn you, though, later on, the songs get really serious. I have some Melanie Martinez on there.  She sings about really disturbing things.  However, to get into the mood of some of the stuff one of my characters went through, it really seemed to fit.  I cried more writing this book than anything else I’ve ever written.  To really take people at their darkest and bring them to the Lord is one of my passions.  I have a character – or two – that have truly gone through hell and then some.  ❤

Awesome Moment:Heartsick Quote


Challenge Overcome:

I actually put this book down for two years.  Went and wrote The Hotline Girl, The 12th Girl in Heaven, and Lucent Sylph in the meantime.  Shale just wasn’t fitting as a character.  I first had him as an STP, and people were either repulsed or defending him  Those were not the reactions I wanted.  I wanted a mysterious attraction.  In the time I took off, I rethought him entirely as a character, and brought him back as a real, true handsome-jesse-jesse-mccartney-mccartney-perfect-favim-com-197014INFP.  He makes a lot more sense now, and his character really came to life, helping me to finish the book.  *mwah*  I love you, Shale!

A Fave Review:

From three beta readers:

“You are a GENIUS” – B.J. when she got to the last couple chapters and realized what was going on. 😀

“I just finished reading Heartsick by RJ Conte and will definitely read it again!  I loved reading about the main character, Blessing Spivey.  So many of the struggles and thought processes were similar to ones of my own.  When beginning the book, I admit that I was afraid the main character would be perfect and make me wonder at my many struggles.  Instead, the honesty and realness in the book showed me I was not alone and encouraged me to continue onward in the fight for purity.  This book is open about many struggles of growing into adulthood and fighting to save oneself for marriage.  It is encouraging, and is completely focused on God’s grace and redemption.  I couldn’t stop reading it and enjoyed every second of it.  Every book I have read by RJ is incredible and this one is no different.  I highly recommend it!” – R.H.

“It was inspiring, romantic, funny, and it left me in awe several times. I couldn’t stop reading it! It captured my all my focus and attention from the very first chapter. I stayed up reading it was past midnight a lot, and then I continued thinking about what I had read while I was trying to sleep. It was so well done. I love romance books, but so many of them I never get to finish because they’re very inappropriate and have a curse word every sentence and I don’t want to read that stuff. But this one was PERFECT. It had just the right amount of romance but it was not inappropriate in any way. And it was very realistic. I felt like a part of the story throughout the whole book. I didn’t want it to end! I really loved it. It also made me yearn for the Lord a lot, and that’s a feeling I always love. I love feeling the need to just call out to Him. And having a book make me feel that is amazing. I think it was very well written and thought out and I will definitely be telling others about it. Thank you for letting me read it!” – S.T.

Killed Darlings:

Tessa.jpgNo killed darlings in this book.  Are you shocked?  This is RJ Conte!  😉  Tessa Lyme starts out dead.  Does that count?

She’s Blessing’s doppelganger, and Shale’s ex-girlfriend.  She was Hot on Campus before she took her life.  Blessing’s on a mission to figure out how to help the grieving Shale, but she gets a little in over her head…

A Favorite Book in my Genre:

Definitely Shredded by Kimberly Rae.  A tough read, but an excellent one for any Christian adult.  I adored it.  It was powerful.

Favorite of my Covers:

Hmmmm… I’ve had some fantastic covers, but I think Lucent Sylph is my favorite.  Maybe2D - Copy because I designed this one myself.  I even put the little veins in myself.  My cover artist just did font.  🙂


Wow.  I haven’t done any swag yet.  I need to get on that.  I guess I have an angel wings shirt for Angel-Lover, as well as a Lucent Sylph shirt.  🙂









Where I Write:

Here!  Although this is a pic from when it was first assembled, right after we moved in. it’s much messier than this now with stuff filling all of the cubby holes.  😀


Where I Relax:

See above.  😛

Fave Chapter Ending:

My favorite one would be a spoiler, so I’ll go with choice #2

Blessing closed her eyes, taking a deep, shaky breath. She swallowed, trying to shake off the happiness that choked out her anger. Muscling some negative emotion back in, she forced out a challenge. “Then what if I sit somewhere else? Is there a give and take in this friendship? If I’m worth more, will you follow me once in a while?” She looked up at him.

            “You have a small foot, did you know that?” he replied, completely ignoring her question. He scooted his chair back a little and craned his neck to look down under the table where he had captured her.

            Her blood was pounding in her ears. “Well?” she asked, not wanting to be deterred.

