Girls Write Out
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MY NEST
Usually my "nest" is my chair with all my research books, laptop and laptop desk, pens, papers, notecards, manuscripts I need to endorse, and everything else necessary for a writer's life strewn around it. But hooray, I just turned Fire Dancer, so now I'm in the phenomenom known to us writers as "nesting." In other words, I'm in a flurry of cleaning activity.

I haven't quite figured out why we do this. I mean, subconsciously we know the place is going to go to pot again as soon as we enter the next book phase. I think it might be a reaction against the days I blank out the fact that there are three days worth of dishes in the kitchen or that my husband is wearing clothes from 1980 because that's all that's left in his closet. It's a way to prove to myself that I still have some small homemaker gene left hiding inside.

We've been laying tile and painting the laundry room, so all the miscellaneous stuff had ended up in my office. I could throw a handful of wildflower seeds on top of my coffee table and watch them grow if I wanted. It wasn't pretty. So I rolled up my sleeves yesterday and got to work. Now the house is all clean and sparkly, but I'm about to start Dangerous Depths. I fear my house may be dangerous by the time it's all over. So far no one has injured themselves walking through here while I'm writing, but I know it's going to happen one of these days. Then I'll have to write from a jail cell.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:07 AM  
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Monday, February 27, 2006
My creative side is shrinking. I blame it on my diet. It’s robbing me of my joyful self. Now, I ask you, how can I write lady lit without chocolate? Exactly. I’m thinking if I don’t get off this diet, it could ruin my career.

So help me out here. How can I rejuvenate my creativity (aside from chocolate)? I’ve heard of giving yourself a writer’s retreat, whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon, a day, or a weekend. Two things I know I want to take along are the book I’m reading (Fresh-Brewed Life) and my journal.

But where do I go? What else should I do?

Here’s where you come in. I thought maybe you might be able to come up with some ideas for me for an afternoon retreat. Now some of you with young children might suggest the bathroom. I can’t tell you how many times I hid out there when my children were young. Still, without a hefty helping of junk food, I just can’t get that excited about it anymore. Besides, the walls need washed, and it would stress me out to stare at them. Not to mention the fact that the seat isn’t necessarily conducive to hours of sitting.

So the bathroom’s out. My house doesn’t get me all that excited, either. And I already go to a coffee shop to work.

See? My creative juices are dry. I can’t think beyond the house and coffee shop. How about you, do you have any ideas?



Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:17 AM  
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Friday, February 24, 2006


It’s a Writer’s World After All

I live inside my head. Oh, I know technically everyone lives inside their head. But I have a feeling I set up camp inside the confines of my brain more than the average person. I think it’s because I’m a writer. Or maybe I’m a writer because I live inside my head. I’m not sure which.

You non-writers might be wondering what I’m talking about, so I’ll explain. My imagination runs wild. I often have films running in my head of things that already happened or things that are about to happen. My films contain people and dialogue and colors and setting.

Usually the movies in my head are unintentional, but when I’m plotting a story, these films come in very handy. I play out scenes between my characters, and when my protagonist spits out a caustic comment, I can pause long enough to concoct a snappy comeback. If the scene isn’t developing right, I can rewind it and change the direction. Yeah, we’re a weird bunch, we writers.

Living in one’s own head can present challenges, though. Even my children know to wait about ten seconds after they ask a question. It takes time to pause that film and re-focus my attention on the here and now. I used to think I must be a freak, but now I know I’m normal. For a writer.
Denise Hunter  
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

What do you DO all day?
Writers always want to know how other writers spend their day. The answer is really quite mundane I think, for most of us. But if anyone cares, here's an average writing day for me.

7 a.m. Wake up, put on makeup and clothes. If jeans fit, it's a good day.

8 a.m. Kids go to school with Dad. Ah, peace -- fool around on email and answer letters, interview requests, etc., for an hour. Make coffee, or wait for hubby to bring it home if he's going into town.

9 a.m. I start to write. I generally write between 2k and 3k per day. At this time, I'm getting the gist of what my chapter for the day will be, and it has a lot of false starts, and there's a lot of hyper emailing with my writing group while we procrastinate, I mean, brainstorm.

