Girls Write Out
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Normally I try not to go for a sappy post, but I just can’t help myself. Okay, okay, I hear you groan and your eyeballs are rolling back in your heads, but bear with me.

As you all know I’ve been struggling through some health issues since June. We’re still unclear on an absolute diagnosis, (currently, we think it’s B Cell Lymphoma) but we’re getting there. Some people know about my health issues, some don’t. Word of mouth has reached a few, but I’ve never really announced it anywhere but here.

Okay, so I go to the conference, and the support, words of encouragement, hugs, prayers, cards, you name it, have totally blown me away. When Hot Tropics was announced as the first place winner for the lit category, as THRILLED as I was with winning, the absolute best part of it all was the support I received as people stood up and hugged me as I made my way to the stage and back. Unbelievable. That touched me in a way that I will never forget.

The thing is God knew I needed a positive in my life right now, and you, my friends, graciously offered it to me.

Please don’t think this post is all about me. It's actually all about YOU. Because you never know how much your smile, your hugs, your words of encouragement can help someone else, whether you know they’re in need or not.

I thank God for you and pray that I can “pay it forward” to others the way you have blessed me.
Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Being a writer allows you to enter into worlds that you question. I'm fascinated by what leads a woman into abusive situations. What keeps her there? When Mary Winkler killed her pastor husband, I was mesmerized. What would lead a woman to do this? Was she crazy? Was he abusive? Did she just snap? What made her snap? Those questions are what leads an author to a story idea. For one thing, if he was abusive and he was raised by his parents, that's who is raising her kids now, and that scares the daylights out of me. If she was abused, her action of killing did not stop the abuse -- it only perpetuated it. But seriously...a divorce would have kept him from being a pastor. Not his abuse, but definitely the divorce. What is it with the church that they can't get off divorce as the ugliest sin? Sheesh, you can have four abortions, sleep with every man in Texas before you're married and it's all you and God's little secret -- but get a divorce and the church is going to tell you girl about your sin.

What bothers me most about Mary Winkler's story is not that it happened, but that the church is always so quick to deny abuse. Would the church have listened to her? Would they have told her she was crazy and needed to submit more? Doing the research for the Trophy Wives' Club, the stories of abuse in the church are everywhere. Why do we deny that this exists? And if the man truly is the head of the household, why do we hold the women responsible when the marriage breaks up? Is it because the women generally stay in the church?

Could we be doing more in the church to take this matter seriously? How can we take the stigma away from divorce and slap it on abuse? Abuse is shameful. Women are ashamed to admit it. Abusers tell them they're lucky to have the life they have. Where does the truth lie?

If Christians are abusing those they've vowed to love, the truth is not in them. That is why this situation needs to be addressed. If we have not love for our fellow man/woman, we are but clanging gongs and the truth is not in us.

So if I head to murder in my stories, you'll know why now. This is not a new concept unfortunately. Sin is nothing new. "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" by Thomas Hardy. The church was quick to blame the victim of a rape and let her child bear the brunt of her "sins". Copyright 1891. So much for evolution. Kristin


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okay, you really can't tell in these pics, but I've been taking myself in hand. Style, I want some style! I redid my hair so it's a little flippy on the ends, I've lost a little weight, I joined Missus Smarty Pants to find out what I looked good in. (Who knew that hips are best camouflaged by jackets that end at the TOP of the hip???)

Anyway, the big night is the award night. Me and Di are up for the Book of the Year in our categories. We, um, want to hide our bulges as best we can. Okay, I have bulges while Di doesn't but still. We went shopping the week before the conference and I excitedly told her about the Spanx someone on the blog told me about. We bought some even though THEY WERE SIXTY DOLLARS!

For sixty dollars, don't you think they would have made us look svelte and beautiful? Our first clue should have been getting into them. Di discreetly managed to get hers on with no problem while I huffed and puffed and perspired for fifteen minutes to get them up over my thighs. I got the thigh shaper ones and I should have known THAT was a lost cause.