            Shale finally looked up again, voice low and firm. “No. I’ll sit where I want to because I’m not being controlled by a girl again. Never again.”

My Muse:

One of my inspirations would be a spoiler, so I’m keeping that to myself.  But I can’t say I really have “a muse.”  I just love writing when I know I’ll have people who will read it instantly and give me excited feedback.  So thankful for Melanie Snitker and Bethany Jennings who did just that.

A Dedication Page:

I’m dedicating this to all of the homeschooled young woman that will read this book.  All the college-aged young people who grew up like I did, blessedly safe and protected, and who now have to navigate the world.  May God show you the remaining sin in your hearts in quick, painless, and safe ways, so that you can have your happily ever after where He will be glorified.  ❤


God bless, and enjoy Heartsick!



Liebster Award – or an interview about me!

Thank you, TheGatheringFire!  What a treat this was to get to answer your eleven questions.  🙂

I’m sorry I took so long – being caught up in promoting Lucent Sylph.  But I’m going to try to get back into regular blogging again.  🙂

1. How long have you been writing?

I started telling stories almost from the moment I could talk, but I wrote my first story in my very first diary, the day before I turned seven years old.
Here’s the story, in its entirety, with all spelling mistakes included (although, I spelled really well for a 6 1/2 year old):

(Gotta to go dig up the tiny key for this diary.  It was one of those with a lock.  :-D)

I like pretending I’m a princess.  One time I pretended this: I didn’t do anything like a princess I do all the things people do.  But I was still a princess.  I had some friends they were princesses to.  But they did everything pricesses do.  One day I wanted to play with my friend he wasn’t a prince and his name was Mohab… Oops I forgot to tell you my friend’s names.  One’s name was Colleen and the other’s name was Victoria.  Well Colleen and Victoria liked playing with Mohab too.  They like playing with him every day.  But this time I wanted to play with him by myself.  But they wanted to play too.  So they tied me up.  Well I bit the rope and got out of there and told my mom.  My mom said we should all just play together.  But just then who should come around the corner but Colleen and Victoria!!  I started runing but before I coud go anywhere I got hit with a stone and I fell down.  Well mom saw me laid me on my bed and called the doctor.  The doctor said I was alright and Colleen + Victoria should be put in jail.  I hit Colleen + Victoria with a rock.  I didn’t go to jail and we all played nicey with Mohab. 

The End

I started typing on the computer by age 8, because my handwriting was bad and it took too long.  I got pretty fast with two fingers for a while.  My first chapter book was written at the age of 9.  It was called The Red Kids, and was about a group of triplets whose skin was permanently red because their parents never smacked them at birth to get them to breathe right.

I kid you not.


This is me at age 7.  I look angelic, right?  Notice the Santa isn’t smiling, or even looking at the camera.  He’s reeling from the fact that I used my cleverly planned line on him a second earlier.

He said, “Were you a good girl this year?”
I said, “No.  I’m a sinner and I deserve hell.
I never believed in Santa Claus.

2. What is your favorite genre to read?

Realistic, issue-driven fiction.  Psychological drama.  Real, gut-wrenching emotion.  With a good love story.

Favorite authors: Susan Vaught, Ted Dekker, and Tachibana Higuchi.

I’ll read just about any genre though (except erotica), because I love new ideas and experiences in fiction.  🙂

3. What genre do you primarily write?

Issue-driven fiction.  Some evangelical, a sci-fi or two, some with a bit of a mystery, and some with a comedic romance.  But all have to have psychological dilemmas and is emotion-driven, inter-personal and introspective.

4. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and/or your dream destination?

My favorite vacations always involve visiting other people, but my favorite has to be my honeymoon to Grand Cayman with my favorite person.  🙂  I’d LOVE to visit more of the world.  There are so many places I want to go to and write about.

5. Who is your favorite author?

Woops.  I answered that above.

I have favorite books by other authors, but my favorite authors are at the top because I like 75% or so of their writing.

6. What is your favorite movie?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (the OLD Danny Kaye version, please!) and Chicken Run.

In Secret Life, Danny Kaye is a dreamy writer.  I identify with him in some ways, although I’m far more practical than he is.  I love the clever story.

Chicken Run has gorgeous music, and the story just encourages me when I’m down.  It holds a dear place in my heart.  Even listening to the music can motivate and enliven me.

7. What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?

Writing.  😀

Playing the piano and singing.  I was a piano and voice teacher for ten years, so I’ve done even more music than I have writing.  That’s not something a lot of people currently know about me.  But I adore music.  🙂

I love social networks and getting together with people.

