Monday, January 31, 2011
Denise took my topic yesterday right out of my mouth, er, fingers. I am also plotting out a new series idea. And the more books I write, the more I'm convinced that we women need relationship even in our reading material. Friendship among women is what makes us live longer and keeps us happier. That even extends to our reading material!
In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.
I love that sentence in red because it tells me Di is going to outlive us all. :) This past year was just a blip on her screen of joy. Love you, girlfriend! I was thinking this week about last January and our time at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion IL.
Our craving for companionship extends to many areas. That was brought home to me tonight. Kara and I were doing our nightly Pilates together. Instructor Denise Austin was telling us to lift our legs up along with our chests. This movement is really hard for me (your legs and arms are kind of in a V.) I caught the order for the new pose, but Kara didn't so I was suffering alone. I yelled, "Kara!" and she thought she was doing something wrong. And she was. She wasn't joining in my suffering as I turned my toes out "like a ballerina." LOL Then we got so tickled we had trouble holding our legs up there. And periodically through the rest of the workout, we giggled.
I'm not quite sure how I'm going to continue my workouts without my baby girl. She's made it actually FUN.
This study said that when women are stressed they often pull back on friendships and that's the worst possible thing for them to do. So what about you? Are you nurturing your friendships? Your assignment today is to call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. No, don't email them. CALL them. And make plans to get together. Then report back to here. We'll be your accountability partners. :)
And I'd love to hear how a friend or two has enriched your life.
Labels: Cancer Treatment Centers of America, friendship. Denise Austin Pilates
posted at 11:32 PM
It's time for me to come up with a new series idea, and I could really use your help! I think readers love series because they get attached to a group of characters or a familiar setting and anticipate going back to those people/places.
Think of your favorite series. What ties them together? That's what I need help with! Series are tied together in 4 ways that I can think of.
1. Relationship The characters are either related by family or friendship. Karen Kingsbury's Baxter series is an example. Or Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet, where all the heroines are friends.
2. Setting All the books are set in the same place. My Nanutucket series, for example. Or Colleen's Rock Harbor and Lonestar series.
3. Occupation The characters share an occupation. This would include military series, cowboy series, and first responders, for example. Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet is an example also as the 4 heroines own a wedding business together.
3. Unique Concept This kind of series is less definable. Francine Rivers's Lineage of Grace series would fit here. All the heroines are from the lineage of Christ.
Tell me your favorite series and how they're tied together or share which of the above appeals to you most. Please!
Labels: Lonestar series, novels, writing
posted at 7:14 AM
Friday, January 28, 2011
Like Kris, I'm a California native, and so scenes like this one can sometimes make me tear up a little. I miss what California used to be.
Unlike Kris, I grew up on a farm, so scenes like this one can also be somewhat confusing. We used to have a rake like this one, though not when we lived in California.
So this picture of California poppies and an old hay rake pretty much describe me. I'm a combination of valley girl and hayseed. It's a strange combination, everyone says so. So you can understand why scenes like this make me homesick. Unfortunately, I can never go home, because it's not there anymore.
Actually, my uncle burned our house down, so I can't even move back into the home where we used to live. In my uncle's defense, he was fire chief at the time, teaching new firemen how to put out fires, and they used our old house for practice until there was nothing left.
I may be wrong, but I believe that my varied experiences from childhood have enabled me to speak with at least partial fluency to people from different backgrounds. I hope that helps me as I write.
How about you? What in your past has made you what you are today?
Labels: Can't go back, Childhood memories, Homesick, Photos by Eugene Patterson
posted at 11:06 AM
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I've had some strange requests from people who want to be my friend on Facebook, but Pugsly Puggles takes the cake--or should I say bone? I posted this on Facebook but I'm so amazed by it, I decided to post it here as well.
It's true. I've been asked to be a friend to a dog. I love dogs. I do. I have one (and yes, in this picture she is in dire need of grooming--which she has since received, just so you know). But it just surprises me that Pugsly can type. Not only that, but Pugsly Puggles wants to be my friend. MY friend. I'm kind of scared to ask, but what does that mean about me if my friends are dogs? Just wondering out loud here.
Anyway, thought I would share. It's not every day one gets singled out on Facebook by a dog. I don't know whether to rollover and play dead--or gnaw on a juicy bone.
What do you think?
Labels: dogs, Facebook, friendship, relationships
posted at 10:59 AM
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I let go of things about as easily as a pit bull. I don't like when things don't go as expected. Though I've learned over the years, there's always a reason and not to question so much. But it's nearly been two years since I had to move from my dream house and I have to go past it a lot. To run where I run, to take my daughter to her best friend's house, or pick up my son's friend. It's a pain because every time I pass it, I still question God. Why? I did so much work on that house. I literally was grateful EVERY single day I lived there.
