Forgive me if this offends anyone, but I can't help the impression that this old style from the late 1800s must have made a woman look like a horse's rear end, and I'm no style maven.
I came across this picture when looking for a wedding dress for my heroine in the historical I'm writing. I might dress her worst enemy in a dress like this, but not my character. The bustle makes the area below the waist seem to spread to twice its size.
May I say again that I'm definitely no style maven. That's why, when Kristin Billerbeck speaks, I listen. Now there's a woman who knows style. And then, of course, I listen to Colleen when it comes to color.
Someone in a store the other day tried really hard to get me to purchase straight leg, stretchy knit jeans. That means they were almost leggings. Another no-no for someone of my shape. Don't you hate it when you go shopping and the sales person isn't interested in helping you look your best, but instead just shoves anything at you, taking no notice of an overlarge area of your anatomy?
Kristin says leggings are for the young. Some other friends say they're for the young-at-heart. I guess I'm neither. I want comfort, and I don't want to look in the mirror and scream. So there are some fashions I'll love, and some I will never, ever, ever purchase. If a sales person from even one of my favorite stores tries to convince me to purchase something that isn't right for me, I'll give that store a few months before I return again, and hope that the clerk who knows nothing about fashion has been figured out and found her niche somewhere else.
If anyone has any ideas about what fashions look good on a fifty-something, normal-sized woman (for her age) please share! I can use all the help available.
When I was a kid, Halloween meant candy, pint- sized ghosts and goblins roaming the streets and a tummy ache (I haven't eaten Boston Baked Beans candy since second grade).
One year it was a rite of passage for me. I attempted to soap my first car window. Yes, I have a shady past--which has now been forgiven, just so you know.
But at the time, on a dare, I took a bar of soap over to a car and with great bravery lifted my hand to begin the work when a face, alive and breathing, turned a very frightening stare my way (Music from the Psycho shower scene playing here). I did what any brave kid on a dare would do--I ran away from there like a bat out of a forgotten warehouse. :-)
I have mixed emotions about the holiday. On the one hand, it's a fun time when kids can dress up like their favorite characters, giggle, and eat lots of candy. On the other hand, it promotes tooth decay. But worst of all, it seems a time where weirdos come out of the woodwork, so we parents/grandparents have to stand guard and keep a watchful eye. To me, that's what makes it truly scary.
I know it's a controversial holiday. Some celebrate it. Some don't. I'm interested in knowing your thoughts about Halloween.
Do you know, I can STILL see that old woman's face in the car window . . . .
I think most writers have a strong need for justice. Dickens wanted to explain to us why child labor was evil. He wanted us to know the irony of debtor's prison. He used story and characters to help us understand the plight of those who could not stand for themselves. Thomas Hardy wrote "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" so that we might understand how unfair the church could be when it didn't know all the facts.
Writers see a wrong and they want to make it right. So they do so on the written page, because I've learned earthly justice gets you nowhere. Last night, I was talking to a good friend about a lawsuit they lost. The circumstances and law were so clearly in their favor, and yet, sometimes the law does now have the wisdom of Solomon. Sometimes, it has the wisdom of Nabal. And that drives us writers crazy!!!
The pen is mightier than the sword for a reason. I think no matter which genres you read, you'll find there's a sense of justice in fiction. Because we all long for earthly justice. We all long to see the bad guy get what's coming to him, and yet, sometimes, that doesn't happen. Sometimes, we have to wait for justice. Fiction lets us have it now. Isn't that beautiful? What kind of justice do you enjoy in your fiction? Is there anything better than watching that Disney villain fall into the abyss? LOL
I've had my Kindle about a month now. I really like it and use it nearly every day but it's been a surprise to find that the things I thought I'd like on it, I don't, and the things I suspected I would hate I love. Very strange!
1. I don't like research books on it. That's the biggest surprise. I prefer them in regular book format.
2. I don't like certain non fiction books on it. Books on diet and health. I'd rather have those in real book format.
3. Not crazy about a Bible on it. I've tried several and I prefer the real Bible.
4. I DO like novels on it. I have it loaded and ready to go for Hawaii!
5. I like books on endorsement on it but pdf files are problematic because you can't enlarge them. Doc files are better.
So how about you? Want to give me an update on your thoughts about e-readers?
