Friday, June 27, 2008
I need your help!
My publisher wants to test two covers for Sweetwater Gap, my Women of Faith book releasing in January.
So, friends, which book would you buy? Honest opinions only, please, and if you wouldn't buy either, tell me that too.
Click on the cover to enlarge.
posted at 1:58 PM
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Conference! Whoohooo!!! I would echo everything Colleen said about the conference experience.
Not only can we gather with other writers and learn more about our craft, but we can also deepen our friendship with sisters in Christ. We laugh, learn, eat, worship and pray together. Conference is a place to make memories.
Like the time when:
--Colleen pitched my book for me because I was too shy to talk about it (you find that hard to believe, right?)
--A woman went on and on about how great my book was and it was Denise's.
--I ordered calamari thinking it was noodles and Kristin gave it to me straight--then explained to the server so I could reorder something normal.
--Robin Lee Hatcher, Gayle Roper, and others walked into the room and I was totally star struck.
--Karen Ball made us laugh till we hurt when she talked about the goldfish (who will ever forget that one?) .
The learning, the worship, the fun, the food, it is all awesome. You'll meet friends with whom you can share your best (and worst) writing and they'll love you anyway.
Trust me, I know this. When I battled an illness this past year, many of my conference friends sent cards, emails, chocolates, gifts, and prayers my way. Shoot, Colleen even gave me an extra shot of morphine! Only a conference friend would do that! *g*
You see, it's more than just a conference. It's life changing--usually in ways you'd never imagine.
So share a conference memory, break out the chocolate and start packing!!!
posted at 9:49 PM
Obama says we are a post-Christian nation. Okay, whatever. I won't get into politics, but this nation's Constitution was still founded on Biblical laws. You know what I think is the worst of this? There is no personal responsibility anymore. Today, the Supreme Court ruled that rape of a child wasn't a death penalty crime. Um, that's not what the Old Testament says. But here's my concern, without personal responsibility (consequences) there is no incentive to not do something again. If your teenager stole money out of your purse, would you say, "Oh, it's no problem. Did you like what you were able to buy?" And then, NOT expect him to do it again?
Today, I heard an ad for a credit card debt company and they said, "Do you have more than $10,000 in unsecured credit card debt? If so, it's not your fault." Well, it sorta is. As a college student, I racked up $4k in credit card debt -- but I was still driving a Mustang Convertible. That was a CHOICE! Perhaps not the brightest one, but I took responsibility for the debt. Once I learned that the credit card companies are not your friend.
I'm not without a heart, I think it's wrong, wrong that people can lose their homes to pay for a child's illness, and I think what the mortgage companies did with these outlandish loans to people who didn't understand them is unconscionable. But as oil prices rise because greedy investors invest in "oil futures", and our congress did not regulate this system, I am getting really tired of the world pointing the finger at someone else. I am getting really tired of politicians tickling our ears rather than being men (or women) of honor and doing the right thing. Yes, free health care for everyone SOUNDS great, but if you'd tried to get your son's broken arm fixed at a hospital that is flooded with illegal immigrants, which your taxes are paying for, you might be less enthusiastic.
We had a contractor here doing some work, and when I talked to the working men and how difficult it was for them to make ends meet. For their wives to stay home and care for the babies, my heart just cringed. These guys are working 12 hours a day, trying to make ends meet and they're barely making a living wage, but honestly, the rich people are getting soaked with taxes, and so they aren't hiring as much and these men are out of work.
The responsible people are paying the price for this lack of responsibility and it's a system that cannot withstand. When my DH was making the big bucks, do you know we found it was cheaper for him NOT to work because we paid so much taxes? We could actually save more, and keep more of our money by getting out of the system. That is NOT God's design. And isn't it interesting that Satan can use the world's heart to make Christians sound heartless and the do-gooders spending your money generous? We don't care about the poor? Look at the world and see who is there when troubles come. It's not a government. It's Christians taking responsibility. Okay, rant over.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The next few months will be a busy time for the "Girls" as we get ready to go to Orlando for a conference for published authors, then in September comes our favorite time--the ACFW conference. It's open for registration now, and if you've been thinking about going, quit thinking and just DO IT.