Now for the BIG news of the night. Drum roll, please. MY DAUGHTER GOT ENGAGED ON AWARD NIGHT!!! Big ring and all. Hawaii, here we come!

Now down to business. What do you think of the cover of Anathema? What does it make you think it's about? When do you think it's set-historical or contemporary?
Colleen Coble  
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Monday, September 24, 2007
Whew! Colleen, Diann, and I are fresh back from the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. So, if you noticed it was a little quiet last week, that was why.

It was awesome to connect with people from Thomas Nelson: Allen Arnold, Jennifer Deshler, and Natalie Hanemann. I'm so proud to be part of a wonderful publishing family and kept wondering how in the world they found so many sweet people for their organization. Allen and Jennifer presented a session that turned out to be the most valuable part of the conference for me, learning-wise.

Another terrific part of the conference was chatting with some of the GWO family. I enjoyed talking with Katy and Ane and Rachel--who did a fabulous job leading worship for the conference! Dianne Burnett from was there and it was great to meet her in person. Talk about a woman who's committed to Christian fiction!

At last year's conference, Colleen, Kristin, Diann, and I had so many commitments we hardly had any time to chat. This year we guarded our time more carefully and had lots of time to sit around and giggle and cry and giggle until we cried. What fun! The only thing missing was Kristin, and we missed her terribly!

The hightlight of the conference is always the awards ceremony for Book of the Year and this year our Colleen Coble and Diann Hunt both took first place in their categories! I'm so proud of them and happy that God chose to bless them in this way.

I had so much fun, I that it'll be another year before we get to go back. But if next year is like last year, it'll be here before we all know it.
Denise Hunter  
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Friday, September 21, 2007
So everyone's gone. I have the run of the blog. I'm going to post again, not because I have something to say, but because I have no one to say it to. The girls are at ACFW in Dallas.

First subject: Environmentalists. Really, it's impossible to be an environmentalist if you're going to live an elitist life. Yet, who do we have preaching to us? Al Gore. How big is his house? Is it on the grid? I mean, if you live in an 8000 square foot house, you already use three times the energy of your average family, so it's annoying he's preaching at us. Not to mention his use of a private jet. Show of hands, how many of you have ever been on one?

There are environmentalists I respect. And I respect the cause. I would love to turn my fixer upper into a house off the grid. Solar panels would be great -- but right now, I have to just deal with plumbing issues -- I'm environmental in that I recycle this old house. Incidentally, Larry Hagman (JR) lives in a huge house, and he is totally off the grid, sells to the grid, and supports poor families to do the same. THAT is putting your life where your mouth is.

Next subject: OJ Simpson. Okay, first off, he is so guilty of killing his wife, and if you don't think so, I suggest you go revisit the trial now that we know what DNA is. His, Nicole's and Ron Goldman's were everywhere -- there's an absolute trail. And I think it's so sad that race came into that trial -- though I do realize it's a real issue in the world. Okay, but that's not what I want to talk about. I watched him walk out of court and I visibly gasped. His girlfriend is a dead ringer (no pun intended) to Nicole Brown. And I'm sorry, but even if you thought the man was innocent, do you really want a man who wants the same cookie cutter "type"? That is trademark for an abuser. Nicole and Ron Goldman, may you rest in peace.

Oh and I had lunch with a friend who brought me a new purse (yellow fake Tod's) from China. I have a new supplier. I so love my friends. : ) Kristin
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Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Look of Love

One of my guilty pleasures is Dr. 90210. The show can be pretty raunchy and I'm a prude, so I forward a lot of it. But I love watching the interactions between the extreme personality types. And seriously, LA is weird even for us San Francisco Bay natives.

So there was a big, Mexican man who was having some kind of "private" surgery (I didn't want the description, too voyeuristic) Anyway, his wind pipe collapsed on the table, so they had to stop the surgery and reschedule in the hospital. When he awoke, the heartbreak in his eyes, when he found out it wasn't over, was painful. His wife (big Mexican woman) came in and he told her was sorry and you could see, she didn't care, she was so happy he was alive. The love between them. The sacrificial, I-want-what's-best-for-you, look in their eyes was enough to make Elizabeth Bennet jealous.