My earliest memories of reading were at our small-town library. I must've been 3 or 4 years old and I remember sitting in the aisles between towering bookshelves, opening the crinkly plastic covers and turning the musty the pages of storybooks.
I'm really thankful my mom took me to the library. She's never been much of a reader herself, and I know now she must've been taking me to encourage my love of reading. Little did she know, her baby would not only be an avid reader, but would one day write stories herself.
My next memories of reading are finding the Little House books on the shelves of my elementary library. I read through the whole series then went back and started over again. Recently I had the pleasure of reading one of those books to my youngest--he would want me to add here that he had to read a book for school, and we were woefully low on boy books. :-)
The Little House series got me hooked on reading for life. I've gone through slower reading times, during college and such, but I always come back to my love of reading.
What book got you hooked on reading? What's your earliest reading memory?
Don't you wish you'd thought of that? Millions of people paying to drink . . . water. Who knew?
I have to count myself among those, by the way. There is just something about knowing you're paying for bottled water--especially, the kind that says it comes from a clear mountain stream--that makes me feel all Grizzly Adams and all that. Just call me Mountain Woman. Clear, fresh air, mountain stream water, yes, that's the life for me.
But of course, I live in Small Town USA, where there are no mountains (though we do have an impressive stone quarry), country air that smells of, well, pigs, and I drink bottled water.
Some days I'm totally happy in my bliss, drinking what I consider to be pure water. Other days, I wonder if I'm caught in the trap of paying for tap water.
What are your thoughts? And what water do you think is best--bottled, distilled, mountain stream, tap . . . .
This is not a spider story, it's a study about whether my husband is more afraid of spiders or of me.
Last weekend, I went on a girlfriend retreat while poor Mel worked Saturday and Sunday. Two twelve-hour day shifts. Which means he didn't get home until after dark on Saturday. I had left specific instructions for him to water our recently planted shrubs. I know. I'm a shrew.
He was also supposed to feed the cats and put them to bed, and they were starving by the time he got home, so even though he did arrive before it was totally dark, he didn't get to the front yard until pitch black. The porch light doesn't reach far, so he improvised. He backed the car out of the garage and parked it at a crazy angle so he could shine the headlights across the yard. It wasn't quite enough for him.
If you will remember the mowing-through-spider-web incident a couple of weeks ago (little-girl scream ring any bells?) you can certainly understand why he was hesitant to walk between the trees, where Charlotte the 15th likes to build her webs. So he took a flashlight. A big one. And before he watered the shrubs, he sprayed the trees down really well so that if there were webs anywhere nearby, the water droplets would shine in the huge glow of the big flashlight and the headlights. And he kept the light aimed where he was aiming the hose.
So here's Mel hopping around in the front yard, huge light bouncing up and down in the dark, water spraying everywhere. It must have been a sight to behold. The police thought so.
Have I mentioned that we've had a few...um...incidents in our neighborhood that involved the police? It's a tiny town, and the police know us well because of interesting experiences we've had with them--but I'll tell you about the Halloween house alarm and the pit bull and the meth-house busts later.
So by the time Mel actually reached the shrubs and started watering, an officer in a cruiser pulled to the side of the road. He must have been thinking, "Oh, no, what this time?"
So Mel explained. I don't think the officer was surprised. I'm hoping he was impressed by Mel's thoughtfulness toward me and his ability to think outside the box. Probably not, but one can always hope. Mel kept his promise, and I was deeply moved...to laugh. He laughed with me.
Do you have any loved ones who have gone to such lengths to meet your expectations, even to the point of embarrassing themselves? I bet you do if you think hard enough. I'd love to hear your stories.
I'm a coffee snob. Okay, don't turn up your nose at me. I'll bet YOU are a snob about certain things too. The other day my daughter-in-law was mentioning that she is buying Kroger brand stuff. The kids are doing the Dave Ramsey money thing and she found that her food budget did much better when she bought the store brand instead of name brand.
