Girls Write Out
Thursday, March 31, 2011
I've been reading about "silent retreats" and wondered about them for a couple of years now. Though I love to talk, I think I'd really like to attend a silent retreat where the only One I talk to is God.

The way I understand it, you go to a lovely setting, many times it's a monastery, where your meals are provided, you have your own room, a beautiful gardens outside to walk through and benches on which to pause and reflect upon the Lord and His goodness.

I understand why busy moms want solitude, but my kids are grown and I have quiet in my house all day (except for the dog and cat). But there's something so inviting about going somewhere, away from life's duties, and just spending a whole weekend with God.

Have you ever done it? What was it like?

Sometimes it's not possible to get away, so we have to make do in smaller ways. An afternoon walk, a trip to the park, hiding out in the bathroom. And then if you have a great imagination, you can just slip away in your mind . . . . ;-)

So how do you get away and refresh your spirit?

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 10:18 AM  
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I don't know about you, but my life is impossible to schedule. Every day I try. I look at my little calendar, and I check my to-do list and I feel so excited about the day's accomplishments ahead of me. Then, reality happens.

I'm a go with the flow kind of person, so it doesn't necessarily bother me that my day gets changed. UNLESS, I really NEED to fulfill a responsibility. I was that child who took on the worries of the world, so I like to have things done. The more responsibilities on my plate, the more I envy my grandparents -- who used to say things like, "We can't do it Thursday. Arnold has a doctor's appointment."

Wouldn't that be heavenly? To plan your whole week around a little event and then, the world is your oyster? I long for that kind of predictability. Alas, with four kids, someone always has something going on except for Mom. Your life is relegated to the car. When DH told me that it was a waste to have Sirius radio in my car, I about had a conniption. "Listen, the only thing keeping me sane is Doctor radio and the rest, so you get your hands off my sanity."

I may be able to change the day at a moment's notice, but I am not good about sharing my desk. I honestly wish I had a little explosive power that when someone laid something on MY desk -- the only place that's truly mine -- it would sort of blow up in a puff of smoke. Wouldn't that be good? Maybe not. But am I alone? How do you feel about your schedule? Do you keep a schedule? Do you freak if you have to veer from it? How do you like to keep your lists?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
It's funny how the things we writers deal with make their way into our books. I'm rewriting an old romance and adding a suspense thread to it. I'd intended for Lucy's issue to be that she likes to fix things. She has trouble letting go of control. Ahem, somewhat like me. Actually, no, a LOT like me! LOL You ever notice how just when you think you've learned something, God shows you that you're not a very good student?

Case in point: A bare month ago I told you all how Diann's illness had shown me that our path is not to happiness in this life but to our eternal home in heaven. That eternity is what it's all about. Ah, I'd arrived. Then BAM. My Dave was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer a couple of weeks ago. I thought about blogging about it last week but I was still too upset to tell you about it.

Now I know the truth is still that our path is towards eternity, not happiness in this life. But I want to fix Dave's cancer. I want to fix Diann's cancer too. I have a real problem letting go and letting God take charge. Maybe because I'm the oldest of four kids and I mother everyone. But I'm a fixer. And it's so difficult for me to take my hands off and say, okay, God, he's yours. I KNOW he is in God's hands. And I know God knows what's best. But that's head knowledge. In my heart, I want to grab back the reins and make it turn out the way I want. We won't know if Dave's cancer has spread until he has surgery April 26. The waiting is killing me! But I need to look and see what God is trying to teach me.

And wouldn't you know it, Lucy is struggling with the same thing. Which is maybe why this book has been so hard for me to write. So prayers would be appreciated for my Dave, for Diann, and for me to rest in knowing God knows what is best.

How about you? What area to you struggle with?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:44 AM  
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remember a few short years ago before anyone knew what the term "Social Networking" meant? I'm shocked by how quickly things have changed. Facebook has shriveled the world down to the size of a fifteen inch monitor.

I'm amazed by how easy it is to keep in touch with my out-of-town family. By how handy it is to deliver birthdays and anniversaries wishes. By how simple it is to get reacquainted with old friends. Or check in on my teenagers' thoughts--even if they are sitting right across the room.

