Girls Write Out
Thursday, June 29, 2006
"Thou shall not covet thy characters' lives." This should be the 11th commandment for all writers. I find when I do research on something, suddenly, I want it! Case in point, I am writing about a Hollywood hairstylist, so I had to research how do you get to the top in this field? what makes someone's haircuts worth $200 vs. $10 down the street? Sure enough, I do the research and find out that these stylists go through rigorous training, and basically live for work to get through the training -- and for them, it's about craft. It's about pursuing the art of their vocation.

Suddenly, I'm thinking I totally need this kind of haircut! If I could get a "razor" cut and bring my hair into shape, I'd be great! Nevermind that it would cost me an airline ticket AND the price of the haircut -- not to mention getting the appt. Completely impractical. Not good.

So while normal people are out there looking at their neighbor's green grass? I'm creating things to covet. I'm sure there's a name for this kind of illness. Maybe if I wrote murder-mysteries like Colleen, I'd be safe. I will say one thing, the hardest thing for me is to come up with heroes, because I think they should all be Stanford engineers with good hair, like my honey. : )
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Monday, June 26, 2006

"We had an argument," Kevin says first thing this morning.

Hey, I'm pretty forgetful, but I'm thinking the night before was pretty amicable. Even so, I didn't have to ask what he was talking about.

He dreamed it. Now, let me explain about Kevin and his dreams. Every so often he'll have a bad one about us. Maybe I cancelled ESPN or kissed his best friend or nagged him all the way through deep sleep. Doesn't matter. He's mad at me when he wakes up. Yeah, he knows it's stupid and unfair, but by golly, he's mad. And the mood hangs around longer than the skinny jeans in my closet.

So, when he woke me with those words this morning, I knew what to say.

I sigh heavily. "Should I just apologize now?" It's my only hope of dispelling the mood, and I'm not above an insincere apology if it'll keep the peace.

But no, he won't let me apologize. Maybe I can talk him into a nice long nap when he comes home. Long enough for another dream--hopefully a good one this time. Otherwise, it's gonna be a long day.
Denise Hunter  
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The tour has officially ended. Bring on the confetti!!!!

DIANN: Though we’ve had a wonderful week of traveling and meeting new friends, the truth is there is no place like home. 

Today we finished our last bookstore visit (we stopped at 62 stores). Afterwards we celebrated lunch and dinner with WestBow folks and had an awesome time with them!!

Once we said goodbye, we came back to the hotel (Doubletree). Now if you’ve never stayed at a Doubletree hotel, most likely you don’t know that they have the best chocolate chip cookies around. In fact, they taste suspiciously like the ones my grandma used to make. But you know, now that I think about it, I don’t remember ever actually “seeing” her bake them. I’m beginning to question Grandma’s credibility.

Okay, so they give these awesome cookies to the people who stay here. This is our second night of being here and we aren’t sure if they only give out cookies on the first night of arrival or if this could be perhaps a nightly ritual.

But doggone it, we want a cookie!

COLLEEN: The four of us march up to the reservation desk. I first ask about the tickets for our free breakfast. Gotta do this with finess. The man behind the counter hands over the tickets. Then I go in for the kill.

DIANN: We're all staring at the man behind the counter as he gives Colleen and Dave their cookies while Jim and I look on, cookieless. I turn desperate eyes to Colleen and she blurts out that she’ll throw in two free books if they’ll give us all cookies. I’m sure the man is afraid we might go postal, so he gives us our cookies. We walk happily away with four cookies.

I can’t help wondering if this is anything like selling our birth rights . . .
Colleen Coble  
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

OUR FIRST WOMEN OF FAITH CONFERENCE AS AUTHORS

The picture is of Sweet Spirit Christian books in Marietta GA. Wonderful store that we stopped by before going to the Women of Faith conference in Atlanta.

DIANN: Expectations are high. We’re giddy with excitement. The van pulls up and we are ushered into it along with Luci Swindoll, Marilyn Meburg, Patsy Clairmont, the Women of Faith worship team and others. We try not to gape. I think I can hear Colleen’s heart thumping—or maybe it’s mine.

COLLEEN: We pull up to the stadium. The back door, mind you. Just in case hordes of hormonal fans try to rush us. Or at least Di. We’ve fooled the fans though. We’re taken inside the service door past banks of video equipment sensitive enough to notice my heart palpitations. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. Part of it is I don’t know what’s expected of us. I want to be a little mouse in the corner, but no, we all file into the “green room.” And it’s not even green.

