Girls Write Out
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Okay, by now you all know I’m a Christmas fanatic. I play Christmas music with the first snow, whether it’s September or November (Just ask the Girls). So needless to say, it’s no surprise that we put up our Christmas tree (we have an artificial one because our daughter is allergic to real ones), over Thanksgiving.

Here’s the thing you may not know about me (don’t tell anyone, okay?). I struggle with Christmas tree lights. I mean, what’s the deal. Do I need a Ph.D. in engineering to string them on the tree or what?

Last year the tree was near perfection when I decided it was time to plug in the lights. Suddenly, I noticed that they weren’t, well, connected. As in, plugged in to each other. In other words, I had strings of lights totally unrelated to one another. Come to think of it, some of my sentences are the same way.

So, my husband says to me, “Di, you need to start with the plug side here, and the prong side here." Like that should mean something to me. Seeing my blank stare, he demonstrates while I munch on the popcorn I plucked from the tree, throw in guttural sounds to assure him I’m listening, and continue watching It’s a Wonderful Life on TV.

I admit I have the attention span of a bird, but excuse me, if someone has to take more than one breath while giving me instructions, I'm off to the movies. This little character trait of mine causes my principal husband endless grief, I can tell you.

You’ll be happy to note, however, that this year I did follow hubby’s advice (he kidnapped my credit card), and our Christmas tree is bright and blinking as I type this.

Yes, people, she can be taught!

Am I the only one who struggles with lights?

www.diannhunt.com
Diann Hunt  
posted at 3:10 AM  
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Hypothetical question here.

A family of five is on a car trip. Everyone is hungry. Exits with fast food abound. Time is of no consequence.

The obstacle: A male driver whose name will remain nameless since this is a hypothetical. The driver wants to go further. Never mind that the big city we're--I mean, they're--passing through is coming to an end. Never mind that there is no city, no town, not even an exit for the next hour. Never mind that the sounds of our growling stomachs can be heard over the road noise. The driver wants, no, NEEDS, to travel on.

And here is the burning, hypothetical question--Why?

Why, when everyone's hungry does the driver need to put more miles under the wheels before stopping? Doesn't matter if it's breakfast, lunch, or a potty break. It's going to take five minutes or twenty minutes any way you slice it. Why must it wait? What is he hoping to accomplish?

Inquiring female minds want to know.

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:08 AM  
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Monday, November 27, 2006

PUPPY SCRUBBING
Things started well. I had coffee, always a good thing. We had leftover pie from Thanksgiving, again it was all good. Then the first dog came. Kara washed him and got him ready to be groomed. Then two dogs came, Kara prepared to show me how to tackle my first dog. It was a little sort of dog, a Shih-Tzu names Casper. Okay, cute little guy until he shook himself and flung water all over me, Kara, the floor and the wall. No problem, I could handle anything.

Then she showed me how to wash the dog’s bottom. Ick. But hey, I’m a big girl. I can handle this, my hands will wash, right? Wrong. She showed me how to do the anal gland. Okay, I drew the line there. NO WAY! Uh, uh, I wasn’t doing that. Any anal glanding would have to be done by someone else.

So I decided to wash an easy dog first. Little Ozzie, a Cairn terrier. CUTE. And he smiled. Truly smiled. I never saw a dog do that. He was a total pro at being groomed since he’s in there every two weeks. Piece of cake, this doggie washing.

Then more dogs came. And more. We had to pick up the pace. And I’m old. The pace doesn’t go very fast. But I tried. I even washed some pretty big dogs like an Aussie shepherd. I didn’t get dog bit or anything. It was a time to totally fall in love with Chopper, a little golden-doodle (half Golden Retriever and half poodle). Until he was clipped, he looked like a miniature sheepdog but he has the wonderful Golden nature.

I think I should pay Kara for having me help. I'm sure I increased her water bill. I had water EVERYWHERE. And there was enough hair in the blow-dry room that it was like walking through knee high drifts.

Who would have guessed washing dogs was such a hard job? I’d expected something MUCH easier than what I found. By Saturday night, I collapsed on the sofa and didn’t move a finger. In spite of being exhausted, it was a totally fun two days, a time for me to see what my daughter has been up to, a chance to learn more about dogs. And a chance to burn off a few calories if it hadn’t been for so much darned pie around the house. LOL

My daughter is a real pro at this, much better than me. So if you live in the Phoenix west valley, come on by to See Spot Clean and tell her you're a friend of mine. Expect your dog to come out smiling like Ozzie. LOL
Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:35 AM  
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Crisis! There are those people who you call in a crisis -- and then there's me. I think I used to be that person, the one who could step in and take over, but those days are gone. Buried under the trials of four kids, missed deadlines and just too many responsibilities. I was so proud of myself this week. I went to my mother's for Thanksgiving and bragged to everyone that all my Xmas shopping was done and my mom goes, "How could that be? We haven't drawn names yet." My cousin, without missing a beat goes, "Whoever she picks is getting a Waterpik!" Literally, the family is then fighting to make sure Kristin doesn't draw their name -- even when I offered to throw in dental floss!

