Girls Write Out
Friday, May 28, 2010

Loving the Familiar...

There are few things I love as much as where I live. I feel excited to be in the Bay Area. I grew up here, left for three awful years and came back. I'm not big on change actually. Luckily, for me and my growth pattern, the Bay Area has changed around me, so I didn't need to go anywhere.

When I first got married, I lived in East Palo Alto, which at the time was the murder capital of the country. Fun! But it was a great place to live! It was a black community, right on the Baylands, so you could run, bike, be in the wild in two minutes. Granted, you had to get through the crack-infested blocks to get there, but it was right in your backyard. Honestly, even with the gunshots at night, I felt very safe there. You learn the lay of the land, you stay away from gang areas, you're good. Unless your time is up, then you're just done. We moved to have kids though. Schools are terrible there.

Then, I moved to white man's world (Mountain View) and it was about as yuppy as you could get -- as was my neighborhood. I didn't fare as well there. I did not make a good Desperate Housewife.

Then, I moved to Saratoga, which is mostly Chinese. Okay, I LOVE that culture. The Chinese are like Italians. They fight loudly and publicly and they tell it like it is. So if your hair's a mess? They ask why. I love that. I did well there.

Now, I'm in Cupertino and a mostly Indian culture. This has taken me awhile to adjust to. Most of them are Vegetarians and truthfully, I see no point in avoiding a steak. The sidewalks are PACKED here. I mean, like Manhattan-packed and you have to ride your bike and use the bike lane if you want to move along. The other issue is my name recall is not great, and when you start putting 11 letter names I've never heard in front of me, we're going to have issues.

I love the Indian culture though. They have a party for everything! They dance. There's always music playing. The whole neighborhood smells like a fabulous Indian restaurant and their hospitality! Oh my. You cannot knock on a door at any time of day and not be invited in for tea/coffee. I need more of those skills. Which may be why God has me here.

Of all these different chapters in my life, this one feels like the point where I've had the fewest options, but I'm enjoying it. Life's a learning curve. Have there been chapters in your life you wanted to avoid? But ultimately, thrived?
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
This cat really knows how to relax. All of our cats do, and why not? They get fed, they don't have to work for their food, all they have to do is show up for dinner. I sure wish I could relax like this.

Mel, on the other hand, has to work to keep these cats, and us, in food and a home and clothing. He had a rough day at work yesterday, and when he has a rough day, that means lives are at stake in the ER. So as he always does, he called me on his drive home from work last night and told me all about it on his hands-free cell. I listened and let him know I commiserated. By the time he arrived home thirty minutes later, I had something in mind to help him relax a little.

A few months ago, when I was stressed, I met a girlfriend halfway between my house and hers for a nice, long walk. She knew what I was going through, so on the way to meet me, she stopped and purchased a couple of bubble-blowing tubes. As we walked past fields and forests and trickling streams, we held the wands in the air and watched bubbles float up into the air on wind currents. Sometimes the wind was a little too hard and we couldn't get much bubble action, so we had to wait for just the right time. I'm sure passing motorists thought we were nuts, but we didn't know them and couldn't have cared less. Some smiled and watched the bubbles. Those were the people who knew how to have a good time.

Last night I took Mel outside to the backyard as soon as he got home, and opened the bubble tube--which I've used several times since that day with my friend--raised the wand into the air and slung my arm around to make the bubbles. Once I even turned around and around until I was so dizzy I almost fell. Mel got into the mood, as well, and laughed, and took the tube when I handed it to him. His goal was to see if he could make the biggest bubble that would float the farthest before bursting. My goal was to see Mel laugh. It worked. We both reached our goals and came back inside smiling.

We all have to work off the sometimes amazing stress in our lives. You know my favorite is hiking, but lately I haven't been hiking, I've been mowing two huge lawns with push mowers, a section every day so that the exercise is drawn out over the week and my shoulders get a good workout. That, too, helps me relax. So does reading a good book or watching an engrossing movie. For some reason, though I do love to watch LOST, I don't feel relaxed after watching an episode because I want a happy ending. For me, nothing satisfies like a happy ending. I hate being hung on a cliff.

