Girls Write Out
Thursday, July 30, 2009

I think a cell phone ring says a lot about a person. 

For me, I'm a fairly no-nonsense kind of a gal, so truly, I could get by with your basic, normal, boring ring. Well, okay, maybe not. My favorite ring tone is the song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Just listening to it makes me happy.

Another of my  favorite rings is when my hubby calls. It plays, "Mr. Postman" by the Carpenters. Remember that one? We lived two hours apart when we were dating, so we sent a lot of letters (snail mail, they called it. The kind with the stamp and all that, maybe you've heard of it?) So that song seems appropriate. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I always get wrapped up in the song when he calls and sometimes even miss answering it in time.

My daughter's ringtone when she calls me is always a happy tune and my son's has something to do with summer fun (he's a teacher). My husband even programmed my phone so that when extended family calls, it rings, "We Are Family."  How cool is that?

So tell me about your phone tones. And here's the fun part, what made you choose them?
Diann Hunt  
posted at 6:10 AM  
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For me, writing a book is like cooking in the Crock Pot. It has to stew and take its own sweet time for the flavor to come out. First, there's the process of getting the characters. Who are they? What do they want? What makes them unique? How are they weird? (That's my own special spice because I always tell my kids, you don't want to be normal. Normal is boring. Never is this more true than in a book!)

So Chapter 8 has been stewing for a long time. It's the turning point for my heroine. Where she changes her focus, where she decides on a different life. If you've ever left something in the Crock Pot for too long, it gets this nasty, gummy ring around the rim. That's the danger on stewing on something too long. So I got this new program (for me, Colleen and Angie Hunt have been using it for a year or so.) It's called, Scrivener and it's only available for the Mac, but it's amazing. I'm not much of a program user because I tend to be lame at user interface, but this one allows a writer (or screenplay writer) to separate their large documents in sections. But then, let's say you're deciding whether or not to add that carrot (paragraph), you can add it in another section, or put it into research with a photo and combine it all later. It's magically delicious!

I'm loving this because it allows me to go forward when one particular part of the recipe may still need to stew. You can check it out at

What tools did you find made a difference in your life?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Katie Sullivan. She's the heroine of The Lightkeeper's Bride. I learned some awesome stuff at a Michael Hauge seminar a couple of weeks ago. His proposes that true love happens in a novel when the hero and heroine connect on what he calls the "essence" level. He says a character's "identity" is the outward mask they project to cover over a wound they've had and the mask is their protection. And that when the hero sees past that identity to the inward person and loves THAT person, that makes for a more satisfying book.

Want to help me brainstorm? Katie is an operator for Central in 1907 northern California. She's known as the person in town who knows everyone and everything since she's the voice on the other end of the early telephones. She likes the control of KNOWING. I need to figure out what her wound is and what real person she is covering over with her need for control and knowledge. Maybe her real mother left her with her aunt to raise at the age of five and she thinks by knowing ahead of time what's happening, she can control the hurt. Maybe she missed a message from her little brother than he was going swimming and he drowned. See where I'm going with the wound thing?

So here's your chance to help me mold a novel. Any ideas? Any wounds you're carrying around you'd like to see in a book?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 3:02 AM  
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Sarah asked for a sneak peek of my October release, so here it is:

          Seaside Letters (Thomas Nelson)

         Sabrina Kincaid didn't intend to fall for Nantucket native Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning-a man tied to a past she deeply regrets. But she has. And she's fallen hard. But she's kept this a secret from her handsome customer. And now Tucker wants to hire Sabrina to help locate his friend "Sweetpea"-the mysterious woman he's falling in love with online.   

         Sabrina is not inclined to help, but if Tucker hires someone else, it could spell disaster. Because if someone else sifts through the emails and figures out the truth-then Tucker will discover that the person he's trying to find is . . . her.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 5:19 PM  
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

A blinding light wakens me. I open my eyes, shielding them from the glare. 
"What are you doing?" I whine/moan to my husband.
"I'm mad at you," Kevin says.
This must be a new record. I haven't even rubbed the sleep from my eyes and I've already done something wrong. I'm tired, want to go back to sleep, but I figure this isn't going away.  "What'd I do?" 
"You were mean. You were bad. I can't believe you did that."
Understanding dawns. "Are we talking about a dream here?" Good news. I can go back to sleep.
He narrows his eyes. "It was terrible. You were awful."
I'm not sure whether to defend myself, apologize, or hear him out. Then I see the steely glint in his eye. Listen it is. "Okay, okay. What'd I do?"
He sniffs indignantly. "I don't want to talk about it," he says, turning away. He's snubbing me. Over a dream. Ever the voice of reason, I point this out to him.
"Well, it felt real," he insists. 
As it turns out, it takes the whole day for us to get back on good terms. Turns out my dream self is irrational, evil, and slightly malicious. And no, I'm not wanting an interpretation here. 