It's not really the house I miss as much as the dream I'd built and saw come to fruition. I've changed my dream now. I'll have my own little cottage when the kids are gone and I will renovate it, but for now, it still makes me sick to drive by the house. What has helped you let go of a dream when life gives you another path?
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
My name is Colleen Coble and I hate exercise. There, I said it. Oh the horror. I'm constantly surrounded by people who rave about how much they love exercise. And up to now, I thought they were lying through their teeth. But I'm at my daughter's and she has this awesome Pilates video, a Denise Austin one. I've gotten to actually LIKE it. No not like, CRAVE it. In fact, I'm often the first one to say every night, "Time for Pilates?" LOL
Okay, so I can't do all of them. The ones where you have to raise your legs and lift your back off the floor kill me. But with each session, I get stronger. My muscles are relaxed and warm when I'm done and I feel good, unlike every other exercise video I've done.
This pic is us signing the contract at the American Christian Fiction Writers
conference for Smitten
which we are all working on. And yes, we are writing our own personalities so Natalie hates exercise too. What do you think, girls, should I go back in and have her discover Pilates? :)
What about you? Are you a couch potato like me? If you are, try this particular DVD
. We do the first mat workout. I feel taller, with more elongated muscles. Do you have an exercise video you like? And what about that Zumba thing I've been hearing about? What exactly IS it?
Labels: Denise Austin Pilates video, exercise, Smitten
posted at 1:22 AM
Monday, January 24, 2011
It was bright and sunny the other day while I was driving my youngest to school. I flipped down my visor and caught my reflection.
I winced. Let's just say the bright sun made my makeup application flaws extremely apparent. I rubbed away the foundation lines and wished I could do something about the other flaws like the lines under my eyes and the creases on my forehead. But hey, those weren't going away without a lot of money and sharp utensils, so I adjusted my visor so I couldn't see them. Out of sight, out of mind. I looked just fine in my bathroom mirror. But here in the blinding sun . . . Well. Yikes.
I started thinking about the other Son whose light reveals our inner imperfections. That doesn't feel much better than the visor moment did. Often it feels worse, but we can't fix the problem if we don't see it. And unlike the signs of aging, there's nothing He can't help us fix.
So when the light shines bright, don't shy away. Look closer and see what needs fixing. Because sometimes we need prettied up on the inside too.
posted at 7:26 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Meet my webmaster/assistant, Eugene. As you can see, he tends to be shy about having his picture taken, but he can really use a camera!
A few weeks ago, he sent me a private post sharing a concern that the picture I'd used on that week's blog might not be legal because it had come via email from an unknown source. Since I had run low on my own photos, I tried another source, and that didn't work out, either, so now Eugene will be providing most of my blog photos.
One of our GirlsWriteOut members, jel, also does fabulous photography, and she has also offered to let me use her photos. Jel, would you please remind us of your website again? If anyone has missed seeing her photos, you've missed a blessing.
I so very much appreciate Eugene's sweet spirit and his desire to be open and aboveboard. He is a dedicated Christian who runs the sound system at his church. Not only does he do all he can to make sure my website is truthful and never misleading, but when he does find a problem or have a question, he does as the Bible teaches, and he comes to me quietly with his concerns, one-on-one. He doesn't wish for me to embarrass myself publicly. On the contrary, his wish is to keep me from being publicly humiliated. That's a true Christian spirit.
I've had other people in my life contact me privately about concerns they had about something I was doing. One was another writer who had read a manuscript I'd completed for publication. But she found some discrepancies about a particular subject with which she disagreed. Because of that concern, she apologized and told me she could not endorse the novel. She thought I'd be angry. I was not. I could have misled thousands of readers about that one subject simply because of the way I worded it. I still appreciate her for her courage and honesty, giving me the opportunity to rewrite something no one else had caught.
There are people in our lives who guide us. They may have to completely contradict something we've done, and they may even risk our anger or hurt feelings, but because they care about us, they will speak up. You can tell if their concern is sincere in the way they speak up. They do so with humility. They do so quietly, privately. And they do it because they care. You may not agree with them, but if they are sincere, they will also sincerely be willing to discuss the situation with you. In private. Those are the ones who are true friends.
Labels: assistants, Helpers, Mentors, webmasters
posted at 7:22 PM
Meet a future American Idol star. Yes, he just happens to be our grandson.
Three years old. All-American boy through and through. He has three older sisters, but somehow has managed to escape the fingernail polish, lip gloss, hair ribbons and girly stuff. He loves every sport he's heard about--plays hockey (in the living room), baseball, basketball. He'd wear his helmet to bed if Mom would let him. He's all about Spiderman and lately enjoying the Incredible Hulk. He loves the rough and tumble side of life . . . . and he can sing like an angel. :-)
I know, I know, I sound like a doting Grandma (Nanny is what they call me), and I am, but you just have to go to this link and hear the sweetest little rendition of Twinkle Star. I can't help it. It melts me down to my toes.