So anyway, when you're stressed, what do you do? I've probably asked this before, but still, it does bear repeating. Sometimes we change tactics. What are your present de-stressing tactics?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:09 AM  
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Okay, maybe that was tacky. (for you Trekkie fans that was a play on Space: the Final Frontier) but I digress. LOL I LOVE the show LOST. Until it aired, my favorite TV show of all time was Star Trek. But LOST has blown everything out of the water. So I was waiting with bated breath (literally!) for the ending show. I stayed up until 11:30 to watch it, no easy feat for this early to bed girl. But it was soo worth it! So I thought I'd give you my view of how the ending when down. There are opinions all over the web about it today. here's mine: It was the right ending. Sure, I would like to have seen them live happily ever after on the island. But here's my takeaway.

1. Everything on the island really happened. At the final scene, they were all there. Aaron had been born. Hurley had been protecting the island for a long time and Ben had been his #2 because Hurley says something about it. It was clear all the memories they had of what went on at the island were intact.

2. We still don't exactly know what the island was but we know this: what they did mattered. And isn't that just like our faith here? We are told to do something. We are obedient. We don't see the eternal significance at all but we know there is one. We may not ever understand the meaning of what we do here until we cross into heaven.

3. The sideways flash was a glimpse of some kind of place where they were all going to meet up. Some of them died on the island. Some of them made it off the island. Kate told Jack, "I missed you." So she made it off. (At first I thought maybe that old plane crashed after Jack looked up as he was dying but no.) Jack's dad said, "Everybody dies. Some sooner than others." So that final scene was after they had all died, at different times.

4. Here is the interesting part for us romance writers. Michael Hauge in his seminar calls it a problem with a lot of things he sees. Why did these particular characters end up together? LOST is did this totally right. The love connection brought out the best in the other person. They needed the other one to become the person they were always meant to be. I'll admit when Charlie and Claire were reunited, I sobbed. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. LOL So kudos to the writers for a terrific job on this!

Actually kudos to the writers for some of the best writing in a show I've ever seen. Sawyer was my favorite. The way he changed and grew was terrific. And Hurley. Loved that guy! I loved them all actually. It was a terrific cast and a great six seasons.

So what about you? Did you watch the show? What struck you?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:09 PM  
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

My 11-year-old went to camp for a few days, so I thought I'd surprise him by cleaning his room. Now, understand, the word "mess" doesn't begin to describe the kind of tornado-storm-of-a-room my son somehow lives in.

After cleaning for the better part of 2 days, I was mystified, by some of the items I found. What was he doing with these things? I have no idea, and I'm afraid to ask. He's always taking things apart, doing experiments, building things. I find numerous stretched-out wire hangers, extension cords, and flashlights in his room. Tools of all sort. I'm sure it all has some story, some meaning to him. I'm sure it all makes sense. And since he has no TV or computer in his room, I guess he has to find something to occupy his mind.

I think he might be trying to find a way to beam himself away from home. So if you find my son sometime in the near future, beamed onto your lawn in a tinfoil/hanger/waxed paper/talcum powder contraption, will you please return him?
Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:14 PM  
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Friday, May 21, 2010

For me, as a writer, one of the best things about getting older is that I get to look back on so many relationships in life and see how people came out the other side of tragedies, marriages, successes, etc.

By far, the best part of this is being a mother. Because when you're a mother, you love these little beings unconditionally. It doesn't matter what they do, who they become, what their foibles are -- they are your babies.

My kids have very strong personalities (I know, it totally comes from their dad!)

The hardest personality for me to take was my little princess. She is a girl who needs constant attention and she doesn't like to be alone. Ever. When you have four kids and you can't even hide out in the bathroom, this gets a bit jarring. She's hard on her brothers too because she doesn't want anything happening without her right in the middle of it.

Enter "Glee" the show. My daughter has never been a big television watcher, so I didn't even get that break. Then, she discovered "Glee". Yes, she's too young to watch it, but the majority of things go over her head, and I fast-forward through love scenes. Well, Glee has given my girl her own time. She downloads the music and she has taken over my iPod, which I gladly gave up, and the music calms her beautifully.

