Girls Write Out
Saturday, April 29, 2006

Forbes just came out with its most expensive zip code list. I noted that on the list were several Silicon Valley towns, including the one where my kids went to school, and where my good friends reside. One thing that was notably interesting about the list was that for the expensive zip in NY or Miami, you're getting a mansion with property. In Los Altos & Portola Valley, you're getting a pretty normal house. 4 bedrooms, two bath, often with dry rot and termite damage for $2.4 million plus. Stay with me now, because I know the prices seem ridiculous, but I don't know, call me crazy but for that kind of cash, shouldn't the foundation be in tact? Shouldn't it be away from the San Andreas Fault Line? You'd think so, wouldn't you?

But humans are interesting creatures. We'll live in earthquake country, pay for the privilege, imagining that it will never happen to us, that we our money will rescue us. After riding out the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, I really got a sense for God's power. He ain't playing, let me just say that. Look at the facts: FEMA can't fix things (Katrina's toll!). No humanitarian effort in the world can take away the pain in the Sudan. Pakistan still suffers from their devastating earthquake. It seems to me, God sends us a wake-up call quite regularly, and yet we as humans decide what is most valuable (according to Forbes) with no regards that money can't protect us. Now comes word there's a whole contingent of people who believe 9/11 was a government conspiracy, and that a missile tore into the Pentagon, not a plane. Um, even though everyone on that plane is dead, and the black box was found there. Is it any wonder people have trouble with faith in the Bible? It's so much easier to think, that too, was a conspiracy. Ah, the more I know humanity, the more I like my cat. : )
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 12:44 PM  
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Friday, April 28, 2006

Any other boomers out there? What a blast from the past I've been enjoying. I'm deep in the writing of MIDNIGHT SEA, book four of the Aloha Reef series. Some of my characters lived at Taylor Camp on the island of Kaua'i, a kind of hippie commune in the early seventies. My villain is still there in heart and he says stuff like groovy, gnarly, fab and heavy. Some of these words I haven't thought about in years. It's enough to make a girl grab a bikini and head for the beach. Okay, maybe not the bikini.

There are some good memories I have from the hippie era (not that I was ever a hippie, mind you). Things like listening to the radio play The Monkees, the Beatles, and the Mamas and the Papas in the night when everyone else in the house was asleep. And the cars! They just don't make cars like they used to. I could hear my boyfriend's 383 in his Road Runner coming down the road from a mile away. When we'd drive through town, everyone would stop and look. Now the cars are all generic, even if we do still have a couple of drive up restaurants where carhops bring the food to you. nd Tabu cologne. I smell that and I'm transported to seventeen again.

There are some not so good memories too. I used to wear green eyeshadow in the days before I knew it made me look like Sammy Terry. And what's up with all these hippie clothes making a comeback? I mean, there's a REASON those loose flowing shirts went out of style. They look hideous, and I marvel to think I actually owned some of them once. Bell bottoms, nehru jackets, wild patterned tops in hideous greens and oranges. SO not my color!

So here's your chance to tell me your favorite and not so favorite memories, if you dare to admit you're a boomer. And while you're at it, what's your favorite word or term from the era. You never know, the term might pop up in the book I'm writing!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:01 AM  
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Thursday, April 27, 2006
It’s that time of year again. The plastic Easter eggs have been tossed, the baskets stored away, and only one thing remains. The candy. My kids have weeded through and eaten most of what they like. Clearly, they’re pickier than I.

Just when I finally got rid of (ate) my annual package of Peeps, new candy sits on my kitchen counter, a colorful collection of foil-wrapped temptation. Peppermint patties, Hershey kisses, and worst of all . . . Reese’s Cups. It’s enough to drive a woman to a chocolate-induced coma. Or at least a sugar high.

What kind of cruel holiday tradition is this that sends kids home with loads of candy? Sure, the kids enjoy it, but then they run off to school the next week, leaving me alone with it. Don’t they know I can’t handle this kind of temptation?

Just the other day, I stuck my head in the candy basket. Yes, my head. I wasn’t going to eat one, I just wanted to smell it. I’m sick that way. (Make fun if you like, but smelling is calorie-free)

I’m the only mom shoving the candy basket at my kids every day after school. “Here, guys! Eat up!”