It's here where the mythical facade of Kristin having it together breaks down quickly. I wanted to spend time with my Grandpa, I barely got to see him with all the driving we had to do. I wanted to spend time with my Grandma, got less than an hour with her. There's my mom's house on Thanksgiving, friend's house the day after, my in-law's house the day after that...and somewhere...in the midst of the chaos, I just lost it. I left my in-laws, leaving hubby and the kids behind, went to Starbucks, then to my mommy's house where she fed me, gave me Tejava, a little more possible bad news. Then, we drove home and I was overwhelmed by some of the problems at church -- and, I'd like to say I reacted by jumping right in, offering to do what I could -- but I'm maxed out, so I went to see "For Your Consideration" by myself. The Kristin you called in a crisis has left the building -- you might want to check the popcorn line. Or Disneyland because I'm taking the kids there on their vacation for Christmas. When all else fails, seek fun. Or as the Bible says, What else is there in life but to eat, drink and be merry! That's my cat Darcy, got to visit her too!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 2:07 AM  
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Friday, November 24, 2006

CAROL COX
I'm thrilled to introduce Carol Cox to you today. Carol has been a good friend to all of us for a lot of years. I first met her at the one and only Barbour Homecoming and at that time we'd both had our first books out. And we'd liked one another books so it was like a mutual admiration party. Very fun! We always try to connect when I'm in Arizona, which is where I am right now.

And just as an aside, I arrived her to find out my Mother had had another incident and they'd had to call 9-1-1. She's in the hospital again so I'd sooo appreciate it if you'd pray!

Now here's our friend Carol.



I was thrilled when I was invited to be a guest blogger today, even after the truth sank in and I realized that having someone else blog the day after Thanksgiving means Colleen, Kris, Diann, and Denise can relax in their turkey-induced comas just that much longer without having to come up with something pithy to say.

Never having done a guest blogging stint before, I asked Colleen what she wanted me to talk about. She suggested something about life in “the wilds of Arizona,” as she put it. Seeing as how she plans to join the ranks of rural Arizonans one of these days, maybe this is a way of doing research ahead of time to find out if she’s up to the challenge.

But life in the country isn’t hard to get used to. Especially for a writer. Imagine sitting on your front porch with your laptop, watching a mama quail lead her babies across the drive while you’re typing the next chapter of your novel. Or drawing inspiration from one of those glorious 360-degree sunsets.

On the other hand, maybe Colleen is thinking about the stories of the time a javelina appeared in our back yard.

Or the time we found a skunk in our sunroom.

I don’t think she’s even heard about the day I got locked inside a chicken coop.

But things like that aren’t the norm—at least for people who don’t happen to be me. Life around here is peaceful most of the time. Really.

Like today, when I can look out our front window and see dozens of bluebirds filling our front yard and watch a herd of antelope grazing along our road. It’s a scene of absolute peace, a perfect follow-up to yesterday’s celebration filled with love, laughter, and family traditions. One of our long-standing traditions is baking homemade pumpkin pies. This year, we even went the extra mile and used a homegrown pumpkin instead of the canned variety. That was an interesting experience in itself.

It started last summer when we decided to plant a garden. Okay, I decided to plant a garden, and my long-suffering family agreed to go along with another of my more creative ideas. It made perfect sense to me, though. Life had gotten way too busy over the past few years, and I wanted to do something to help us slow the pace a bit and spend some time making memories with our 10-year-old daughter. So we bought starter plants and set out the mandatory tomatoes, green peppers, and zucchini, then thought it would be fun to branch out a little and try growing some pumpkins. We tucked the seeds into the dirt, then watched as the little seedlings pushed their way above the ground. We watered and weeded and waited to see what would happen next.

What happened next was that those tiny seedlings rapidly grew into vines. Lots of vines. Vines that went everywhere. We are talking fast growth here. I mean, if those things had grown vertically instead of launching themselves across our yard, they would have given Jack’s beanstalk some stiff competition. Within a short time, that end of our yard looked like one of the scenes from Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed, or maybe something out of Jumanji.

At first, it was fun to measure the growth from one day to the next. Then I caught myself keeping an eye on those little tendrils at the end of the vines when I went out to work in the yard. There was always the uneasy feeling that if I turned my back at the wrong moment, one of them might reach out and grab me by the ankle. You just never know about these things.

Then came the day the pumpkin vine went on the attack. In only a few hours it wound its furtive way from the garden area over to the pyracantha bush that stands at the edge of my flower bed and twined partway up the trunk. What next? The possibilities swam before my eyes. I could see it was only a matter of time before it took over my flower and then the house itself, like a Southwestern version of kudzu.

I charged into the front yard wielding my clippers while my daughter looked on from the living room window yelling, “Go, Mom! Get it before it gets us!” Minutes later, the vines had been trimmed into submission. Apparently recognizing a counter-threat when they saw it, they settled down and proceeded to produce a nice crop of pumpkins, one of which graced our Thanksgiving table as one of the best pies we’ve ever made.

