Sunday, August 30, 2009
It's time to come clean. I'm obsessed.
Months ago Jennifer Deshler, Thomas Nelson marketing guru, asked me to open a Facebook account. Those of you who know me know I'm, uh, not exactly technologically savvy.
But I felt my way through the profile deal, started friending people and getting friended. Before I knew it, I had a few hundred friends and way too many ismiles, myhearts, farmville gifts, and yarn requests (???). I figured out how to manage the applications and taper down the status messages to just those people I really know.
I began checking FaceBook so much I changed my default home page to my FB profile and now happily check on my friends and family throughout he day and post my own status as well.
Then Jennifer had another suggestion: "Start a group for your readers, Denise," she says to me.
I give this some thought. A Group would be a direct connection to my readers, give me a place to give away books, offer sneak peeks at covers, host a book club chat. I can even give my group a sneak peek at an upcoming book by posting a chapter or two before its release, just for them. The idea grew on me and the timing is good: I'm waiting for my edits, so I have two weeks to get this going--and with my lack of technological prowess I know it'll take that long.
So I took the plunge. I started a group, Denise Hunter Readers Circle, and I'm having so much fun! A direct connection with readers at my fingertips--no matter how far away they live--what a concept.
So, yes, Reluctant FaceBooker Becomes Obsessed Fan, and judging by all the status-updating going on, I don't think I'm the only one. I just hope I can pull myself away long enough to, uh, write a book or two.
PS If you're interested in joining the Readers Circle, follow the link then click on "Join this Group": http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=124248046980
posted at 9:16 PM
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Just had to announce:
Colleen won the Best Book of Indiana in the Fiction Division for her novel, "Anathema"!!!! WHOOHOOOOO!!!!
WE'RE SO PROUD OF YOU, COLLEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted at 7:06 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This past weekend we bought new dishes AND silverware. I think I'm in a nesting mood (and no, I'm NOT pregnant).
I want to do more entertaining. Not fancy stuff, mind you. I'm just not the Martha Stewart type. I'm more of the Paula Deen variety. Down-home cooking.
But what I'm really looking for are recipes that are quick and easy with little fuss. The kind you make when having a group over for charades on Sunday night after church, that sort of thing. One thing I make for those occasions is hot ham and cheese sandwiches with veggies, dip, and a dessert. Another time, I'll try chicken burritos. That kind of easy.
This is where you come in. What kind of meals do you like to make when entertaining? You know, some old stand-bys that you keep going back to?
And especially those quickly-put-together meals, tell me about those. I'm open to any and all suggestions.
You will be sparing my guests a peanut and jelly sandwich with Twinkies for dessert.
posted at 6:49 AM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I have the worst memory and my life is like one big game of Concentration. God has created the perfect storm of conflict in my life, and if it were interesting, then I'd be a great novel. School started this week. Do you know how you have to have all those papers (like 84 a kid) for the new school year and fill out your address, their doctor, orthodontist info a million times?
Well, multiply that by four.
Add in a move. 1/2 family items are in one house. 1/2 in the other. The second half is boxed. Here's the a.m.:
"Mom, I need a picture of myself." The pictures are packed. I have baby pictures, but at 15 he's not having it. So I rip out a picture from his school scrapbook. Done. Next.
"I can't find any socks." This is a hard one because the half that are packed are mated. The ones here, not so much. "Oh it doesn't matter if your socks match. Put them on." Done. Next.
"Mom, everything is printing out with your books on the back. Where's the fresh paper?" That's easy. It's at the other house. "We're green in this household, environmental. We can't be wasting fresh paper on every assignment, she'll deal." But I found some in the garage. YAY!
But here's my favorite. I finally hooked up the printer to the wireless account, so that the kids can print from any computer, and this morning, the cartridge ran out. Now you know how small a cartridge is right? "Just take your USB with you and the fuzzy gray paper, tell her we're moving." Have a heart.
Then, DH calls. He's at the new house. Cable guy is there wanting to hook up an extra TV for $5 more!! "But I saved $5 on another package, it's a wash." He says to the guy, "Oh it's okay. Yeah, bring her in."
LOL Heaven is going to look, sound and smell like a spa and I won't have to remember my own name.
Labels: memory, moving
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Ah, my smugness has come to an end. I've been blessed with phenomenal editors and copyeditors. I have commiserated with other authors who had the edit from hell and have thanked God I have such great editors. But you know, the publishers hire outside copyeditors. Even Thomas Nelson does this. On Friday I had a sweet note from fabo editor Ami McConnell (she's a finalist for ACFW's Editor of the Year this year, BTW!) asking me to take a quick peek at some small issues left to fix before The Lightkeeper's Daughter went to print. Smiling, I opened the file. And began to read.
