We mentioned that we are working on a new book together. It's four novellas but it's going to be structured as one whole book that's tied together though with the first four of us writing it. The fun thing about it is that we are using our own personalities so it's easy for us to write one another's characters.
Have you ever realized you are living a fairy tale or children's story? As I formatted our final document to go to Ami, I realized again that we are, well, Winnie the Pooh characters. LOL First there is Kristin. She's the Owl. She is quick to offer her opinions and views, even if we don't quite agree. And in a very witty way. LOL Then there is Diann. She is Piglet, even though she's not round. LOL She loves going on adventures with Pooh just like she likes being prodded into adventures with me. Piglet loves bright colors, balloons, and blowing dandelions just like Di loves Christmas music, chocolate and her family. She can easily be inspired to step out of her comfort zone.
Denise is Eeyore. Very intelligent and a deep thinker but tends to, um see the glass as half empty. LOL She keeps us grounded and organized and is VERY creative. Then there is me. I'm Tigger in case you didn't know. I can be unbearably cheerful. Obnoxiously so. LOL I am bouncy and like to coax the others to do things they might otherwise be too shy to do. I'm a major extrovert like Tigger but every group of introverts needs someone like me.
So did any of this surprise you or did you have us pegged pretty well? And doesn't that just make you all the more eager to read Smitten? To get to know us better? :-)
Even though Cheryl isn't in the collection since it's only 4 stories, she is part of our Pooh parade too. She is Rabbit with her love of the outdoors and the way she likes to concentrate alone on what her task is. :)
How about YOU and your best friends? What fairy tale or children's story characters are you?
I'm not sure what to think about this latest mess with TSA, but I will tell you that I have no intention of walking through a scanner that shows me naked or even near-naked to some stranger. Mel just told me about an airline employee who was suspended for decking a superior officer. Do you know why? Because these employees were required to walk through this new scanner when they first got them. The superior officer teased this employee for some time afterward about the physical attributes beneath his clothing. I can't say that I blame the employee.
So if we need to travel any time soon--or at all, ever again, if the laws aren't changed--our car had better be in good shape, and we'd better plan for a longer trip.
Yes, I know the highways are not as safe as the flyways, but I already hate flying. From what I understand, the new steps being taken with these new x-ray devices would not have stopped any of the terrorist attacks. All they do is make it harder not only for the airlines to stay in the black, but they set up many innocent travelers for increased harassment. It also sets up airline personnel for increased harassment, not only from TSA, but from angry and embarrassed travelers who blame the wrong people.
Plan to fly this holiday season? Brace yourself, and pray you don't get stuck giving a peep show to a stranger.
This is Thanksgiving week, and the Girls have SO much to be thankful for! Our Di has walked a hard road this year and we've walked it with her. Tomorrow at 9:05 AM EST she and I are going to be on WBCL to talk about friendship, cancer, writing and God. (Denise was supposed to be with us but she's been dealing with some kind of severe chronic fatigue and can't make it. Please pray for her! Now we have to get her through this.)
We have the whole hour! What a treat to talk with Lynne Ford that long! We just love her. As I thought about the things we'll get to talk about, I was overcome with gratitude to God for the way He's moved in our lives. Even if things hadn't turned out as well as they did, we know that He is faithful and works everything out for our good even when it's hard.
But we've made it through this year! Di's hair is growing back and so are her eyelashes. :) Just looking at this sunset in Hawaii inspires me about God's goodness and power. Tune in Tuesday at 9:05 to hear us talk about the journey, things you probably haven't heard. It's going to be a fun hour of laughter, love and books. :)
And now what are YOU most thankful for this year? Anything we can pray about for you?
Sometimes I think there is nothing that distinguishes us more than our choices in music. We can all have similar interests--for instance we can all love to read, love to eat ice cream, love animals--but we have widely variable tastes in music.
My favorite music is classical. Not just any classical, but anything slow and soft, that doesn't disturb my thoughts while I'm listening.
For a year or so, when I first started writing, I listened to music that would get me in the mood of the scene I was working on. Then I became addicted to the music I heard played at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. I loved it so much that I purchased a tape--yes, it was a long time ago--and then played that tape over and over onto a longer one so I wouldn't have to interrupt my writing every thirty minutes, when the tape ended. Now I can't listen to music when I write, because any kind of music disrupts my thoughts. Actually, it doesn't take more than a flicker of light or sound to disrupt my thoughts these days.
Some of my favorite pieces of music are very short, and they come straight from God. I love the sound of the ocean, the whisper of the breeze through pine trees, the purr of a cat, the song of a bird, and even the sound of my own hiking boots in the grass when I'm hiking. It wasn't until I went to the Grand Canyon for the first time that I realized how much I loved the sound of silence--so pure that I could hear the brush of a bird's wings in the air as it flew below me in the canyon. I can still recall those moments, and it gives me peace.