I've heard amazing stories of people finding long lost parents and children or old lovers reuniting. I love Facebook for all these reasons, but my favorite use of this great social tool? Connecting with people who were previously very difficult to find--my readers! I can speak directly to them and they feel free to chat with me. Facebook has truly revolutionized my world.

What's your favorite thing about Facebook? How has it changed your world?

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, I'll be giving away lots of copies of "A Cowboy's Touch" during the month of April at The Readers Circle! Just join the group to be eligible.

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:41 PM  
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Thursday, March 24, 2011
People see and do a lot of things that I would call extreme, and I'm pretty sure I do some things that you might think were outlandish. For instance, if you were with us last year when I showed you the picture I took of the armadillo sniffing my hiking boot, and Kristin said, "Eww!" that, to most people, would be a little extreme.

You might think having a pet snake in your fifth grade classroom for the kids to play with during recess might have been a little extreme. I still remember when the snake escaped during class, and we spent the whole recess period looking for it only to find it wrapped around the wall clock when we sat down to resume class.

Some folks who feel more worshipful during a quiet, liturgical service might feel uncomfortable with drums, guitars and keyboard, while those who prefer the louder, more energetic music, dancing and raising of hands to worship wouldn't feel that was the least bit extreme. I actually like both at different times--but not in the same service.

Yesterday when I had a therapeutic massage--which many would call extremely painful--my massage therapist told me about her glued-on eyelashes, which will stay on for weeks before they gradually begin to fall out. I thought that was WAY extreme. I wouldn't want glue that close to my eyes, but she loved it, and she told me about how much fun it was to flirt with her extended eyelashes. She looked great, but that's not for me. On the other hand, you might feel it extreme to undress and crawl beneath sheets in order to let someone come into the room and uncover a piece of you at a time and squeeze the toxins out of your body inch by inch for an hour.

I'm not into extreme sports, but I've found that each of us has done or seen something in our lives that others would feel was extreme, whether it's getting a tattoo, attempting a new hair color, new makeup, white-water rafting or feeding dirt to your fellow first-graders. Maybe you've gone sky-diving (I have a friend who did, and not too many years ago, and she's my age) or ocean kayaking (which Mel felt was a little too extreme for him) or you've seen some idiot dive off a bridge to a lake far below even when you told him not to. We all live lives of extremes--from extreme boredom to extreme amazement to extreme fear.

Got any stories to tell? I know the rest of us would love to read them. What's extreme to you?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:32 PM  
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Is it me or does anyone else have trouble getting her hair to look like the stylist made it look?

Let's face it. I don't have a lot of hair. How hard can it be to make it look like this picture (which I snapped right after my hair appointment)? Answer: Very hard.

Granted, I haven't been able to get to the store and buy mousse, a flat iron, and some putty. Yes, it takes all that just to tame 50 hairs. But still, you would think I could manage this.

I will conquer. My mind is made up. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm so thrilled to have hair, I don't even care if it's bad hair. But the fight is not over yet.

So I have to know, are you able to make your hair look like the stylist does or do you prefer the way you do it instead?

I'm becoming a woman of a thousand hairstyles . . . .

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:46 AM  
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Well, today has been a day! One of those crisis days where you start out with a perfectly reasonable schedule and it goes by the wayside for one crisis after another. I'm torn. Days like these make me wish I had a "real" job where no one could reach me and I was just expected to perform a task and go home. No such luxury.

Let's just say, the principal found me early. I had gone over to work away from home, where I didn't have Internet, so I'd have to work. Only to be found by my daughter's principal early in the day on my cell phone. Curse you cell phone!

Today was not one of my prouder moments as a parent and yes, I know, children have free will and all, but one would hope not this free. That phone call required a series of several other phone calls, which caused the need for this and that. And in the long run, I think I never got to actually work today. But I haven't had time to open my Laptop and see how far I got.