DIANN: Famous people saunter inside the room. Colleen and I hover in a corner, wanting to blend into the wall, which we seem to do nicely until our WOF coordinator forces into the mix. Everyone sits around chatting about agents, latest gigs, family life. We close into a circle for prayer (Nicole Nordeman is sitting on my right). Amazing prayer floats through the room and it’s all I can do to keep my emotions in check. My heart is about to burst in thankfulness that God has allowed me this amazing experience with these gifted people.

COLLEEN: Me too. I about want to cry. Us, part of the Women of Faith team. WestBow rocks! We want to always make them proud of us. As long as they don’t make us sit in front of the camera again.
Colleen Coble  
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Saturday, June 24, 2006


I should be published by now!

Publishing a book is a journey fraught with bad advice, rejection and sparks of hope that keep one pushing forward. One of my pet peeves is people who self-publish for the wrong reasons, then show up at family/friend gatherings and force everyone into buying their book -- always introducing themselves as a published author. I have yet to meet one published author who ever introduced themselves that way and I've been in the business for a good ten years. That title is relegated to the self-published. My father has such a friend, and I told my dad to take one of my books from here on out, and do what the man does, "Here's the new one, you owe me $14."

That's pride people. I know, people don't want to hear it. Their work is just too brilliant for the publisher to get. It couldn't wait for the publishing channels, etc.

I'll tell you why I don't respect it. It's not that I think I'm so hot and only the "great" are relegated to publication. Far from it, there's a lot of crap out there, and I'm the first to admit it. Why did THIS get published is a question we've all asked ourselves as we threw a book across the room. And chances are, I've written at least one of those books.

BUT, I worked hard to get published. I learned craft. I learned to edit, and I learned to understand what was missing in my work to make it unpublishable. In short, I had to take my own ideas of brilliance and completely maim them. Now, there are people with platforms who SHOULD self publish and pocket the money -- maybe they speak, maybe they work at the top of an organization. This is rarely true of a novel, however. Even some of the biggest speakers have written some really awful novels because of pride.

The other thing I notice is that these authors rarely will publish with a smaller house to work their way up. Their work is beyond that, and they laugh at the thought of their masterpiece going for small potatoes. Again, that's pride. If you're called to write, you go where God leads you and trust His timing -- and trust me on this, I am NOT happy with God's timing about my living situation, so I know He often takes His time.

So...when you think that it's embarrassing to introduce yourself as a struggling writer who is working towards publication? Think of this post and the alternative of introducing yourself as a "published author". Kristin
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Thursday, June 22, 2006
BOOMER GALS GET UGLY OVER DIET POP.

It started out as normal tour day. The usual getting dressed, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, climbing into the RV after DeBrand truffles Bookstore stops along the way ran smoothly despite the oppressive heat of the day.

Perhaps it’s that same heat that turned the Taco Bell into a lunchroom brawl when boomer authors Colleen Coble and Diann Hunt were about to place their drink orders.

Witnesses say the incident went something like this:

OFFICER ARNOLD: So what made you think you had the right to stop Ms Hunt from having what she wanted?

COLLEEN: I was only looking out for Di’s best interests, Officer. She gets headaches. Nutrasweet is evil. It’s poison. She shouldn’t be ingesting it. How was I to know she was going to insist on polluting her body? You should have seen the look on her face. She nearly bared her teeth.

At this point Officer Arnold and Officer McConnell notice Ms. Hunt is still baring her teeth.

OFFICER MCCONNELL: “Mrs. Hunt witnesses say you were a little, well, too passionate about your drink. Were you, in fact, out of control?

DIANN: You didn’t see her! I thought she was going to throw herself in front of the drink counter to keep me away. Besides, she’s been drowning me with her mountain spring waters till I’m ready to jump off a cliff.

OFFICER MCCONNELL: Just stick to the facts at hand, ma’am.

WITNESS: If I might interject, Officer. I saw the whole thing. In their defense, I will say heat sometimes gets to outsiders when they come to town to visit.

OFFICER MCCONNELL: Just the facts, ma’am. Just stick to the facts.