But the tenacious vines may have had the last word after all. Last week, I noticed a splash of color against the house and went to investigate. Despite my vigilance, one lone vine must have escaped my watchful eye. There is a bright orange pumpkin dangling from the center of my pyracantha bush.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled bloggers. I hope this day after Thanksgiving finds you filled with warm memories of a special time shared with special people—and most of all, the awareness of the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us.

Forever grateful to be His,
Carol Cox
www.CarolCoxBooks.com
Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:11 AM  
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Thursday, November 23, 2006
PEOPLE!
"I'm just one person, you're People!" from FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

So I got this week's double issue: THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE issue. Please. This is the most boring issue of the year. All these pretty boys in Hollywood (exceptions: Hugh Jackman, Craig Daniel, the new Bond & my continual vote in the picture: Colin Firth as Darcy) Back to whining. What is with you, young generation? Why do these men seem so girly? What is attractive about pretty boys? They fight you for the mirror and they steal your hair products, among other issues! I think I could whoop most of them. That's not good, I'm not that tough.

So to the next generation: We gave you Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis and you give us Ashton Kutcher and Matt Damon? Justin Timberlake? Granted, I'll give you that we let the previous generation down (Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, William Holden) but just think if it gets any worse!

Here's where I'm going to get unpopular. McDreamy is whiny. Give me Burke any day!

The reason I rant -- besides that there are two weeks of People Magazine with no actual content, is because the roles of men and women are getting so blurred, we can't get good heroes any longer. This scares me because it says a lot about our culture's take on men. As a mother of three boys and one princess in waiting, I want things sorted out. Bring back the alpha male (with a little Beta for decency's sake!) Cavemen need not apply.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all! May God bless your holiday with an abundance of good food, cheer, family, People Magazine with actual content and a steaming, aromatheraputic bath.


http://www.kristinbillerbeck.com/
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006



My husband’s birthday was last week. We’ve been trying to cut back on sweets, so we opted to not have cake this year. We went to a nice restaurant where our daughter, her husband and their three little girls joined us. At the end of the meal, the three-year-old holds up her plate and proudly announces, “I’m ready for cake.”

The look on her face melted my heart. So we left the restaurant, stopped by the grocery store to pick up a ready made cake, and took it back to our house where we all met for dessert.

Traditions. Some stick, some don’t. The cake made it another year.

We’ve enjoyed many traditions with our family over the years. There was the nightly ritual of saying goodnight to our kids with the single acronym GNILYSYITMHAGNR. It stands for “Goodnight, I love you. See you in the morning. Have a good night’s rest.” Long story, but suffice it to say, it cut down on the bedtime frenzy. Our granddaughters even say it from time to time.

Then there’s the rap song I made up for our kids so we could get them out the door for school in the morning with everything they needed:

You got your lunch, you got your keys, you got your milk mon-ey?
You brushed your teeth, you combed your hair, you changed your underwear?
Don’t be so slow, it’s time to go,
What more can I say?
Be a witness to your friends and, hey, have a nice day!

Corny, I know, but guess what? Our adult kids (29 and 27) can STILL recite it (not without laughing, but still).

As a family we’ve sang together, prayed together, laughed and cried together. We’ve created snowmen, put up Christmas trees, enjoyed hot chocolate by a crackling fire, put puzzles together and played the California Raisins Christmas CD at the sign of the first snow.

I thought with the holidays fast approaching, it’s a good time to share family traditions. So, let’s hear it. What are some of yours?

www.diannhunt.com
Diann Hunt  
posted at 3:04 AM  
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Is it a bad thing if I fell asleep while reading my own story?" another author asked me recently.

I know what she's talking about. Sure, the first time you read your manuscript it's semi-interesting even though you know what happens around every corner. Sloppy writing, but pretty interesting stuff here, you think.

The 2nd time through, you're busy tweaking and fixing and rearranging. Oh, yeah. Much better. This is kinda fun!

The 3rd time through you're starting to appreciate some of the turns of phrases. Great similie--did I really write that?

The 4th time through. If I can just get through this scene to the more exciting one that happens on page 184, I'll be fine.

The 800th time through. Someone put me out of my misery. Please, please, please don't make me read it again!

And then the editor sends it back with corrections. You make the changes and go back through it. It's been a while since you've read it so it's not quite so stale. The changes made it better Hey, my editor is a genious! You send it off, brush off your hands, and hope you are done, done, done.

Then the copy edits arrive. How did I miss this? And this? And this? Thank you, God for editors! You make the changes read the manuscript and check for mistakes. This is where the sleep happens. Note to self: do not read copy edits at night. Or during mid-afternoon slump. Or in the morning before caffeine. Or without caffeine EVER. Finally, you've slugged through the thing. You send it off, and hope you are done, done, done.

Then the galleys arrive. But you don't need them. You can recite your entire manuscript verbatim to anyone who wants to listen. Of course, no one does, especially not you. You slog through the words anyway trying, and failing, to see it with a fresh eye. But mostly you're hoping and praying your editor was right when she said it made her laugh and cry, because by now, it only makes you fall into a deep coma-like sleep.