PS On a brighter note, here's a sneak peak of my October release. 
Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:21 PM  
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Here are the winners I drew out of the hat, er box, for Lonestar Secrets

Mocha with Linda
Winter Peck
Joyce Riddle
Linda Wagner
Rhonda Mellon

Congratulations, girls!


Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:55 AM  
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When you have a mouth as big as mine, chances are, you're good at apologizing. Somewhere in my jumbled brain wires, the signals got mixed up so my brain says, "Talk first, think second!" This is also why I do well in California, where everyone is as weird as me, just in their own way. They're willing to accept my weirdness because they have their own issues.

I tend to stay quiet at potlucks and Christian conferences because chances are, I will get that look. You know the one, where people have a half-astonished, half-I-ate-a-cat look?

What do you do to cause that look? We all get foot-in-mouth disease. Some of us just get it more often than others. That's why we write. : ) If your mouth doesn't have an editor, your fingers do.
posted at 11:54 AM  
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Denise and I had a radio interview at WBCL yesterday morning. We LOVE Lynne Ford, our host. At one point, Lynne mentioned that I'm at a really great point right now: new granddaughter I'm crazy about, a career on the upswing with Cry in the Night on the CBA bestseller list for 4 mos so far this year, a new son-in-law, I had a great vacation, I just wrote my first historical in a while and it was so fun, AND I'VE LOST 25 POUNDS on the hcg protocol! Ahem, sorry but I had to put that in there. :-) I agreed with Lynne (she didn't know about ALL the good things) but also mentioned that this has also been one of the most difficult six months of my life. Dave's dad declined and finally died in April. I had to write two books during these six months and take care of nursing home details and finally bringing him home to die. The stress was crushing but God balanced it with so much good!

Aren't you glad God sends both rain and shine your way. If it were all good, we might become demanding or expectant of only good things. If it were all bad, we might become discouraged. But we get both if we actually look for them. So in spite of the hardships you're going through right now, what silver linings do you see in your own life?

So in order to pass along a blessing, I'm giving away five copies of Lonestar Secrets. Email me your address and I'll pick out five.

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:03 AM  
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

We live in a busy world, don't we? Busyness hasn't just become a way of life but something to aspire to.

"How are things going?" I hear someone ask a friend.

"Been busy. Worked 73 hours last week and 75 the week before that," Friend says, wearing his busyness like a badge of honor.

Smell the Roses is out and Early Bird Gets the Worm is in. We complain about it, stress about it, and brag about it. Still our busy schedules hold us hostage and we feel the need to tell everyone just how busy we are, passing on to them the notion that if their wheel isn't spinning crazily out of control (Look ma, no hands!) they're just not as successful, needed, or important.

Even Sunday isn't sacred anymore. It's a catch-up day for laundry, lawn maintenance, or errands that we couldn't quite cram into our week. Come on, people, even God took a break on day 7.

We can't even take a nap without justifying it with the title Power Nap. As if a nap in itself is a waste of time but for the added productivity afterward.

And hey, I'm speaking to myself here, but cutting back the schedule starts with a 2-letter word. NO. No, you can't play basketball and soccer. No, I can't make 4 dozen cookies for the PTL fundraiser. No, I'm sorry but I can't teach your 5th grader to write a novel.

I guess it all begins with priorities, but that's another blog.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:40 PM  
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

My five-year-old granddaughter has been staying with me this week. She lives out of town. She wanted a cousin to spend the night so I had another granddaughter over night before last. They played and giggled together. We made cookies, went on a walk, watched a movie, and so on.

Last night, the other girl cousins joined us. I had four granddaughters, ages 9, 7, 6 and 5 at my house. I took them to Cracker Barrel for dinner (smart, huh?), then we came home. They laughed, giggled, fought (yeah, I can't believe I'm admitting my grandkids aren't perfect), and watched TV. I even had them do a walking workout video with me--in hopes to wear them down. 

It didn't.

One would think I'd be totally inspired after spending this time with the kids. I love them to pieces! Love every moment I spend with them!  But the creativity thing--gone. 