Life happens while you're busy making plans. I know this, but it never makes it any easier to go through it, does it? That's why I think we take pictures. They always look angelic in pictures and when they're sleeping.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When I was in Nashville last month, I had the BEST brainstorming session with the team. Eric Mullett, my marketing director, suggested we list the things that are important in my stories, and Ami had asked me what all my books had in common. As we talked it out, I realized all my heroines are overcomers. They are strong and don't let their past keep them from realizing the potential God has put in them. The team suggested a beach series, and I jumped on the idea.

It's called Hope Beach and it's going to be set along the ocean in North Carolina. I've been trying to find the right prototype for a small beach inn to serve as my inspiration, but I'm having trouble finding what I have in mind.

I want something quaint and old world looking, not a modern block building. It needs to make you feel you want to stay a while when you see it. I'd like to actually be old too, not just look old. So if it were built at the turn of the century, that would be perfect. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! And if there is anything you love about the beach, list it here so I can use it for beach ambiance. :) This one is called Inn On The Beach and it's in Florida. Cute, isn't it?

Just a sneak peak at what I'm working on. When we were in St.Croix, there was a Harbor Cam. I called my parents to have them go to the site so they could see us. And I got to thinking, what if someone saw something sinister? In this case, my main character sees her sister being abducted. The hero runs a dive shop down the beach (I think. Still noodling.) and my heroine turns to him for help. The theme is about greed vs generosity.

I have such clarity in my head about the story, and it's all because my team helped me see my mission. Love that!

So advise away. If you've stayed somewhere charming and can find the URL for me, that would be awesome but if you don't have time, just tell me the name and where it's at and I'll find it myself. Also, if you've had a sudden revelation of your purpose yourself, tell us. I love to hear stories like that!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:33 AM  
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

There's something about a small town. You might not want to live there--in a place where everybody knows your business and is often in the middle of it--but they're appealing to read about.

I read an article last week about the rising popularity of the small town setting. It's easy to see the appeal. In a time when life is complicated, families are disjointed, and our neighbors are strangers, it's nice to escape to a simpler place where community matters, where everybody knows your name . . . even if they know your business too.

I have to admit, I've been drawn to the small town setting lately, in my reading and my writing. I'm always on the lookout for that quaint little town for my next story.

So tell me, what's your favorite quaint town? Do you live in one or is there one in your region? A place that makes your heart sing and your stress fly out the window? Go and ahead and share . . . it might just end up in a book one day.

PS I took this photo of Livingston, Montana while doing research for "A Cowboy's Touch". This town is my prototype for Moose Creek.


Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:38 PM  
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Friday, March 18, 2011
After talking about beauty secrets on our deserted island last week, I've been thinking about travel and vacation. Once temptation is there, it's hard to resist. I know we've discussed vacation destinations on this blog before, but I'd like to discuss it for another reason this time.

In a few months, the first new Hannah Alexander novel in over two years will hit the stores and ebook publishing. The title is The Wedding Kiss, an historical suspense novel set near Eureka Springs, Arkansas in the year 1901. It has been suggested that in order to publicize this novel, we might consider running a contest. We could give away copies of our books, or we could give away e-readers with our books already loaded onto it. Those would be fun prizes.

I thought, however, that some people might be more interested in a vacation for two. I'm not sure about this, so I thought I'd ask for suggestions. If you won a contest like this, and just happened to be offered a Monday-through-Friday stay at a resort condo in either Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan or Tennessee, which would you choose, and when would you want to stay there? Would you prefer a place you could drive to, or would you prefer to fly across country? Or would you give the prize to a friend?

I could use some suggestions, because we'll have to start plans for the contest before long.
Any thoughts?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:07 AM  
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Writing in public can be embarrassing. I'm finishing my young adult novel, and I could NOT remember who I used as my "hero" in books one and two. Usually, I keep their pictures in my Scrivener file, but for some reason I didn't have it. Well, I knew he was an Argentine model and I knew he played "Taco" on a telenovela. Or so I thought. The reason I picked this guy is he has that pasty, long, flat-haired look the teens like. I personally don't get it, but my tastes run to Adam Ant, so who am I to say?