What about you? What makes you feel peaceful? What brings you joy? What makes you want to dance? What's your favorite song, or brand of music, or sound? I think that can tell me a lot about you.
As you know, in August (around my birthday) I didn't have much hair so hubby got me a gift certificate for a nail salon. I so appreciated and loved the "new look" of my hands. I felt so feminine. What I lacked in hair, I was making up for in my hands. My nails looked beautiful!
Until I got home and tried to type. An email that once took twenty seconds to type, now took an entire episode of Matlock to get through.
I like to wear necklaces. Those days were gone. No way to clasp it with those nails. And the little tiny backs of earrings? Wasn't happening.
So I went to the store yesterday and bought non-acetone to take the nails off. I'd had enough. Soaked them in this solution and finally got all but three of them off. Yeah, it's kind of like having a snaggle-tooth grin. Looks pretty weird having three long ones and the rest stubs.
Anyway, my nails hurt like the dickens all night. And they're in awful shape from that glue stuff.
All of you out there with beautiful acrylic nails, I salute you. As for me? It's back to stubs and quick typing.
California gets a bad rap, because let's face it, we are one dysfunctional state. From our politics, which are like one of those breezy, artsy schools where homework is forbidden and most problems can be solved by a Playdough sculpture -- to the Hollywood starlets who seem to be allergic to underpants. But, we have Yosemite. And Disneyland...and San Francisco, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Recently, Cheryl (a California-born native) returned to our fair state with her husband, Mel for a doctors' conference. I was so glad Mel could spare her during the day and we got to see Alcatraz. Over the weekend, I got to see Mel too when I met them at Fisherman's Wharf and we feasted on Dungeness Crab and a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I think Cheryl would agree that California is pretty fantastic.
There are lots of Christian writers who call our fair state home: Camy Tang, John Olsen, Rick Acker, Sarah Sundin, Laura Jensen Walker and Francine Rivers, to name a few. So, while we're not the Bible belt, we have a lot to offer out West and I'm so glad Cheryl and Mel got to see some of that beauty in their tour. I love that being with my writer friends, we are never lost, we are only exploring. Sure, we may explore under the Golden Gate bridge a few times, but that doesn't diminish its beauty. We may finally reach The Palace of Fine Arts so that I can explain that it's the setting for one of my favorite movies, "So I Married an Axe Murderer" -- but my fellow writers don't care. It's RESEARCH! Even when one's evil GPS system sends them onto the Golden Gate bridge for the third time running (and thank goodness for that last exit, or it would have been $15 at least -- think it may be more than $5 now!)
But come to the Golden State. Ignore our funky excess of Smart Cars and Priuses and focus on the beauty that is California. Did I change your mind any?
The way I'm tempted by candy and chips and rice crispy treats, I NEED this towel over my head to avoid all the stuff these fancy hotels place in our rooms. Mel is in conference today, and I'm trying to write in our room, but the hotel where we're staying has set out Evian water (spelled backwards? Naive) at $5.00 a bottle. And not a big bottle, a little bottle. And cookies and treats and chips are outrageously expensive, but they're placed in this tray that is electronically connected so that if you even MOVE something on the tray? You get charged for it on your room bill. What would happen if I lost my balance and fell into the thing? I walked down the street and bought my own, cheaper, bottles of water and gluten-free breads and cheeses for snacks that are much better for us. Oh, my goodness, the Farmer's Market here in San Francisco has fresh figs and persimmons. We had them for dinner last night. Love those fruits that we never get in Missouri.
Okay, back to the griping. The Bible tells us not to tempt others to sin--since I don't have mine with me right now, and my walking concordance is in class, I can't come up with book, chapter or verse that says this, so if someone else can give me the passage, I'll gladly take it and place it on the dresser when we leave. We have a refrigerator in our room, but we aren't allowed to use it, because it stores all the alcohol and sodas at outrageous prices.
And you know what's worse? There's a little sign in front of that tray of tempting food on our dresser that says our own personal items (foods, waters, etc.) will be removed daily. So I am leaving the Do Not Disturb sign out all the time we're here. I did that the first day at the last hotel--Mel's doing two back-to-back conferences--and security came to the door that evening to see if we were okay. Oh, brother. Yes, I know housekeeping depends on my tips, but do not kick me out of the room while I'm trying to work so you can clear away my nutritious food. It was the warning that they would remove my personal food items that really set me off.
Now, for the fun part, as Kris already said, we got to spend the day together Wednesday! Such fun. I enjoy Kris so much. I had emailed a young friend of mine about getting to see Kristin Billerbeck, and she wrote back, "I love her books! She's so funny." Yes, she is. Kris can make me laugh even if she, herself, is depressed. It takes a real talent for that kind of humor. It's why she's so much fun to be with.