If you're thinking about going, I'm going to give you some advice. Remember the editors and agents put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. They sleep in cat pajamas and wear fuzzy slippers. They have bad hair days. And they get TIRED, worn to the bone, at conferences. Go to the conference with a servant's heart. Forget about yourself and what you think you can or can't do. It's just like church really. Sometimes we don't feel like going but someone there just might need the smile we send their way or the encouragement we can offer. It's not all about me. Or you. Really. It's about being part of something bigger. It's being part of the body and leaning down to help someone up that next rung. It's about running after coffee or a bottle of water for that weary editor. It's about babysitting for an editor while she talks to your friend. (This happened at one ACFW conference by Nanny Diann.)
There's something so energizing and fulfilling about serving. So tune your attention outward and forget about yourself. You never know what God is going to do with the little loaves and fishes you give Him. He might arrange for you to get that five minutes with an editor you wouldn't have had. He might bring the perfect friends to you (I met Kristin at a conference first) and the rest of us bonded tighter than superglue at the Mt Hermon conferences. The networking and friendships that are born at conference are enduring because no one else understands you like another writer, that weird slant you have on life.
This year the amazing Angie Hunt is our keynote. You will be so glad you came. Really. It just might change your life if you're brave enough to let it. Go EXPECTING the unexpected and see what God will do.
posted at 6:00 AM
Monday, June 23, 2008
When we were kids, it was milk and cookies, but now that we're grown ups, our treats have changed haven't they? Those little endulgences that get us through the day. Okay, maybe not.
Even in these days of escalating gas prices, we haven't lost our need for a tangible reward. A pat on the back, a little item or service that says, "Hey, you work hard. Good job."
For me, it's my cinnamon latte, for Kristin it's a manicure, for Colleen, it's good coffee, and for Di it's . . . well, forgive me, Di, but Taster's Choice does not count. You'll have to come up with something else.
Some people have an occasional massage, others treat themselves to a game of golf (which incidentally, sounds too much like excercise to be a treat, but what do I know?)
So, gas is $4.00 a gallon, but we still need something don't we? What little luxury are you reluctant to give up? A monthly shopping spree? A weekly sitter for a few hours of sanity? Come on. You can tell us about the stash of expensive chocolates you're hiding in your cupboard. We won't tell a soul.
posted at 8:27 AM
Thursday, June 19, 2008
"Compani, sit down! Compani, shut up!"
I had a sixth grade teacher I just loved, but she used to say the above to me constantly. I saw her after I graduated from college and she yelled, "Compani How you doing?!" LOL (That was my maiden name, in case you hadn't figured that out.)
They didn't have fancy labels like "ADD" back then. You were just annoying and disruptive.
The new "Flipping Out" was on this week. Did anyone watch it? I LOOOVE Jeff Lewis. In fact, I married the straight version of Jeff Lewis. I watched the show with my husband this week, and it's so funny, he really doesn't see anything different about Jeff Lewis, who is OCD and probably OCPD to the nth degree. He has to have six waters in the fridge (labels out), 2 orange juices, 6 coffee creamers, etc. DH says things during the show like, "Poor guy. That woman is crazy. How's he supposed to deal with that? He's just quirky, that's all."
At least I know I'm annoying, you know? My teachers told me from early on. I cannot sit still, I'm always reading about 5 books, papers are scattered everywhere. I'd rather work than clean. I'm always running late. But I'm married to an OCD guy, so I have really had to curtail my annoyances when they bother others. And worse yet, try and teach my kids to overcome their natural sloppy lifestyles.
But I try, you know? So this week, we go out to lunch because the kids are at their grandparents -- so it's just me and the man. We should try romance, right?
DH is going to get a salad bar, and I say, "Could you not do that?"
"Because you'll have to go wash your hands, then you'll be gone to the salad bar, and it will take you an eternity to pick the right lettuce leaves, and I will spend lunch alone at the table."
Okay, here's his answer...wait for it...
"I already washed my hands at work before we left."
"PIck something else out."
But this presents another issue. Now he has to decide all over again. So though he's sitting there, he's studying the menu for what feels like an eternity to me. Sigh.
I'm annoying, and he's quirky. A marriage made in sitcom heaven. Is it any wonder I write humor?
Labels: Flipping Out, Jeff Lewis, OCD
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
There are two things that baffle me. One, when my husband says the EXACT thing that I was just going to say. And two, synchronicity. You know, it's like where writers write stories along the same ideas.
I kid you not, my husband and I can be out to dinner talking about one subject when another one will pop into my head. I'll open my mouth to say it and he will say it first! How does he do that? Where did he get that same random thought? It's scary, I'm telling you.
My daughter and I have this other weird thing happen. She'll call me when I'm just picking up the phone to call her or vice versa. Isn't that goofy?!
