Road Trip Reads Giveaway (Iowa): Now or Never by Emily Conrad

Posted June 3, 2023 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, Emily Conrad, giveaway, Road Trip Reads Giveaway 2023, romance / 27 Comments

today’s book: Now or Never by Emily Conrad

This week we kicked off the summer-long Road Trip Reads Giveaway where we will be visiting all 50 states on the pages of recently released books. Because road trips are always better with friends – and books – right? So grab your fave snacks, a cold soda or bottled water, an upbeat playlist and let’s head to the Midwest for today’s stop!

today’s stop: Iowa

NOW OR NEVER by Emily Conrad
Many Oaks Romances Prequel Novella
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2023
PAGES: 138

Will leaving positive legacies mean kissing their own happily-ever-after goodbye?

If Tim Bergeron got a lifetime achievement award for anything, it’d be managing the iconic rock band, Awestruck, but he’d trade his successful career for the opportunity to prevent his daughter from repeating his mistakes.

When a health scare proves time is short, he talks Isabella into a cross-country road trip. His attempts to talk her out of a hasty marriage drive a wedge between them, and it looks like the best he can hope for from the trip is scouting out promising new talent to represent. That is, until he meets Gabby.

Widow Gabrielle Voss has responsibilities to her daughter and patients, deep roots in the community, and a dream that scares her. Though she’d never utter it to the people she lives and works among, the truth slips out with Tim, who’s not in Many Oaks, Iowa, to stay.

As her fiftieth birthday party draws near and an attraction to Tim sparks to life, Gabby realizes she must pursue her dream now—or, more reasonably, never.

This prequel novella to the Many Oaks Romances stars a popular character from the Rhythms of Redemption Romances.

If you like Christian romance that explores meaningful questions of faith, life, and love, escape into the small town of Many Oaks, Iowa, by ordering today!


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The Proper Care and Feeding of Characters

by Emily Conrad, author of Now or Never

I fell down the rabbit hole.

After a dream about adopting a bunny, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting one. So, I did what any reasonable writer would do: I gave a character in my work in progress a bunny. But … that wasn’t enough to satisfy my new interest in these fuzzy little pets.

I went and looked up bunnies available from the local shelter. Today, I was approved to adopt one.

Next to my keyboard rests a guide on how to provide everything my bunny will need to thrive.

This has me thinking about the proper care and feeding of things we love.

Though characters differ from pets, there are some things characters—main characters, especially—need to thrive in a story and in readers’ hearts and minds.

A Detailed Appearance

To come alive on the page, a character needs a set of physical trails that goes beyond eye and hair color and tall or short. Specificity—without going too far into the weeds—goes a long way in establishing a character in the mind’s eye.

Often, to describe a character’s distinct look, I have in mind a real person they resemble. I’ve been known to borrow from reality TV, actors, and even a singer.

In those cases, I’ll pull up a photo to help me describe the distinct part of their looks that the character shares. Very rarely will I actually fit a reference to the real person in the text, but in my most recent release, I went for it by describing my hero this way:

“In the stories you’ve told about him, you never mentioned he looks like the reality TV chef who yells at everybody.”

Philip snorted and assessed his former manager. “Is that good or bad?”

“As long as he doesn’t have a fiery temper, good.” The lines that lent his face a serious air would accent his smiles in the most endearing way. His blond hair flipped and flopped in a state of disarray she guessed was constant. Also endearing.

A Backstory

Characters all come from somewhere, and those backgrounds will impact how the character reacts to the events of the story. Often, the internal conflict of the story is rooted in the character’s backgrounds, so I like to make sure there’s something there the character hasn’t resolved yet.

Tim, the hero in Now or Never, came to Christ in his 40’s. Before that, he was married and divorced. He’s struggled to connect with his daughter for her entire life, including during the story. His background impacts how he supports and encourages the heroine, Gabby, as she navigates conflict between herself and her adult daughter.

Meanwhile, when Gabby was a child, she was inspired to travel the globe by her flight attendant aunt—only Gabby fell in love and settled in one place to raise a family instead. The loss of her husband and her long-dormant dream of travel impact the decisions she makes throughout Now or Never, at times inspiring her forward, and at times making her pause.


I firmly believe in the importance of having both internal and external goals and conflicts for each of my main characters. Internal conflict is usually emotion- or faith-based and involves a change of heart or a better understanding of God to find resolution. The external conflict and goal involves something externally measurable. As I touched on above, the internal conflict usually stems from the character’s background.

Sometimes the external goal does too. For example, Gabby’s dream of traveling more will mean changing her physical location—if she decides to go for it, despite the difficulties.

Tim’s external goal is to bond with his daughter over the course of their road trip from his home in California to her home in New York. Ideally, he’d also like to talk her into breaking off her ill-suited engagement, but let’s just say that isn’t going well.

These goals and the obstacles that stand in the way give the characters purpose as they move through the pages—and like real people, characters need purpose to thrive.

There are other aspects of characters that are important to sustain their fictional lives. What else can you think of that has helped bring a hero or heroine to life and made you wanted to spend time with them?

If you’d like to get to know Tim and Gabby better, you can find their story from these retailers:

Amazon | B&N | Other Retailers

Emily Conrad writes contemporary Christian romance that explores life’s relevant questions. Though she likes to think some of her characters are pretty great, the ultimate hero of her stories (including the one she’s living) is Jesus. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their energetic coonhound rescue. Learn more about her and her books at

Emily Conrad is offering an audiobook copy of Now or Never (through Spotify) plus a sticker and a bookmark to one of my readers! (Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read Now or Never by Emily Conrad? What else can you think of that has helped bring a hero or heroine to life and made you wanted to spend time with them? Have you ever visited Iowa?

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27 responses to “Road Trip Reads Giveaway (Iowa): Now or Never by Emily Conrad

  1. Audrey Stewart

    My mom’s side of the family are all living in Davenport, Iowa. Too cold for me. I live in the south. I enjoyed reading this post.

    • I think it counts because driving through is a great way to get an introduction to an area! 🙂 But, of course, there’s so much to see off the beaten path too. I hope you get the chance to explore sometime.

  2. Sue Parrish

    I have been to Iowa but it was many years ago. I like the premise of an older couple.

  3. Martha

    I like to read about the hero and heroine’s profession and/ or hobbies and interests. I have been to Iowa several times.

    • Isn’t it fun to learn about different lives through fiction? I learned more about nurse practitioners and band managers writing this one 🙂

  4. Kasi Walas

    What draws me to ‘Now or Never’ by Emily Conrad is its intriguing narrative and the promise of a journey of self-discovery, which makes it a compelling read

  5. Sandy Avery

    I read this and loved it! I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

    I have not visited Iowa.

    • Aw, thank you so much, Sandy! I’m working on the first draft of the next book right now! (Well, not at this very moment — I took a break to reply to comments, but it’s coming along 😉 )

  6. Megan

    I like stories that feature slightly older characters, and ones that have different jobs, like this book.

  7. Kaitlyn Walas

    The summary sounds so great! Never been to Iowa (I think) but would love to experience it in the book!

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