But we all know that there are certain things that are a hill to die on. There are several things that I buy by name brand. Jif Peanut Butter for example. Nothing else will do. I buy Fage Greek Yogurt. Love the stuff. And I like Honeyville Farm almond flour. Everything else can be store brand.
Then we come to coffee. Ahem. Don't give me Folgers or Maxwell House or any other kind of grocery store brand. I want fresh roasted. I buy it from Echo Espresso in Phoenix. My favorites are World Blend and Java. And it has to be brewed in a Cuisinart coffee maker. And strong! Then I lighten it with heavy cream or half and half and add a touch of sweet. THAT is a perfect cup of coffee. When I've been on my hcg diet, the hardest thing for me was the coffee. The only way I could take it was iced and black with some sweetener. No half and half was allowed. Milk didn't cut it so I drank it cold and that changed the flavor. But boy, the first day off the diet, back came my coffee the way I like it!
What about you? Even in a down economy is there anything you'll pay a little extra to have just because it's your one indulgence? And by the way this might get into a book. Eden, my heroine in Lonestar Angel, is a coffee snob like me. I'm always looking for quirks and just maybe yours is one I can use. :)
Last week a reader asked what one thing I wish I'd known in my early twenties. If she was hoping for profound wisdom from a seasoned woman, ahem, well, I hope she wasn't too disappointed.
I was only 20 when I got married--see the photo? Now there's a girl with a lot to learn--she just didn't know it yet. And she probably never would've asked an older woman, "Hey, what do you wish you had known?"
My reader's question did get me thinking. What DO I wish I'd known in my early adult years? I couldn't narrow it down to just one, but here are a few things that came to mind.
I wish I'd known . . .
* That my value comes from Christ, not from what I do, how I skinny I am, or who loves me.
* That I really can--and SHOULD--stand up for myself.
* That putting others on pedestals will eventually culminate in a big, painful fall. Only God deserves that place.
* That no one will care as much about my health as I do--so I'd better take charge!
* That being able to say "No" can be a healthy, wise, and loving thing to do.
Mostly I wish I'd just known who the heck I was--that would've taken care of much of the above. :-)
Thanks so much for all your feedback on the cover. Thomas Nelson has reworked it and come up with this beauty:
As excited as I am to give away the Kindle to our readers, and I love my Kindle, I do hope it doesn't change this process too much. Or make a cover unnecessary because let's face it, we all choose a book by its cover. At least, we have at one time. It's the art that brings the book to life in a very special way. I don't want to let that go.
Confession: I'm not a coupon clipper. Sadly, I pay, gasp!, full price for just about everything.
Please don't tell anyone.
My friend told me she recently got a new Tassimo coffeemaker for FOUR dollars at Kohls! They are normally $199. It was on sale for $169 with a $50 rebate which made it $119. Then she applied her 30% off coupon, making it $84. Then she applied her $80 Kohl's bucks, bringing the coffeemaker down to $4!!! WOW!!! Now that's a savings I could get into!
So how many of you clip coupons? Are you organized with it or do you just stuff them in your purse (like I have on occasion--never to see them again)? I would like to be more diligent, but by the time I get them clipped and stuffed, I totally forget I have them until two years past the expiration date. Sigh.
Okay, take a good look at the second picture. No, don't look at the accidental blond, look at the hunky guy with the beard--no, not MY beard, Mel's! I had this on my laptop screen when he came home from work. I thought it looked pretty good. Mel wasn't so sure.
We knew on Saturday that we would have to either do a photo shoot ourselves or put ourselves at the mercy of a professional photographer. Since two of our favorites, Amber Zimmerman and Grant Schmidt, live too far away in opposite directions, we decided to make a date of it and try to do it ourselves.
Mel took his beloved little camera in his hot little hand and off we went to Jolly Mill, Missouri, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where our next books are to be set. It was a fun day because Mel loves taking pictures, and this was a rare day when I allowed him to photograph me. He went a little wild.
I pulled up some of the shots yesterday on the computer and showed them to Mel. The first picture you see at the top was his reaction.
"Crow's feet! I have crow's feet!" he said.
"Those are laugh lines. They're beautiful."
"Lines. That's what they are. Lines. Age lines. I'm getting old."
"They are marks of laughter, showing a life lived with joy and abandon. It shows your character. And don't forget, I'm older than you."