On the synchronicity thing, before I got published, I wanted to write a mail order bride story. I wrote up a proposal and sent it off to Barbour. They kindly informed me they had plenty of those stories and didn't need more. Okay, so hubby and I take a trip to Tennessee (we're from Indiana, remember). So while we're down there, we visit a bookstore and I pick up a Heartsong that deals with mail order brides. I buy the book. I start reading it and there were so many similarities to my story, I couldn't believe it. The author had never seen my story, and I had never seen hers, so what was the deal? Synchronicity. It happens.
But here's the really freaky part. The author (whom I didn't know at the time) was--drum roll, please--Denise Hunter!!! How weird is that?!!! Synchronicity.
Do either of these things happen to you? And what do you think about it all? I just think it's so amazing that we can know someone so well that we start to . . . think alike. My poor husband. *g*
posted at 7:28 AM
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I am a book snob. I realize now I've been one for some time, but it wasn’t until today that I finally admitted it. I went into Borders in search of a good novel and after much cover-gazing, page-flipping, and first-paragraph reading, I left empty handed.
For me, reading is more than entertainment. I’m fully aware that what I read bleeds into my own writing. I want the novels I read to influence my writing in a good way as much as I want to be carried away to another world for a few hours.
I didn’t leave with a novel today, but I did figure out what I’m looking for. For me the perfect novel would:
1. Have a compelling hook. Something in the back cover copy that intrigues me and makes me want to know more.
2. Have a love story. Doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of the book, but I want a romance thread in there somewhere.
3. Have great writing. I will settle for good writing if the story is a page-turner, but I do love a writer who has fresh observations or can say something old in a new way.
4. Be a contemporary set in the USA. I know, I know, I should broaden my horizons, but what can I say? I like the familiar.
5. Be clean! Foul language every other line? Random sex acts littering the pages? No thanks.
6. Be in 3rd person, preferably, unless it’s 1st person well done.
7. Show me some white space. On the page that is. What is with these authors who write page-long paragraphs? I don’t have the attention span for that and even if a book has nailed 1-6, I will not buy it if it’s too wordy. Bring on the dialogue!
8. Have a hopeful ending. True, I can’t know this until I read the book, but this will determine if I buy that author again. And no, I absolutely will not read the end first.
Hopefully, you’re not as picky as I am, but what does your perfect read look like?
posted at 7:00 AM
Monday, June 16, 2008
Hey, I just found a Diann Hunt fan club. Look here, friends!http://www.diannhuntfanclub.blogspot.com
posted at 1:27 PM
This morning was like any other. I watched a little Fox & Friends then got up to brush my teeth and shower. I rinsed my toothbrush then knocked it against the side of the bowl to shake off a bit of the water. I'd done this routine a hundred times, but this morning my toothbrush reacted differently. Now mind you, I've had this one several months. It's a tried and true Oral B. But when I struck it against the bowl, it came ALIVE.
I'm not kidding! It began to vibrate like an electric toothbrush. Shocked, I dropped it and stared. I could hear it vibrating against the counter. I told myself I had hit it in just the right spot and it was vibrating like a tuning fork. It would soon stop. It didn't. I have to admit I was just a little scared. LOL I finally got the nerve to pick it up but it felt alien in my hands. I ran water over it. Nothing. Still it vibrated. I somehow managed to be brave enough to actually brush my teeth with it. It felt rather good, actually. I rinsed it again and laid in on the towel. Still it vibrated. I took a shower and could hear it vibrating all through washing my hair. I got out, picked it up and looked at it. I was planning on calling Dave to talk to him about it. I was just nonplussed.
Then I saw the name on the Oral B. It was called PULSAR. And there was a little button (that I'd taken for decoration) on the front. I pressed it and the vibration stopped. LOL All these months and I didn't know I had a toothbrush that moved. Now you know what a total idiot I can be. LOL
posted at 8:21 AM
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Today, I went downtown to pay a speeding ticket—my first in 15 years. I decided to go with our “Deferment Program”, i.e. I’ll pay extra to keep this little incident off my record and promise to be a good girl for 12 months.
The voicemail tells me to go to 101 Superior St., so I find parking in a garage and walk to the building. Upon entering, I encounter security who asks me if I have a cell phone. Yes, I do. There are no electronic devices allowed in the building. I must take my phone back to my car and return.
It’s hot and humid, I’m wearing black pants, and my car is a block away, but I sigh and do as told.