11:30 -- Go pick up my daughter from kindergarten.

12 to 1 -- Lunch with Elle (daughter)

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Edit the morning's work. Elle chatters in my office, and plays with dolls, or watches a movie.

3 p.m., My husband and three boys come home from work/school. They play outside, and I finish up the day's work.

4 p.m. Watch mindless TV until 5 p.m.

5 p.m. Dinner

If I'm on deadline, I actually write at night too. All laundry/cleaning, etc. is done in ten minute increments. I get to a spot where I'm useless, and so I clean something while I think of where to go next. I can't clean when the family is home, it's a mental thing. I also have to have a clean house (with the exception of my office, which is always a pigsty) to start writing. There's a lot more "busywork" to writing once publishing is on a cycle. There's interviews/editing/brainstorming the next book. It really does fill up an eight hour day plus, very quickly. The hard part is when you're not making enough, you really have to fit it in around other things. When my kids were young, from 1 to 3 was "Mommy Time" and once they stopped napping, they had to keep themselves busy during that time so I could write. Also, I have MS, so sometimes, I am just not here brainwise, on those days, I've learned to cut my losses and relax, because sitting at the computer will only frustrate me. As I said, it's a boring day, but there it is.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:30 PM  
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CRUISING
See that expression on my face? I was on a cruise here and you can tell I was missing my email. Denise is on a cruise. A sad state of affairs that she left us to go spend a blissful week at sea with her husband. I mean, come on, why would she even want to do that? She won't get to cook or clean or work on kids' homework. Okay, maybe I could do without those too, but she's without her email buddies after telling us just a few days ago how important we are. Somehow I don't think Denise is feeling my pain.

I realized after she left that I am a creature of habit in the worst way. I fix my coffee at 9 am. My shower lasts eight minutes. I have oatmeal with flaxseed and blueberries in it every morning. But before all these things I check my email! Just knowing one of my chicks had flown the coop left me restless yesterday. I think I'm like a dog with a pack instinct. I'm the alpha dog and must make sure all my puppies are okay. And Denise is off frolicking in the sun without a care in the world. It doesn't matter to her that I woke up at 4 this morning and couldn't sleep. I know some would say it was the Mexican food I had for dinner, but I'm sure it was worry. She just might fun herself to death, you know? And I couldn't live with myself. I might just have to go break up that party. Protect her, you know? After all, what are friends for?
Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:50 AM  
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I’m committed—or I should be. Okay, I know what you’re picturing here. Men in white coats carrying me off to a place of isolation. Don’t give my husband any ideas, all right? It’s not that kind of committed. I’ve committed myself to a diet.

Even saying that word makes me hungry. Why is that? I mean, once I decide to diet, all I can think of is food. I go to the bank, and the teller has a cheeseburger head. Counter girl at the drycleaners? Twinkie. I can’t even tell you what writing this is doing to me. I may eat my computer before I’m finished.

It all happens innocently enough. I notice a lady in our church has lost some weight. She was pretty before she lost the weight, but now she’s gorgeous. Now just because I might lose weight does not guarantee I will look like her, anymore than I can have hair that looks like Jennifer Aniston’s just by wearing the same style (which of course is impossible since her hair is long and mine is, well, not). I won’t even go into the fact that I have hair follicles like Yul Brynner.

Anyway, she tells me she lost this weight by—are you ready for this--counting calories. Who knew?

Just listening to her motivational speech on dieting hooks me. I enthusiastically nod along with her, wanting desperately to sign on the dotted line. I tell her right then and there I am committed to do this diet thing. That’s when she drops the bomb.

She proceeds to tell me that she signed up at work. “The deal was we sign a statement saying how much we want to lose, then on Monday when we check our weight, if we’ve lost weight, we pay nothing. If we maintained the same weight as the week before, we pay $2. If we gain weight, we pay $5.” Her eyes grow wide and sparkly here, “Hey, you can pay me if you don’t stick to it,” she says as though she’s handed me the Gold Medal. By now I’m having visions of my life savings waving goodbye.

I hear myself gulp and I smile. “Okay,” I squeak and walk away.

Today was day one. My dog is starting to resemble barbecued chicken. My husband smells suspiciously like a Clark bar . . . .