She has learned to be alone. That's no small feat. So seeing my child cross this big bridge, is huge. As her reward for being a big girl, we are leaving for LA today, and we are going to see "Glee" in concert. She's made big strides in this world and I'm such a proud mommy.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

I've had a great week, friends! I am employed once again--whoooohoooo!!!

This week I signed a contract with Summerside Press to write a book for their "When I Fall in Love" line. My book will be entitled, "Love Letters in the Sand" and will take place in 1957! How fun is that?

I've been watching "Leave it to Beaver" (yes, complete with Eddie Haskell), and movies set in that timeframe, to get a feel for the clothing, speech, and basically that era.

My story will be set in a fictional town patterned after Kenosha, Wisconsin. We visited there after one of my treatments (it's right near there). Nothing is ever wasted, remember? ;-)

Just had to share with my cyber buddies! You've been with me through thick and thin and I just had to share my good news for a change! Thanks for being there!!

Let me know if you have any other ideas that might help me research 1957. You guys are awesome!
Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:36 AM  
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
All shook up.

Last Friday I was driving through a nearby town when I saw this. I nearly slammed on my brakes. The Pizza Hut has stood on this spot for gazillions of years. It fell down. Though stunned and curious, I didn't have time to ask anyone what had happened because I was packing for a trip across state to a funeral, was dealing with the wreck my mother had just been involved in that morning, (she's okay) and several dozen other things. Still, McDonald's had burned to the ground last year, and ideas began to percolate in my mind. Was a local restaurant owner committing arson to improve business? Interesting idea for a book, though for the life of me, I couldn't see signs of smoke or fire damage.

Amazingly, I saw some huge strips of aluminum roofing in the field as I drove toward my mother's house in the country. The top of a silo was missing, and several industries in town looked askew. I didn't have time to consider what that was all about.

It wasn't until Mom and I were traveling back home Sunday evening that Mel informed me over the phone that there had been a tornado. A tornado hit the town six miles down the road from us and I didn't even realize it because my life was so out of control. A tornado!! More amazing, that tornado--only an F-1--skipped all around the independent living apartment where my mother is now living, and missed her house in the country except for a few branches that had been tossed there from somewhere else. It came to within two blocks from her.

Several years ago, an F-5 hit our town and wiped out the whole downtown area except for four elderly buildings. It came to within two blocks of our home.

Most days, I run around with my teeth gritted, trying hard to control my life and failing, and yet the shock of that tornado made me stop at least for a moment to think. There is nothing I can do about the wind. If we get hit by a tornado or an earthquake or an ice storm or deadly illness, nothing I do can stop that. God truly is in control. I'm sure not.

I'm keeping this picture--Mel took it for me today and loaded it on my computer so I could blog about it. I need this reminder that I'm most certainly NOT in control. I can do a lot of things, but I have no say over the results of what I do. God does. All I can do is continue to go forward, to seek His will, to follow instead of trying to lead all the time. If I get blown away by the next tornado, I hope to see you in heaven someday. And that's what it's all about.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 9:49 PM  
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Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm really picky about character names. I bet you had no idea how we authors slave over our character names, did you? So here I am, nearly done with The Lightkeeper's Ball and I'm still not sure of my hero's name. First he was Clarke, then he was Sam. But I'm still not sure that's the right name for him. Part of the problem is this is a historical. Do you realize what names were popular in the early 1900s? Names like Harry, George, John (that was taken in book 1) Frank, Henry. Um, see a hero's name in there? I didn't think so. So I'm struggling. Sam seems a little staid for my guy. His dream is to build an airplane that lands on water. That's pretty daring. I'm good with my heroine's name. She's Olivia and it suits her really well. But Sam, well, I just don't know.

This picture is one of my very favorite. I love the way Alexa is looking at her Poppy and he's looking back. And it also illustrates my point about names. If we'd named her Melissa, it just wouldn't be the same, would it? Names change our entire perception of a person. Don't you sometimes wonder what name God has for us?