I return, make it through security, and approach the window. What do you know? There’s no line—it’s my lucky day.
The man looks at my ticket.
“You have to take this to the City County Building,” he says.
“But the recording said—”
“The recording is wrong. Our mistake.”
I sigh again, walk two blocks and reach the right office. I sign the paper promising to be a good girl and take out my cash (Cash or money order only, and I am prepared).
“Oh, you don’t pay here,” says the woman with the coiffed hair and brown lipstick. “You pay at 101 Superior St.”
“But I was just there.”
“Sorry,” she says with an evil smirk.
Did I mention it’s hot and humid?
I walk 2 blocks, go through security again and find there is now a long line at the window. I shake my head and promise myself I AM going to get a blog out of this. I wait for 15 minutes. The woman at the window takes my Good Girl form and I withdraw my cash.
“Oh, you don’t pay at this window. You pay at that one.” She points to the one next to me, the one with the long line.
Of course you do.
One line later, and I have paid my debt for my speeding infraction. I’m not sure if the government is incredibly inefficient or wickedly smart. All I know is, if I see flashing lights in my rearview mirror, I will run for the hills.
posted at 8:04 AM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
There's nothing worse than a phone call in the middle of the night, have you noticed? I got one of those last night. 1:15 a.m. the phone jerks me out of a sound sleep. I automatically think the worst: my mom's had another heart attack, Dave's mom is having another mini stroke, or his dad with Alzheimer's has wandered off. Blinking to clear my blurry vision, I glance at caller ID and breathe easier when I realize it's not a known number.
I manage to croak out a "Hello." This YOUNG voice, a female teenager, asks for Tyler. "There's no Tyler here," I say, preparing to hang up. But no. This chick has the AUDACITY to ARGUE with me at 1:15 in the morning! She goes, "Well, he gave me this number. It has to be right." Um did she think I was lying or what? I repeat my phone number to her. "Is that what you called?" I ask. "Yes," she says. "Well it's the wrong number. I don't know a Tyler."
"He has to be there," she insists.
By now, I've had it. "I don't know any Tyler," I say. She starts to argue some more but my patience is exhausted and I hang up on her. Shocking I know. But I couldn't believe this girl was arguing with me. What did she think was going on? I had Tyler hidden away and wouldn't let him come to the phone? If I'd been his mother, I would have said, "Sorry, he's not allowed to take calls this late." I wouldn't have denied his existence. What are girls learning these days? I'm flummoxed!
posted at 4:00 AM
Monday, June 09, 2008
Ack, it was my turn to blog. Ooops. Well, you'll forgive me because I survived a weekend camping!!! And I'm sending a picture where I'm in my pink cashmere sweater, that my girlfriend who shall remain nameless (Jackie!) took me out to coffee about two years ago to tell me it was time to retire it. But here it is!
What a week, I visited my agent and we took Karen Watson from Tyndale to Disneyland! It was packed, in the middle of the week, so we only did the important rides (Pirates, Matterhorn, Indiana Jones), but I left happy. I really respect Karen. Plus, she went to Disneyland and walked about a mile while I schlepped her through Downtown Disney to the Lego store. Dang, I'm annoying. Anyway, I'm heading into new territory with my work-in-progress, so I am so glad someone knows what they're doing!!
I camped with about sixty people from our kid's school and neighborhood, which was actually fun. We had a pot luck with Korean food, Indian Tandoori BBQ, etc. That's a REAL potluck. Most people rented a RV, but I want you all to know, I slept in an old, sorry tent. The saddest one on sight actually, and I had five kids in there and a husband. Fiona slept in the car curled in a little ball. Dang, she's cute. Next to Interlaken, Switzerland, I think Big Sur, CA is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth! So I don't have much to say today, but I am chatty. Did you know they make those little water packets with caffeine in them? Yeah, um, that's dangerous for some of us. Kristin
posted at 9:56 PM
Thursday, June 05, 2008
It's that time of year again. The birds are singing. The sun is shining. You've barely had your morning coffee and you're ready to hit the . . .
There are a lot of people who are garage sale fans. I know. You're the ones who run me off the road first thing in the morning. Yes, I've seen you. White knuckling the steering wheel with that crazed look in your eyes. You're looking for a sale, not just any sale, mind you. No, you're looking for that rare find. The one that gets your pulse up to the near danger mark, makes you sweat, and your fingers tingle. That one find that says, you, dear friend, are the Queen of Shoppers. Yes, you, and you alone, found that $150 Ralph Lauren blouse for--are you ready for this--$5. You are the Queen Bee.