But I will do this. Our retirement is at stake.

Diann Hunt  
posted at 10:40 AM  
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Monday, February 20, 2006


DON'T GO IT ALONE!

Here's a picture of Diann, me, and Colleen at a recent speaking engagement--the only thing missing is Kristin (move to Indiana, K!)

All four of us orignally met online and started critiquing each other's mss. and chatting on email. Eventually, we attended conferences together and built a friendship that has turned into one of my life's biggest blessings.

Writing can be a solitary occupation, and you can find yourself lonely and uninformed because you've closeted yourself away from others. If you haven't done so already, take a step to broaden your world. Join an online writer's group (ACFW and FHL are a couple good ones). Go to a conference and meet other writers like yourself. You'll grow in knowlege as you learn from others and expand your horizons as you meet people who share a common goal. And who knows, you might just find a friend for life.

Denise Hunter  
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

I Write Edgy...
This is not going to make me popular with up-and-coming writers. This is going to be harsh, but I think if there is someone out there who will listen, it will help, so I'm going ahead. I think writers who think they're unpublished because their stuff is "too edgy" is nothing more than an excuse. Christian fiction has dealt with everything under the sun: abortion, incest, rape, aliens, affairs, etc. Trust me, you're not unpublished because you're edgy. It's because you haven't told the story powerfully enough yet.

You're unpublished with that manuscript because you're not there yet. Either writing-wise or story-wise. The good news is that you can get there, the bad news is that you need to quit lying to yourself. Story sells. If you have a great and special story, it will sell. Did you see "American Idol" where those two Terrell and Derrell twins were saying how much better than Carrie Underwood (last year's winner) they were? Okay, trust me, they weren't.

And I think a lot of authors don't have a realistic view of their writing and keep telling themselves the lie. When I read a book like "Can You Keep a Secret" by Sophie Kinsella, or "The Thorn Birds" by McCollough, all I can see is my own shortcomings. I want to strive for that kind of storytelling. I know I'm not there. I know what my shortcomings are, and it drives me nuts!!!

But thinking YOU should be published instead of "this crap" and dissing other authors serves only one purpose. It makes you angry, and less focused on the goal. Don't think someone is a good writer? Read someone better than you.

But back to edgy. If you want to see edgy done in a time when the topic was scandalous: Read Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and Madame Bovary by Flaubert. All these books are about rape/incest/affairs/suicide/desolation of family/injustice. And they all do it powerfully without taking us to the gutter.

That is the secret in the CBA. Do it without taking us to the gutter. Don't think of it as a rule -- and what publishing house DOESN'T have rules? Some require two explicit love scenes as a rule. Is that easier for the Christian than not swigging a beer in a scene?

Here's the thing, you can spend your time being angry, or you can get to work. Some say that this doesn't represent the real world. Well, guess what, being a virgin in the "real" world is what a single Christian is asked to do, and that doesn't represent the real world either.

The market will always dictate what is sold. No matter what your business. If America is on the Atkins diet, the desire for Krispy Kremes go down. So when you're pushing publishers to be edgy -- thinking you can change the market, you're not understanding the tenets of capitalism. The Christian marketplace dictates what's in the stores. Not the blue haired old ladies anymore. The average CBA customer is a young mom, 34, with young children. So that's why you're seeing changes in the marketplace, not because someone is "winning" to get more edgy books published.

Did you know that Christian books have significant shelf space in K Mart, Wal Mart, Sam's Club and other box stores? Secular authors would kill for this space. But Christian books are there because America wants to read a story without being assaulted. My advice to you who think your books aren't being published because they're edgy, is really ask an editor, go to a conference and get their attention, as them what is TRULY wrong with the story? I asked once, and it hurt me immensely. But it was true.

There is a brand new fiction author who wrote a book called "Watching the Tree Limbs" about child molestation. Her name is Mary DeMuth and this is her first published novel. Get the book. See what she did to grab editors attention, and ask yourself what yours is missing.

Here's a few of my own rejections, and trust me, this is a small sampling:

"I hate that People magazine crap. Don't know who would find it interesting."

"This is a story that needs to be told. You're just not the one to tell it."

"No." (Scrawled across the page.)

