Thursday, June 30, 2011
Things are happening at my house! After thirty-eight years serving in education, hubby has officially retired! Whoohoooo!!! He's finally getting around to the honey-do list I made for him our first year of marriage. :-)
The truth is he already has another job--this time, doing what he absolutely loves--working with computers. On a part-time basis, he will be teaching all things Mac at a Christian school here in town and he can hardly wait! My techie has reached his dream! I have absolutely NO techie abilities, so I can hardly wait for him to help me with my Mac! :-)
My health is improving daily--and I thank you sincerely for all the prayers! I NEVER take them for granted!! If my body cooperates, I could be done with chemo in three more treatments! Whoohooo!!
Life is full of changes. Some exciting, some not so much. Some days it doesn't bother me, other days, God intervenes so I can get out of bed. But I'm learning, day by day, to embrace the changes life brings our way--one change at a time.
What about you? How do you handle changes--run away screaming? Go on a shopping spree? Munch your way through the refrigerator?
Labels: change, health, retirement
posted at 9:23 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I've noticed a phenomenon now that I'm getting older. I'm sure it was always there, but I'm just noticing it. We've had quite a few men whose wives have died. Within six month or so, they are dating. One was even remarried in three months after being a devoted husband to his wife of over fifty years.
At first, I was dismayed and not a little disgusted. Was all their devotion just a sham? This week we found out yet another friend was dating again after his wife died about eight months ago.
I told Dave that after seeing this happen over and over again, I was sure that if I went on to heaven first, he'd replace me in no time so I didn't have to worry about him. The women would be lining up to snag my handsome guy. He laughed and said something I hadn't thought about. The Bible actually says man was not meant to be alone. It's right there in Genesis 2:18. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
So it's obviously in man's nature that he seeks out a new wife. My Dave would be a mess without me. It would spoil heaven for me if I thought he was trying to go it alone and missing me so terribly. But I would like him to wait a LITTLE while. LOL But for myself, I don't see me replacing him. He'd be a hard man to replace for one thing. I'm spoiled. He does so many things and does them so well. And he's always trying to please me. Well, except that refusal to build me a master bathroom thing. :)
How about you? I know this is slightly morbid, but we're all going to face eternity at some point. How would you feel if your spouse remarried? Do you think he/she would mourn or replace?
Labels: men remarriage
posted at 6:16 AM
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I was in a bookstore this week browsing the covers. I'm mostly using my Nook to read, but there's just something about looking at beautiful covers.
I love Sarah Dessen's covers. Also Elin Hilderbrand. I could just sit and stare at them. They beg me to pick them up and take them home. I haven't read Dessen yet (she writes Young Adult fiction), but I know the inside of Hilderbrand's novels are as well done as the outside.
This is the cover for my next book, due out in January. I'm so excited about "The Accidental Bride"! It's my favorite of all my books. Shay is a strong and sassy heroine, well matched by the hero Travis. And the circumstances they find themselves in, well, the book practically wrote itself.
As you can see by the photo, the Thomas Nelson team once again went to work and came back with a beautiful, evocative cover. They don't miss a single detail. This one required a photo shoot to get just the right look.
What do you like about the cover? What does it make you wonder? How does it make you feel?
Labels: book covers
posted at 8:24 PM
Friday, June 24, 2011
A friend of mine repeated a sermon she heard Sunday at her church in Nashville, and it resonated with me. Remember when scientists were researching the concept of building an atmosphere for living on another planet? I don't recall a lot about it, but that doesn't mean much. My memory is just coming back after a long few months of forgetfulness.
These people set up a protected eco-system and lived within that system. They planted gardens for food, trees to produce oxygen, developed all they needed in that protected environment. The trees grew, the gardens grew, and everything was going along just fine until, quite some time into the growing process, the trees broke.
Without the trees, there was nothing to convert the carbon dioxide, and so the experiment had to be discarded. Research showed them why they lost their trees--in that protected atmosphere, there was no wind. Without wind, the trees weren't forced to dig deep roots, and the wood wasn't forced to grow strong. Weakened by lack of stress, the trees couldn't hold their own weight.
What an epiphany for me! Our sermon last Sunday night was about forgiveness. All of us have been hurt by people we care about--and some people we don't care about. We're left to pick up pieces we didn't break, and yet we're expected to forgive. I know the solid answer for that is that we forgive for our own good, so we don't turn bitter. Perhaps, however, it goes deeper than that. When God allows us to be hurt, maybe we should consider that the wind of God may be blowing in our lives. If the wind doesn't blow, we aren't going to grow strong, our roots don't dig as deeply, and our lives will be breakable.