WITNESS 2: Yeah, but she was way over-reacting to that whole diet drink thing. I’ve been drinking it home some too

COLLEEN: What?? You’re not supposed to be drinking it anytime.

WITNESSE 3: Yeah, she was only trying to help her friend.

OFFICER MCCONNELL: Just stick to the facts.

WITNESS 1: As I was saying—

DIANN: I’ve been drinking iced tea and water all week.

COLLEEN: Yes, but you cheated and got diet pop at Burger King even after all I’ve told you about those headaches! Why I sent you a web link just the other day . . .

OFFICERS ARNOLD AND MCCONNELL: Just stick to the facts, ma’am. Just stick to the facts.

Just as things were heating up between the officers, the boomers, and the employees, counter boy entered the room, carrying a large pitcher of unsweetened tea, and the palpable tension eased from the room. The officers left the scene, the boomers hugged and made up, though this reporter did hear one of the women grumbling something about her fill of stinkin’ tea

Something tells me this thing ain’t over yet. Officers are standing by . . . .
Colleen Coble  
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


DAY FOUR

COLLEEN: The life of an author is so glamorous. Rolling around in a thirty-foot RV, hobnobbing with gracious bookstore employees, using the men’s groaty restroom.

DIANN: Groaty? Did you say groaty? Okay, that’s the understatement of the year. No Georgia peach fragrance in there, let me tell you. Think outhouse on the last day of the county fair and you pretty much have an idea. And the fact that there was zero soap available, well, that was just wrong, that’s all. Oh yeah, we’re divas.

COLLEEN: But the whole bathroom situation was redeemed by the incredible southern hospitality. These folks down here really know how to welcome new friends! I’m sure we spotted Savannah (Savannah By the Sea) and Haley (Alaska Twilight) walking along the streets of Savannah. We almost stopped to stay hello, but well, our men are so focused on getting us to the next stop that there was no stopping for frivolous things. And let me just say here and now that the Savannah Coffee house had the best frappe I’ve ever had! It’s all about the coffee, you know.

DIANN: And chocolate. Coffee and chocolate. And we’ve had plenty. Especially after the bathroom incident (but we washed our hands with soap first, just so you know).


COLLEEN: And we just figured out why everyone has been honking at us. We thought they realized two famous authors were on a book tour, but no. Someone just flagged us down to tell us our water tank is leaking. Ah, the life of a diva.
Colleen Coble  
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

DAY THREE

COLLEEN: We picked Waldo from the RV place. Can I just say whoever made these RVs without rear air conditioning should be shot? We’re considering buying super soaker water rifles to keep cool. But we’re having so much fun singing and rocking to oldies music that we hardly notice the sweat dripping down our backs.

DIANN: Yeah, but when we started dancing in the aisles, Waldo rocked into the next lane and Dave made us sit down. Just when we were getting revved up, doggone it.

COLLEEN: The heat is bringing out Di’s menopausal side, and she’s saying she sees murder in my eyes. I think she’s delusional. She brought DeBrand truffles, I’ll let her live..

DIANN: And excuse me, didn’t someone say there was an ocean somewhere? We’ve yet to see sand. I will spare you the details on the size of our ankles, but let me just say Ringling Brothers called.

COLLEEN: We might have big heads by the time we get home. The stores have been excited to see us and have been watching for Waldo to pull up and belch out the “famous” authors. The Lifeway store in Orlando, and the Family Christian in Daytona Beach were particularly wonderful.

DIANN: We just entered Georgia, but don’t tell Lily (Hot Flashes & Cold Cream). With that whole peaches thing, she couldn’t handle it.

You know, RVs may be the travel of choice for some, but can I point out that we’re thinking cruise for the next tour? Course, WestBow may have a teensy bit to say about that. So for now we’re trying to imagine we’re on a cruise, but, well, it’s just not happening.




COLLEEN & DIANN: Thank you bookstore folks! Look at these smiling faces from Lifeway. Without you, Mom and Dad would be our only readers. Till next time, God bless you all!
Colleen Coble  
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Monday, June 19, 2006

We had a blast on day two of our trip! Since the time zone is different than ours, we had an extra hour to sleep in. Then we all met with Jennifer Deshler and her five-months –away-from-being-six-years-old daughter, Jordie for breakfast. Jordie is smart as a whip and gorgeous to boot! Her adorable curls made me want to run out and get a perm, but trust me on this one, mine would not have looked the same. Her sparkling eyes, dimpled smile and sweet conversation just added to her charm. She created artwork for each of us—capping it off with a picture of an RV that would make Waldo jealous (in case you don’t know, Waldo is the RV in my RV There Yet book *g*). We enjoyed our visit with Jen and Jordie, though it ended all too soon!