And still, a month’s worth of candy sits calling my name. I can’t bring myself to throw away good chocolate, so I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. Next year, though, we’re hiding money. I know my kids won’t let that go to waste.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:10 AM  
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Writer’s Paranoia

It starts the moment you make up your mind you want to write. Really write. Up till now you’ve written thank you notes, memos to teachers, maybe even dropped a poetic phrase or two in your journal. But now you want to really write—as in, turn on the compute, stare at the blank screen and start a story.

Paranoia begins the moment your blank screen pops up. Staring at the screen, you roll up your sleeves and poise your fingers over the keyboard. Sweat pops out on your forehead—and you’re not a sweaty kind of girl. You write:

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

That sounds mysterious enough. Or is it too cliché? Everybody and his dog puts his scary story in a storm.

“It was a dark night.”

No. It needs more umph. And who says it has to be dark? How about foggy? Yeah, that’s something a little different. And how about at twilight. That has a sort of Dick Tracy feel to it, wouldn’t you say?

And what’s with the “was”? They always say writers need to cut those out.

Hmm, “A foggy mist surrounded her at twilight when it happened.”

Yeah, that works. By the time you get to that phrase, you’re totally exhausted, the morning is gone—as is the bag of M&Ms resting mere inches from your mouse—and you’re totally clueless where to go from here. Besides, who will want to read it besides your mother? And what if they have a thousand submissions just like it? And what if the writing stinks? And, what if, oh my goodness, I've used too many "ing" words. And what if . . . . .

Ah, but what if they liked it? What if you could come up with a second page, and a third and a chapter and a BOOK?

My challenge to you this week is to allow the “what ifs” to take you down a positive road. I mean, what if you did that? You just might get that book finished—critiqued—submitted, PUBLISHED!

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:00 AM  
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I went "home" today to the Silicon Valley. Hung out in my church coffee shop, spied an older Chinese man reading the "Thorn Birds". (That was an interesting contrast -- sort of a character waiting to be uncovered.) Anyway, my friend Maria came to see me. I saw my old pastor and the gang, ate Vietnamese Pho, had a bubble tea sans the bubbles (tapioca = fattening), and made a trip to the Hong Kong Bakery for my son Seth's obligatory papercake. All in all, a perfect day.

Then, I came home and hiked the hills around my house, watched my kids play croquet in the yard, ate my husband's home-cooked chicken & dumplings, and watched MXC with my kids (if you don't know, don't ask! It's too stupid to explain.)

But it dawned on me how many people we are in life. I'm the girl who loves her "Masterpiece Theatre" (last night Thomas Hardy, my favorite author, and one of his happy ones "Under the Greenwood Tree") and yet, I love stupid Adam Sandler/Mike Myers humor. I love fine art and expensive jeans, but can't bear to spend money on things like dishes (I have beautiful ones that look real, but are plastic for our lifestyle!) I love David Crowder AND Barry Manilow.

So what is it for you? Let's hear some contrasts that make a person real. There's the public us, and the geeky us that we might have hidden at one point. But now we're too cranky to hide that we love both Styx and the Bee Gees. For we are wonderfully made!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 12:30 AM  
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Monday, April 24, 2006

Have you ever noticed how things in your life can change SO FAST? This time last year I was beginning to think I would never see my kids married off and happy. I worried and fretted about them (don't email me and tell me worry is a sin--I already know it) and spent plenty of time in prayer over them. Well now Dave is getting married. Donna was worth the wait. One down, one to go. Then BAM! Kara is in love! Can you believe it? I'm smelling another round of wedding flowers. Rob was worth waiting for too. This is a picture of my two kids. Gorgeous, aren't the?

We moms are weird. I was talking to my brother on the phone last night about Kara and how much I was loving hearing her positively giddy about the new man in her life. My husband came in after I got off the phone. He leaned down and kissed me and said, "Our daughter isn't the only one giddy about it." I looked up in innocence. "Her mother is about as bad," Dave said.