If we become rooted in the Holy Spirit and the Word of God instead of in the anger and pain brought on by others, our roots will hold fast when true hardship comes, and our strength will come from the words of God. I hate the pain and hardship in my life, and would, of course, never bring it on myself if I could prevent it. God, however, sees to it that I'm tested. Those whom He loves, He chastens. We can't thrive as Christians if we live in a protected bubble all our lives. Sometimes I even find myself thanking Him for my trials. Not often, but sometimes.
Have you done that recently? What hardships has He brought your way, either through the meanness of others, or through life stressors, that have made you strong enough to cope with life?
Labels: deep roots, enduring hardship, Good stress
posted at 12:39 AM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I hope all writers go through this. I know Colleen doesn't, but she's sort of inhuman with the happiness gene, so I'm going to bypass her. I'm in a whiny mood. I do believe I always get to this place about the same point in my book. Something is missing, and I can't put my finger on it, and so I keep going praying that it will come to be by the end.
This is when I wish that I knew how to plot. Actually, I know how to plot. I could teach a class on it. I just can't plot. My characters never do what I want them to do, and this annoys me. It's kind of like my kids. LOL
The kids are gone to my mother's house until tomorrow, so there's more at stake than usual. I should be writing Shakespeare's sonnets with this kind of time. Do you ever do that though? Squander time when you know THIS IS IT. I should not be procrastinating! The maid was here today, and so I cleaned out my son's room. She heard me in there squealing (I dropped a bookshelf on my head -- that's another story.) So she came in and helped. And we had so much fun cleaning that disaster.
I do believe my son has every Lego he's ever received since he was two, and I tried to make a place for them all, or I got rid of them. (He has also saved the boxes and every Lego magazine and instruction manual.) I kept the instruction manuals, ditched the boxes and the catalogs. I totally accomplished something. Just not what I was supposed to accomplish. My car was in the shop all day today, so I didn't even have the ability to go OUT and waste time. Yet I managed to do it right here, without any accomplices. What kind of things do you avoid?
posted at 8:38 PM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
First off, please pray for our Diann. She's in the hospital. Has been experiencing severe pain and nausea. I suspect she has mucositis in her intestines from the chemo. The doctor suspects an ileas problem. Whatever it is, we want them to find it and fix it!!
My last few books have been historicals. Those women must have been superwoman! They had a houseful of kids, some of them 13 or 14 children. And they didn't stop having children until they hit menopause so some had babies in their late forties.
I'm 59. We watched our Punky for 5 days last week. It was so much fun! I absolutely adored it, but though I hate to admit it, I'm old. I couldn't keep up with that little ball of energy. Sometimes I just laid on the floor and watched her play instead of playing too. This Mimi had to catch her breath! So I respect those pioneer women all the more for all they did.
Of course, the older children helped out with the younger ones. In my family, there were four of us and I was oldest so I helped my mother quite a lot. My youngest brother Dave basically had two moms. LOL And I still mother Dave and Rick within an inch of their lives. Some things are just bred into you. :)
Being around a child when you're older like me makes you look anew at the wonder of childhood. And that made me wonder if the women who have children when they are older look at their children differently? I had my first child at just before my 21st birthday (52 minutes before to be precise.) I took it for granted and don't think I really appreciated the wonder of watching a child grow up. I often wish I could go back and do it over again.
What about you? Are you an older mother or do you know an older mom? I'm curious. And yes, it might make it into a book. LOL
posted at 9:16 AM
Monday, June 20, 2011
The book world is changing fast, isn't it? Just a few short years ago, if you wanted a book, you had to go to the library or bookstore. Now, with books gone digital, it's a different game.
Never has getting and reading a book been so easy. Download it to your Nook, your Kindle, or your iPad. You can even download the new bestseller onto your computer or iPhone. You are only one click away from from being swept up in the story of your choice.
It's quick, it's oh-so-convenient, and it's even cheaper. That explains the quick growth of the digital book--despite the fact that most die hard readers love the feel of those real pages.
Mostly I read on my Nook now, though every now and then I succumb to an impulse buy when I'm seduced by a beautiful cover. How are you reading these days? Hard copy, e-reader, or an app for your computer/iPhone, etc?