Anyway, if you research models from Argentina, you're not likely to get male images. Learned that first. But then, if you add Taco, there's a whole bunch of stuff on how the Taco Bell doggie died. Well, that's sad. I'm just looking for my hero, I don't want to learn about dead Chihuahuas!

I end up looking up "hottest Argentine men!" I'm sitting in a booth at Starbucks and I want to tell the guy next to me, "It's for research, honest!" But he just looks at me like I'm one sick puppy.

Well, after a long, fruitless search, I finally figured out the male model's role wasn't Taco. It was Nacho. All that trouble for the wrong menu item! I'm ready to go back to adult research now, but I'm also craving a Chimichanga. Ever been pulled out of your comfort zone?

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posted at 11:45 PM  
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I had the most unusual experience yesterday: a BAD Apple support experience. You all know I'm a huge Mac fan. I converted in 2006 and have bought 3 MacBooks, an iPhone, multiple iPods, a iPad and Mac peripherals since my conversion. Even when I went to the Apple site to log in for my call, I was exclaiming to my husband about the superb service. Then it all changed.

I love my new MacBook Air. Fabulous machine. But it's been having kernel panics every time it wakes from sleep. It's less than a week old. So I called Apple expecting them to just replace it. Which is what the tech guy said needed to be done. But he couldn't do it. He said I had to take it back to where it was purchased. WHAT? Since when does Apple not stand behind its products? I asked to speak to his superior. Who agreed they should just replace it but he had to get permission from HIS bosses. And no go. They said it had to go back to where it was purchased.

I'm still in shock from this. It's a serious breach of the stellar support Apple has always offered. When I bought an iPad from Target last month, it had a problem. When I called Apple about it, they told me to take it to the Apple store and if needed replaced, they would replace it there. So this is evidently a new policy, even though the tech told me it "had been in place for a while." CDW evidently doesn't know about this policy either because they say it's Apple's problem and THEY don't want to replace it. And this morning I didn't think it was going to wake up at all. So I'm going to try my luck at the Apple store in person tomorrow.

That said, I do love this machine. It's so light. It's incredibly FAST. I've never seen a machine boot this fast. And it's zippy with everything. Maybe I should just work on it 24/7 so it never goes to sleep. . . LOL

How about you? Do you have any service horror stories to tell me about or want to praise some great service?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 4:47 AM  
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Monday, March 14, 2011

It's that time of day again. I'm looking in the pantry wondering what's for dinner. Soon, my kids will be home and asking, "What's for dinner?"

This cooking stuff used to be fun, but 4 million meals later, not so much. I'm tired of the same ol' same ol', and not willing to go to too much trouble to put out a meal that will disappear in 5.7 seconds flat. Not to mention that the boys will have their hind ends sticking out of the fridge before I get the last fork in the dishwasher.

So that's where you all come in. Can you please give me some quick and easy dinner ideas? Preferably crock pot meals as our afternoons can get hectic. Our standy-bys are chili, pastas, sloppy joes, and breakfast for dinner. Anything else out there your family enjoys?

Hurry up, because as you can see, my hungry men are waiting . . .


Denise Hunter  
posted at 2:13 PM  
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Thursday, March 10, 2011
As I've stated before, I don't wear a lot of makeup, but there are certain beauty routines I depend on.

I've dreamed since I was a young girl of being deserted on an island--it would be a nice, warm island in case I was stuck there for awhile. I could eat coconuts and fish and of course there'd have to be a fresh-water spring. I would make friends with some of the animals on the island--there would be no dangerous ones or this blog wouldn't be necessary. A pet or two would be nice. One can get lonely on a deserted island.

I can imagine the ocean tides and the trees--there would have to be trees to protect me from the sun. I'd be in the water most of the time because I love the beach, but only during the hours when the sun wasn't too hot. Remember, this is my dream, so I can make the island what I want it to be. I can imagine losing weight and getting fit walking on the sand and building fire to cook my fish--I love sushi, but not the raw fish kind. Sushi actually means vinegared rice. I would cook the fish for my sushi, and I'd have to do without the rice, but I love seaweed. I'd hope to find some of those edible flowers I wrote about the other day.