And he's right. There's something in a mother that positively craves happiness for her kids. Suddenly the sky is bluer, the air smells fresher, the birds sound happier. My kids are in love, and their happiness is rubbing off. Friends would say it's because I can see grandchildren on the horizon. That's part of it of course. We had a bridal shower for Donna on Saturday and I got her ovulation test strips and pregnancy tests! LOL But it's not just that. Even if no grandchildren appeared, it makes a mom so happy to see her kids glowing and smiling.

And I'll admit the thought the grandbabies has me almost euphoric. So if you see this woman with a crazed look on her face haunting the baby aisle at Target, you better step out of the way. It might not be safe to approach her.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:49 AM  
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Friday, April 21, 2006

I love to read. Really I do. From the time I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder in the fourth grade, no one has been able to pry a book from my hands. In high school while others socialized in study hall, I had my nose in a book.

I’m still as crazy about reading as ever before, but something terrible is happening. I’m getting picky. Very, very picky. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I write books now—and study the writing craft. Now, I no longer just want a fabulous story, I want fabulous writing. Throw in a female protagonist and a little romance and I’m a happy woman.

But lately, I’ve had a hard time finding everything I want in a book. I start a book and the plot doesn’t grip me. Or the prose is lame. Or I don’t care about the characters. I shut the book and start a new one, sure that this time I’ll reach “The End”. Before I knew it, I went three months without finishing a book, and I was getting a cramp in my hand from slamming them shut.

Oh, sure, I have my favorite, reliable authors (including my Girls Write Out partners), but they don’t write fast enough to feed my reading appetite.

I’m happy to report, though, that my inability to finish a book has recently been put on hold. After pleading with the girls for a recommendation, Diann suggested Richard Paul Evans and even loaned me a couple books. Bingo! His writing and stories keep me riveted. And best of all, he’s written a lot of books so I get to look forward to his whole backlist.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:19 AM  
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Since this is the day after the Genesis Contest finalists were announced, I thought it a good time to talk about contests.

No doubt those of you who have finaled celebrated last night and went to bed with happy thoughts.

Those of you who entered but did not final most likely overdozed on M&Ms last night (you know who you are) and you're wondering if you will ever write another word--well, other than the grocery list.

Contests and I have this sort of love/hate thing going on.

I LOVE the idea of winning. Entering is scary, but boy, if I could only win! Dream bubbles of trophies, Hollywood movie contracts, and lifetime supplies of chocolate dance in my head.

And I HATE the idea of waiting—the red splotchy hives, the lost sleep, chocolate binges, biting my nails down to stubs, and screaming every time the telephone rings.

This year I entered my first contest—Colleen made me. And yes, I admit it. I’m a chicken. I absolutely HATE to put myself out there. But I have to admit once I did, it felt good that I took that step, you know?

And the really cool part is I totally forgot about it after that. Oh, it wasn’t on purpose. I just didn’t figure I had a prayer of finaling, so it slipped my mind. Well, Colleen already told you the story of how we found out about finaling in the Holt Medallion Contest and how fun all that was. But everybody’s different. Some people work hard at getting their stuff out there, and other people, like me, struggle to set their baby free for the judges’ eyes.

Still, one thing I know. Every step in this journey takes you that much closer to publication. Doesn’t matter if you win the contests or not—though it’s fun if you do and disappointing if you don’t—bottom line is we have to do the work. I know you’ve heard me quote Derrick Johnson before when he said, “Excellence is doing the best you can, with what you have, every chance you get.” If you’ve done that, then you can be proud, no matter what.

So ditch the bag of M&Ms (if it's empty), and get your patooti back at the computer. One day of wallowing is all you're allowed. You can do this! Persistence and a hefty supply of chocolate? That's how to make it in this business! :-)

Diann Hunt  
posted at 6:54 AM  
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
On our mercury discussion, there was a new study released today with 1000 children, half given mercury fillings, half given composite. They showed no difference in IQ, etc. However, they did have a higher level of mercury (known neurotoxin) in their urine -- and the study didn't take into account if some kids were more vulnerable to the mercury or not. Hope this link works. Video Category: 1 of 20: Are Silver Fillings Safe?
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 10:59 PM  
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Does anyone like to be lectured to? I mean, did I get the gene that can't stand it, or is it just really as annoying as it seems? I called today to cancel my daughter's eye appointment. The RECEPTIONIST sees the need to tell me how important the eyes are -- as though my daughter is about to go blind because we're missing an appointment. Gee, the doctor wasn't all that worried when she made me wait two weeks for an appointment, was she now? But I sit through the receptionist's little spiel and let her feel good about her lecture.