Then we were off to our editor’s house. Thanks to Max’s excellent directions, we pulled up to a beautiful brick home where Ami McConnell and her husband Aaron, children Max (10 going on 25), Maddie (2), Mimi (not quite a year), and family dog Gordi waited for us.

We loved watching the kids interact. I suspect Max will be running his own business by the time he’s twelve. (Colleen here: The first thing Max said when I walked in the door was he wanted me to help him set up an eBay account. He’s going to sell stuff. I don’t think it’s going to take him long to be independently wealthy! LOL) Maddie is a total chick. She’s two and already into shoes. She snitched her mom’s shoes over lunch and clacked around the wooden floors like a true princess. Mimi smiled and waved with genuine southern hospitality. We enjoyed lunch and coffee with this wonderful family, talked non-stop about writing, family, and life in general then we were off to the airport.

Once we reached Orlando, we were greeted by Rachel and Tony Hauck! How cool is that? They drove an hour to get to us, took us out for dinner where we laughed and shared GREAT stories, then they took us to our hotel which is where I am now writing this.

Today we pick up the RV and the tour officially begins! The Carpenters, Donny Osmond, Bread, and Barry Manilow are packed and ready to go—well, okay, their CDs. We’re looking forward to meeting the great people who work hard to get our books out there! The girls are on the road—it’s a time to celebrate!!

Diann Hunt  
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Look out world, the RV Gals are coming through! The Cobles and the Hunts pulled out at exactly 8:30. We had to stop for a blended mocha (with whipped cream to celebrate!) at Char's Coffee Bar. Then a quick run to Burger King for breakfast. Then back to the Coble's for the hat Jim forgot in his car. Okay, so it was 9:20 by the time we REALLY got on the road, but the great RV tour has begun! By the time we hit Kentucky, I heard all kinds of stories about Di and Jim (aka Gordon), and I'm sure more secrets will be revealed before the tour is over.

Nine days of ceaseless brainstorming, enough caffeine to power the RV without fuel, and hobnobbing with the awesome bookstore employees who do so much to sell our books. Click the RV Tour link at the right to see our schedule for the coming days. And yes, we might be comatose by the time we pull back in the driveway, but what a ride! Our motorhome will be rocking with 60's music, laughter and fun!

The excitement started tonight when we had dinner with Elmo and Marcia (pronounced Marsa) Mercer. Elmo wrote the first song I ever performed in church ("The Way That He Loves")and if you look at your choir books, he will probably have written or arranged some of them. Elmo emailed me several years ago after he read the Rock Harbor books, and he and his wife are wonderful folks. We went to a restaurant called Santa Fe, and I gawked at the autographed pictures of singers I admire like Reba McEntyre and Terri Clark. No matter how hard I looked, I didn't see anyone famous at the tables though. Elmo wouldn't let us pay for dinner, and he and Marcia entertained us with stories of the music business.

Now we're back at the Residence Inn and nearly comatose, though I did find the strength to eat a few more chocolate covered macadamia nuts (sorry, Di), donated by Malia Spencer. I've been eying the DeBrand mocha truffles, but we are waiting to eat them when we get the RV in Orlando. We fly there tomorrow where our buddy and fellow WestBow author, Rachel Hauck, grabs us from the airport. We'll pick up the RV on Monday and hit the RV trail. But first, the highlight of the trip comes in the morning when we get to see some of our WestBow family--breakfast with Jennifer Deshler, awesome marketing director, and her daughter Jordie then lunch with our editor Ami McConnell and her family (my adopted grandkids).

It's going to be a trip to remember--if we don't drink so much coffee it damages our brain cells. And I can't promise we won't!
Colleen Coble  
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Rants by Kristin
Every once in a while I have to vent. Otherwise I will explode. So here goes. A Michigan gym is considering banning all men from seeing Muslim women in their "state of undress" during aerobics. Ie., showing their arms? You know, this just irritates me to no end. If it's that troubling to you. Stay home and do a Jane Fonda tape. How do most of us feel when we go to the gym and see everyone's got a better body than us? Life's just is not fair, get over it. I want to make everyone cater to me too, personally, I don't like seeing people in biking shorts, but life doesn't work that way. We have to get along. And the Constitution does not protect you against being offended. Heck, I'm offended daily. Does anyone care?