Can I just say I had my first copyeditor meltdown? I could click Accept All Changes when Erin Healy edits. I expected the same this time, but what I got was, well, very different. I'm sure this copyeditor thought she was helping me out. Changing some of those nasty saids, murmureds or whispereds to something more creative could only be good, right? Wrong. The first thing we learn as beginning writers is to NOT be creative with speaker attributes. The reader reads right over said or whispered or murmured with no problem. Said is the most innocuous but the others are okay too because they are how people actually talk. What is NOT okay are things like SHE PURRED. Or SHE GROANED, SHE SIGHED, SHE LAUGHED, SHE ARGUED. In other words you don't write, "Oh no you don't," Addie laughed. You could write "Oh no you don't," Addie said with a laugh. But laugh is not describing speech. When you do the weird attributes, that is writing that is TELLING not showing.
So I promptly fainted. When I came to, I discovered more horrors. She'd added adverbs. Now we writers know that adverbs are nasty creatures you use only when absolutely necessary. You don't EVER write JOHN SAID SADLY. Or HE SAID CENSORIOUSLY. Yet that was what I found in my manuscript. But the horrors mounted. SHE ADDED SEMICOLONS!! I nearly didn't survive that one. I dislike semicolons in my fiction. Some authors use them and love them. I'm not knocking those who do. But they are not for me and my fast paced fiction. I had to fan myself right away. She also inserted THAT where it wasn't needed and way too many commas but those were minor. I'm sooo thankful my editor wanted me to take a final look. If that had come to me in galleys, I might not have survived it.
Luckily, I've never before raised a ruckus at my house so when I had my meltdown, Natalie and Ami immediately believed me and apologized. Not that it was their fault. But I knew they trusted and believed me which went a long way to making me feel better. :-)
So now I know what it's like to have a bad copyedit. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? That's what I hear anyway. And it gave me a chance to reread the manuscript and realize all over again I still really like it. So it's all good!
DEATH TO SEMICOLONS!
Whew, got that off my chest. Do you have any pet peeves you see in books? Nothing WE do of course. We quite understand that. :-) So let's hear it!
Labels: adverbs, copyedit, semicolons
posted at 6:00 AM
Monday, August 24, 2009
What is that sound? It's familiar and yet I can't quite place it. I turn my head to the side and go still, listening. What is it--could it be--no, it's not possible. Not here, not in this house.
I cup my hand over my ear and listen closely and a moment later a slow delicious smile forms on my lips. Yes, it is. It really is.
And it has never sounded so good. My house, turned upside down and inside out for three solid months is indeed . . . quiet. The kind of quiet that is loud in its sheer rarity.
Quiet for my Bible study.
Quiet for my writing.
Quiet for my phone conversations.
Quiet for my creative thought process.
I've done it. I have survived a summer filled with baseball games, driver's ed., vacation, empty cups everywhere, I'm booorreed!s, TV squabbles, weekend company, impromptu wrestling matches, bike riding injuries, and X-box sound effects humming in the background.
Truth be told I wouldn't trade summer for the world and, in fact, each one slips by faster than the one before. But I will never be immune to the wonder of silence on that first day back to school.
Labels: end of summer, First day of school
posted at 6:00 AM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I sent my baby off to school this morning.
Okay, so our kids are grown and married, but my hubby is a teacher. He had been a principal for the past 19 years, and now he's going back into full-time teaching! Whoohooo!! We're hoping it will be less stress, but time will tell. :-)
It's hard to believe we're into another school year. I blinked and summer was over. I can hardly believe it.
I wanted more watermelon.
Still, there's a part of me that gets excited when this time of year rolls around. We quickly settle back into our normal routine of things, the air turns crisp and I start baking, candles flicker, our dog romps with the grandkids and life is good.
It's the routine thing that I look forward to, I think. Summer is fun but chaotic. I like having routine, daily days where I can actually get to my "to do list"--though I wouldn't trade the summer fun with the family for anything.
So how about you--any plans now that the kids are, or soon will be, back in school? How do things change around your house with the kids back in school--or do they?
posted at 6:51 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Growing up the younger sister of a mentally disabled brother. My parents taught me that everyone has value, not by what they said, but what they did. My mother fought the county for programs on my brother, she actually worked in the system and learned how to get Gary exactly what he needed.