Then, there's the dentist and their standard Charlie Brown barkings on flossing. Okay, unless you're volunteering to wrestle four Billerbeck kids, they're not going to floss. They have magical automatic toothbrushes and don't eat much sugar, isn't that enough? But apparently, it's not because I have to sit through the lecture on flossing each and every visit.

I have one child who is woefully disorganized. Love the boy, but his backpack looks like an alley in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco -- papers blowing all around. His teacher is the one who gave me the book on parenting and the lecture to go with it. He's a straight A student, but his backpack is still a disaster.

Here's the funny part about all these helpful souls. These people don't like to be lectured back, not a one of them! One of my personal issues is mercury, and the medical community's use of it. I will not let anyone put mercury in my children. So they were not allowed to get the MMR until they took the mercury (thermeriosol) out (they have), but trust me, the pediatricians will not hear you say anything about it, even though autism's rise has gone down in the four years they haven't used it -- no connection they say. They won't even listen to your concerns, which they consider crackpot. Well thanks, but I'll be the judge for my kids. I will only put composite fillings in their mouths (try telling that to your dentist, and see how popular you are!) They're angry and tell you about how safe it is, right after they hand you the thirteen page disclosure. I don't care if they agree with me, or make their opinions known to me, but in return they need to respect my rights to act for my children. So this is my lecture on lecturing, let's give it a rest, shall we? You're you. I'm me. Unless you're my mother (or Colleen), spare me the lectures.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 6:48 PM  
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We sent out our snail maile newsletter last month and we drew this morning for the winner of a free book from each of us. Congratulations Susie Mengelt! You'll be getting a copy of She's All That, Alaska Twilight, Finding Faith, and Hot Flashes and Cold Cream. Enjoy!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:48 AM  
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

We writers notice the weirdest things. I attended a bridal shower this past Saturday for my soon-to-be-niece. There were some gals there I hadn't seen in years, but everyone was hugging and talking like we'd been visiting just last week. There was a spread of food that would have fed half the state.

I got to wondering where this ritual came from. Was it because women wanted to gather to watch the poor bride sit in the front and unwrap every gift while exclaiming over the third spatula she received just to see if she could still act excited? Or maybe it was the opportunity to play a game where you exercise brain cells you haven't used in thirty years. Or hey, what about this, maybe they want to offer the bride advice like change your socks every day and don't squeeze the toothpaste in the middle.

It originally evolved to help brides who were poor, but most brides aren't in that position. I think the ritual is still important today though. The bride needs to see if the two families will kill each other. She needs to gather the bounty of towels (I never bought towels after I got married for ten years!)She needs to eye the aging matriachs on her husband's side to see if they're going to "advise" her to death. There's still time to run after the shower! Though the shower for my own soon -to-be-daughter-in-law is coming and I'll hogtie her if she tries to escape.
We need to get together like this as women to reconnect and see who has gained the most weight since we saw them last.

But mostly, it's important that we show the new bride that we love and support her in this scary new venture. That it really is possible to stay married to the same man for fifty years, even if he passes a little gas now and then. And that the journey is always worth it if you have your girlfriends, moms and sisters around you. With them and chocolate, you can face anything.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:42 AM  
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Monday, April 17, 2006

I was just thinking about giftedness the other day.
Well, really, I was thinking about the areas of giftedness
that are absent from my life. There are certain things
I stink at, and I sometimes dwell on them too much.
Lately, I'm learning a sense of humor comes in handy.
And remembering that God gifted me in other areas helps too.