"Doesn't grab me."
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 12:46 PM  
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PET LOVERS
You all know I always have animals in my book. My daughter sent this to me recently, and I've reread it and laughed over it for several days. We had a cat for 17 years. We called Boots our "attack cat." If someone came to the house when we weren't home, he would launch onto their heads and scratch and bite them. (No we never locked the door. We live in Wabatucky after all. Otherwise known as Wabash.) Anyway, check this out. Hilarous!

As seen in a dog's diary…
7am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!
8am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9am - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
Noon - Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!
2pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!
3pm - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
4pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My favorite!
6pm - Oh boy! Mom! My favorite!
7pm - Oh boy! Dad! My favorite!
8pm - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
11pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in a people bed! My favorite!

As seen in a cat's diary
Day 1283 of my captivity...
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre, little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal.
The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture.

Tomorrow? I may eat another house plant

Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded - must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair - must try this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I am.

Hmmm?. Not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More importantly, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing "allergies”. Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured.

But I can wait -- it is only a matter of time...
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:20 AM  
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Friday, February 17, 2006

I didn’t write a single word on my story yesterday. Do you ever have days like that? I had errands to run, paperwork to finish and a meal to make for a woman ordered to bed rest. Since I am goal-oriented by nature, it frustrates me greatly to come to the end of my day and see that I’ve accomplished very little on my current wip. Still, I know the things that I did accomplish were necessary and even helpful.

So where do we draw the line?

Knowing when to say yes and when to say no has always been a problem for me, but as my career changes, I’m seeing the need to be more organized with my time and more decisive in what I can and cannot do. But how?

The hard part is saying no to things that are good and striking a balance between work and doing the good things. I don’t have to conquer the world, right?

Published and unpublished writers alike have goals they want to meet, and deadlines, either self-imposed or otherwise, still require time and commitment.

So does anyone else have this problem? Writer or not, there is always plenty to do. And if you work from your home, how do you convince people that you really don’t have tons of time on your hands for whatever, but that you really do have work to do?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:59 AM  
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Thursday, February 16, 2006


I'm a homebody. I used to venture out to get my coffee, and maybe to the soup house, but for the most part, I like home. Until I moved to the country. Since then, I've been to Mexico, Nashville three times, Atlanta, Denver twice, Texas, Orange County a few times, New York, Utah, Colorado Springs, Oregon and Phoenix. This is David Crowder in Nashville -- see how close I am? My point is, being a country girl has made me a brave, traveling girl. I'm one of those women now at the airport who can manuever thru like a professional. All this time I thought I was a scaredy-cat, and really, I just liked where I was.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 10:25 AM  
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


This has been happening to Kevin for years, and I've made fun of him numerous times. But this week, it finally happened to me.

It all started with a pair of jeans that needed altered. Now, first let me tell you, I have no idea what it's like to walk into a store and find a pair of jeans that fit right off the rack. Never happens. I have a, shall we say, difficult-to-fit shape. Remember the female characters on Lilo and Stitch? All hips and thighs? Well, that's me. By the time I find a pair of pants big enough for my derriere, the waist is two inches too big. If I'm lucky.

So back to the jeans. I get them back from having the waist taken in and slip into them to make sure they fit. "Slip" might be a little kind. I am actually kind of shimmying and tugging, and I honestly wonder if those chocolates Kevin bought me had already made their way to my back side.

To say the rear end is snug is putting it mildly. I know there is only one thing to do: Squats. So down I go, all the way to the floor, feet flat, knees poking me in the eyes. I sit there a while and bounce for good measure. After a couple minutes I stand back up and look in the mirror, frowning. Still tight.

But that's okay, I have another trick in my bag. Lunges. I'm still pretty flexible, so I can take a lunge all the way down to the floor in kind of a half split. Now, don't try this at home unless you're prepared for a very unflattering view of your thighs. I stretch with the right leg out, then switch to my left leg. I'm hopeful this is going to do the trick, but if not, I know I can resort to the spray bottle--everyone knows wet jeans stretch better. (Oh, come on, I can't be the only one.)