I LOVE homeschooling my kids.

8. Rain or sunshine?

Sunshine.  I’m a Californian.  🙂

9. Where is your favorite writing spot?

Hawaii.  My family took a trip there back when I was in my late teens.  I wrote some fictional futuristic memoirs of myself then.  (Yep, like what my husband would be like and my future kids).  I will always remember the beauty, peace, and fun writing in that gorgeous location.

10. Describe your favorite childhood memory.

Only one?

I don’t know if it counts as a childhood memory, but we moved to Texas when I was 17, due to my dad’s work.  I was devastated, and my life, future college plans, and everything came crashing down.  I was a miserable mess.

Six months later, for my highschool graduation and for turning 18, my dad took the whole family back to California.  We attended a homeschool conference (I was homeschooled all the way up) and Dad make sure we got to see, and spend time with, all of our friends.

Due to his super generous nature, and his love for my hurting heart, he took a bunch of my best friends and me out to Knotts Berry Farm (amusement park) to celebrate graduation and my birthday.  His love was not lost on me, and I remember it being the absolute most perfect day with my dearest and truest friends (girls who still love me to this day: Joey, Tiffany, Heidi…)

I will never forget, though, leaving that group of girls for one quick fling with my little brother and my friend’s little brother (who was like a brother to me).  We were going to go ride the big wooden roller coaster together, in the dark, by ourselves.  Leaving the pack of girls without telling anyone, we ran through the park as a threesome, jumping trashcans and park benches.  We made it to the ride, which had no line, and rode that thing, the wind whipping through our hair.  Even I, the girl whose voice is too low to scream, yelped and howled.

I remember feeling absolute contentment in that moment, and thought, “This is what heaven’s going to be like.  I’ve got my wonderful friends to go back to, AND, in this moment, I’m with my two little brothers, deliciously happy, flying through the night air.  In a few days, I’ll have to go back to Texas, but, for now, I have it all.”

Does that answer your question?  *going off to grab a tissue*  *sniff*

11. And finally, the most important of all…cake or pie?

BOTH.  I frequently have multiple desserts for my birthday.  I have quite the sweet tooth.  White cake with white icing.  And pecan pie.  ❤

Now it’s my turn to elect eleven others to answer eleven questions!

Except my questions are going to be WEIRD. 

Because I feel like it.  😀

Here are the nominees:

Motivational Giraffe, A Smith’s World, Beth Steury, Beneath the Tangles, The Monday Heretic, Old Things R New, Lydia Thomas, Arpad Gordon, Sparks of Ember, IANFJAY, and Bemilyjane.  Hooray for all of you!

Here are my 11 questions for all of you:

1. What do you believe with all of your heart – and no one can convince you otherwise?

2. Have you ever read the book of John in the Bible?  Why or why not?

3. Who is your best friend?  Why?

4. What would (or did) you name your first daughter?  What does that name mean?

5. Have you ever prayed?  What did you say?

6. Who do you honestly love the most?  Why?

7. Why do you blog?  What started it for you?

8. What purpose where you made for?  And how do you know?

9. What’s your worst fear?

10. What’s the worst nightmare you ever had?

11. Do you know that Jesus Christ died for you?  Do you know He loves you?  And I do too.

Comment and tell me when you’ve answered the questions! 

Letters to My Daughters


I have two toddler daughters.

No, they’re not twins, although I field this question daily.  The younger one’s going to pass the older one any time soon, and, from the back, they sure look like twins.  Adorable, chubby-legged toddler twins.

They’re as close as twins anyway.

They are each other’s best friend, and some times I have to squeeze to get inside of the mess of love going on between them.

“Any room for Mama?”

As a youngster, myself, my parents were people to emulate and please above all else.  They were wise and kind and listened.

My mom homeschooled me all the way up, and I never got tired of being in her presence. 

My father was an active counselor, playmate, leader, and friend.

However, when it came to sharing the hard stuff – the nitty gritty, ugly sin stuff – my mouth was closed tight. 

My childish pride stood in my way like a horned villain.  “Can’t ever have Dad and Mom thinking I’m anything less than angelic!”

There’s really nothing they could’ve done better.

In my late teens, I liked to pin the problem on them.

“Well, they’re scary because they take things away when I do wrong!” (How is this a bad thing?  It’s called “consequences.”)

or “They tell people I’m wonderful, so I can’t let them down!”  (So they can’t ever praise me?  Of course they know I’m human!)