Three Things Best Left to Someone Else
1. Balancing the checkbook. Numbers and I do not get along. Unless someone is there to oversee our altercations, bad, bad things happen.
2. Plants, flowers, or anything else that has chlorophyll. I've already blogged on my sad relationship with fauna, so I'll spare you a repeat.
3. Singing. When David said to make a joyful noise, I'm pretty sure he hadn't heard me.
Three Things God Gifted Me At
1. Writing books. No you're not. Yes I am. No you're not. Yes I am. Hey, I never said I was sane.
2. Making deserts. It's a wonderful gift to have. Brownies anyone?
3. Organization. I could organize the leaves of a forest by color and texture.
Okay, how about you. God has gifted you with some great skills and abilities. Stop for a moment and think about them--and thank God for them. Are you a great listener? Could you give an impromptu speech on any given topic? (I bow at your feet) Can you make a dollar stretch for days? Come on, don't be shy, let's here 'em.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:33 PM  
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Friday, April 14, 2006

I’m on deadline and have a lot on my plate today, but it’s Good Friday so I plan to pause and remember . . . .

Our church choir is doing something unusual tonight. We’re presenting the Easter story, stopping with Jesus’ death on the cross. On Easter morning we will celebrate His resurrection but for tonight we plan to pause and remember . . . .

No doubt you have lots to do just now. Maybe you have company coming for the weekend or just Easter dinner, but your mind is buzzing with all the lists you need to write and accomplish. In the thick of all you have to do, it is my prayer for you that you will pause and remember . . . .

Diann Hunt  
posted at 11:22 PM  
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

I've been wanting a sissel rug for my family room. Pottery Barn has one, but for more than I want to pay, so on way home from the Jelly Belly factory, I thought, "Hey family, let's stop at this big, Swedish furniture box store! It will be so exciting."
Groans ensue and my excitement dies just a little, but I press on -- I'm a writer, I know rejection well.
We park in the parking lot from the dark side (think vying for a spot as if they're giving their stuff away!) Add in a dose of husband's fun comments and more kid whining. Ah, the sounds of shopping.
"But honey," I chirp happily. "The rug might be cheaper here!"
As we park, my daughter throws a five minute tantrum for good measure (she wouldn't want us to think she was into this or anything. And besides, it's always so fun to have passersby stare at you as though you are the worst parent on earth.)
So I resort to bribery, and tell all the kids, "We'll go to Fresh Choice!" So we finally get out of the car, my daughter's red-rimmed eyes showing her discomfort with the entire situation.
We're herded, yes I mean herded into the showroom via an escalator we cannot escape (think salmon going upstream! Only determined people lured with the idea of cheap furniture.)
We get upstairs to all this cheesy, modern-looking crap set in little room vignettes that are meant to make you want to live there. But apparently, I'm too old, because my first thought is, "Am I back in college? Get me a milk crate for my stereo and let's go!"
But here's the thing, the big Swedish box store is smart. They know what you're thinking (that you need absolutely nothing here) and thus, the second part of the diabolical plan ensues. You are now trapped like a U.C. Berkeley lab rat in an experiment of International proportions. Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to get out of the box store. Oh sure, there are little arrows on the floor, but there's a sadistic window-dressing retailer who wants you to look at her work, and by golly, you aren't getting out until you've seen everything. It's like one very big, very nightmarish Open House night at your kids' school without the fine art.

Okay, so IF you manage to get to the "exit" you're back downstairs where there is a huge warehouse like where they put the Ark at the end of Indiana Jones. Upstairs, if you saw something you liked, you were supposed to write its location on a piece of provided paper. Then, the real fun begins. Your SAT score of shopping box style. You go downstairs, and you try to find your fabricated partical board furniture in a massive warehouse. You still have about a mile to get out of the store. With four hungry kids in tow! (By the way, they did have the sissal rug but it's made for a Manhattan size apartment, not a real house.) We manage to get out the front door, and my family breathes a sigh of relief, and gives each other high fives feeling as though Nepal lies beneath us. We did it! Pottery Barn is feeling like a real bargain at the moment.

P.S. I just got home from Nashville, and I have my first copy of "A Girl's Best Friend" it should be out soon!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 8:24 AM  
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ah, the beginning of a new book. Anything is possible. The plot still seems unusual, the characters like new friends. The setting feels fresh, and my villain sinister.