And then those are the closet garage salers. You know who you are. You wait till the hubby's gone, the kids are busy or off to school. You close your drapes, grab your coffee and slide into your chair. Ever so quietly you click on the computer and anxiously await its starting up. Your pulse kicks into gear, fingers tingle just like your garage sale buddies and you break into a cold sweat as you type in the address for eBay.
We just can't pass up a good sale. I mean, never mind that I already have five brown blouses in my closet, surely I need one more to aggravate Colleen with, right? *g*
So what's your weakness--garage sales, eBay, Sam's Club, Christmas sales, what?
posted at 7:43 AM
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
In the Mood...
First off, In the Mood
is my favorite song EVER. I used it at the end of "What a Girl Wants" because I think it's the most fabulous, lift-you-up song EVER. Glenn Miller was a genius. So now, you have the soundtrack for my day. I'll be listening to it on the iPod on my way to DISNEYLAND!!! WOOOHOOO!! Disneyland is my favorite place to be. I know, that should stop somewhere around ten, but it never did for me. It's the happiest place on earth, people!
My new editor is flying into meet with my agent, so I'm flying in to meet with both of them! And you would think, well, she'll be grown up enough to have a real meeting. She won't ask that they go to Disneyland. BUT you would be WRONG!! I am just that childish! And how can I go to the OC without either Disneyland or the mother ship (South Coast Plaza).
My DH hates Disneyland, so last year, the kids and I went alone and he wasn't there to say NO! LOL We rented a Hummer and had the time of our lives. So here are the songs that make me absolutely come alive and forget my problems:
In the Mood (Weddings & Fun Times!
Oh Praise Him & Make A Joyful Noise by the David Crowder Band (The Beach, FUN family times, writing joys!)
The Great Adventure by Steven Curtis Chapman (Running to this album!)
Stand and Deliver by Adam & the Ants (I'm 16 again, trying to catch him on MTV! Where was YOUTUBE?)
What's the soundtrack to your life? What does it make you think of?
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
Good morning! I'm sitting here sipping my awesome Echo Espresso
World Blend coffee.
Graduations are taking place all over town here in my area. The country schools graduated last week, and the city schools go this week. Diann, Denise and I were driving to a booksigning at the Carpenter's Son in Lafayette, IN last Saturday. AWESOME store! We adore Vicky, Cliff and the gang. Anyway, on the way to the signing, I asked Denise to speak at the ACFW conference. Now if you know Denise, you know she hates speaking. I said, "What's the worst that could happen? That you make a fool of yourself? So what." In the shower this morning, I realized I have my growing up time to thank for not caring about making a fool of myself. I've done it so many times!
Like the time I got caught jumping up in the hallway trying to touch the bottom of a giant clock. I must have thought I was some kind of basketball whiz (NOT!) and didn't even come close. Or the time I asked my brother in front of his best friend what was going on with those two dogs. It looked like they were stuck together. Ahem. You should have seen the faces of both boys. But the embarrassing moments didn't stop with high school. There was also the time I was in the restroom at church and somehow my skirt got caught in the back in the waistband of my pantyhose. I went into the sanctuary like that until another woman came flying over and yanked it into place.
And it's not only long ago times. There's the recent incident involving morphine when Diann had her lung surgery! LOL And again I say, "So what?" We're all human. We can laugh at ourselves and go on. So what about you? Is there something you've been afraid to step out and do? What's the worst that can happen? Laughter is good like a medicine. If you're making a fool of yourself, at least you're making people healthier! LOL Share your dream or tell us YOUR most embarrassing moment.
posted at 8:10 AM
Monday, June 02, 2008
There’s nothing better than opening a book and being pulled in immediately. As a writer, I know the necessary ingredients to make that happen. But as a writer, I also know it’s not as easy as you might think.
Colleen, Di, and I were on a panel this weekend and we got on the subject of novel openings. Several years ago I read Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson and found it to be the most compelling opening I’ve ever read.
The heroine, who’s afraid of the dark, becomes trapped in a darkened elevator with a stranger, whom we later learn is the hero. The tension is downright delicious and goes on for many pages. You couldn’t have pried that book from my hands with a crowbar.
Every genre has its own style of opening and some are meant to start out with more subtlety than others, but they should all have us searching for answers and eager to flip to the next page.
Is there a book you couldn’t put down from page one? What opening was so compelling you remember it now, even if it’s been years since you read it?
posted at 9:59 AM