That shut him up, and he knows I believe what I said about the beautiful lines.
When I was a little girl, I looked at those lines on the faces of my parents and my aunts and uncles--who were all very attractive people--and couldn't wait until I had some of my own. So I laughed a lot, practiced in the mirror to see how naturally I could smile while producing those laugh lines. It took awhile. It took years. Actually, decades, but finally I have them, and I will not have Mel fretting over his.
Getting old physically is hard, but there are some good things about it. My favorites are the laugh lines that reflect a life of joy. Other lines reflect deep sorrow. Experience shows in the eyes, in the way a person looks out at the world. In some eyes, I may see beauty, but I may also see bitterness and cynicism. Unfortunately, I see that in the mirror on some days. Other days I see satisfaction, a deeper understanding, and my special favorite, I see the confidence that, no matter what I look like on the outside, or even what my heart reflects on any given day, God loves me unconditionally.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? What are some of your favorite physical traits that you appreciate about yourself as you grow older and your beauty seasons?
I've been working on Lonestar Angel like a madwoman (as Denise can attest since I've been burying her with scenes to read) and feeling a bit overwhelmed with family health issues. And we're going to Hawaii so the book has to get done! But what a great week it's been in spite of those challenges.
I have great friends. That makes everything bearable when the stress piles on. I was a finalist for the Glick Indiana Author Award in the Regional category. The big day was Saturday. I spoke on a panel with other finalists (that was way fun!) and the library put me and Dave up in the Omni, a great experience. I was treated like royalty. Then Saturday night at the big banquet, Diann, Jim, Denise and Kevin all showed up! When you have friends like that, what challenge can overwhelm you? Sitting there waiting for the announcement would have been unbearable except for my buds. I didn't win (I didn't expect to though. The rest of them are all college professors.) and I didn't mind because I had my peeps around me! It was a great evening. :)
Then yesterday I found out that The Lightkeeper's Daughter hit the CBA bestseller list. I have a great publishing team. What would I do without them? I'm so blessed!
So in honor of the fun week, I'm giving away 5 copies of my new book, The Lightkeeper's Bride. To enter, comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page or my personal Facebook page. Or if you're not into social media, email me at email@example.com.
Good luck! And I'm so blessed to count you all as friends.
It started Saturday night at the Indiana Authors Award Ceremony (Colleen was a finalist! Yay Colleen!). We were all having a grand time--and then Kevin finds the giant brochure for the Indiapolis theater. I tried to bury it under the free books, but it didn't work.
"Look," he says to me.
I look at the familiar listings of musicals, my soul shriveling inside. Please understand, I'm a fan of the arts. Heck, I'm a writer, aren't I? But musicals . . .
Years ago we inherited season tickets to the local theater. Every three months, Kevin and I dresssed up and headed out to see the latest offering. While I enjoyed a night out with hubby, turns out he enjoyed it more. Turns out he actually likes musicals. I like plays, really I do. I have no argument with the theater, it's just all that singing . . .
I mean, really, who stops their life every few minutes to sing about what just happened? They have me on the edge of my seat with the conflict, then what? They break out into song, droning on forever about their plight. I have no choice but to go to my happy place.
If I did this in my stories, my readers would throw my book across the room and write me hateful letters. And as I sit in the theater waiting for the action to continue, I look around my belongings. Where's a book--I want one to throw. Instead, I break out the Reesees Cup and wait for the show to go on.
Or better yet, I mentally travel to the setting of my current work-in-progress and watch my characters work out the next scene. One thing is sure: they won't be breaking out into song.
The other day I was watching Oprah on multiple personality disorder, and the psychologist who spoke said that the diagnosis was not totally accepted by the medical profession and it dawned on me how often this occurs. Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Alcoholism, you name it.
What's fascinating to me about this subject is that unless we've experienced something ourselves, we often deny it to be true, and that makes for a very small world. I wish we could open ourselves up more and hear people's viewpoints without judging them, or worse yet, denying their experience.