Next: Why is there no coffee line at Starbucks? Ie., just getting coffee. It would make those people a lot happier if they didn't have to stand behind a hazelnut/vanilla/marshmallow mocha frappuccino with an extra shot teenager. And it would actually make the line go faster because you have to stop and wait for the cashier to get the coffee. Just an idea. It's free Starbucks, run with it.

Okay, is anyone else completely ticked about the FEMA fraud? I mean, $2000 is nothing to people who truly need help and now it's getting reduced to $500 for future catastrophes because of several, selfish idiots. I'm telling you, they should give them one more gift, life on cell block D and three square meals a day. It takes a really disgusting individual to take advantage of that money. What happened to common decency?

And now we interrupt our ranting for a service announcement: Cheap shoes. I wish I couldn't tell the difference between cheap shoes and good shoes. I wish I had never tried on a decent pair, but girls, I'm here to tell you, you can't go back. So buy good shoes with the knowledge that Payless Shoe Source will never cut it again. And are you willing to make that kind of sacrifice? Zappos.com is fabulous. They ship lightning fast, they're the cheapest especially if you're not in CA and don't have to pay sales tax, and their service is excellent.

Got a rant to share? Have at it!
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Thursday, June 15, 2006
It doesn’t matter what brand I get, how much I pay, or how many bells and whistles it has, every computer I’ve managed to buy has been a lemon. No Midas touch here. But it gets better. My computers normally manage to crash around edits or deadlines. Oh, wait. I get it. This is what we writers call plotting.

Picture this. Character is a writer. Let’s give her a name. Say, Pollyanna (which is totally not me, just so you know). She’s working on edits for her current story. She’s also a couple of days away from leaving on an RV book tour. We can’t let her go about her merry way, happily making changes to her story, singing while she folds her clothes all nice and neat in her luggage, now, can we? NO! How boring is that?

It’s a bright sunshiny morning and Pollyanna is showered, dressed and happily whistling to the tune of “Whistle While You Work.” Life is good. She grabs her coffee and turns on her computer to work on her edits. Her manicured nails drum against the table. She takes a sip of coffee and notices a funny blinking message on the computer. How odd. After clicking here, poking there, she decides to turn the computer off and try again.

Hours and 25 tries later, Pollyanna’s spirits dip slightly. Her husband interrupts her dilemma and wants to change the phone to digital voice and he wants to do it NOW. More spirit dipping here. Back to the computer. Twenty-five more tries. Still no life in the computer. By now Pollyanna is banging on the lid of the computer. Nothing. She jumps on the computer. Nothing. At seventy tries, Pollyanna’s breathing fire and has pulled out a sledgehammer. Before Pollyanna can hurt anything or anyone, a Girl Scout rings her doorbell, and Pollyanna buys chocolate cookies. With cookies and computer in hand, she heads for the computer store.

She walks up to the window where the nice little ten year old smiles cheerfully. Pollyanna wants to rip his lips off. She eats a cookie to calm down then explains the problem. After a rather lengthy discussion, Counter Boy says it’s a hard drive crash. He’ll get to it in a week or so.

At this point, Pollyanna disses the cookies, grabs the ten-year-old by his collar and grinds out through clenched teeth, “Look. You go back there and tell the powers that be that you have a crazy woman writer out here. She is on deadline. If they don’t do something quick, she could go postal.”

Well, you get the idea. Is this the dark moment when all is lost, or will things get worse for Pollyanna? Well, I’ll let you write the ending to that story.

In the meantime, life goes on. All of life is fodder for the imagination. Right now I’m imagining a peaceful tide rolling onto a white sandy beach where I’m plunked near the water’s edge. I’m reading a Colleen Coble book where the body of a computer geek has washed up to shore . . . .
Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
GRANDMOTHERS
What is it about grandmothers and grandchildren? A grandchild can get a grandma to do unheard of things. This is my son at his wedding reception dancing with his grandmother. If you'd have told me my mother would dance, I would have chortled so hard I choked. Same with my dad. But they were both out there hot footing it for the sake of their grandson. Now granted, at one point my son CARRIED my mom to the floor! I would have paid good money if we'd captured that on video.