Next scene: Gorgeous, young doctor and his mother at lunch. He's 34. It's time to get serious. He's going to ask his girlfriend to move across the country and move in with him. Dang! That is serious! Next thing you know, he's going to commit to a two year CELL phone plan! His mother says, "Would you throw yourself in front of a truck for her?"

"What, like a big truck?"
"No a Tonka you idiot." But his mother doesn't say that, she just looks at him like he's a foreigner she couldn't have raised. Incidentally, to my own boys, I will say this!

So the girlfriend flies out to LA and this guy can't even force a direct question. He can't even give that much of himself. He says something akin to, "So would you like to live on the west coast?"

She fingers her wine glass, "Are you asking me to move in with you?"
"Would you like to live in LA?"
Okay, by now, I so want to slap her for being so stupid. But she's not ready to marry either, and so beauty queen from the east says, "Yeah, I'd like to live here."
And so, in that very romantic show of passive-aggressive behavior with nothing actually said, they have decided to move in together.

He takes her to dinner in an Aquarium. Why? You ask. Why did one of the doctors take a date to sushi that you eat off a model? I don't know, it's LA, and they have a gift for the ridiculous. She's worried he's going to ask the big question. She doesn't want to hear it. In the end, he's only giving her a trinket bracelet -- think of it as a dog collar to imply psuedo-ownership.

Then...then we have the big question. He searches her eyes, takes her hand and asks, "Would you throw yourself in front of a truck for me?"

There's a few of us right now who would like to throw you under it. Anyhow, the beautiful couple hasn't a clue about love because they can't give anything of themselves. True beauty is found in the big Mexican couple. : )
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I said I was immune. I'm not a TV person, I'm a novel reader. But I'm hooked, okay? I started watching the teaser shows leading up to THE BIGGEST LOSER, then the opening show. With the leftovers being sent home. I felt so bad for them! I was griping about why the producers would do something so cruel. Then when Jillian rode up on her bike, I was cheering for the new Black Team.

I'm officially hooked on a reality show. And it's really inspired me! I've been walking with hand weights, than to Nelson editor Amanda Bostic, and I've lost 9 pounds in three weeks. Of course I would like to have had a 30 pound weight loss the first week like Jerry on the blue team. But I'll take it. Even better, I'm getting to where I LIKE exercise. I'm in shock. LOL

Here's how bad it's gotten. I packed my weights to take to the conference. I'm a sick puppy. Any of you watching the show? I'm rooting for Jerry to win. He's got the best attitude and he's old like me. LOL
Colleen Coble  
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Can we just talk a minute? My family watches TV together, as I imagine most do. To say our commercials are getting a little--uh--frank, is something of an understatement. Between feminine product commercials and certain male medications, it's getting a little embarrasing to watch TV together.

Do we really need to see feminine products riding rollercoasters, withstanding a forceful spray of blue water, being put through a rigorous gymnastic routine? "What's that for, Mom?" Not exactly the way I wanted to initiate the talk with my eight-year old.

Do we need to see E.D. commercials that warn of--uh--certain side effects? I gotta say, as the only female sitting in a living room of males, it can get a little uncomfortable. "Mom, what's erectile dysfunction?" These commercials run continuously during sporting events.

Preparation H, Gas X, Summer's Eve . . . the list goes on. Hey, I know they have to sell their products, make a living. But is it too much to ask for a little tact?

Denise Hunter  
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Monday, September 17, 2007

First off, I have to share the news that we have another grandchild!! Whoohooo!!! Our youngest granddaughter arrived on Thursday. We now have five granddaughters and one grandson. Pray for the grandson. He’ll need it! *g*

Okay, now I have to tell you something and you just won’t believe this. Colleen met up with me on Friday so we could go shopping for the conference and specifically the Awards Banquet. We tried on different glittery type tops and by the time we finished our shopping, we were covered with glitter. There was just no way to get around that. Those little sparklies stuck to me like flies on butter.