So the other day I blogged something about Katy Perry (I love that song "Waking Up in Vegas". I have never been to Vegas outside the airport. Never stepped foot on the strip. But someone mentioned that she grew up a preacher's kid and now she...well, she doesn't act like a preacher's kid.
This is exactly the kind of person I want to see find a real faith. When I watch Britney Spears go from boyfriend to boyfriend, looking for love -- when I watch her father take care of her for money, my heart just grieves. A parent doesn't get paid to take care of their child! No one is paying my parents to take care of my 46 year-old brother!
Now you may not think of Katy Perry or Britney Spears as underdogs, but there are so many people out there who are more emotionally fragile than the next guy (artistic bent perhaps?) and to watch them go from person to person, in a "Are you my Mother?" sort of way gets to my soul.
When I watched "Intervention" or "Obsessed" I see people with softer natures, who couldn't handle what life threw at them. And life throws some awful things at people. Drugs, alcohol, obsessions...they soothe that voice. Until they destroy them. I have seen people be very heartless towards these types, like "I would never drink!" "I would never fall into drugs."
Well, then you're equipped for that battle and you'll fight another one. But I really desire to know people's heart. I find when I write, I am terrible at physical descriptions. I don't notice if people change their hair or lose weight because that's just their shell. How's their heart doing?
Honestly, I am so glad for doctors like Daniel Amen, who are showing on brain scans that people with anxiety, their brains are lit up like a Christmas tree and can't utilize their rational minds all the time. When we attach motive or call something a weakness, it may not be the case. It may be the harsher part of their strength. Leo Tolstoy was a self-righteous jerk who gave away all his money and forced his wife to live like a pauper, then wouldn't let her anywhere near him on his death bed. But Anna Karenina is an 800 page book about one man's journey to Christ.
Michelangelo was a wealthy man, but he lived among rats and garbage because he was so cheap, he couldn't spend the money on himself to live decently. He was said to be a desperately unhappy man obsessed with anxiety over death/salvation issues.
Mozart was said to have a dependent personality and erratic, manic work schedules who could not handle money or the mundane issues of life.
People pay mightily for being different. I think it's less of a choice than they'd like.
Labels: Britney Spears, Daniel Amen, Katy Perry, Michelangelo, Tolstoy
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Hey friends, I have to tell you a little story. It's about how I came to know the Lord and the family that was instrumental in changing all our lives.
It was my birthday, January 19, 1979, and we'd just been at a birthday party at my inlaws for me and our son whose birthday was the day before. Freezing rain had come down while we were inside but we thought we could make it home okay. They lived in the country about ten miles out of town. When we turned onto the highway, the roads were still like glass. Dave was driving slow and being careful. I was holding my 3 year old daughter back in the days before carseats and we were both dozing. I heard Dave shout, "Look out!" I looked up to see a car heading at us and knew in that moment we were all about to die. And I wasn't ready. None of us were. I remember screaming, "Oh God," and it was prayer in that moment because I knew He was the only one who could save us. The next thing I knew icy rain was pouring in the broken T top, the horn was blaring in a nightmarish fashion and we were sideways in the road with more traffic coming. All of us were only half conscious and our five year old son was crying. I had part of the dashboard in my leg. Dave's mouth was bleeding from teeth that had been knocked out and blood was coming from our daughter's nose and mouth. I could tell she was terribly hurt.
Dave stumbled outside to try to flag down traffic before we were hit again. One of the boys in the other car was already dead. The first car to stop was a family that went to a local church. One of the family members rode with our daughter (broken jaw) to the hospital while we waited for the 2nd ambulance. We all had various injuries that kept us in the hospital about 10 days. When we got home, the pastor of the church where the family went that had stopped to help us, Don Gutwein, arranged for food to be brought in. He led us to the Lord within six months. So everything that has happened in my Christian life started there. Would we be Christians without that accident? I don't think so. God in His kindness did what was necessary for our eternal future.
Fast forward thirty years. We'd kind of lost touch with Gutweins over the years. I follow Mike Hyatt on Twitter and he mentioned a young man named Austin Gutwein who started a Hoops for Hope ministry to raise money to help orphans in Africa. Nelson is bringing out a book about his story and Mike just heard him present at the sales conference. Hmm, Austin Gutwein, I think. Gutwein is a very uncommon name. I shot off a tweet to Mike and asked him to ask Austin if his grandpa would happen to be Don Gutwein. Amazingly it is! He's Danny's boy.