But back to grandchildren. I had a perfect grandmother myself. And my mom has been a wonderful grandmother to my children. I have great footsteps to follow. My grandma would have defended me with her last breath. Every time I went to her house, I was stuffed with cookies and other goodies (hmm, could that be the root of my weight issues?) and she let me do about anything I wanted. She called me every day, and I can still hear her voice in my head. People say I'm a lot like her. I take it as a compliment (though sometimes it's meant as a slam to my motherliness). Being like my Grandma Eileen is the highest goal I could attain. She was godly and loved her family with a fierce passion that never waned.

This week I'm getting a taste of grandmotherhood. I've got my new grandsons here to spoil. I bought everything they liked to eat, I've even turned over my little Sony computer and my desktop to them. Now THAT'S love. LOL Today I took them to the pool where I learned to swim. They're starting to feel at home. They raid the refrigerator without asking, that's a good sign isn't it? I think I can get the hang of this. And I'm sure loving it!

How about you? Did your grandmother shape your life like mine did?
Colleen Coble  
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ahhh, summer is here. The kids are home from school, the clothes are getting scantier, and now I get to deal with the least favorite thing about me. If you ask most people what part of their body they hate the most, they might say their gut. Or their nose. Or their legs. But not me. (okay, not exactly nuts about the legs either.)

I'd love to change skin with somone else. Just peel it off and slither into some nice, bronze-colored stuff. Skin that has a little melatonin in it. Skin that doesn't turn a glaring shade of red then flake off like a reptile. Oh, but I do have have melatonin. I have it in little bunches all over. It's called freckles. I'm spotted. How nice. And the sun makes me red and freckled at the same time. Thanks.

Denise, you say, all you have to do is wear sunscreen. Sure, I can do that (and I usually do). Then I get to remain pasty all summer, unable to wear white for fear people won't know where my skin ends and my clothes begin.

Ha. Ha. Denise, that's so silly, you say. Don't you know they make tanners for people like you? Of course I know it. I used to use them. But then Colleen got after me about how the color changes my skin to a tone that doesn't go to with my hair color and all my brightly colored clothes. When I use tanner now, I have nightmares of Colleen running at me with her her finger waggling, screaming, "That color is ALL wrong for you, D!" So I stopped using tanners.

Now, before you comment, I know I'm tan in the photo above. I used days of tanner to achieve that look, but it went with my hair when it was blond. Now I'm closer to brunette which looks much better with my natural (pasty) skintone. (Right Colleen??)
Denise Hunter  
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

BABY, I'M BACK!

For those of you fortunate enough not to know my woes, it's been a pretty rotten three years for my family. We've lost WAY too many loved ones to leukemia, age, stroke, etc. We moved into a development that turned into a nightmare (because really, why should you get what you pay for, things like phone lines are so overrated!)

Anyway, this week I bought a new car, those of you who know me might think, that's not new. But it's the new version of the old minivan -- same Bat Color -- more comfortable seats and ride. My husband has come up with some great ideas for businesses, and we're moving forward. This is our fresh start -- our hike out of the valley.

Just like that, God just gave me this peace about being here. He said stop waiting for life to start and live it. This is it! I took that to mean, buy a new car, but other people might hear something different.

This week at my Nana's funeral, I really had time to stop and think about life and all she meant to me, and I cried a lot, but then I thought PAR-TEE. Italians know how to have a funeral. How to celebrate life, revere and respect it and yet eat, drink and be merry. My Irish Nana, the best Italian I ever knew, takes her place beside my Papa where all the pain of life will be forgotten. She had a gorgeous casket and was buried in Los Altos Hills -- and I thought my Nana finally got her mansion in a luxury neighborhood. And she won't even get to enjoy them because God has something better for her now.

All this to say I'm embracing my Italian Kristin. My Ecclesiastes Kristin. There is a time for mourning, and it's over. Let the heavens rejoice! I'm 1/8th done with my new book about a Hollywood hairstylist and so grateful for this fabulous job. Thank you all who buy my books so I can have this fabulous job! You Rock!!
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

TIME TO BREATHE
I sent a book in to my editors on Friday so I actually have time to breathe this week. Friday I had a massage (thanks to Diann's suggestion), the weekend I spent visiting with my brother Rick and his wife Mary who are here from Arizona for the wedding. Monday I went to the library to go on an orgy of reading. Tuesday I spent at my parents' visiting with family again. Wednesday I had my hair cut and a manicure and pedicure. Are you seeing a pattern here?