I'm sitting there stretching, getting ready to stand, and I take one last bounce for good measure. That's when it happened. R-I-I-I-I-I-P-P! I can't believe it, but I stand up and look in the mirror and sure enough. It's happened. Not only did they rip--and I'm a little embarrassed to admit this--but it didn't even rip in a seam. It ripped right in the middle of the denim. My back side split denim. This is not something I'm proud of. Not even Kevin has managed this, as he was quick to point out when I told about the episode.

So I took the jeans back to the store last night and relayed the whole sorry tale. Okay, I might have left out the bouncing part. The good news is they took the jeans back. The bad news? I had to go up a size. :-(
Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:35 AM  
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'M A FREAK
I think we're all a little freakish in our own ways, but it's a scary day when you finally realize the freak in your life is YOU. I had this humbling experience last Friday. Our new preacher's wife, Rebecca, and I were on a jaunt to Merrillville to find a hotel to host our upcoming ladies' retreat. We'd been having a grand time. Rebecca is a doll, and it's always fun to discover a new friend. We'd been past this shopping center three times before I saw it.

There, just to my right, was a CARIBOU COFFEE SHOP!! My van veered to the right before I got control of it again. "It's Caribou Coffee," I shrieked. Rebecca was looking at me rather carefully. I think she was wondering what she should do if I tried to cause another accident over coffee. "No, no, you don't understand," I babbled. "There is no Caribou Coffee in Indiana. I've only seen it in Minnesota, but it's the most awesome coffee. We are SO going to have some."

Rebecca is nodding. "Of course we will," she said in the same soothing voice she uses when her two year old is getting fractious. We managed to go to lunch first--I wanted to keep some shred of dignity--then we went to the coffee shop. I burst through the door shouting, "I'm so glad you're here!" The girl behind the counter brightened with a big smile. I think my excitement made the day for all the employees, but I think Rebecca wanted to slink out the door.

My mocha was just as good as I remembered. And if you think I'm a freak, just blame Kristin. She got all this freakishness started at a coffee shop in Glorieta the first time we met. It's all her fault. Really.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:26 AM  
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Monday, February 13, 2006


WINTER OLYMPICS.

Those people have discipline.

Now I ask you, why would anyone put themselves through that? The endless hours of practice, the sweating, the sleep deprivation, the lack of social life, the carrot diet. No wait. That sounds like the writer’s world. Well, all except for the carrot diet part. As a writer, I can eat all the chocolate I want and it won’t affect my end product—unless, of course, I get chocolate on my manuscript—but since I now send my manuscript via email, I’m good.

I enjoy watching the Olympics. It boggles my mind how dedicated those people are to their sport. But then we’re just as dedicated to our passion for writing, right? I said, RIGHT??? Sure, we are.

Okay, maybe I don’t have to go out in the cold--unless I go to the coffee shop to write. All right, and I don’t have to stay a certain weight (well, only if I want to wear the current clothes in my closet). I don’t have to get up while it is still dark (I leave that to the Olympians and the Proverbs 31 woman). I needn’t sweat—unless I have a hot flash. And my muscles don’t burn unless I run to the refrigerator.

Still, I am dedicated—my body is going to pot, but I am dedicated. To words. They say women have to use a certain amount of words every day. I think that’s why I started writing. My husband just couldn’t handle me using them all on him, and they had to come out somewhere.

So once again, I find myself at the computer, writing words. It’s a discipline, but I will prevail. Besides, as you can see from the picture, I'm not Olympic material. (The one with the weird-looking legs on the right? That would be me.) Writing is a whole lot more fun to me than downhill skiing. If you want to know how I feel about skiing, read my June release with Love Inspired, Blissfully Yours. (Oh, and it’s a sequel to my March release, A Match Made in Bliss, both under my pen name of Diann Walker.)

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:21 AM  
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lilly's fetish with Lysol has a forerunner (in She's All That). I am the bleach queen. I love bleach. I love it in the laundry, I love it in the bathroom, I love it in the kitchen. Bleach is my friend.

I have countless pairs of jeans with bleach spots on them, but it only shows my loyalty to my beloved. Where else can you get a huge jug of clean for $1.69 that will make your whole house smell sparkling and inviting? When I go to the grocery store, some women have trouble in the cookie aisle? I can't go down the bleach aisle without seeing what new "flavors" they have.