Even if you’re the perfect mother, who has established a beautiful Gilmore-Girls-like relationship with your daughter, odds are there will still be That One Thing (or Two or Four or Fifteen Things) she’s going to have a very hard time talking about. 

(Rory *did* go and sleep with the married ex-boyfriend, you know.  That’s, personally, when I could stomach no more of the show.)  Gilmore Girls aside, any relationship between a Christian adult and a child is off-balanced with one side being largely immature.  No matter how much you give on your end, your child isn’t going to be a saint.  Their little pride problem exists as well, and they’ve had fewer years to temper it.  And I find that daughters, especially, tend to have trouble with their mothers at some point in their lives.

Hence, my latest project: Letters to My Daughters.

I heard about this first when an article floated past about a mother sending her kid off to college with a shoebox full of letters for different situations: falling in love, a difficult test, emotional trouble, etc.

I LOVED the idea, being a writer who likes things up close and personal, but I thought,

“Why wait until college?”

Even if they’re in my home, there will probably be an elephant or two that will be hard for them to broach.

Therefore, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to start writing them letters now?

I can store them in this beautiful box I got on Etsy, paint their names on top, and let them pull out a letter when they need it but their mouths won’t open, and their hearts are bursting.


I can even keep checking back to see which letter is missing and which I need to replace with a new one on the same topic.

Here are some of the topics I want to cover:

  • (General) Sadness
  • When You Doubt God
  • When You Have a Crush
  • When You’re Afraid
  • When You Have a Terrible Secret
  • Temptation
  • Difficulty with Me, Your Mama
  • Difficulty with Another Family Member

But I know there are more!  This is where you come in. 

Do you have ideas for what topics I can write about and have waiting for my daughters? 

May God bless our children and give them an intimate relationship with Him, and a blessed one with us.  ❤

His Bottles of Tears

Psalm 56:8

“Please! Don’t hang up on me! I want you to come home!”

My cry echoed hollowly as the dial tone stung my ear. Dropping the receiver, the burning hit my eyes with a hellish fervor. They stung until the saltwater tears poured out to douse the fire behind my vision.

She wasn’t coming home. My beautiful, lovely, one and only teenage daughter. Lost to me, she refused to leave the sin and return. Repenting and begging for forgiveness wasn’t on her rebellious bucket list.

Was this the fifth time I wept today? The constant falling of life-water onto my face did nothing to assuage my heart. Like a bandage that would not stick, the tears failed me, but still, they would not cease.

Drained with grief, I stumbled back into the room where my husband lay sleeping, and crawled under the heavy quilt. Wrapping myself securely, I crouched near his warm body, trembling with the shivering sobs. Chill seeped in through the sheets. Would I ever be able to set a firm chin of resignation to this issue of my precious baby daughter?

Within seconds of forcing my eyelids to clamp a lid on the sorrowful leaking from behind my eyes, I found myself opening them once again inside a bright white room. Jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes stood shoulder to shoulder like ardent glass soldiers in strict formation. They occupied every inch of hundreds of rows of shelves affixed to the wall, and they held transparent, sparkling liquid up to their brims. The room was radiant, unseen lights reflecting off of the white walls and the crystal clear bottles.

I did not hear Him arrive, but there He stood beside me. He stretched out His hand to me, his robe as pristine as the room, the white soft on my swollen eyes.

“Where are we, Lord?” I worried. Had my heart finally cracked beyond repair and given up the fight? Was this Glory? Then why did I still feel so heavily unhappy? What was this absence of peace, even as I stood in Jesus’ presence?

“These are my treasures,” He said softly, His voice soothing my ears like feathers against the cheek. “Each of these hold the tears of my children.”

With a gasp, I surveyed the room again, staring at the precious life-water of my brothers and sisters. Some jars were larger than milk jugs, holding gallons of sorrow in their bellies. They could only represent numerous days and nights of ripped hearts and tortured souls.

Thinking of my own impossible battle with my daughter, of the messy breakup that had destroyed my college years, and of the miscarriage I once faced as a newlywed, I suspected my own bottle was fairly immense.

Turning doe eyes to my Lord, I enquired, “Where is mine?”

With a strong finger, He pointed to the corner shelf, second from the bottom.

There sat a miniature vase, its thin neck holding no more than a pint of the clear salty tears I had donated over the years. I stared in disbelief. “Are you sure you didn’t miss any, Lord?”