Labels: digital books, Kindle, Reading
posted at 9:10 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Writing is one of the few businesses with a very small required investment. A computer, printer, books on writing, and a membership in ACFW, That’s the bare minimum. You can get books on writing from the library so buying them isn’t necessarily an expense you have to have. So now you’re in pretty good shape. Or are you?
There’s one expense I consider vital. A conference a year. Some writers object to the cost of a conference. I counter that by saying ANY business requires you to invest some money. In the scheme of things, the cost of the ACFW conference is a drop in the bucket. And there’s nothing that can take its place. Nowhere else can you meet editors and agents face-to-face. Nowhere else can you find people who “get” you. The rest of the year we’re like birds underwater. We’re gasping for the air of creativity, to find like-minded people. Among our own, we are free in a way that we never see without that experience.
When I was first writing, I’d never even met another writer. I call that my “wandering in the wilderness.” My first conference was a small Indiana one called the Midwest Writer’s Conference down at Muncie. I went on a scholarship that year. It was the most remarkable experience to find out that I wasn’t strange, that other people had characters living in their heads too. The next conference was after I was published, and it was Glorietta. I met Kristin Billerbeck and Carol Cox at the conference along with Tracie Peterson and other “stars” that I’d only dreamed of meeting. I was hooked when I realized I got to meet editors and agents. Hallelujah!
Then I started going to the Mount Hermon’s conference every year with Kristin and Denise Hunter. Diann Hunt began to join us, and I met Ami McConnell for the first time. That conference changed my life. I can clearly picture sitting on the floor outside the advanced writers session and pitching Without a Trace to her. She bought it and I’ve been with Nelson nine years now, writing the stories of my heart. So conferences have changed the game plan for me in many ways.
The ACFW conference is phenomenal. Nowhere else will you find so many FICTION writers gathered together. Nowhere else will you find so many editors and agents for fiction. Nowhere else will you have so much opportunity to connect with someone with your same passions.
People ask me why I still go to conferences. I’m at my dream house. I have a great agent who has helped me for ten years. What benefit is there for a published author? The benefits are still huge! Being with people who understand you is incredible. There is a lot of synergy gathered in one place at the conference. I get to meet with my agent, editor and publisher. I get to spend quality time with my peeps. I am privileged to encourage those just starting out on their journeys, to look them in the eye and tell them they can do it. The road can be hard and the climb steep, but the rewards are waiting.
So is it worth the sacrifice to get there? Yes, a resounding yes. Come, you won’t be disappointed. It’s the first step to success.
posted at 4:11 PM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
So has anyone seen the documentary, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead?" It's about a man who decides to "juice" for six months. He lost something like 82 pounds in that time, but his message is not weight loss. His message is health and eating more fruits and veggies. I bought a juicer after hearing him, because I always feel sick after I eat, and so I don't eat that often. Weight wasn't an issue, but health and energy was.
I've been juicing for nearly two weeks now, and it does give me so much energy, I can be scary. I am feeling great though, and I do think it would be a great way for people really think about what they put in their bodies. I will say my tastebuds are changing already and sweets are too sweet. I'd rather have fruit & veggies.
I am not a health food nut. I will never go all in, but for me, I really am seeing a difference in health and my MS symptoms. Even if I do ONE juice a day, I'm eating more veggies in that shake than I used to in a whole day. I still can't get used to the color. It's disgusting. Green is not an appetizing color, am I right?
Have you ever made ONE health change that changed your life for the better? Share it with us!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
And since it's my day to blog, I have to share the cover for Blue Moon Promise. It's a Texas historical that will be out next spring. It's also a marriage of convenience story. Lucy agrees to a proxy marriage to escape a man who killed her father. When she arrives in Texas, she finds that not only did her new husband know nothing about the marriage, but that danger has followed her and her siblings.
I love the cover!
Labels: Blue Moon Promise
posted at 9:59 AM
I feel like Michael J. Fox must have felt when he finally arrived back home and slept in his own bed. This year so far has been a whirlwind: a visit to AZ, a trip to Nashville, Dave's cancer diagnosis and surgery, another trip to AZ, then rushing home to take care Alexa while her parents went to Jamaica. Now we are home. We go to sleep on our own bed, and boy, did it feel good!