I think as humans, we so quickly want to dismiss something we don't understand. Since the China airport was shut down by UFOs, I heard a story about an interracial couple in the 1960's who were "abducted" by aliens. Since they didn't want to be on anyone's radar as a mixed race couple in the sixties, their story was eerie. Especially the woman being put under hypnosis and drawing what we know as a certain solar system. It's creepy. I don't know it's true, it really makes no difference to me, but I think I owe her the respect to hear her story.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own "truths" we don't allow other people to have theirs, and while we don't have to necessarily believe it, I think it's important to give people the respect they deserve. This woman on Oprah experienced extreme trauma as a child, and while other people deal with it one way, she dealt with it another. Some people are more sensitive than others and it seems unfair to judge others by the way we are. Sheesh, you can tell me most anything to my face, and sadly, I've learned the hard way, other people are not like that. Is there someone out there you might do a better job of listening to?
There's this guy I know, Walt, who likes to walk around his medical care complex every morning. He's kind of a hunk, but getting a little older. Today, one of the caregivers, very attentive, noticed Walt was out of breath, and so she checked his oxygen saturation with this cute little device they stick on his finger. She freaked when she noticed the percentage was 85. Not great oxygen sats, normally.
She called Walt's doc and told him Walt's oxygen was 85% and he was out of breath. The doc said to get Walt to the hospital. She called an ambulance, bundled Walt into the back and the ambulance personnel took him to the ER--no, Mel was not his doctor. By the time Walt got to the ER, his oxygen saturation was 97%. Pretty good for an old hunk.
Did I mention Walt was 92 years old? And that he walks with a walker every morning? Oh, and did I mention that he'd just finished his walk when his oxygen saturation was checked? 85% isn't too bad for a 92-year-old man just back from a major morning workout.
Somebody should've mentioned it to the medical personnel before the ambulance trip. It would have saved a lot of people a lot of worry, and Walt would have gotten his breakfast and his nice, hot shower, which he loves after a strenuous morning workout.
It's great to be attentive and caring, but sometimes being attentive means simply taking time to observe and listen.
This is a good lesson for me, because there are times I don't stop to listen. I jump to conclusions too easily. Sometimes I may speak a sharp word when I take something the wrong way, which could mean hurt feelings, or hearing the wrong directions when the directions are important. People aren't necessarily jerks when they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. It just might mean they may want to slow down and listen, take time to hear from the heart, take time to think before reacting.
Ever had that happen, when you speak a split second before you realize you should have taken a little more time to observe and listen?
Good morning, friends! There's been something I've been wanting to ask you about. At the conference a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my fabo editor Ami McConnell about settings. We were talking about how books with foreign settings don't tend to sell as well as those set in America. (This pains me by the way because I would LOVE to set a book in Australia or New Zealand, a historical romantic mystery.)
If you look at books in the general market, there are many with foreign settings. In the Christian market, there aren't as many and the ones that are there sell pretty poorly. Not just off a little but off a lot. There are exceptions to this. I think maybe Scotland historicals sell fine. That seems to be about it. Even regencies have tended not to do well, and they are very entertaining so this is puzzling.
I'd love to hear your theories about why this is. Do you read books with foreign settings? If you do, what makes you pick it up? If you don't, why do you tend to pass by one set in England or Greece for one set in small town USA? Or big city USA for that matter. :) Does it matter if it's historical or contemporary? Thanks for helping me figure this out!
You know, we all start somewhere. I started in a little donut shop in southern Ohio when I was 16. It was the first place I filled out an application. The owner looked at my ap and said, "Be here Monday at 5 am."
I was so heady over the idea of being hired, the 5 am part didn't quite register. For two summers in a row, and weekends during the school year, I woke at 4:15 am. I learned a few things at my first job:
1. I am not a morning person.
2. I have no business dealing with public before 9 am.
3. I am not a morning person. It bears repeating.
Of course I learned a few other things too:
1. How to manage money
2. How to be a responsible employee
3. That one never really gets sick of donuts
4. That I didn't want to serve donuts the rest of my life.
First jobs prepare us for real life and, most of all, they make us appreciate the job we ultimately end up having. Like I appreciate that I don't have to rise before the sun, that I don't have to smile at strangers before my eyes open, and that I can work in my pajamas. But hey, that's just me.
What about you?
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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.
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.