My hair would grow long and be bleached by the sun so the gray wouldn't show too badly. (Ha!) And my cellulite would go away. But all these years I've dreamed about my island, I've tried to choose the one beauty item I would absolutely have to have with me before I could be rescued. Would it be my under-eye cream? No. With coconuts all over the place, I would have plenty of oil for that.

I'll tell you if you'll tell me. Have you ever wondered, if you only had one beauty item to choose from, which one you must have?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 9:19 PM  
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I loved Roseanne Roseannadanna. For you youngins, she was a character on Saturday Night Live back in its heyday, and Roseanne was created by Gilda Radna. A hysterical comedienne who married the only Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder. Gilda was taken from this life way too early by ovarian cancer. She was only 42 and because it was so hard to find and diagnose, she never really stood a chance.

Today, ovarian cancer is becoming easier to locate and treat thanks to the -- In fact, I can name you two survivors right now. They're authors on our latest devotional, whose proceeds will help to fund ovarian cancer research. A big round of applause for Diann Hunt and Sandra Bricker!!!

Unlike cancer, the devotional is fun, happy and uplifting. I'm giving two copies away today for those who leave a comment. Only two, because I want you to buy the copies and raise money to eradicate this horrible disease. This way, you can spend joyous time with God and know you've done an awesome thing just to get there.
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Today is my editor's 40th birthday. She's the cute one 2nd on the right. :) Happy birthday, Ames! She's edited me for nine years now and my writing has grown so much thanks to her.

But even more than being the best editor in the business, she's a dear friend, more like a daughter. When I think of my kids, she's one of them. It's funny how relationship builds and grows, isn't it? At first I was terrified of her even though she was so young. I'd heard her name mentioned with great awe and respect for several years, and now here I was as one of her authors. It took a while for me to begin to allow myself to even think of her as a real person and not this hallowed icon of the industry. LOL

She is incredibly insightful when she's editing, but also just as a person. She thinks through things so deeply. She has a lot of wisdom too, for one so young. I love her children like they are my own grandkids too. And thinking about Ami got me to wondering about relationships in general. Our own families are incredibly important. I know I can call my parents or my Aunt Edith or my Uncle Ron and they would help me with anything in a heartbeat. But isn't it amazing when friends can become as close as family? My girls here are like the sisters I never had.

So who in your life has shown God's love in such a way that they are "closer than a brother" now? How did it happen?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:28 AM  
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Thanks for all your fun captions to the photo! You're a bright and creative group. :-) Without further ado, here are the winners of the free copy of "A Cowboy's Touch".

Timothy Fish

Winners, shoot me an email at with your mailing address and if you want the book signed to you or someone else.

And for the record, I don't know about anyone else in the photo, by my caption was definitely, "Please snap the photo so I can get my hair off this dirty hotel carpet!"
Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:34 AM  
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Monday, March 07, 2011

I'm so excited! I got my copies of "A Cowboy's Touch" in the mail!

I'm in the mood to celebrate, so I'm giving away 3 signed copies to our Girls Write Out friends. That's you! The book doesn't release until April 1, so if you win, you'll also be getting a sneak peak. :-)

Let's make it fun. Come up with a caption for this photo and leave it as a comment. I'll choose 3 random winners and post the names tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:09 AM  
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I have good news to report! We saw Dr. Williams today and while Di does have a recurrence of ovarian cancer, the two spots are just in her abdominal cavity and no where vital. The doctor immediately started her on a different chemo and assured us the fight was far from over. She said this wasn't even maintenance to keep the cancer from progressing but we were still going for eradication!

Di and I both burst into tears at the news. AND this new chemo won't make her lose that adorable hair she has now. I'm going to take a picture and post it. She looks so cute with her hair this length.

I can't even begin to thank you all for your prayers. We know God heard all of us beseeching heaven on her behalf. Please keep up the prayers and we'll keep you posted. Love you all!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:24 PM  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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