So here's my question: what do you think of when you hear the name SAM? And I'm open to suggestions. Here's a website I've used to look for names: but feel free to brainstorm on your own for me! :-)


Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:56 PM  
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I'm sitting on my couch watching TV. I have the laptop on my lap, Facebook open on the screen. In between these two activities, I'm carrying on a conversation with my husband and boys. I look over at my husband. He's also watching TV. And reading the newspaper. And having the conversations. Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?

I brought it up at small group last night, this so-called multi-tasking gone wild, and saw a bunch of nodding heads. Am I the only one who takes a book to ball games to read between pitches? Who feels stoplights are a great opportunity to sort the mail or dust the dashboard?

Somewhere between computers and IPhones, I became wired. Not wired for internet--just WIRED. Sitting still for five whole minutes with nothing to do? Torture!

And I suspect I'm not the only one. I'm not sure if studies have been done on the human brain since the advent of all this technology but I'm guessing something in there is changing. I used to be able to watch TV and feel I was doing enough. I used to be about to heat something in the microwave for 60 seconds without thinking I could to start of load of laundry.

I have to admit that's one thing I enjoy about reading. It's one task that takes all my attention. When I'm reading a good book, I don't want to watch TV and check emails. I'm happily content, lost in another world.

But for now, if you'll excuse me, there's a load of laundry that needs to go into the dryer.

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:18 AM  
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Friday, May 14, 2010
(My New Kitchen, unrelated to post. LOL)
Author Voice

I'm not much of a teacher when it comes to writing, but there are two things I'm passionate about when it comes to being an author. One is passion -- yes, I'm passionate about passion. Meaning, if you're writing to sell to the market, you're only going to be a follower. Don't bother. Where does your OWN passion come from? (Ending a sentence in a proposition perhaps?)

I'm most passionate about judgmental attitudes in the church. Because I find there is a reason people do everything. Granted, it may not be a great reason, but still, the motives are there. The more people cling to "rules" rather than look at people's pain, the weaker their faith seems to me. That may not be your stance, but then, you can write your own books.

The second thing I'm passionate about is "voice". Anyone who has ever written a book has had an editor mess with their "voice". The results are painful. Anne Tyler is one of those authors whose subject matter may not appeal to me, but I will always read her because of her voice. She plays with words and breaks the rules -- and the results are fantastic.

I'm no Anne Tyler, but I have a distinct voice when I write. For me, I "hear" the rhythm of the words so when someone stops that flow or "beat", it messes with my mind. I'm currently rewriting a book. When I look at the edited version, there's nothing of "me" left in it, and it's dry and depressing and worst of all the reason I wrote the book is missing from its central point. In the end, the publisher and I mutually decided not to put the book out, but listen, I paid my dues. I wrote the way I had to write for publishers for many years and still do in a sense. But there are certain things I won't compromise on now.

Oh I may make less money and not speak as well to the market, but that's not my goal. My goal is to say what needs to be said -- and that others are afraid to say. I'm missing that gene. What won't you compromise on when you read a story?
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is my nephew, Scott. He left for Afghanistan on Sunday. Please pray for him.

I know many of our families are affected by the war. Too often we try to ignore what's going on across the world, but the reality is the same. We are in war.

So today I wanted to use my blog time to honor those who are serving on our behalf. "Thank you" is not enough for the sacrifices they are making, but coupled with our prayers, it can make a difference.

Do you have someone in your life who is serving our country for whom you want me to pray? List his/her name and I'll pray for them. It's a small act of service on our part that can reap eternal rewards.

To our military friends: You are NOT forgotten. We hold you in high esteem and are humbled by the depths of your sacrifice. When comforts are few and unending fears hover, know you are being lifted in prayer. Just as you are diligent in service to our country, WE will serve YOU through prayer. We will not be satisfied until you are safely home!

We call you by name before the Father:

Scott . . . .