I have a whole luxurious month before I plunge into edits for Midnight Sea. So I'm taking suggestions on what I should do to relax. Now remember, this is going to have to be fit in around a wedding this Saturday (YAY, this is an event I've waited 33 years for!) and a book tour that starts through the southeast on Sunday, June 18. Now of course my house is a pit and I have to clean it today before all the wedding guests descend to spend the night starting on Friday. My daughter's new love is coming home with her, and I can't let him see the house looking like this.

I've been on tight deadlines for the past two years so I'm ready to P-A-R-T-Y. What do you like to do to relax after a particularly stressful time? Give me some creative ideas. I plan to get some DeBrand truffles to enhance the experience of course. LOL
Colleen Coble  
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006


A NOVEL APPROACH

Have you ever watched a customer browsing the novel section in a bookstore? It's interesting, to say the least. I do it all the time because the author in me wants to know what makes a person want to a particular book?

As for me, I have two approaches. The first is the easiest and has to do with the author's name. There are a handful of authors whose books are automatically put on my must buy list simply because they have proven themselves to me. I've read two or three of their books and they have convinced me that every book they write is worth my time. But my favorite authors don't write fast enough to keep me busy, so then I resort to the selection method.

I enter the novel section and browse the books that are face-out. Rarely do I look at the spine-out books and each time I pray my own books aren't tucked into the shelves, hidden from other novel browsers like me. (If I happen run across a friend's book who is spine out, I turn it face-out--hey, what are friends for?)

Next, I scan the covers for my favorite genre: women's fiction with a thread of romance. When I find one that fits the bill, I read the title and look at the author's name to see if she has disappointed me in the past. If not, I pick it up and read the back cover copy looking for something intriguing and unique. And romance. It must have romance.

If the book still has my interest, I open the book, not necessarily to page one--I know the effort authors make on page one. I'm more interested if they can make page 127 good. One of the primary things I look for inside the book is short paragraphs and white space (dialogue). I HATE long chunky paragraphs of introspection and description. Even if the book has all the other elements going for it (cover, title, author, cover copy), I'll put it down quicker than a golf club on a stormy day if there's no white space. If, on the other hand, the book has passed each of these tests, I very happily take it to the counter to purchase it.

So, that's my method. What's yours? What's most important to you when you're selecting a novel? The author's name? The genre? The cover copy? Inquiring authors want to know.

Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:35 AM  
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Heroes. Our stories are full of them. We’ve got our basic alpha males, the self-assured, cocky types, aka Mr. All That, the beta types, the Nutty Professors, the Felix Ungers—well, you get the idea.

My true to life hero pretty much encompasses all of the above at one time or another. He’s got a little bit of everything rolled up in that skin of his and I wouldn’t trade him for all the young-un’s sproutin’ peach fuzz in the world.

This morning my “hero” was a sight to behold as he walked out the door to face his last day of school (he’s a principal). Setting aside his brown paper bag (filled with today’s lunch), he shrugs on his black/red jacket (NYLON), red helmet, and black/red gloves. We go through our morning ritual where I say, “Go get ‘em, Tiger,” and he responds with a “grrr” that sounds like that trill thing that Bob Hope had going on in the good old days.

Looking every inch the tough guy, my man gives me one of those Humphrey Bogart see-you-later-baby looks, grabs his lunch bag, and then with all the hunky charm of John Wayne, walks over to his Harley—um, I mean, Helix, and climbs aboard. Now for those of you who don’t know, a Helix is not a Harley. Well, maybe Harley in grade school. That’s right, it’s a scooter—to which my hero quickly points out: “but it will go up to 70 miles per hour.” Well, sure. The speedometer on my Taurus reads up to 180 too, but does that mean I should try it?

No.

Still, I let him live in his macho dream world. He thumps on the horn and waves. Now, let me just mention here this horn thing does not have the deep throaty sound of a semi. Think more along the lines of Herbie and you’ve pretty much got the idea.