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:07 AM  
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Monday, November 20, 2006

COLLEEN, PROFESSIONAL DOG WASHER
Yep, you heard it here first. I'm about to embark on my new dog-washing career. This is my gorgeous daughter Kara and my grandpup Parker at Kara's dog wash business, See Spot Clean (www.SeeSpotClean.com) located in Goodyear AZ. We're flying out to see her on Thursday and I'm going to roll up my sleeves and wash my first dog on Friday.

I have to admit I'm a little nervous. I've prided myself on not needing to color my hair yet even though I'm the old one of the bunch here. What if the experience turns me white-headed overnight? It may traumatize me to clip my first dog. What if I make a poodle look like a chihuahua? I should ask for all the short-haired dogs. I surely can't do too much damage to them.

I'd ask you to pray for me, but maybe you'd better pray for the dogs. And Kara. I may run her out of business in one weekend. That would be very bad. But it should be good fodder for my books, don't you think? As long as no one murders me after the I ruin their dog's cut, we'll be good.

But I know what will really happen. Kara will let me wash my first dog and when I get soap in the poor thing's eyes, she will relegate me to the office checking the animals in. I'm hoping to find the next dog character for my new book. I'm thinking it just might be my cousin's Yorkie. . .

Before I sign off, I want to let you know I just had my website redesigned. Jason Webster of Website Ministries did it for me, and it's AWESOME! He put a forum up and everything. You can use the forum to discuss anything you like, not just my books. Let me know what you think!

And remember to pray that I don't get dog bit.
Colleen Coble  
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Friday, November 17, 2006

GUEST BLOGGER, RACHEL HAUCK

I'm so thrilled to have Rachel as our guest blogger! She's a good friend to all of us, and her new books LOST IN NASHVEGAS is fabulous!

Here's Rachel:
I’m Telling Everyone

If you watch TV at all, or even in passing, you’ve seen the commercial about HPV, the Human Papillomavirus. Concerned looking actresses gaze into the camera and declare, “I’m telling every one I know.” HPV, we’re shockingly told, can cause cervical cancer. The commercial pans to another concerned actress. “Cancer,” she says in shock, “caused by a virus.”

A virus? Like the flu virus, or a cold virus? Or as my husband recently learned, ringworm can be picked up in the air. Is this commercial telling me there is a virus in the air, so severe, women might get cervical cancer? The commercial tells us to ask our doctor, get tested. They show us a mother cuddling her young teen daughter saying, “I’m going to ask her doctor how to prevent cervical cancer on her next visit.”

Okay, something’s up. I must learn more. So I Google HPV. The commercial is incredibly, stupidly misleading. How can they even make a commercial like this and leave out one very, very important fact? HPV is an STD. Yeah, that’s right. A Sexually Transmitted Disease. If you are in a monogamous, long term relationship, HPV is no where near a threat to you. And should we be surprised that an STD might cause cancer? I don’t know of any STD that is health friendly.

HPV does not only effect women. It effects men too. With cancer. In the genital area. (I’ll leave it at that.) Here’s what the Center for Disease Control documents about HPV:

“Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum.

Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. Some of these viruses are called "high-risk" types, and may cause abnormal Pap tests. They may also lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Others are called "low-risk" types, and they may cause mild Pap test abnormalities or genital warts. Genital warts are single or multiple growths or bumps that appear in the genital area, and sometimes are cauliflower shaped.”

How common is HPV?

“Approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV infection. About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.”

Rachel here:

Wow, those numbers are staggering, and there is no cure. Why is the commercial omitting such critical data? Why are we not hearing about the true solution? Remain sexually pure. Monogamous with the one you married.

What’s the message behind showing a mother with her young teen daughter saying, “I’m going to ask her doctor …” Hello? Mom. Tell her to be pure. Wait for marriage to have sex. It’s possible. Anymore, down right necessary for human health.

Man, this country pitches a fit over teen smoking, but we’re going to sigh and toss up our hands on casual sexual activity? No! It’s time to raise the bar. Woman, we were made for something higher and better than this. Why are we playing around with this kind of fire. Are we not intelligent, thinking beings with the ability to reason and control our actions?

These commercial strike me as propaganda for an agenda: Moral relativism.Yet we can’t ignore the multi-layered impact of sexual immorality.

Physical. Over 200 STD strains now. When I was growing up in the ‘70s, we worried about 2, maybe 3.

Emotional. Sex is a designed-by-God emotional communication meant to draw a husband and wife together. You can think all day long that you’re having sex without emotional attachments, but you’re only fooling yourself.
Unlike the cast of Friends, it’s not easy to bounce back from heartbreak and one night stands. Pizza and beer with your friends doesn’t cut it. Each sexual encounter is an attachment. In fact, it’s not the wedding ceremony that makes a couple married, it’s the consummation of the ceremony, er, the honeymoon, that makes them married.

If the cast of Friends were “real” people, five of the six would be riddled with an STD.

Spiritual. Sexual activity has as spiritual element. The Apostle Paul tells us all other sins are outside the body, but sexual immorality is a sin against the body. He says we make ourselves one with the person we sleep with.