Okay maybe not. Some writers love the start of a new project. I always struggle. Who ARE these people and why did I think I wanted to write about them? And where the heck do I start the book? I bet I write the first chapter three times before I figure out my starting point and go forward. Oh I THINK I know it when I belly up to the computer, rub my hands together and touch the keys for the first time. About two paragraphs in I'm staring at the screen and wondering WHAT WAS I THINKING? This is junk, totally juvenile writing. My readers will figure out whodunnit by the second chapter.

Usually by chapter five I've got my swing back and I'm pounding away. Hey, I wonder if it would work if I just jumped ahead and STARTED in chapter five, then came back and did the first few chapters later? Makes sense, don't you think? Maybe I'll start a new trend among authors. Let's skip the oh-so-hard beginning and get right to the good stuff!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:42 AM  
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Did anyone watch the first part of the Ten Commandments movie last night? It wasn't too bad--better than some versions I've seen, and hey, I'm grateful they produce biblical stories at all.

But I have to ask. What was with all the caucasian people? Blue-eyed caucasian Moses, caucasian Aaron, caucasian Pharoah. I mean really, are we such a self-absorbed people that we can't be historically accurate?

You'd think I'd be used to it by now. I grew up in church looking at picture books of Jesus with white skin, Americanized to our taste, I suppose. He has to look like us or . . . what? We won't accept that he loves us? We won't be able to relate to him? Read the Bible, people. He was from the middle east, not the mid-west. And so was Moses, and Aaron, and Pharoah.

Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:54 PM  
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Monday, April 10, 2006

I love to go to candle stores. Not only the smells but also the names of the candles get me excited. Spiced cider, mango mandarin, moonlight path, cinnamon stick, sweet pea, shore breeze—they all kick up my adrenaline a notch and put me in a certain mood or frame of mind.

Since my current wip is set in Siesta Key, I’m especially drawn to the “shore breeze” candle. Without even picking it up, I know it will smell like a walk on the beach. I can hear the sea whooshing to shore and feel the cool sand beneath my feet. (The sand on Siesta Key Beach is cool.)

While visiting The Pottery Barn on Saturday, I saw a beautiful display of a large glass vase with sand, assorted seashells, blue soap petals and a few other things. If I had the money and the space, I would love to have things like that to inspire me for every book. I could have gotten lost in just staring at that vase while writing Hot Tropics & Cold Feet.

Certain pictures will do that for me too. You know, the kind of framed landscapes you feel you can step into and become a part of it all? Those kinds of things feed my senses and spark my creativity.

We all get bogged down with life stuff, and we have to work at feeding our creative side. I love to hear how other writers do it. Some of them work for me, some don’t.

We’ve talked about going to coffee shops and things like that to feed our creativity, but what other things feed your creative side? I have three weeks to finish my current book, so give me a shot in my creative arm, will ya?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:23 AM  
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Friday, April 07, 2006

Okay, who ever came up with the nutty idea anyway? You're not SAVING anything. There are a certain amount of hours of daylight and monkeying with the clock doesnt't give you more. See these dark circles under my eyes? Indiana joined the rest of the madness last weekend. I didn't say anything in my last blog. I gave it a chance. We've been doing this switcher-oo for nearly a week now. BUT I'M NOT HAPPY!

When 10 o'clock comes, my body says, "oh no, you don't. I'm wide awake. It's not time for bed yet." I lay there with my mind running around like Wilson the mongoose. You'd think I'd at least fall to sleep at my normal time, but not a chance. It's as though my mind has started sprinting and it's not about to turn off. Okay, maybe part of that is I'm working on a new book (got my edits done. YAY!) and I'm exploring possibilities, but it's mostly the disruption of my inner clockworks.

And it's DARK when we get up. I was just enjoying the fact we were waking up to light. After tossing and turning for hours, when I finally DO fall asleep, my body wants to know why I'm dragging it out of bed at such an unheard of hour.

So need I say that I'm not voting again for Mitch Daniels or any of the representatives he strong-armed to get this through? LOL Um, no.