You see, one has to have a live brain cell to gather some creativity and mine are all fast asleep. I don't expect to hear from them till winter.

To all you moms out there--especially in the summer--I salute you!!

Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:24 AM  
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When it Rains...

Silicon Valley is a tough place. People's expectations are high and nowhere is this more apparent than real estate. Especially because a crappy townhouse will set you back about $700k. So selling our house, with four kids after having it "staged" was hysterical. For one thing, they put out this box of popcorn and case of root beer, to make it look homey. Like, here, watch a movie. Well, these things tormented my children, especially when we'd run out of popcorn.

They did a fabulous job on the house, and we had two offers within ten days, so I'm grateful for that. But yesterday (inspections are tomorrow), a pipe broke under the driveway. Apparently, it's an old, unused sprinkler line that needs to be capped off, but first they need to find the hole. I'm glad it happened now, so it didn't look like we'd sold a heap of trouble. I fixed the heaps of trouble. But I find it's so hard to move onto the next thing, when the current thing continues to run amuck. Anyone else?

So pray that all goes well, will you? I'm ready to move on and the new owners are too. Here's the finished product after staging. No, I don't really live this way:
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm baaack! We were gone 16 days and it was too long to be gone from our Punky Grace. That's the reason I'm claiming for what happened when we got back to Indy. We knew the kids were going to meet us at our house, and our plane was late due to a fuel pump problem. Then we waited forever for the economy lot bus so by the time we got to the lot, we were both already impatient.

My first hint that we had a problem was when Dave said, "Do you remember where we parked the car?" What? He's asking ME, the girl who loses her car in the Walmart parking lot? I have to park in the same place there or I wander aimlessly for hours. I said, "Um I can't remember." He has this frown on his face that tells me he's hating how he can't remember either. I cautiously remind him that we realized we could have gotten on the bus on the other side so we're somewhere in the middle of our row. Big help that was. We get out at our shelter and begin to look. Here's the kicker. Neither of us can remember which vehicle we drove? Was it the car or the van. He has the van keys, he informs me, but he might have lost the others, he's not sure.

I call my Mother to ask what's parked in our driveway but my dad never went in that way with the mail so we're on our own. Well, except for dealing with their hysterical laughter. I stay with the luggage while Dave trudges through the lot. We thought it might be around C59 but the more I look the more I wonder if it's B something smaller. So when he gets back, I go off in another direction. Dave sees an Airport Authority van too and runs after it to see if someone will cruise through the lot with him but he misses it. As I'm slugging along with my suitcase, I finally hear him call. He's found it.

When I fell into the seat, I swore from now on I'd write down where that van is parked. And yes, it was the van. No lost keys. LOL Can anyone relate?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 6:55 AM  
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Sunday, July 12, 2009
Things I learned in Alaska

 1. I am afraid of heights. Scale a 75 foot cliff with a 99 pound girl your only safety net and see if you're not afraid of heights too. That is me in the photo but darling son zoomed in so you can't see just how impressive that climb was. He said, "Look down, Mom!" I said, "Don't think so." 

2. It's okay to say no. After massive shakes from fear of height, They (read: evil rock climbing guides) took us to the top of the cliff to teach us to rappel. "Stand on the edge of the cliff and sit back." Uh, no thanks. However, watching my two teenage sons do it was worse than doing it myself. 

3. Kindles break when dropped on a hard surface. Yes, I did it and the screen is now permanently black. WAHHHH!! Should've gotten the Klutz Warranty. 

4. Denise + Day at Sea - Kindle = Boredom

5. You can go two full weeks without feeling hungry.

6. There's no place like home. My bed, my routines, everything in it's place--well, mostly. Ahhhh . . . .
Denise Hunter  
posted at 4:39 PM  
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Call me paranoid but there is something that just bugs the dickens out of me. It's like this. When I'm at the store, I swipe my credit card and punch in the pin number, and sometimes people are standing so close, I can tell you what soap they used (or didn't use) in the shower that morning. What's up with that? Excuse me, but I think pin numbers are, um, private! Does that ever happen to you? 

Maybe I'm a little oversensitive about these things. I also wait a car length behind people who are in the bank drive-through at the ATM to be respectful of their privacy. Is that too extreme? Does anyone else worry about these things?

Come to think of it, when I was in school, I never liked people looking over my shoulder when I went through my locker combination. Okay, I have issues.