HPV is more than a scare of cervical cancer. It’s a sign post on the moral road of destruction our nation is traveling. So, do what the commercial says. Tell someone about HPV. Give them the facts. All of them.

****
On a lighter note, thanks to my GirlsWriteOut friends for letting me rant on their blog. I love and treasure each one of these woman and the impact they’ve had on my life and my writing.

My book, Lost In NashVegas from WestBow Press is in stores now!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 3:03 PM  
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There are words you don't want to hear. As parents, you never want to hear, "Are those your kids out there?" But today, I was in Peet's getting a mocha and this woman walks in, "Is that your BMW out there?" Well, first off, I was happy she thought it was my Beamer, but no, I have the minivan. So she keeps asking and this snotty woman says back to her, "Why? Did I leave my lights on?" in this very droll voice.

And this young gal says, "No, I just crashed your car."

I felt sooo badly for the young gal who hit her, but I have to say, that was one moment, I was proud to say, "No, I've got the minivan!" And leaving your lights on sounded like the problem to have!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 1:55 PM  
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Thursday, November 16, 2006



I've sprouted five new gray hairs, two wrinkles and an age spot in the last two days. There should be a limit as to what we have to do in the name of friendship.

I’m critiquing Colleen’s latest nail biter, Abomination, and I have to tell you, I’m keeping all the lights on at bedtime. Forget that wimpy little night light deal. I put up the kind of bulbs that hang over surgical beds. They might be a little too bright. My husband took one look at me this morning and screamed.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the story only haunted me at night. But Gideon (the very scary killer—as opposed to, say, killers who are not so scary) has me distrusting everyone I meet. Just how well do I know the barista who serves mochas with a smile? At this very moment, she’s probably plotting to put arsenic in my next drink. And the old man who grabbed the Pepto Bismol from the shelf at the grocery today? I think he eats cats.

Shadows loom, screams pierce the darkness (mine), and I have to wonder just how well do I know Colleen Coble? I mean, she seems innocent enough, but obviously there is more lurking behind her eyes than, well, meets the eye.

Still, she is my friend, and she did write the book, after all. And it is great writing, it’s just great scary writing.

So if you know anyone in the Big Honkin’ Chicken Club, could you tell them you have a perfect candidate for membership? Until then, in the name of friendship, I will keep digging—er, uh, reading . . . .
Diann Hunt  
posted at 3:00 AM  
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
STRANGER THAN FICTION

I love a good movie. And usually when I say good, I mean a chick flick. You've Got Mail, Dupree and Me, 5o First Dates . . . I'm hard pressed to find one I haven't seen. I've dragged Kevin into more romantic comedies than any man should have to endure. He doesn't even put up a fight.

But I broke down over the weekend and deviated from my favorite genre. How could I refuse a movie that was about writing fiction? Stranger than Fiction is indeed a strange movie. An IRS agent who hears a narrator in his head, narrating his boring life? An author who's writing the story of his life as he lives it? A neurotic writer who lives in stark fear of the blank page? Oh, wait that's not strange. That's my life.

All is well until the narrator says something about his future (no spoiler here) that forces him to find out who's writing the book so he can stop her before she writes the end. The movie had me chuckling at times (admitedly most of it was the writer humor that I so related to), included a sweet romantic subplot (the cookie scene packs a whallop), and had us talking about it the next day.

It also begged the question that's still haunting me. If a novel character turned up on my doorstep, which one would I want it to be?

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com
Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:36 AM  
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
FEAR AND TREMBLING

I had a scary shock of my own today, and it had nothing to do with reading a suspense novel. I was hot on the trail of my normal routine: email and coffee. I lifted the lid of my MacBook and my email sprang to view. First there were two emails from a couple of people asking about a Coach purse I had listed on eBay. First of all, I dislike Coach purses (too soft and floppy and I don't like the patterns) and secondly, I've never sold anything on eBay in my life. When I got the second email just like the first, I was convinced they were a scam.

Then the shock: an email from eBay telling me my account is suspended for said purse violation. Still a scam, I'm thinking but the unease started. I went to my Firefox and went to eBay (don't EVER click a link in an email like that) and tried to log in.

I COULDN'T! I really was suspended. Someone has broken into my eBay account. I felt violated, betrayed. And then downright mad that eBay didn't even have the courtesy to take a look and see that it obviously had to be a scam. Just a curt email telling me I was suspended. It's enough to make me switch to anything Google.

What's up with that though? Can't people use their own accounts to sell purses? Why hijack an innocent bystander's lone little account used to buy Mac memory and computer peripherals? It makes no sense to me. But I had to write eBay and tell them they're idiots.

On a happy note, if you've been trying to buy Fire Dancer and were told it was backordered, it's supposed to hit the warehouse tomorrow and start shipping out again. This is the third printing so it's been flying off the shelves.