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Diann Hunt  
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One of the most fun things I get to do is encourage up and coming writers. I met Robin Caroll (Robin Miller) way back when she emailed me to tell me how much she loved my Rock Harbor books. We became friends and I started mentoring her. I'm so proud of her and her writing! She is a FABULOUS writer and I'm thrilled she's ended up under Karen Ball's tutelage at Broadman and Holman. I recently got the chance to ask Robin about her writing life (and hair color) and want to share it with you today. Her new book DELIVER US FROM EVIL is fabulous! Now here's Robin:

You have a great mix of romance and suspense in your novels. How do you balance the two elements? Honestly, I don’t really plan a balance. When a story idea comes to me, I do a basic outline, but I don’t plot it out. I let the characters come alive in my mind and I tell their story. As a romantic at heart (shh, that’s a secret) I find every story has a romantic element. Sometimes I may go back and enhance that element, but the basis for the romance is already there.

I’ve said before that you “own” southern romantic suspense. Give us your worst and best Cajun secrets. Best Cajun secret is how to make a good roux, but I’ll be honest, my husband actually makes a better roux than I do—and he was born in California! LOL And for those of you who don’t know what a roux is, you have no idea what you’re missing…google it and salivate! lol The worst? Hmmm….I actually DO know some voodoo and hoodoo, which is terrifying.

What was the most fun (or scariest!) part of researching Deliver Us From Evil? The hardest part of researching the book was finding all the data on child trafficking for prostitution. That part was truly sickening for me, as a mother of three daughters to read. The most fun was the helicopter parts. My husband had taken helicopter flying lessons and we became great friends with the pilot, who took me up for rides. Knowing how it felt to sit in a helicopter in the air, without doors, during an auto-rotation….scariest thing ever, but sure came in handy in writing those scenes.

Most of us have a little piece of ourselves in our main character. What part of you is Brannon? LOL, as if you have to ask. Definitely her attitude and her speak-first, think-second mishaps. She’s also a bit of a control freak, and uh, believe it or not, I’ve been accused of that same trait. Shocking, I know. 

How did you come up with the name Roark? He’s a great hero. Come on, you can confess to reading Kathleen Woodiwiss back in your younger days. Oh wait, that’s a historical. So fess up. Did you actually read a historical once upon a time? Oh, puhleeze! I’ve read 3 authors hysterical—yours, C, part of Cara Putman’s, and Pam Hillman’s. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I survived, but I still avoid the genre. I came up with the name Roark because I knew a Roark in college who was a bit of a lovable rogue and I was good friends with his girlfriend. I always liked the name.

What gadget do you lust after right now? An Ipad, of course!  Of course, I also want a Mac desktop and MacBook, but right now, I’m REALLY drooling over the ipad.

So tell us the truth--do you tie up your kids so you can write? I know all the things you do. I think you’ve secretly cloned yourself. LOL…sometimes I wish…no, seriously, I’m a freak about my time management. (guess there’s that control-freak thing again) I have a gift in that I can multi-task very well (yes, I CAN talk on the phone and write a scene at the same time—ask Dineen Miller) and my brain works in a really odd way (no comment) in that I speed read, and certain things just “click” for me. Now if I COULD clone myself, the clone would be responsible for cleaning the house. I truly, truly DETEST housework. LOVE to cook, like to do home improvements, but can’t stand housework.

What color is your REAL hair? LOL…only you would ask. It’s gray. No kidding. And I’m not talking a pretty silver or pure white…it’s ugly, wiry, gray. I started getting gray at 18 (gotta love genetics, sigh). But, to try and answer your question…as a child I had dark, dark brown hair but with natural red pigments (both my grandmothers had beautiful auburn hair) but my mother had black hair and my father had dark hair as well.

Thanks for letting me drop in to visit with you girls. As always, I love hanging out with y’all.

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:51 AM  
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Have you ever just been ready for a change? You've struggled with your weight and then something kicks in and your are suddenly motivated to lose it NOW. Or you have a project waiting for you, and slowly the desire builds to tackle it, then off you go.

That's me with my hair. I've had it long, well, a long time, and I finally got to that place where I was ready for a change. So last week, I got a good 4 inches hacked off. I was a little nervous at first, then I thought, you know, if it's bad, I'll just borrow one of Diann's gorgeous wigs until it grows out.

Turns out that wasn't necessary. My stylist did a great job of giving me the change I wanted without doing enough to scare my family. It dries curly and is easy to manage. Can't ask much more than that from a haircut.