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:35 AM  
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I sort of feel like a pirate, taking over while my shipmates are away. Let's talk productivity. In today's world, it is so hard to "feel" productive when there's always more to be done. I'm having a terrible time with this rewrite because I've seen it so many times. Michael Jackson's death, and his desire to always top "Thriller" makes me realize there is a level of perfectionism that stops us from being productive.

We get so caught up in the results, that we can't fully be in the process and ultimately, as Christians, we know that God has the outcome in His hands. We should do our utmost for His Highest, but also not get so caught up in our part that we fail to finish what we've started.

My plan right now is to set small goals. Yesterday it was simply to get through Chapter 4, which took me forever (two weeks.) I said, no matter what, and that included a vomiting child, visit to the doctor, selling $350 worth of stuff on Craigslist, grocery shopping, laundry and LOTS of chicken soup -- that I was going to finish that chapter yesterday. I did. So now, I do the next right thing. That's all you can do in life: the next right thing.

Do you ever get stuck in that cycle of unproductivity, and what do you do to get out of it?

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posted at 11:46 AM  
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Everyone's gone, so I'm not shy, I'll post. : ) Colleen is in Eureka, CA doing research for her next book, Denise is in Alaska on a cruise with her family and Di has been to a family wedding. Me? I'm here cleaning my house so people can walk through it.

I got this book from the library called, "Moms with ADD" -- and I proceeded to lose it and had to pay for it. That is almost as bad as when Jonah threw the brand new potty training book from the library, into the toilet. You can't make that stuff up. This is why I rarely use the library. Anyway, I found the book, and it's paid for, but I'll return it to the library, because that is just the kind of chick I am.

Anyway, in the book it has a graph "Normal Moms" and "Moms with ADD"
A normal mom will forget an appt two or three times a year, an ADD mom monthly, if not weekly. (Seriously, all my kids' doctors call me to show up, some of them a half an hour before. That is pathetic, but necessary, I'm afraid.)

Another one is the average person will say something offensive to quiet a room maybe once a month. ADD moms? Yeah, that's my calling card.

But reading the book made me realize how good I've gotten at overcoming so many of my deficits and as ADDers we're usually focused on all we haven't done. I have four children and yes, I will probably be late, but mostly, we're not. Mostly, the kids have their homework done and they're fed and cleaned/dressed. But not always. I've overcome my inability to grocery shop, but this light went on about how it's been such a struggle for me in the church. While other Christian moms are able to organize the weekly pot luck, I am lucky if I remember there is a pot luck -- especially if I RSVPd for it. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't expect people to pick up my slack and I don't expect special treatment, but I do wish more people understood that ADDers aren't stupid, our minds are just flying a mile a minute.

Sure, my family brings chaos when it comes, and we try to curb that, but I'm also really good with the kids people don't want to deal with -- I've learned to speak truth into those kids lives, and I'm grateful for that. My desk will always be a mess of coffee cups and scattered papers, but I've written forty books there and so I want to encourage other Christian moms who can't run their homes with factory precision. Maybe that's not your calling. Maybe your calling is to be there for that "perfect" mom when she breaks down. Just a thought. My baby cousin, Levi.

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posted at 11:43 AM  
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Friday, July 03, 2009

We're attending our nephew's wedding this weekend. I can't wait because we get to see family that we haven't seen in a while, and it will be great. The one thing, however, that does bother me, is traveling over a holiday. More traffic. People in a hurry to get where they're wanting to go. 

But maybe that's just me. Then I got to thinking I'd throw that question out there to our cyber buddies. Do you prefer to travel on the holidays, do you prefer to stay home, or do you not care either way? Any special plans for the fourth?

And to our servicemen and women everywhere I just want to say, THANK YOU!

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:05 AM  
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009
My house is chaotic. It just is. There are always four kids here, usually more, a hyper doggie and lots of stuff going on. When we move into a neighborhood, we move in big. It's hard to avoid a family with four kids, they create their own weather pattern and it brings people out of their houses. I live in this hillside community, and you would never know there are kids here, but there are tons! The thing is, I like it that way.

So having your house "ready to show" at a moment's notice (okay two hours) is not easy. Tonight, I had burned dinner, and so there was the distinct odor of "she can't cook" in the house, two extra kids here and signs that we actually lived here (a bad thing in real estate). So we all did the mad dash and got lost, but I will be so happy to have my chaotic house back to my own. : )
posted at 11:16 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.

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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