And yet, my husband still asks me when I get home, "Don't we already have bleach?"

Baby, you can NEVER have enough bleach. Oh and now, I've added Mr. Clean sponges to my list of power buying at the store. Has anyone used these babies? They are amazing, they'll get anything off a wall and they won't take the paint off. They're like Little Cats A-Z in Cat and the Hat Comes Back. Amazing.

http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/060207_parent_depression.html Oh here's a little study from the DUH department. Just thought it was fun.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 7:21 PM  
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Friday, February 10, 2006


TGIF

Yes, it's the name of a restaurant, but it became the name for a reason. It's clear I'm not the only one who loves Fridays.

"Thank God it's Friday" is a phrase that resonates with nearly everyone. Kids get out of school for a couple days, employees get a reprieve from work, and parents get a break from the endless drudgery of homework--not ours, but the kids' (and if you have kids in school you know what I'm talking about).

I guess TGIF is not so much about Friday as it is about ushering in the weekend, family time, and a respite from the tediousness of the work week. I've always made it a habit to forgo household chores on the weekend. Hey, Kevin's not working, why should I? Of course, that does mean our house is a pigsty by Monday morning.

So, the weekend is here and the plans are all good. Watch my boys play basketball, dinner with friends, church on Sunday, a little R and R. A girl couldn't ask for much more. And if I have to spend all Monday on disaster detail, that's okay. It was worth it.

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:04 AM  
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

ALASKA TWILIGHT
It's a three hanky book. Um, no, not that YOU'LL cry necessarily but I'M crying. LOL When I unpacked that puppy, the tears just welled out. And out. And out. I could NOT stop the flow! I mean, come on, who would have expected a middle-aged woman (HATE THAT TERM!) who read too much and lived in the farmlands of Indiana to ever hold in her hands a WOMEN OF FAITH novel with her name on it? It's like winning the lottery, only better because GOD did this miracle!

Every day I'm amazed when I wake up at how good God is to me. I don't deserve it. I can't believe it. But I'm ever so grateful! I call WestBow my "Dream Team" and all my books are such team efforts. From this awesome cover (the graphic pic doesn't do it justice) to the superb editing, the fun I have with our editorial and publisher assistants and the publicity and marketing gals clear up to Allen Arnold, the publisher himself, there has been so much love and support for me heaped into each project that I think I must be dreaming.

If I'm dreaming, don't wake me up, okay? Let me sleep a while longer. LOL

P. S. My publicist is wonderfully creative, and she's come up with a fun way to promote the book. Check out my website for details.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:47 AM  
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

GOOD MEN
My husband Dave is almost perfect. Did you hear the "almost" and the tone of my voice? He spoils me terribly, and is very handy around the house. He can do anything construction related. But this morning I have circles under my eyes and feel like something the mongoose Wilson dragged out from under the house.

We were painting the utility room. (Bad, since paint makes me sick, but that's another story.) Now mind you, we'd talked about this for several days. We were going to do ALL of it so it was done when they bring my new washer and dryer this morning. Things were going fine at first. He got out the pan and roller and had the celing rolled on in half an hour. I glanced at my watch and thought, "hey, we'll be done with this in plenty of time for me to watch the show on wildfires." Wrong.

Do I look like a mind reader? I didn't think so. But my darling hubby loves me and must think I can do more than read a character's mind. He dallied in the bathroom washing out the pan for half an hour. Then he stood around watching me paint trim for another half an hour. He was "letting the roller dry out." In reality he'd really wanted to do that painting on Saturday and just move the washer and dryer out of the way. All he really intended to do was the ceiling, but he never told me this. I was just supposed to read it in his actions.

After several pointed, prodding comments from me, he grumbled and finally began to roll the wall paint on. It took him an hour, and we didn't get to bed until going on 11:30. When I pointed out we would have had it done if he hadn't dragged his feet, he was insulted. That was when he informed me about the Saturday idea, and I heard this Tuesday night plan was "all my idea." LOL! I asked him who that man was I talked this over with in Lowe's on Monday night. (yes, we had to make ANOTHER trip to Lowe's.) He reluctantly admitted it was him.