We brushed them off as best we could, headed for lunch and then over to my first appointment with the oncologist. All right, so while he was examining me he said matter-of-factly, “You have glitter on you.” With his quick observation, I felt confident that I’d picked a good doctor.

I told him about our little shopping escapade. He told us that the building was having an open house, complete with news reporters, and he hoped he didn’t get any sparkles on him because his colleagues would think he was trying to steal the limelight. *g*

We laughed and he finished his examination. Then I sat in my little chair while he sat in his and gave me his advice about my condition. I tried to listen. I really did. Thankfully, Colleen was there to take notes for me, because it was like this. The man had a sparkly smack dab between his eyebrows. For the life of me I could NOT look away from it. I tried to focus on what he was saying, I really did. I noticed his lips were moving, but that doggone glitter kept pulling me back. Laughter mounted in my stomach, and I knew if I didn’t get out of there fast, I was gonna blow.

Fortunately for me, he didn’t talk much longer, and I was able to save the explosion for after he left, but I still laugh when I think about it. Colleen said it could only happen to me.

Say it isn’t so. Crazy things happen to you, too, right?

Diann Hunt  
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Thursday, September 13, 2007
The church lights are dim. Light music plays as the bridemaids sashay down the aisle. Suddenly the music changes to something that has Bow Wow in the lyrics (wish I could figure out that song!) and down the aisle comes the ringbearer--a dog dresssed in a tux.

Yep, it's true. My cousin got married last Saturday and I saw with my own eyes a wedding like this. Just like at the end of my book INTO THE DEEP. When I wrote that scene three years ago, I thought "no one will swallow that this would really happen." Now here we are in 2007 and there are stores that sell dog wedding clothing.

My son and new daughter are thinking about getting a newfoundland. My daughter is a huge dog lover (especially of her lovely Golden Retriever Parker) and owns See Spot Clean in Goodyear Arizona. I'm a huge dog lover. But I never thought I'd really see something like this. The entire assembly was laughing. It was the cutest thing! Pets are important to us.

Denise has a wonderful Golden named Daisy. She always has a smile on her face. I could see her in a wedding dress. Maybe we'll marry her to Parker. Wouldn't that be a sight to see? You're all invited. LOL

And speaking of Daisy, please pray for her! Denise is afraid she might have gotten into rat poison on the barn. She's been treated and we pray she'll be okay. After all--she has a wedding to plan!
Colleen Coble  
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Hurry, hurry!" I call to the kids as we exit the car. The youngest dawdles too long, gathering his book bag. "Shut the door!"

I usher them all toward the house. "Hurry in!" Finally we're all inside and I shut the door as my oldest child's heel crosses the threshold.

No, we're not dashing through a downpour, we're dashing through the hordes of mosquitos that have invaded our area. And I do mean invaded. Upon stepping outside, they swarm upon you like you're the only warm blooded beast in a hundred miles.

I looked at our dog the other day and 15 or 20 mosquitos were hovering around her. Every time I pull up the driveway, I expect to see her passed out from blood loss. But so far, so good.

It's like a modern day plague. They're in the car, in the house. You wake up with bites you didn't go to bed with. Heck with "The Birds" and "The Killer Bees". I'm really wondering why somebody didn't script a horror movie featuring mosquitos, cause I gotta say. They're sure giving me nightmares.
Denise Hunter  
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I watched a movie tonight with a southern setting, timeframe of the ‘60s. The women wore gloves and hats. One character was cleaning house in a nice dress and—are you ready for this—heels.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t even wear shoes most of the time in my house. The only gloves I wear are Latex—when I clean the toilet. The only hats I wear are—well, okay, I don’t wear any.

But here’s a deep dark secret I’ve never shared with anyone before. You won’t repeat it, right?