So, my gripe session is over and I have ended on a happy note--seeing one of my GWO friends is always a happy note. It's time to go back up to the room and get to work. I have deadlines to meet. If anyone can share that passage about tempting others, I'd appreciate it.
On Tuesday, a wise friend (waving at Katy!) gave me some wonderful advice. She told me to surround myself with things I love. Of course, that includes family and all that, but she also mentioned Victoria magazine. She had no way of knowing how much I love that magazine.
In fact, I love it so much I have notebooks filled with Victoria magazine issues dropped in sheet protectors.
So yesterday, after my CT Scan, I took some magazines and went to lunch by myself (my choice), ate a leisurely lunch and browed through the magazines. Last night, I spent all evening just enjoying my magazines.
I did something else.
I took some of the store ads we've been getting in the mail and cut out the snow scenes (yes, I love snow) and set them aside for a journal.
Have you ever seen the movie THE LAST HOLIDAY with Queen Latifah? I highly recommend it! Such a sweet movie. And in that movie she has a "possibility notebook" filled with pictures and the things she loved or hoped to do or see.
That's what I'm doing. I'm making a "Comfort Notebook," filled with pictures of comforting things--winter scenes, hot chocolate, a blazing fireplace, all that.
Have you ever done anything like that? What do you think of the idea?
I'm late in posting today because Cheryl and I (Hannah Alexander) were in San Francisco. Okay, I woke up with a BAD morning, and I wasn't going to go today. The kids were lagging, I was cranky, the traffic was HORRIBLE. But I took one look at the weather and I knew it was going to be perfect in San Francisco, so I said, I'm coming, I'll be late.
And I was.
But we went out to lunch at this gorgeous, wonderful restaurant...with a dress code, but I didn't meet it and they still let me in, so yay!
Then, we went to ALCATRAZ!! I have lived here my whole life, and never gone. And I was so excited to be there, to be in the City, to be on the boat, to drop Cheryl off at the luxurious hotel on Nob Hill. Everything went according to plan, as all good days with close friends do. Life is beautiful. Go kiss someone you love and tell them so! My kids were grateful to have THIS mommy back, and I was grateful for a little girl time so I could be that mommy.
Even if I did drop my $200 sunglasses in the REAL Alcatraz toilet and have to fish them out. Ugh. Where was the bleach when I needed it? B
You have heard me mention how we LOVE Hawaii. This trip will forever be known as "Love You Like a Mango" trip. When we first got to Maui, I heard a song called "Drop, Baby, Drop" on the radio and one line was I love you like a mango. It just cracked me up and I told Dave I loved him like coffee and avocado. He said he loved me like Peanut M & Ms. LOL So we have been laughing about that and had to buy the song as well. We've about worn out the CD. We had a FABULOUS time on Maui. The Kanapaali Beach Hotel was a totally Hawaiian experience. Mikala presented us with our first kukio nut lei when we left and every time we come back we'll get a white nut. I liked Mikala so much I had to give him a copy of Dangerous Depths. The hotel grounds are so beautiful and you expect to see Elvis strolling the grounds. The beach is to die for. I went snorkeling at black rock and the coral was incredibly beautiful. It a very Hawaiian experience with many on staff real Hawaiians. Mikala is Portuguese Hawaiian and had 11 sisters!
We came to Kauai on Tuesday. We adore our little Turtle Cove Cottage! It's on the south shore and has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. It's totally charming with great views of the water. I've never seen a rental house that was so immaculate and so perfectly equipped in the kitchen. Our host Alan Souza is a big time surfing champion from the 60s. We've enjoyed seeing pictures of their dogs and the other decorations. fm,.m.,we,.wIt's been a fabulous time so far and we have almost another full week here. I think this has been the most relaxing trip I've ever had. Since we've seen the islands so much, we haven't had an agenda and have been able to lay on the beach (much to Dave's dismay) and snorkel. Dave has been a buying fool and has bought me FOUR tropical dresses.
We had fish tacos at Big Tim's in Hanalei on Thurs and yesterday we had the to-die-for Puka Dogs. I highly recommend the spicy garlic sauce and the pineapple salsa with likikoi mustard. We've been cooking in the kitchen quite a lot too and that's been fun. And coffee in Hawaii. What more do I have to say about that?! Ahhh. I could drink five pots a day. :)
Do you have a favorite spot you always go back to? If so, what brings you back time and time again?
We girls were at the ACFW conference together recently, and since Amber (Diann's fabulous photographer daughter) was there, we decided to get some shots while we were together.
We'll be showing some of the others soon, but I thought I'd give you a preview of our nutty photo shoot. As you might've guessed, there's a story behind this photo. It goes something like this:
"Hey, I have an idea," Colleen says. "Let's get a shot with one of us jumping on the couch--Kristin or Denise--and the rest of us watching."