Just don't buy it on eBay!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:12 AM  
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

I went to see Moonlight & Magnolias at the San Jose Rep today, which is about the writing of the Gone with the Wind screenplay. I loved it because Margaret Mitchell's classic makes a terrible movie according to all the rules. She slaps a black child? (Prissy in the Melanie birthing scene.) She marries this guy and then that? But she loves who?

The screenplay writer pulled in to fix up the project has not read the book, and so O'Selznick is trying to explain Scarlett. The writer cannot understand how this "heroine", who breaks all the rules will survive on the big screen and "Everyone knows a Civil War movie has never made a dime." The writer takes his fee vs. part of the cut because he considers the movie a dog.

"I waited five hours to not know the ending?" is his assessment after being locked in for five days eating bananas & peanuts (brain food according to Selznick.) This is really the way all passion must happen. Someone has to believe so strongly in something they ignore the rules; the practical, their people telling them "truths" they know, but have to get past. Nehemiah did it to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and O'Selznick did it to bring us Scarlett O'Hara to the screen.

With our passions, we just have to be right a little more often than we're wrong. This is my agent and me in San Francisco, near the Embarcadero across from the Ferry Building. My goal in life is to raise these beautiful kids and spend one year of my life living in Russian Hill, Pacific Heights or the Marina (areas in SF). We were a little braindead that day, but still had a fabulous day and San Francisco was sunny and in all its glory just for us. Unlike when we were in New York and froze! We've been together in Times Square, the OC and we're holding out for Venice, Italy next! Any interested publishers, please inquire here. : ) Don't worry, we're not holding our breath, but we're having fun!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:09 PM  
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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Richard Paul Evans (author of The Christmas Box) came to town and Diann and I (we drag our husbands too) decided to get our copies of Finding Noel signed. We arrive, take our numbered tickets (for the signing) and sit in the back, joking about how we should give out tickets for our own book signings. You know, so our moms will know who goes first.

When it’s my turn, I get in line, making Kevin promise to stay far, far away. (He has a habit of embarrassing me by bringing up my writing.) So, next thing I know, I’m standing face to face with Mr. Evans. I introduce myself and hand him my book. He smiles at me expectantly.

Okay, I’m not real good one-on-one, and I haven’t given a single thought to what I’m going to say. “I like your books,” I blurt out. Oh, that’s good. Real original.

He smiles, blandly, and seems to be waiting for me to say something else.

Say something.

Anything.

Doesn’t have to be brilliant. Anything is better than awkward silence.

Really, Denise, anything.

“I write too.” No, not that. Anything but that.

“Really?” The bland smile again. The expectation of more dialogue.

And then it happens. I get diarrhea of the mouth and start talking about my books to fill the dreaded silence. I talk about my publisher, tell him how many books I’ve published, and begin wondering who has taken over my body, because this is so not me.

He nods politely and signs my book, then hands it back to me with a tired smile. I’m sure I don’t want to know what he’s thinking.

Turns out I didn’t need Kevin to embarrass me after all; I did a fine job all on my own. But at least I got my copy of Finding Noel signed.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:08 AM  
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I may never leave my recliner. Actually, nothing short of the Jaws of Life can pry me loose. I painted our bedroom ceiling on Monday, primed the walls on Tuesday and plan to apply the color today.

I’m not sure, but I think my eyelashes hurt.

Please don’t tell me if you have spry little elastic muscles that snap to attention at your every whim. I really couldn’t take that right now.

I’m out of chocolate.

Maybe you love to paint. Truth is, I didn’t mind so much myself until, well, now. Unfortunately, I tried to ignore the dirty shadows, but I could see the handwriting on the wall. Literally.

There has to be an easier way. No doubt I’ll have to do this again in my lifetime. Any way to make this easier? Words of wisdom re decorating? And please don’t tell me to hire someone. I need my chocolate money. Hubby’s out. He flunked Finger Painting 101.

I’m thinking I should scrap the caramel color and go with chalkboard paint. That way the grandkids can scribble on my wall, we can have dirty marks, all that and still be in vogue. Only problem is I live with a school principal. He’d make every morning an educational experience, and I just can’t live like that.

Diann Hunt  
posted at 6:46 AM  
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CHARACTER
I despise the idea of "Mega-churches". There, I said it. I'm sure a lot of you go to them, but here's what I cannot stand about the concept. Any time you institute the perspective of power on a grand scale in the house of God, you are SO headed for trouble. Didn't God tell His people what He thought of "Kings", yet here we go again, making "Super-Christians" out of great speakers. Pack the arena folks, we got us a real, live MAN OF GOD!

Ted Haggard's apology means nothing to me. There are plenty of Christians ready and willing to forgive him, and you can go right ahead, but I'll tell you, I need to see some repentence before I'm willing to say, okay, never mind. If you've ever been through a church split, it is a painful situation. This has to be ten times worse. TRUE repentance means you come out BEFORE the scandal hits the paper and you apologize HUMBLY to your flock. You don't send a letter to your 14,000 sheep and run with your tail between your legs. And let us not forgot the lie right up front. I don't care about any political ramifications of this. I don't care if you think I'm judgmental. There are consequences to his sins that will hit so many. His wife. His family. His following. I am hurt for that man's flock. People who loved and trusted him, and looked up to him for leadership. He broke that covenant.