When we went to AZ last month, Dan arranged for us to surprise his parents at breakfast. The entire family has had such an impact our lives and it was wonderful to get caught up. I know I would not be writing books today if it weren't for that family. And to SEE God's hand bring all this together just gives me chills!
His book, Take Your Best Shot
, is in stores now and it's an amazing story about what just ONE person can do. Austin was just NINE when he decided he wanted to do something for the orphans in Africa. His parents encouraged him. Here's a news article
about him. I read the book and it's FABULOUS! It's so amazing to see what God has done in his life--and continues to do!
Run right out and buy the book! It will inspire you to dream a big dream--bigger than you can even imagine. God has so much more in mind for you than you can believe!
Labels: Austin Gutwein, Hoops of Hope
posted at 1:17 AM
Sunday, August 16, 2009
It might surprise you to know, but beneath the exterior of this calm, collected woman is one scatterbrained chick. Everything is fine if I'm doing one thing at a time. But throw me a second ball and a third ball, and they will all come bouncing down. I am no juggler.
Cooking I can do. Cooking and carrying on a conversation with guests? You do not want to eat this food.
Heaven help me if I'm on the cell phone when I park my car. I may never see it again.
I've lost count of the times I've walked into rooms only to leave again when I can't remember why I'm there.
Leaving town is a dangerous mission. Out of my routine, my element, anything can happen and usually does.
I felt right at home when my mom visited this weekend. We go out to get in her car which she asked me to drive. She arrives to the locked doors and stands there looking at me like I've got the solution or even the keys.
"Mom, I need your keys," I say.
She peeks through the window. "They're in my purse, in the car." She goes back in the house and borrows my step dad's keys to unlock the doors then gets in the passenger side and puts on her seatbelt, settles in. From the driver's side, I look over at her. "The keys?"
"I don't have them."
"They're in your purse."
I get it honestly, all I'm saying.
This is why I make lists, why I have sticky notes hanging from my nose, why I have a rubber band around my wrist, and don't leave home without a responsible adult. If you ever see me walking aimlessly feel free to stop me and ask if I need directions.
posted at 9:30 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I have the worst nails in the world. Always have had. They are paper thin. So thin that they tear rather than break. And yes, as disgusting as it sounds, I have been known to bite my nails a time or two (please don't tell anyone I said that).
Here's another thing. I have to be very careful of what I put on them because if it's too strong, it will cause my nail to slowly lift from the nailbed. Weird, huh? I had acrylic nails applied once for my daughter's wedding and they hurt so bad (I could feel my pulse in my fingertips), that I took them off that night. I'll probably never have beautiful nails, but it would be nice not to hide them in public.
So do you have any advice for me? What do you do for the health of your nails? I'm open to any and all suggestions!
Labels: Fingernails, Manicure, Polish
posted at 10:28 PM
I have the uncanny ability in life to plan something, and then watch said plans fall miserably apart. It is part of my journey with God that I should NOT be allowed to live by a schedule apparently. Granted, I'm not a big schedule girl, but something, anything...throw me a crumb, you know??
So after our camping/RV/stuff me in an aluminum box with four kids/husband and a dog vacation, we stayed at my mom's for a few days. We had a family wedding up in Sac and then there was an Open House here. For some reason, they do them after you're under contract until the contingency period clears. Which would be fine if I didn't have four kids and a dog. But I do.
We come home and Bryed has arranged for his godson's family to be here the day we get back. Now, I LOVE company and I love Curtis, but we are moving in two weeks, we don't have one book packed and I have two books to edit fast. Imagine my hopeful mind that Curtis was taking ALL FOUR kids to Great America on Monday. Now, imagine my inability to be creative when there are 24 people stuck midair on a ride and I can't reach my kids. I spent the day watching streaming video and trying to figure out if those were my kids' shoes dangling.
Last night, I planned to go to bed early. But the kids wanted to watch the meteor shower on the front deck, so they were out there loudly playing the "random game" (don't ask) until about 1:30 in the a.m. This morning, right after Curtis and his family leave, the maid is coming. So the house will again be full. So here I am God. Open arms up to the sky. I give up. A schedule is impossible. I will eat this day's daily bread and kick my ideal out the window. Because it really is more fun to have people here and chaos around anyway.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I MUST BE CRAZY
You know you've been too writing too much when you crave a new house project. I just started The LIghtkeeper's Bride a couple of weeks ago, but I've been eyeing the wallpaper in the living room and it's been all I can do not to tear into it. We have a Victorian house that we've restored (it was actually in last October's issue of Victorian Homes!) and we have period wallpaper in every room that really suits the house. However, most people hate wallpaper and I think if we ever want to sell it, we need to bite the bullet and paint instead.