Now if I can just get motivated to lose that holiday weight I gained . . .

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:41 PM  
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Friday, May 07, 2010

I wrote this on my caring bridge site, and Colleen thought it might be a good idea to share it with you since some of you may not be on that site. This is the site if you want to keep tabs that way:

Your prayers are working, my friends! We just finished our appointments at the Cancer Treatment Center tonight. Chemo finished around 7:00. Very long day, but a very good one! Great report! CA-125 is down to 18 and the doctor says it may not get any lower because that may be MY "normal". Anything under 35 is great, so that's awesome!

My infection is still there, doggone it, so Dr. Williams had to do a little minor procedure thingy in her office. She showed Jim how to pack it and ordered him to do so every night. I fell prostrate before her, grabbed her ankles and hung on for dear life as she dragged me down the hall. All the while, I begged her to come home with us. I even offered her my secret chocolate stash, but she held her ground. Chris Zinsli, I'm calling you next . . . . ;-)

Clearly, they didn't do the peritoneal treatment this time. We may not do it at all, and the doctor says that's okay, too.

We're getting to know the workers and thank God for every one of them! All go beyond the call of duty and are such a blessing!

Now for the big news. I am so gettin' this eyebrow thing down! I drew those puppies in this morning and they look just as good tonight! No fuller brush, fuzzy caterpillar brows on this face, thank you very much. I told Jim I'd like to add a little drama to it all. One day make a surprised look with my eyebrows, another day a frown, another day a happy face. Well, you get the idea. The possibilities are endless, why, it could open a whole new world for me! (Don't think I didn't hear you say, "Yeah, one with padded cells.")

From the start, God confirmed in my heart the verse that I would claim for this journey. "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."

God is TRULY my joy and my strength! The dignity thing is coming along. And YOU are the most blessed treasures of all!! I NEVER take lightly that you are praying for me and I love you so much for it!!

Until next time, Scatter Joy!

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:51 PM  
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I just talked to Diann and she had another great report! CA-125 is still in the 17/18 range which the doctor said could be what's normal for her. Anything under 35 is normal. She was getting chemo (shoulder port only, no peritoneal) and was sleepy from the benedryl they gave her. She still has an infected stitch so no peritoneal but the other is working great so it's all good!

Thanks for praying!!!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 4:06 PM  
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Jonah in my nearly-finished kitchen - Wish he had this energy in the am instead of at 11 at night~

One of those Days...

It's nearly noon here in California. My son Jonah just emerged from his room. Keep in mind, I put the dog in there because the contractor is finishing up. The dog was barking and generally wanting to get out. I was at the grocery store and Home Depot taking some stuff back. The contractor is here with a nail gun and a saw doing molding.

Jonah slept through all of that and he missed school. Now, I woke him up this morning, told him to get up NOW! And then I took my son and daughter to school. And I came home, plopped the dog in there and never noticed the lump in the covers. He's had Ferris Bueller's Day Off, except he didn't get out of bed, or have any fun.

He's lost video games for the weekend. But let me just tell you, I've had it with teenagers at the moment. I think I'm going to treat myself to that movie "Babies" today and remember when they were so sweet and cute, and did what you told them to. I still haven't turned my book in because those loose ends -- just haven't had the time to do them. You know how that is? You always plan and then life gets in the way. Not MY life, but other people's. And isn't that what motherhood is all about?

Pray for Diann, she's having another treatment this week. Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mothers out there. May you enjoy your day!
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Thursday, May 06, 2010
Pray for Diann today, friends! She's in Zion IL again at the awesome Cancer Research Centers of America. Pray specifically for another fabulous report and also for God's will on the chemo. So far she hasn't had peritoneal chemo because of the infection. The traditional chemo seems to be working wonderfully! But if she needs that type of chemo, let's pray her infection is healed enough to allow it AND if she does have it that there is no pain and no more side effects than what she's been experiencing (mostly fatigue.) I'm just putting it in God's hands. He knows what she needs. So join us in prayer!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:22 AM  
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I learned something from my friend, Marty, that, though it has nothing to do with writing, I believe will help me with the craft. Marty has a prayer pillow ministry. She has seamstresses and prayer warriors and people with the gift of giving working with her to spread this ministry all over the world. She is one woman. She doesn't do all the work, but she has a passion for this ministry that is contagious. Because of her passion, the beauty of her work shines through.