Do I want to see him restored? Absolutely. Do I think it needs to happen today? No, I don't. I think one of the biggest scandals to hit the church is that we don't call sin, sin. And we don't take it seriously. I remember when we had a man have an affair in our church with a woman in our church. The church was threatened with a lawsuit if they went public and so everything was just swept under the rug. I'm not anxious to condemn anyone, but the church really is called to expel the yeast and when we don't do it, there are repercussions on the whole body. We're keeping a limb with gangrene and saying, no, no, it's okay, we forgive you.

I don't get the latest use of the word "apology". Did you hear John Kerry's? An apology takes responsibility for what you've done, who you've hurt, it doesn't make excuses or worse yet, call people stupid for "misunderstanding" them! We are all sinners, every one. I don't think anyone who has been in a church for long has trouble believing there's a hypocrite among us -- because after all, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Pride is going to be the church's downfall. In California, lawyers are going after Bishops, who knowingly hid a child molester within their walls, transferring him from parish to parish, to avoid taking responsibility and sparing further children pain and suffering. On what planet do these leaders think the Bible would condone this? I think they have to be atheists, because to think that they're going to get away with this, is only to believe in their own righteousness. Why does the law have to do what the church should have done morally thirty years ago? Is it any wonder we look like total hypocrites to the outside world?

There's only one way out of this mess, and it's HUMILITY and an honest look at ourselves. I know the media has tried to make this about politics, and trying to make Christians look like the ultimate hypocrites, so that we might believe everything we know is a lie. But you and I, who know the Living God, we know this has nothing to do with Him, but the sinful pride of man. And it's ugly!
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 9:03 AM  
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Monday, November 06, 2006
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

I've been addicted lately to plastic surgery shows. You know which ones I mean--Dr 90210 and Plastic Surgery: Before and After. I'm not sure why other than maybe it's interesting to see just what miracles modern medicine can perform. LOL

It's a little addicting too. Once you change one thing about yourself, it's tempting to just keep going. I could totally see me going in and getting rid of the wattles that are starting to show up on my old neck. Or fixing the nose I've always hated. Hey, how about a little lipo? See what I mean. And it's much easier to lipo off twenty pounds than to give up my chocolate. Don't mess with my DeBrand truffles!

I used to think plastic surgery was just for losers who couldn't deal with who God made them to be. But I've thought about it a lot recently and where is the line between those people and those of us who use Arbonne or whatever other kind of face cream we want? We're all seeking to look better. Though I personally couldn't see spending that much money on my appearance, everyone has to make their own decision.

But you know, our culture is just obsessed with beauty. How did it come to this? How did we gradually come to accept Hollywood's opinion so completely? When I was growing up, I thought my Grandma was beautiful. Now you could have used her as a bowling ball (she was about as round as she was tal) but I loved her so much I didn't notice. Her soul was beautiful and it shone through to the outside. And my mother and my Aunt Edith were totally beautiful and I wanted to look just like them. They're still beautiful.

But it's a reminder that the most beautiful people I know aren't Hollywood material. Truly beautiful people have an beauty that shines through no matter what they look like inside. If we'd all work on that aspect of beauty, the world would be a better place. But again, that's a lot harder than going under a surgeon's knife. We might actually have to let God CHANGE something. Gasp! We might actually have to hold our tongue instead of letting the snarkiness out. We might have to show love when we want to knock a person's head off his shoulders and kick it around a while.

So I've decided I'm going to quit watching those shows and focus on real beauty. But I'm not giving up by Arbonne while I work on it.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:01 AM  
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Friday, November 03, 2006


Today, we're very lucky to have a guest blogger! Robin Lee Hatcher, one of my favorite authors, talks about writing her 50th book!! (Trust me, she doesn't look old enough to have a 5th book!) Robin Lee possesses a gift that few authors have -- she can manipulate a reader with her sheer talent, by touching on so many emotional places & issues. I highly recommend her latest, a Christmas Novella put out by Zondervan called "A Carol for Christmas". Here's Robin Lee:

Some authors know they were born to write from a very early age. A few wrote their first books when they were eight or nine years old. I'm not one of those authors. However, I am a born storyteller. As a child, I loved spinning stories for the entertainment of others, and I still do.
In 1981, the combination of a passion for storytelling and a love of books that began when I was six finally caused me to sit down and begin work on my first novel. Writing longhand on a legal pad in the evenings and typing those pages the next day on the office typewriter, I worked on that novel for ten months. It was contracted by a mass market publisher in 1982. The publisher went bankrupt that same year, just after I finished writing the sequel. I floundered for a few months (this was pre-Internet, pre-email writing groups), but in early 1983, I sold both of those manuscripts to Leisure Books. They were published in February and March of 1984, basically unedited and with all their many flaws in view. Ouch!
Twenty-two and a half years, ten publishers in two different markets, twenty-one editors, and at least seven laptops and eleven desktop computers later, my 50th release has arrived on bookstore shelves.
A Carol for Christmas tells the story of newlyweds Jonathan and Carol Burke who are about to celebrate their first Christmas as husband and wife. However, their lives aren't going quite as planned. Theirs is a story of disappointments and dreams unfulfilled. Ultimately, it's about the desires of the heart and how God wants to change and use them for His glory.
A lot has happened to me in my professional writing career. I've had some terrific highs and some bottomless-pit lows, and I've learned that, in this business, persistence is far more important than talent. Even more important is doing what God has called me to do, no matter the outcome, which is why I now write Christian fiction. Recently, I came across some verses in the Book of Acts that spoke to me about my writing:
Acts 18:23 says, "... Paul went back to Galatia and Phrygia, visiting all the believers, encouraging them and helping them to grow in the Lord." In Acts 20:28, Paul says, "And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock -- his church, purchased with his blood -- over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders [and others as writers of Christian fiction]."
Paul encouraged the believers and helped them to grow in the Lord. Then he told others to feed and shepherd God's flock. I'm a writer who is called to create fiction about and for the body of Christ, and my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus.
I'm so grateful that God has allowed me to write my stories and am humbled by the way He sometimes uses them. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to write another 50 before He calls me home.
I hope readers will enjoy A Carol for Christmas and have their hearts attuned to the Reason for the Season throughout the holidays.
In the grip of His grace,
Robin Lee Hatcher
http://www.robinleehatcher.com/
Write Thinking bog @ http://robinlee.typepad.com/
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 12:33 PM  
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do you ever have those moments when you look at somebody and you know something’s different, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Glasses? No. Haircut? No. New makeup? Dye job?

Well, in case you’re feeling that way right now while reading this blog, let me set the record straight. We have changed our blog. For one thing, on the left side we’re fighting over a box of DeBrand’s chocolates. Now that’s nothing new, but you’ve never actually “seen” us do it before. We’ve only talked about it. Now we’re on record. By the way, I might point out that Colleen and I seem to be winning the tug of war. Side note: Never come between a boomer and her box of chocolates.

More importantly, we’ve kissed the pink goodbye and settled in to a nice blood red and midnight black. What with the fighting over chocolate thing and Colleen's knife fetish, those colors just seem to fit us better, don't you think?

Special thanks to Susie at Bluebird Blogs for all her hard work to give Girls Write Out a new look!

Now, we want to hear from you. What do you think of the new site?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 3:00 AM  
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I am SO sick of seeing people in their underwear on TV. Yeah, yeah, they have great bodies, big stinkin' deal, isn't that what they're paid for? The cover of Us had "HOW DID BRITNEY LOSE THE WEIGHT?" Um, let me take a stab at this, she's TWENTY-SOMETHING? Anyway, regarding all the undressing people on TV... maybe, just maybe, they should save it for someone who actually matters to them, rather than thrust it upon the whole of humanity. Just an idea. Where did the line blur between guys wanting men to think their wife was hot to here, let me SHOW you how hot my wife is! Have we heard the word, oversharing?

I'm watching the first season of "Gray's Anatomy", which I love, but I have to tell you, I know a lot of doctors. And no offense to my MD friends, but doctors are way boring! Boring is the wrong word, they're interesting people, but they're very clinical in nature and really, not inclined to ripping their clothes off in public. I've known some of my doctor friends since high school, and not once, have I ever seen a one of them in their underwear. Nor do I want to. Watching Gray's, one would think they're popping viagra in back rooms, and they have to break to actually treat a patient.

This morning I watched "Desperate Housewives", which I cannot STAND anymore. That show is obscene and whoever writes it, HATES women because women are not that conniving, rude or cruel -- and every single character is that way. Get a new theme, you misogynist! Besides, how many murders are going to happen on one street before it gets hard to believe -- oh wait, we past that point in the first season. Do you know ANY woman who would push out a divorce and sleep with a man to get part of his new $2 million contract? Please, if she's done with him, she's done. It's not even reasonable. I'm done with that show. The lack of clothing notwithstanding. I can put up with underwear if the writing is decent. That's what Tivo is for.

But back to underwear and why it messes with my world. It's a well-documented fact that people emulate what they see on TV. So America gets it into their head, that they too, have washboard abs, boy hips and Victoria's Secret chests and more importantly, that we want it displayed prominantly in public. People, moms in low-rise jeans, office workers in low-rise jeans share far too much information with mere acquaintances. America, join with me now and look closely into your mirrors. Yes, you're fabulous, but you are not Angelina Jolie nor Jennifer Aniston, so leave your clothes ON. Actually, Jen and Angelina, if you're listening, you should put your clothes on too, it's doing nothing for you in the men department. Brad Pitt? He's prettier than you are!
Just a few fun facts for what the kids call us "real" people in this TMI style:
Chowdogs -- when the buttocks escape low-rise jeans while wearing a thong.
GLH -- girl love handles
pansa -- Spanish slang for belly fat
overhang, flabalanche or muffintop -- the fat that hangs over your pants

This has been a public service message. Hollywood, you need to WRITE well, not simply undress.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 3:30 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.

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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