So things are back to normal. For me, normal is writing for at least 8 hours a day, catching up on email, doing radio interviews, having my coffee, cooking in my own kitchen, and getting back to my church. :) Doesn't sound terribly excited but it sure feels good! Today I'm waiting for the repairman to come to see why our fridge is freezing everything.
So what's a normal day for you? And don't think it's too boring. Boring sounds good right about now. :)
Labels: normal day
posted at 8:38 AM
Monday, June 13, 2011
It took me a week to recover from Justin's graduation and party weekend, but here's my favorite shot. Doesn't he look happy?
Now that graduation's over and summer has begun, we get too look forward to our vacation. Several months ago we decided to take our dream vacation, since who knows how many more family vacations we'll get to take.
We're going to Europe and the Holy Land in July! We can hardly wait. What will it be like to walk where Jesus walked and see the river where he was baptized? I'm sure it'll be a trip we never forget.
If you've been to the Holy Land--or if you were going to go--what are things you'd most want to see? We're only going to do it once, so we want to be sure we get it all in. I hope to have some pictures to show you when we get back.
But first, I have a story to finish, baseball playoffs, and two summer camps to get through. After that, Europe, here we come!
Labels: europe, The Holy land, vacation
posted at 11:26 AM
Friday, June 10, 2011
I think I'm going to print out this picture and put it on the wall next to my computer. It has been so very hot here in Missouri--and in so many places around the country--these past two weeks. How does one stay cool and still look decent in public?
I could use some input on that. My fallback measure is always jeans or blue-jean cut-offs, but the cut-offs just won't work for a wedding. The medication I'm taking makes me perspire (or as some would say, glow) so heavily I'm always wearing wet clothing.
How do you beat the heat? I love linen, but I don't iron. I love silky shirts over tanks, but I don't have any decent looking shorts, and the jeans are just far too hot right now. Undergarments are also problematic (if you know what I mean, girls) or I'd wear sundresses all summer. Pantyhose do not exist in my house. And they won't.
Who has some great cool-down ideas for summer clothing?
Labels: Eugene Arthur Patterson photography, keeping cool, summer heat
posted at 11:49 AM
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Our beloved Di is not feeling well today, so if you can be in prayer for her. God would really appreciate hearing from you, because I know God really loves our Di and doesn't want to see her in any pain.
We're all doing the final run-through of Smitten, the novella we did (Di, Colleen, Denise and me, Kristin.) I think this is going to be a fantastic collection. I enjoyed reading everyone's story because they are just so us. And the reasons we love each other are all in there. Friendship is such an amazing thing. My friends have taken on burdens and prayers when I had no strength to do so, and that's the beauty part, right?
It's hard to be the one who needs prayer though, don't you find that? It's so much easier to give than take!
posted at 6:08 PM
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
We girls have been working on final edits for Smitten this week so I had to show off that fabulous cover. :)
I just got back from spending some time in Arizona with our daughter Kara and her husband Mark. On Sunday afternoon, we were enjoying their pool and the sunshine. My husband noticed a bee on the side of the pool. Every time a little wave came along, the bee dipped below the water and was getting weaker. Dave had to go inside for a minute, and I watched the bee struggling. I grabbed a pool brush and lifted the bee from danger. I laid the brush beside the pool and moments later the bee was crawling along the brush. Within a few minutes, it had flown away.
That bee had NO idea that I'd just saved it from certain death. It made me wonder just how many times God has saved me from certain destruction when I didn't even realize it. I bet it's weekly. Reflecting on that made me thankful that we have someone so powerful who loves us and watches out for us every moment. Flying home yesterday, I knew God had me and Dave in his hands. :)
How about you? Can you think of an incident that you know you narrowly escaped disaster because of God's care?
Labels: Grace, Providence, Smitten
posted at 10:03 AM
Monday, June 06, 2011
Suzanne Schaffer (
Please send your address to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get your book in the mail to you. :-)
Thanks to all who participated!!
Labels: Love Letters in the Sand, Novel Give-Away
posted at 7:45 PM
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Two weeks ago I was on the campus of St. John's, Joplin, MO, having some medical tests. It was a morning-long ordeal, boring but not terribly painful. We had some excitement because there was a code gray at the hospital, and we were warned that if the weather got worse we'd be moved to safety. It didn't get worse, though I did get drenched picking up ribs at Rib Crib on the way home.
Two days later an F-5 hit St. John's along with a great deal more of Joplin. Everybody's heard about the tornado by now.