"My balance is bad," Kristin says. Sure, play the MS card.
"Denise it is," says Colleen before I can even open my mouth.
"Hey, don't I get a say in this?"
Apparently not. I did get final veto power over the photos though, and I got my exercise for sure. Let's just say we didn't exactly get this in one take. But, hey, there's not much I won't do for my girls. So here it is, me going all Tom Cruise in Indianapolis.
But I'm sure you've never done anything silly or outrageous for your friends.
What to wear, what to wear. I never know what to pack when I'm traveling. As the girls can tell you, I change clothes at least four to six times every morning because I can't decide what looks good. I'm never satisfied.
So now that I'm packing for a trip to San Francisco--yes! exciting, right?--I don't know what to pack. I'm told to dress in layers, but I plan to stay in the room a lot and work, and Mel's in conference every day all day, so we won't be out much. I want to be comfortable, but in a city like San Francisco, I need to wear city clothes, not my comfy hiking clothes that I wear on a hiking vacation.
Can you see my dilemma? Mel is easy to pack for. Jeans and tee shirts and a suit coat and sweat jacket, because that's what all the other conferees have been told to wear. But me? I'm on my own.
By the way, I love this jacket in the picture, but my latest craze has been coats and wraps and outer wear, and I'm full up. Don't need more.
I could use some advice. When you travel, what do you wear? Does it depend on where you go? Do you take just a few clothes and plan to do laundry halfway through the trip?
Not in the Pamela Sue Anderson sense of the word, mind you. Hot, as in, I have to dress in layers so I can peel at a moment's notice. Hot, as in, I could keep my windows open at night in the dead of winter. Hot, as in . . . well, you get the idea.
My husband was born cold. He gets the sniffles if the temperature drops below 80. He can wear a wool suit in July (100 degree weather). I've seen him do it--he reenacted a soldier from the war of 1812 and had to wear that suit. I needed a fan just to watch him.
I could save us big bucks on heating bills, but unfortunately, his doctor bills and cold medicine would cancel that out.
There seem to be a lot of people out there who live together (couples, moms/kids, etc.) who are very different when it comes to body temperatures. So how do we find common ground?
The solution at our house is fans. Small fans. Hubby bought me one or my work station, where I sit at night to watch TV, and by my bed. I also have one that travels with me. As long as there is cold wind blowing on my face, I'm good.
We also have a basket of blankets in our family room. He can dig one of those out and cocoon himself to his heart's content. We're both happy.
Are you living with an opposite? Are you cold and they're, well, not? How do you handle it?
I was watching "Gone with the Wind" this weekend (yes, I've seen it a few times) but I was stunned at what hit me about it this time. It's the ending where Scarlett says to Ashley, "Oh you really loved her. Why didn't you tell me you loved her?" Or something to that effect.
I think as Christians we can be like that a little. Shoved upside the head by reality because we've chosen to believe someone is better than they are. I think that's a good thing, seeing the best in someone, except when reality keeps kicking us and we don't understand why.
Sometimes, people want to be seen as "good" and in doing so, they're not living authentically. A little secular advice would have been good for Scarlett (and myself at times) -- "When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time." Maya Angelou.
As a church, I think this would be some healthy advice. Too often we want to "forgive" and let yeast back into our fold without reality take effect. No one is above sin, but come on, can we at least make sure there's some repentance? Ashley didn't seem to mind Scarlett's attention. Mr. Nice Guy wasn't so nice, was he?
Rhett saw it like it was, and at least he lived authentically. Not nicely. But authentically. Whereas Scarlett chose to stay in her pretty, created world.
Scarlett: Ashley, you should have told me years ago that you loved her and not me, and not left me dangling with your talk of honor. But you had to wait till now, now when Melly's dying. To show me that I could never be any more to you than, than this Watling woman is to Rhett ... And I've loved something that doesn't really exist. Somehow, I don't care. Somehow, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter one bit.
I have exciting news! There's a new Snuggie on the market. It's called Snuggie for Two.
Yessir, it's the blanket with--count 'em now--3 sleeves. You can cuddle up on the couch with your honey and hold hands in your shared sleeve while watching TV. The sales pitch for this product is "Stop fighting over the Snuggie! Now we have one you can share!" Because, yeah, all over America couples are bickering over their Snuggie blanket. For $19.99 plus shipping and handling, you can end the war.
Is there any doubt a woman designed this product? I have yet to meet the man who wants to be trapped inside a fleece blanket with another human being. And is there a woman over 50 who wants to be stuck in a fleece blanket with another heat generating human? I think not. This product has the target audience of about 2 people--probably the ones in the ad. But don't they look cute?
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT-- DON'T FORGET TO VOTE TOMORROW!
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.