I love hats. I’m not talking red hats. But an assortment works for me, big, little, fat, fluffy, feathers—well, maybe not feathers. I’m not exactly Carmen Miranda material (I’d rather eat my fruit than wear it), but I could go for a classy hat. It’s a shame no one wears them around here--unless we’re at a baseball game.

Just one time I’d like to go out for high tea and dress up with gloves, hats, the whole bit. I know you find that amazing coming from me. I mean, all I care about is chocolate, right? And well, we all know I can’t eat M&Ms with gloves on. Contrary to popular belief, they DO melt in your hands.

Still, it would be fun to dress up to the nines. Maybe even sport one of those snazzy purses like Kristin buys.

Am I the only one who secretly likes hats?
Diann Hunt  
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Monday, September 10, 2007

My friend Maria took me out to lunch for my birthday last week. And she had a cheap purse. She was dressed magnificently, like she always is, but she had a cheap purse and she apologized for it. That made me feel badly because I'm the type of person who notices and she felt like she had to apologize. It's not like I judge her, but to me, holding a handbag that isn't like buttah leather...well, it''s a travesty and I feel pained. If the carpetbaggers could promise 40 Acres and a mule, I'd promise well-crafted Italian leather and shoes with great architecture for everyone.

I did not grow up rich. No one taught me about the finer things in life. It was ingrained in me and I cannot help it. My surroundings are like a pulse. I feel it. And it dawned on me, so does Scarlett. I'm Scarlett! And who wants to be Scarlett? She's a complete brat! But could she help it? Like when she's in the hospital with Dr. Mead, and she has to run out because she can't see any more death, she can't nurse any more sickness -- I totally get that! It's not a trait she's proud of. She can see that Melanie does it without complaining, so what's wrong with her?

My weeks are filled with waiting on people. I am a constant bus driver and fry cook. I have a choreographed day where I drop kids off with packed lunches, pick them up and feed them again, help them with homework, get them clean, pick up all the clothes they shed outside the shower, wash them, get them dinner and get them to bed -- and the next day, I do it all over again. And so does every other mother, but they don't whine about it. They seem to relish it and find joy in their accomplishments.

I'm thinking to myself, when can I escape to LA with my agent and do some brainstorming and retail therapy at the mother ship (South Coast Plaza)? Why can other people be happy with Lee Jeans instead of Booty Fit Joe's Jeans? I tried to find a cheap purse the other day. I walked around in Macy's for twenty minutes with one on my shoulder thinking, I can do this...I can do this...I'm not special. I read in Oprah that 50% of women won't spend over $50 on a handbag. Why can't I just be normal? I can do this...yeah, but I couldn't.

I left the mall with a luscious, buttery winter-white Dooney and Bourke bucket bag with this great nautical navy/white/red wallet. In my defense, it was my birthday and I'm just not one of the 50%. I wish there was a Bible verse that said work out your salvation with a fear of bad leather. Beth, Maria and I are so there!
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

"What are you going to make for Food and Friends?" I ask Kevin as we walk through the mall.

"I don't know."

He's been stressing over this since our last Food and Friends, a get-together we have with two other families. We take turns hosting, have a fabulous evening, the men do the cooking, and boy can they cook! What's not to like about that?

"It's not about the food, you know," I assure him. "It's about the friends."

"Oh yeah? How come it's 'Food and Friends'? Notice how the 'Food' comes first."

"Denny named it. It's his fault."

"See, it's about the food. Especially the meat. I can't grill out hamburgers again."

"Let's just change the name. When we host, we'll call it Friends and Food. There, does that take the pressure off?"

"No. I still don't know what to cook."

I volunteered to do the cooking, but that whole male conquer thing has already kicked in. He still doesn't know what he's making but whatever it is, I can guarantee the Food will pale in comparison to the Friends no matter how good it is. And that's the way it's supposed to be.
Denise Hunter  
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One word: Flaxseed. It's changing my world.

Remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding? How the guy used Windex to solve everything but world peace? That’s me with the Flaxseed thing. Yes, you heard it first. Diann Hunt is getting into health and nutrition.

It’s true. I sprinkle Flaxseed on everything: toast, meatloaf, vegetables, chocolate, ice cream. Everything.

And here’s the real clincher. It helps with hot flashes. Is that not amazing? Not only that but this little wonder seed is also great for—are you ready for this—facials. However, I don’t know if any scientific tests have been done on that one, so you might want to wait. If I start sprouting little things on my face, I’ll let you know. They are seeds, after all.

Need I point out that my protagonist is into flaxseed? Uses it for everything. She’s such a copy cat. I can’t do anything without her spying, picking and choosing for herself. She drives me crazy.

So, there you have it. Flaxseed. The wonder drug. The health food that makes chocolate good for me—well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Diann Hunt  
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

If the day should ever come when God asks me to speak -- and I'm like Moses here, I'd need a brother -- my mouth runs faster than my brain. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, if I ever speak, it's going to be on the dangers of legalism. I cannot tell you how much legalism gets to me. What is the point of legalism? It crushes spirits, it twists Scripture and no one is really better for it in the end.

There are so many speakers out there, telling followers THIS is what God is saying here, and I'm telling you, the Scripture is totally muddied with their own ridiculous interpretations. Well, by my view. I'm not saying it isn't right for them, just that it isn't right for everyone. The Gospel is right for everyone -- where you fall on the drinking/no drinking, women working/not working thing is really open for interpretation. IF God is speaking to you about something, don't do it. But please, don't try to justify it that if anyone else does it, it's a sin.

There are so many well-meaning Bible teachers out there, beating up the people of God with lies like if you're sick, it's because of sin. Hello? We all have sin, and we're not all something might be wrong with that theory.

Legalists talk endlessly about grace, while they beat the crap out of you with Scripture thrown at you without compassion. They might argue they're doing it in love, but people know when they're being loved. It doesn't take a doctorate in theology to figure out the love of the Holy Spirit vs. rules. My other complaint with legalists is that they're always worried about what I'm doing. Or their neighbor's doing. They never seem all that concerned about their own sin, but wow, can they point out someone else's.

A friend gave another friend a book on Biblical correctness for the woman. In the book, it stated that when a man doesn't work, the woman should not go out and seek work, but let the man get hungry so he'll work for his family. Okay, I could go into how that is manipulative and not really being a partner in love, but I won't. This woman who gave my friend the book, well, her husband got laid off and he wasn't really looking for any job than the one he wanted. And guess what? She went to work when he didn't. Do I fault her for that? Absolutely not. I'm only saying, legalism always sounds good in theory, it's the practical nature of it that gets in the way.
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Here's the setup. I'm on my way home from Lowe's at Marion with my husband on Friday. He had a four day weekend. Diann calls (she's the email police and I'd forgotten to let her know I would be away from my computer.)

Me: Di, I got a dishwasher.

Di: Oh that's nice.

Me: No, you don't get it. I got a DISHWASHER. It was the first thing (after the water softener) Dave said he'd put in the house after we bought it. We've been there 10 years with no dishwasher and I finally got one!

Di: You've been washing dishes for ten years by hand? YOU, A FAMOUS AUTHOR?

Me: Yep.

Amazing isn't it? These hands that type out scenes where people die are also used for the mundane task of washing dishes. LOL Now mind you, that dishwasher is sitting in my garage until Dave gets it in (he's started the process so I expect him to finish it tonight) but the knowledge that I actually HAVE one keeps surprising me. I have a dishwasher. I have a dishwasher. I HAVE A DISHWASHER!!

The excitement of it may carry me right through this next book I'm writing and get it written in record time. LOL But now I need some advice. You who have been lucky enough to stay atop the advances in dishwashing science, what's the best dishwasher soap?
Colleen Coble  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

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

Denise Hunter

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

Diann Hunt

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

Hannah Alexander

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

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