I believe in looking on the bright side, but I'm having trouble with this one. So tell me, those of you who have always changed. Do you like it? Is there anything good about this? Okay, one good thing. I can SEE my DeBrand truffles longer because I'm up an hour longer. Or two or three. The problem is I can't eat them because I'm dieting. Hey, you'll be proud. We had a few bags left of the chocolate we were taking to some bookstores and I HAVEN'T TOUCHED THEM! Totally amazing, huh? I can't believe it myself. I've been sooo good. Of course part of it might be my migraines have been better lately and I don't want to jinx it. LOL
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:00 AM  
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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Best friends for life. On Sunday, I traveled "home" to Silicon Valley to see my neurologist. I had the time of my life!! Because I now live twenty-five minutes from anywhere, I have to tell you all the things I did within one square mile at "home":

1. Stayed at Maria's house (think Martha Stewart only Greek). She made up her guest room like the spa with candles, and a water pitcher -- plus she made quiche! And her husband taped "stupid" television shows for us, as the three of us have juvenile humor and we giggled until midnight.

2. Went to see some of our closest friends, Rich & Christina (Rich is the one battling terminal cancer -- not that you'd ever know it. He looks great, and I miss having him around as he worked at home and did my "honey-do" list while my hubby isn't the handy type.

3. Saw my Nana (she doesn't know me, but I just blathered on as though that didn't matter an iota!) She looks good, and I still see "her" in those blue eyes.

4. Went to Highway (old church) and they've bought a coffee shop -- hung out there (where my laptop died -- sigh)

5. Had lunch with Jackie & Maria -- my accountability girls and my, how I miss our lunches.

6. Had a bubble tea and took off for home.

7. Oh yeah, and I went to the neurologist! (the point of the trip.)

One square mile! What was I thinking to leave that cushy life?

On the way home, I met with Beth, my best friend since we were four. This is us at dinner.

These are the friends who have seen me at my best/worst. They knew me when I could have worn a bikini, and now, when they'd pay to make sure I don't. We have watched each other become mothers, leave our cars behind for minivans and trade our acne meds for wrinkle cream, our Calvin Kleins for mom jeans only gets better! I wouldn't trade them for anything. Not even the chance to move back home! Because friends like this never leave you in spirit.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:04 PM  
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006


1. There's a stack of laundry, a pile of dishes, and a layer of dust, but you just have to finish one more chapter.

2. There's a book on your nightstand, in your car, and in your purse.

3. For Mother's Day, you ask your husband for more bookshelves.

4. The first thing you do upon entering a bookstore is inhale. Ahhhhh . . . .

5. You are the library for all your friends and family.

6. You can't stand not to have a book started.

7. When you set a book down, you automatically figure out when your next free time will be.

8. Your car knows the way to the local bookstore.

9. You 've stayed up until the wee hours of the night because you "can't put it down".

10. You have bookmarked and you're signed up for One-Click Shopping.

Sound familiar??
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:18 AM  
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hang on to your hats. I'm on a new research kick.

Case in point. My husband got a new toy. It has two wheels and a motor--with all the bark of a Chihuahua. (Just kidding, honey.)

What he actually has purchased is a Honda Helix motor, um, scooter.

Now before you start thinking this is a wimpy little motor bike, let me just tell you this baby can work her way up to 70 miles per hour--well, okay, on a non-windy day. We haven’t had the courage to do it just yet, mind you, but when we do, look out!

I’ll soon be donning a new kind of red hat--(pictures will be posted to my web site)--as in, shiny red helmet, to match my red leather jacket. Yes, you heard me. Red leather jacket. No chains yet, though, aren’t you glad?

So if you live in the Midwest, you might want to stay off the streets and sidewalks, just till we get the hang of things.

It’s frightening, I know, but if I’m going to have the characters in my next book be motorcycle riders, well, I have to feel the brush of wind on my face, the thrill of riding over bumpy train tracks, the joy of hanging on to my husband for dear life, and finally sense the pain of someone prying my stiff self off the bike after my first lengthy ride.