I know I have to at least get this book to 15,000 words first. That's the magic number where it all starts falling into place so it's been a good motivator to keep butt in chair and not break out the ladder. LOL Plus our son is painting his house and we've been spending weekends there. But those walls keep nagging at me. And I think we're going to tear down the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms to open it up. But which project to start first? And just how far should we go? Many of the older homes I see in the shows have painted woodwork and it would be sacrilege to paint this beautiful oak woodwork so I've been studying up on what colors to use and it appears a warm undertone works better with the wood tones. So that should be all right if I find the right shades. We watch HGTV obsessively and I really like the updating some homeowners have done to old houses. Warm mochas on the walls, simple Craftsman style furniture.
i think I'm obsessing about this because my heroine for The Lightkeeper's Bride could have lived in this house when it was new. Isn't that a fun thought? Any of you have older homes with beautiful woodwork? Or have you seen some and could recommend what you like? I just have this feeling we're going to need to strip this paper and paint. I could be wrong. What's your opinion?
Labels: painting, remodel, The Lightkeeper's Bride, Victorian Home, wallpaper
posted at 6:25 AM
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Free Review Copy Giveaway!
Thomas Nelson has provided me with 4 advanced copies of Seaside Letters and I'd like to utilize these copies to get the word out about the book. With that in mind, I'd like to give them away in exchange for a promises of a review (positive or negative) on your blog or review site.
If you review books, send an email to email@example.com and let me know:
1. The website where you'll post the review.
2. Your snail mail address.
I'll select 4 winners and notify you later this week.
If you aren't a reviewer, have no fear. I'll do a regular giveaway when the book comes out.
posted at 7:50 PM
Thursday, August 06, 2009
The last time I sent out a newsletter, Reagan was president.
Part of the problem is I changed over from a PC to a Mac and I haven't figured out how to send a newsletter on the Mac. But the major problem is I never know what to say in those things. So today I thought I'd get your input. What do you like to see in an author newsletter? Recipes? Photos of family? Book news? My latest reading on the scales (yeah, like that's gonna happen)? My report card from third grade? What?
How often do you like to receive newsletters? Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly, Bi-Centennially? Do you look forward to them or do they annoy you when they pop up in your email?
I value your input! Anything and everything you've ever wanted to say about author newsletters? Post it right here. I'm listening. :-)
P.S. The picture is our grandson. It's so cute, I thought it might grab your attention. :-)
posted at 6:50 AM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
KNOWING YOUR LIMITATIONS
Growing older is not for wimps. Don't you hate not being able to do things you used to do? I was at a church luau on Saturday and there were games after the food. One of them was seeing who could hula hoop the longest. When I was a kid, I used to hula hoop up and down the steps in front of our house - about 15 steps or so I think. I could keep that thing whirling however long I pleased. I thought I'd do great when I realized what I'd just volunteered for. Um, not so much. The thing went around once and dived straight for my ankles! Fortunately, the other women were equally inept at it. LOL One of them put the hoop around her neck and whirled it around a couple of times. I immediately followed her example but I could keep it up pretty well around my neck. I won the prize, a pair of gaudy plastic glasses with lights that blinked. LOL
But what I wasn't counting on was the NEXT DAY. All my muscles were sore down my back and I had trouble turning my head. I puzzled about it for several hours until it dawned on me what I'd done to myself. I think it's universal that we forget we can't do what we used to do. My mother-in-law fell again yesterday. She was out walking again even though I'd told her NOT to go while she had a cast on her arm, and certainly not to go in slip on sandals. We'd also told her to start taking her cane. She did NONE of those things and fell headlong into the pavement. She suffered a mild concussion but I had to spend the night here last night and check her every 3 hours. When we were upset with her for not doing what she'd been told, she said she'd always done it. When I pointed out that she's 82 and you can't do at 82 what you did when you were 30, she said she thought if she continued to do it all, she'd keep the ability. Um, no.
So what did you used to do that you realized you can't anymore? I always wanted to go whitewater rafting too. I think if I want to do that, I'm going to need to accomplish it soon. LOL
Labels: aging, growing older, hula hoop
posted at 9:56 AM