I wave goodbye and Helix Man speeds off, kicking up a dust storm behind him. (Well, I did see two pebbles flip half an inch, just so you know.) He disappears into the morning rush hour traffic with little more than a brown paper bag and a motor with attitude. Will Hollywood call him for the main part in Mission Impossible IV? I’m guessin’, no. But he’s my hero--always has been, always will be. Why? Because he’s gentle, thoughtful, romantic, and, well, he takes me for mochas. There are other reasons, too, but shoot, I don’t have to tell you everything!

So, what do YOU look for in a hero?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:01 AM  
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Sunday, June 04, 2006

This is not my beautiful house...This is not my beautiful wife...
Do you remember that "Talking Heads" song? I find myself thinking of that song often in my life in the country. Life just never turns out how you expect it to. When I met my husband, he was a successful engineer and our courtship consisted of fine San Francisco dining and Broadway-style plays. Fast forward 14 years.

My husband and I cashed out and left the city. He now teaches PE part time at our children's school and loves it. I, who never even babysat, have four children. (I don't think I even held a newborn until my own.)

I was the prissiest little girl on the block. Currently, my cat is bringing me dead baby moles on my back porch, I've seen enough rattlesnakes where I don't get freaked out too much, and my daughter thinks caterpillars are pets. Last night she let a tree frog loose in my minivan. (Guess where it landed!) On me, naturally.

All this to say, you can plan your steps with an Excel spreadsheet, and I guarantee it won't turn out like you plan. God has some sort of surprise around the corner awaiting. I realize, as an author, He is the greatest Creative Mind ever and we are only little pebbles of sand off the Great Rock. But here's the thing God, this is the black moment in the book. This is where You write me out of this fiasco. Readers love the happy ending!! (And it's a joke, please don't email me a Bible verse on being grateful!)

Oh hey, while on my trip to Seattle, I got to thinking everyone should have a Spa Date. I got this great, authentic Pink Leather Coach bag filled with two of "She's All That" and "A Girl's Best Friend", the Spa Girls Collection so far -- one set for you, one for your Spa Girl. I'll be randomly selecting one of the people getting my newsletter for this great bag and two beach reads for your own Spa Weekend (even if you can't get away.) If you already get my newsletter, you're already signed up! www.KristinBillerbeck.com
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:40 PM  
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Friday, June 02, 2006


I COULD PROBABLY WRITE A BOOK

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times. "I could probably write a book." I feel the same way when I watch pro dancers. "Yeah, I could probably dance like that." If I was in shape. If I had a few years of instruction. If I had a little more skill. If I had legs up to my armpits. Sure, I could.

I can see how it happens. They open a book and read it. The words are already there. The characters are real and the conflict, well, just happens. Plus they have writing experience. They write letters, memos, grocery lists . . .

The courageous ones sit down and try it. They know the fear of the blank page. I was reminded of this yesterday as I stared at the blank page knowing I must make people appear, people who seem every bit as real as my best friends. I must make the setting come alive and engage readers with plausible conflict. Most of all, I must not only make these make-believe people feel, I must make the reader feel for them. All using only words. But serious writers don't let the blank page stop them.

I think a gifted writer makes writing look easy the way a great dancer makes dancing look effortless. So when a reader puts down a book and says "I could probably write one of these", maybe that's the ultimate compliment.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:07 AM  
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

RV Having Fun Yet Book Tour
The clothes are packed (well, almost). The itinerary set. We’ve got our sunglasses, chocolates, sunscreen, er, uh, I mean, our books, chocolate, bookmarks, chocolate, and, oh yeah, our husbands! And we’re itchin’ to get on the road!

Colleen and I got the scoop on at least the towns we’ll be visiting on our book tour. Our schedule will go something like this:

June 19th: FLORIDA: Orlando, Ocoee and Daytona Beach
June 20th: FLORIDA: Jacksonville; GEORGIA: Savannah
June 21st: SOUTH CAROLINA: Columbia, Lexington, Spartanburg, Greenville
June 22nd: GEORGIA: Buford, Duluth, Tucker, Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Kennesaw
June 23rd: GEORGIA: Women of Faith Conference, Atlanta, Georgia
June 24th: TENNESSEE: Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Antioch, Nashville,
Madison

If you live near these areas, be sure to check back as the time for our tour draws closer. We would love to see you at one of the bookstores!

One more thing, please pray for us as we travel—and pray for everyone else on the road around us!!

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:10 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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