It’s what I do in the name of, well, work. So if you see this flash of red zip by your house and hear strains of the Beach Boys cranked up full volume singing, “It’s the Little Old Lady from Indiana,” be sure to wave!

And by the way, just what are you doing these days in the name of research, hmmm??????

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:58 AM  
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Monday, April 03, 2006

The phone rang Friday night. I looked at the caller ID like I always do, and it said UNKNOWN. When I see an UNKNOWN, my heart rate always kicks up a beat because that's what it says when someone is calling from WestBow. But it's 8:30 at night so it can't be my publisher. All this is speeding through my head even as I punch in the button.

"Hello," I say.

"Colleen Coble?"

I don't recognize the voice so I immediately think it's a telemarker. "Yes," I answer cautiously.

"This is XXX. I'm calling about the Holt Medallion."

I immediately sit upright in my chair. I've finaled in the Holt! "Whoohoo!" I say. "What fabulous news! Thank you, thank you!" She's laughing. It's fun to get a call with that kind of news, but here's where it REALLY gets fun. "Who else is a finalist?" I ask.

"Let's see, I guess it's okay to tell you now. Dorothy Clark, Lyn Cote, and Hannah Alexander," she says.

I whoohoo again. "Hannah Alexander is one of my dear friends."

"Oh and Diann Hunt."

My jaw drops. "Di finaled too?" I dance out of my chair and scream loud enough to bust the girls eardrum. Now you have to understand, Di didn't think she'd stand a chance. She didn't want to enter and I twisted her arm.

"Yes for Hot Flashes and Cold Cream."

I scream again, and I think the woman is getting tired of hearing me shriek in her ear. "Oh my goodness, does she know yet?" I'm thinking if she knows and hasn't called me, she is in SO much trouble.

"Give me ten minutes," XXX says. "I'll call her right now."

I give her eight. But Di's not home. I try her cell and get the dreaded, "The party you are trying to reach..." I call back to her house and leave a message. "Di, call me right away." I don't want to give the surprise away.

Then I pace the floor. Twenty minutes later the phone rings.

"Why are you calling me?" Di whispers in the phone. She's at the coffee house.

"Did you get another call?" I ask.

She starts hyperventilating. "How did you know?" she whispers as she walks outside so she can scream.

"I GOT A CALL TOO!" I shout. "Distant Echoes finaled in the long inspie and Shadow Bones in the short."

She begins to break my eardrum with her screams. And I suspect we're BOTH jumping up and down. I know I am.

That's what makes this life so fun. There's always someone to share your joy with. You never know what a new phone call will bring. Kristin and Denise were right there to share our excitement with us, and congratulations came pouring in from our our other friends.

Are you making good friends who are there to savor your triumphs and cry with your rejections? If not, go find them. They're out there. There is so much joy in the journey. Diann bought me a picture frame to put in a pic of the two of us on our RV trip. It says JOURNEY along the bottom and then has the verse, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." It was the verse God gave me after a particularly painful rejection. At the time I didn't realize the best part of that hope and future was that I'd get to walk it with great friends!

I thank God for you all! You make the journey more beautiful than I ever dreamed.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 3:01 AM  
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Saturday, April 01, 2006

So I think this is a great picture of my current life. I live behind the roach coach and the porta potty. I swear, I heard that roach coach horn, and I thought, no, no!! They are not coming into my neighborhood to sell grease to construction workers. Surely, it can't get any worse than living 25 minutes from life (aka Starbucks and humanity). It's April Fools' Day, I'm going to wake up from this really bad "Green Acres" nightmare where I live in the country. I just know it! But then, just like "Groundhog Day" I wake up to another day in earth-world -- where the women garden and don't know why anyone would get a pedicure. (If I have to explain it, it's useless, you know?) I'm on Mars, or I might as well be. Okay, this is an order, go kiss your telephones, wave at the local Starbucks, and if you're lucky enough to have a real coffee roaster in town? Don't tell me. I can't take anymore! Lest you think I'm just complaining, I am really isolated, and all my ministries have evaporated because I don't see anyone. I pray that God has something great for us, and this is just a respite for preparation. : ) I'm not looking for sympathy, just whining. LOL
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 5:22 PM  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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