What a few people in the world may not have heard yet were some of the individual stories. My neighbor who works at a local Walmart told me she's been selling tons of water, cereal bars, soap, shampoo and many other items for shoppers to donate to the many homeless in Joplin.
She also told me there have been traffic jams in Joplin along 32nd street, not caused by gawkers, but by people trying to get into the city to help out.
Mel and I listened to a recording that someone apparently took on their cell phone inside a convenience store when the tornado hit it. The sound of the tornado was terrifying, children were crying, a woman was praying, and men were doing their best to make sure everyone was okay. They were strangers looking out for each other.
Many restaurants were in the line of the twister. The manager at one restaurant herded 32 people into the cooler, but the cooler door wouldn't close, so he went and found a bungee cord. He got the cord fastened, but couldn't get in himself. The tornado took the manager, but he saved those people.
One of my writing friends in Oklahoma City took shelter in a basement. The tornado was coming straight toward her, and then it suddenly lifted over the house she was in. It came back down on the other side.
One truck driver was passing my Joplin when the tornado hit. He could see something was going on, but couldn't figure out what was so weird until he realized his truck was ten feet off the ground. For a moment he thought he was being taken up in the rapture. I'm not sure why he thought the truck was going with him. He made it back down safely. I bet he never forgets that.
I received a call from my doctor's nurse yesterday. They're working out of Memorial Hall, which is a concert hall in Joplin where I once went to see the Strawberry Alarm Clock perform. Many files from the hospital had been found 65 miles away in Springfield, but mine had been salvaged from the doctor's office. The nurse told me I'm fine.
Miracles happen every day. They seem to appear more often after a tragedy such as the tornadoes that have hit this year. I'm slowly learning to search for those miracles hidden in the middle of tragedy, and focus on the goodness in people, in the world, in God's miracles, instead of the pain and fear.
I'm trying to break my cycle of cynicism. Want to help me? Share a miracle story? In the midst of a struggle, has God touched you with a reminder of His love? Give us a boost and remind us of God's power and love.
Labels: human kindness, rescues, tornado
posted at 11:30 PM
Wow, can you believe it! My first trade-sized novel (since I've been sick) is soon to release!! I'm so excited that I am celebrating!!!
That's where you come in. I want to give away five copies. Through a computer program, I will randomly select five names from the list of people who respond to this blog, then I'll contact you for addresses, etc., and send you your free copy of my book.
All I ask in return is that, if you like the book, you spread the word. Tell others, write a review on Amazon or Christianbook.com.--whatever you want to do. That's it!
Here's the back cover blurb:
"The tide of World War II washed away Julia Hilton's happily-ever-after dreams of marriage to Stefan Zimmer...and left heartbreak in its wake. Years later, Lukas Gable wants nothing more than to leave his painful memories buried along the distant shores of Lake Michigan...until an unexpected inheritance forces him to return and face his past. When this oddly familiar stranger enters Julia's life, will they discover that the love letters once written in the sand will resurface to be forever written on their hearts?"
Time to celebrate--God isn't finished with me yet!! Whooohoooo!!!! Thanks for joining my party. :-)
Labels: authors, party, reviews, romance novel
posted at 11:40 AM
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
I'm knee-deep in my new novel, which has yet to find itself a name. It's about a "nose" or a perfumer who can specifically identify over 6,000 scents. Until her fiance dumps her at the altar and she loses her sense of smell.
Have you ever noticed when you're taking things too far, stress tends to wear you down EXACTLY where you need your strength the most? I must admit, I got the idea from Shania Twain who lost her voice for no physical reason. Just from the stress of being betrayed by her husband and best friend.
Notice I say "JUST" stress. I think we underestimate how damaging stress is on our bodies. If you don't deal with something one way, God finds another to get your attention.
Back to Daphne, or whatever her new name might be. A "nose" makes good money. There are less than 500 certified noses in the United States, so coming by research hasn't been easy. But the one thing I found is that fragrance isn't created in a lab. Fragrance is created the same way a novel is created. Out in the world looking for inspiration. Everything inspires. Everything is notepad worthy. IT was funny to see the men noses compared to the women noses.
So did you know that your sense of smell is your strongest memory producer? The smell of something lingers in your brain longer than any other sense. Do you have a favorite smell that brings you to a different time?
Labels: nose, perfume, sense of smell, Shania Twain