“I miss nothing.” There was a sweet smile on Jesus’ lips.

In an instant, I forgot about my own miniscule bottle, and straightened up, gazing about the room again in horror. Striding purposefully over to a vessel the size of a small aquarium, I tapped its face with my fingernail. “What happened to him?” I demanded, dread filling the gaps between my lungs and ribcage.

Jesus’ eyes melted with a wise sadness that was married to joy and hope, a look of which my own timid faith could not mimic if I tried. The corners of my eyes were far too wrinkled with doubt to attempt it. “His entire village was murdered at the hands of radical militants. They burned down his church, leaving him crippled. His whole family was killed, and his wife died in his arms.”

With a gasp of pain, my hand reached for the great big jug of tears, and brushed back and forth against the glass as if I could wipe them away forever. I felt useless and helpless and my own sorrows fled. “Why?” I whispered, eyes shut.

“He travels to all of the surrounding nations, giving his testimony and leading many to Me. He is writing a book that will bring thousands to Me. His entire church and family rest in my Father’s bosom in heaven awaiting his coming to join them for eternity.”

I stepped a few paces to the right and found another. Large, intimidating, and sloshing with fresh tears. “And her?”

“She was sexually abused by her father for ten years. It began at the age of four and didn’t end until she ran away with her mother as a teenager, living on the streets and eating out of trashcans.”

“And…?” I waited, my heart racing in agony.

Jesus took my hand. “And she has started a nationwide ministry that provides shelter and education for abused women and their children. Every day she frees hundreds of lives.”

Encouraged and emboldened, I found yet another giant bottle, the tears of which were almost overflowing.

“She has multiple sclerosis and hurts every single day. Her husband left her, her family has all abandoned her, and she is completely alone, trapped in her own failing body.”

I knew what to expect this time. Jesus would tell me why. There was a happy ending to this story too.

“She came to know Me. She loves Me better,” He said simply.

“No extravagant ministry or worldwide fame?” I asked, hesitating.

“No one knows her name,” Jesus replied. “But it is enough that it brings her soul daily into my arms.”

I pointed to my own tiny vase once more. “Why have I not suffered like these? Why have I been spared so much mourning? Why have you given me an easy life in comparison?”

“Because, My dear child, it would not have glorified Me or been for your best to give you more. What you have now is good for you. You bring honor to Me in your responses, and I see and hold your fewer tears just as close to my heart. They are precious jewels in my sight, and more valuable to me than gold. You have been a good and faithful servant with what I have allowed you.”

All of me resonated with His words, as they spun through my head and radiated out my fingertips and my toes. My body felt light, and the peace I longed for coated my limbs. All I could control in that moment was my knees, which dropped to a deep kneel at His feet.

He moved away from me, reaching for my own vase. In His other scarred palm, He held a new, slightly larger bottle. With deft hands, He poured my tears into this bigger vessel, discarding the old.

In an instant, the supernatural peace fled from my immature, unstable mind. His words disappeared, my flimsy brain forgetting them. All I could see was the greater bottle, glaring at me with its smooth surface. My tears only occupied two thirds of its inside, ominously prophesying of weeping that was to come.

“What are you doing?” I demanded, rising to my feet, my hands clenched. “Are you implying I will be crying so much more soon? I thought it wasn’t for my good! I thought I was good enough now!” My spirit cried out silently that my words were vain and foolish, and not fit to be spoken in front of my King, but I did not heed this warning. I was consumed with unreasonable fear.

His kind face remained unchanged. With the same look of compassion, He took my hands in His once more. “My daughter, there is no inherent goodness within yourself. And did you forget so quickly what I did in the lives of My other children? Do you still not trust Me?”

Biting my lip, I shushed my mouth and hung my head. “Help me!” I murmured. “Because it is so very hard. It should not be, but yet it is!”

The doorbell roused me from sleep and I was once again huddled against the strong back of my husband, our familiar bedroom walls alerting me that it had been a dream. The incessant chiming cried to be noticed. Who could it be so early? The sun had only just begun to apply blush to the cheeks of the sky. I pulled on the knob and swung open the heavy front door.

There she stood. My lovely, broken, weeping daughter. Her cheeks were pale, her makeup smudged. But her lowered, shamed eyes were clear. She lifted them to me and fell into my outstretched arms. “Mama, I’m home!”

Again, the saltwater cleansed my cheeks. These were the new tears of which He had hinted. Tears I had been afraid to meet. I knew they would flow for hours.

Tears of joy.