I guess mind reading is another skill I'm going to have to work on.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:49 AM  
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

COMPUTER GENIUS

I’m struggling to keep my head above water. Have I mentioned that I’m technologically-challenged? Oh, I can turn on my computer, pull up a word document, type, and turn it off.

My granddaughter was four when I was working on my story one day and an IM message popped up. It came from my daughter’s house and the message went something like this: “fldfdslfjfdsl.” I wrote back my granddaughter’s name since that was the only word she could read at the time. She wrote back “xclfkrem.” This went on for, oh, I don’t know, ten minutes. Just this bonding time through the exchange of, well, letters. Okay, I threw in a few smiley faces and hearts, but other than that, nada.

My granddaughter is now six. She can turn on her laptop, run the paint program, save it in files with nonsensical words (since she’s can’t spell a lot yet) like “flkfdslk” and “fewiroev.” Hey, whatever works.

Her mom found her in bed the other night with earphones in her ears, playing a computer game. She had no earphones for her computer. But her Leapster had them. She figured the little picture on her computer of the earplugs must mean she could plug them in there, so she did.

And then of course, she didn’t want to run out of batteries. Since the battery pack on the Leapster had a little yellow symbol where it was to go, she figured the same must be true of the computer. So she plugged it into the computer and presto, she was good to go for another two hours.

How do kids know these things? I mean, I didn’t even know I had a picture of earphones on my computer. Battery pack? No clue. Paint program? I had it for years and never used it.

Kids today know it all, I’m telling ya.

I have to come up with a newsletter soon. Guess I need a template and all that stuff, whatever that means. My granddaughter and I are going to discuss it over IM next week.

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:56 AM  
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Monday, February 06, 2006
Last night almost a billion people in over 220 countries gathered around the TV to watch NFL football's finale, the Super Bowl. I could talk about the game and who won, but let's get on with the important stuff. The commercials. And spaced at intervals of 4-7 minutes, we saw almost as much selling as we did football. But I'm not complaining.

As usual, Budweiser ruled the screen by sheer number of commercials. At 2.1 million per 30 second spot, it was no light investment. But I was not impressed. The streaking sheep and magic fridge only drew a grin. Fill that fridge with truffles, then we'll have something to talk about.

Burger King anteed up with a srange Vegas-type production of flying female tomatoes and lettuce. It culminated in a stack of human vegies, meat, and bun. Alrighty then.

Ads for Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy filled many of the breaks. Cadillac, Sprint, Ameriquest, and Hummer also competed for their share of the Superbowl crowd. Slim-fast weighed in (pun intended) late in the game. More nachos and cheese, anyone?

Diet Pepsi's Jay-Z and Jackie Chan commercials had as much fizz as a can of year-old soda.

Disney's commercial featuring Superbowl players practicing the "I'm going to Disneyworld" line had the cute factor at least.

The overall winner in my opinion was the Fed Ex commercial that featured a prehistoric man and his unsuccessful shipment. From the surprising snap of the Tyrannosaurus's jaw to the kicking of the Dogosaurus, this one had the twists that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, it was one of the first commercials of the night so it was all downhill from there.

50 million women watched the Superbowl, but only 3 out of 4 watched it for the football; the rest tune in for the commercials. So tell me--if you watched--did you tune in for the game or the commercials, and above all: which commercial was your favorite?

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:32 AM  
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Sunday, February 05, 2006

I stepped into my nightly bath with my "Us Weekly" and for the first time, I noticed this beacon of journalism, has a table of contents! For what exactly, you might ask? Well, that's what I thought too, so I read (because I'm just that sort of investigative type) and there it is listed:
Page 16 This Week's Events
Are things like "Europe burning over a cartoon" listed? Why no. Here's just a few titles:
"Heidi Klum arrives with baby Henry at L.A.'s airport"
I mean, I know I'm no supermodel, but arriving at LAX isn't really an event in any sense of the word, is it? But there's more.

"Chris Rock chows down on McDonald's" Oh my gosh, stop the presses!
But here's the real beauty part, when you get to the pages listed, there's a picture of Chris Rock eating a hamburger. That's it. A picture that apparently needed more of an explanation than the caption. That's your article that needed to be listed in the table of contents: a photo of Chris Rock eating a burger.