First, Marty takes orders from local churches, shelters, parents of servicemen and women, and she selects remnants of fabric at the best cost she can find and puts her seamstresses to work. Once a pillow is sewn--just large enough for one to kneel upon--she or another helper pens a passage of scripture on the white side of the pillow, anoints it with oil, then lays her hands on it and prays. This is Marty's mission. One of her great callings in life. She is passionate about what she does, and because of this passion--she accepts no pay for these pillows, but funds a great deal of it herself--homeless people, men and women fighting in Iraq, seekers in Australia, nursery workers, homebound, sick and hurting people are blessed all over the world.

Passion is the machine that drives her. She speaks to churches, clubs, travels some distance to share her vision, and the beauty of her passion draws her and her helpers more work than they can possibly keep up with.

Marty's passion inspires me, and I find myself asking, when was the last time I was passionate about my own God-called mission in life? I write. That's what I was called to do, but sometimes it seems I've done it for so long, some of the passion has filtered away. Seeing Marty's excitement over her mission has helped me with mine. I see the beauty in it again, like the bow wrapped around this simple vase of flowers. If I don't find passion in my calling, who else will see it? It's time to rekindle my own love for my mission, and see the beauty in it once again.

How about you? Is there a passion you need to rekindle? Marriage needs passion. Parenthood needs passion. Doing God's will in your life must be an act of passion and love and sacrifice. Delve in and find it again. I'm going to.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 1:19 PM  
  Comments (4)
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A few weeks ago Dave took me to the airport. It was EARLY. As in obscenely early. We left the house at 4:30 am. I saw two women out jogging. Jogging! At 4:30 in the morning! It boggled my mind. Whose idea was it to jog in the dark in 45 degree weather? My suspense mind immediately started thinking of the ladies jogging down a dark street and something happening to them. I reminded myself that nothing much happens in my little town, but still. . .

There had to be a good reason to be out jogging that early but for the life of me, I can't think what would induce me to get up that early to jog. I know I need to get more exercise. I'm sitting in front of my computer for hours and hours a day. But that's extreme, don't you think? So I've been thinking about what I would do for a friend. I like to be there for my friends. I would have gone crazy if I hadn't gone with Di to the cancer center. But jogging at 4:30? That's just, well, crazy. I think right there is where I draw the line. I'll fly anywhere, drive anywhere, help in any way I can, but don't ask me to EXERCISE at 4:30 AM before I've had my coffee.

So what about you? Where is your line? Or do you have one?

P.S. Okay, I'm backtracking. If Diann needed to jog to stay well and the only time she could do it was 4:30, I might go that far. But it would have to be a REALLY good reason!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:27 AM  
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Monday, May 03, 2010

A while back there was a bunch of hoopla about a Faith Hill photo on a Redbook cover. Before and after photos showed the amount of touch-up/photoshopping done in the photo. Thinner arms, removed back-fat, thinner waist, disappearing wrinkles . . . it left the average woman thinking, "If Faith Hill doesn't even look like Faith Hill, what chance do I have?" (See the before & after photos here Scroll down to the side by side shot and look at the arms!)

So yesterday when I saw in our local paper that Jessica Simpson had done May's cover for Marie Claire without makeup and unphotoshopped, I was curious. I check out the cover, and while I'm skeptical on the "no makeup" bit, I'm delighted to see a real woman. Some think the cover is a sales gimmick. Personally, I don't care if it is. I'm just happy to see a cover model brave enough put herself out there as she really is. Enough trying to perfect what's already beautiful! Women have enough pressure today without adding physically impossible perfection to the list. Men think those cover models really exist and worse, so do women. It's an impossible standard.

I hope the magazine sets a trend. Magazines aren't going to initiate it, but I hope other models and actresses will catch a little of Jessica's courage and decide to put themselves out there. Literally.

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:00 AM  
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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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