Come on, Us, don't insult my intelligence by putting in a table of contents. I know I'm reading crap, and so do you. What's next the Jessica Simpson footnotes and bibliography?
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:32 AM  
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Friday, February 03, 2006

SPEAKING OF COMMERICIALS
Have you seen that Ameritech commercial where they're showing old clips from the sixties and playing "our" music? I LOVE that commercial! They say something about "a generation as unique as yours" and when that music starts playing, I slip back a few years. Okay, more than a few. I slip so far back it's like falling down a mountain. I was in my twenties 30 years ago. How scary is that?

Anyway, here's a picture of me when I was about 21. See the long hair clear to my waist? My husband went into mourning when I cut it off. What IS it about men and long hair. Even now with me in my fifties, Dave would like me to wear long, stringy stuff like that. I'd look like that blonde woman on the religious channel. LOL I tell him, "the older I get, the shorter it goes." The hair, NOT the skirt length. LOL
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:35 AM  
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Is it just me, or are the commercials on TV getting a little fleshy and provocative? I admit I get annoyed when I'm watching the tube with my husband and three boys and half-naked women start parading across the screen. Hey, I'm all for lingerie, but can you shut the bedroom door, please?

The worst of the offenders, in my opinion, is Victoria's Secret. Pardon me, but I believe Victoria exposed all her secrets long ago. To anyone and everyone who would look. Undergarments are no longer, well, under anything. Instead, they're outergarments worn by women who look nothing like any woman I know. Is it possible to be that skinny and have, ahem, bosoms like that? I'm sure many men like to think so, but I'm thinking a little reality would be nice.

And who exactly is buying all this sexy apparel at Victoria's Secret? Surely women are the main consumer--a lot of men are too embarrassed to be seen in the store--yet, these commercials, are they supposed to appeal to me? The woman? The supposed wearer of the garments? To say they turn me off is an understatement.

In fact, I haven't bought a thing from them since they began airing their racy commercials. Call it a quiet protest, but I'm living just fine without the Wonderbra, thank you very much.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:33 AM  
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

WHO’S TRAINED HERE?

My daughter’s dachshund rings a bell. That’s right. Every time she needs to go outside and take care of business, she rings a bell.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering who’s training whom here.

Lulu--the dog--has the life. Okay, she sleeps in her cage at night, but once the family wakes up, she rings her bell, goes outside, comes back in and eats breakfast, romps with the kids, goes back and eats some more, rings her bell, plays, eats, rings her bell. Well, you get the idea.

Let me just say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen this dog ring her bell, and my daughter come running.

But who am I to talk?

Our Shih Tzu, Nocchi (short for Pinocchio--hey, the kids named her!) dances around me to let me know she needs to go outside. I clip a chain to her collar so she can go out unchaperoned (don’t you wish you could do that with your teenagers?). I no sooner step inside the house when she barks. Barks, as in, “I’m finished. May I please come in?”

Now, I don’t know if it’s a middle-age thing or what, but sometimes it just makes me mad that she barks and I jump. So, I linger in the kitchen a moment or two, making her wait. She barks again. This time saying, “Excuse me, did you not here me? Let me in.”

My feet stand firm.

Bark three carries a growl: “Let me in, and I mean now.”

Bark four says, “I’m reporting you to the Humane Society if you don’t get out here this instant.”

Okay, by now the neighbors are looking, so I have to concede. But I’m not happy about it.

I let her back inside, she jumps up on MY sofa, mind you, circles three times and settles into a nice nap.

She’s in control and we both know it, and that just burns me up. I mean, why do I let a thirteen-year-old dog with three teeth boss me around like that? Do you see her tongue in the picture? With so few teeth, she can’t keep her tongue tucked politely away. In other words, she has no control over her tongue, yet she controls me!

But just so you know, I refuse--repeat--REFUSE to give her a doggie treat until I’m doggone good and ready.

Bark.

Okay, now I’m ready . . .
Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:08 AM  
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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.

www.KristinBillerbeck.com

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.

www.ColleenCoble.com

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.

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com

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.

www.DiannHunt.com

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.

www.HannahAlexander.com

 
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