So that's my post today. I had to share this with you. Feel free to brag about your own children/grandkids here today. I'm dubbing this the official BRAG ON YOUR FAMILY DAY! :-)
And thanks for letting me share--it's what Grandmas do best, right, C?
Labels: American Idol, baseball, basketball, Glee, hockey
posted at 8:58 AM
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
So today is our beloved Colleen's birthday and I just have to say, writing the scenes in Smitten with the "friends" is so fun because we love each other warts and all. So Colleen's character is um, shall we say, a little bossy. And yes, this is purely a FICTIONAL book. Ahem. But Colleen is one of those people that learns about something until she knows it like the back of her hand. She's used this way of life to get healthy, get skinny, renovate a Victorian, write books where she kills people, and ultimately, pass her wisdom onto her friends.
She is the most loving person and she wants everyone to have the best, so if you are sick? She will learn everything about that disease and all you have to do is follow orders. And you know what? When you're sick, that's all you want to do. So I'm here to celebrate our BFF Colleen -- who really made the world a brighter place just by being in it.
But let's face it, she's at her best, giving orders. And we are happy to follow them. Hasn't hurt us yet. Except for maybe when we waited too long to take the advice. (Raising hand here!) Celebrate a good friend today in honor of C! Personally, I'm having a truffle for breakfast to celebrate myself.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Hubby and I were driving downtown yesterday. When the light turned red, we paused by a tall building.
"Look, hon," he said. "A corner desk."
Several floors up, there was a corner office that had windows lining both walls and, sure enough, a desk sat in the corner.
"Wow, great view," I said. Okay, it's not New York, but still. Someone has a nice view of our new minor league ball diamond.
"I'll bet there's a lot of daydreaming going on up there," Kevin said, probably thinking about the lack of productivity the view inspires.
Know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking that corner desk would be a great spot for a writer. Not only is daydreaming encouraged in my field, it's downright necessary. True, I have to get my thoughts down on paper at some point but--let's face it--some of my most productive time is spent staring into space. A passerby would think I'm accomplishing nothing, but really, my imagination is awhirl with ideas. I'm doing the work necessary to write my book.
When the light turns, Kevin pulls away, and I smile furtively. I get paid to daydream. How cool is that? What great perk does your job offer?
Labels: daydreaming, job benefits
posted at 9:01 PM
Friday, January 14, 2011
I looked up beautiful women on Getty Images, and found this one to be most beautiful to me. This woman is drop-dead gorgeous, and I have a feeling she has become more gorgeous over the years. That's how beauty works, both in the beholder, and in the person of true beauty.
What would you say is this woman's most appealing feature? Is it the ethereal silkiness of her hair? The perkiness of her smile? The humor she shows in her wink?
I have an exercise for you. First of all, look in the mirror. Just look, and tell me what your best features are. Your eyes? Hair? Smile? Chin?
What would a stranger passing on the street say was your best feature? High cheekbones? Shapely legs? Cute shoes?
Now, what do you think your best friend would say was your best feature? The friendliness that shines from your eyes, the dimple that shows you know how to have fun? The compassionate depth of your gaze? The unselfconscious tangle of your hair? The sound of your laughter?
Now tell me what God would say was your best feature? You diligence to serve? Your faith in Him? Your kindness to those who don't deserve it? How about your ability to cry to Him, to ask Him for help?
When our ragtag band of cats strayed to our home, only Data may have won a beauty contest. All but Data have either lost teeth or have scruffy tails or ripped ears from their hard life outdoors before they came to us. But as we've come to appreciate their personalities, we don't see the outer appearance, we see Hobbit, who hops onto my chair and leans way out to get in my face while I'm trying to write. We see Little Bit, who has a sad face, but who purrs constantly and would cuddle with someone all day long if they'd let him. We see Teddy Bear, who loves to hear me sing and tries to sing with me. And we see Data, of course, raised from kittenhood, who is trusting and gentle and plays like a little boy.
Don't do what I do. I look in the mirror and see my flaws. God looks into my heart, and just maybe, on some special days, when I'm truly close to Him, He can see His own reflection. I hope so. That's what really counts.
Labels: beautiful people, eye of beholder, special features
posted at 3:59 PM
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I'm guessing most of us, when we were starry-eyed and filled with dreams at our wedding altars, missed the woman in the middle with folded arms and a frown on her face. Otherwise known as our soon-to-be . . . .
Shudder. Just saying the words sends tingles down your spine, doesn't it?
Okay, me neither. But sometimes a dramatic flair comes over me and I just can't help myself.
The truth is I was blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law and now a step-mother-in-law. Kind, loving, helpful. But I know many women who don't share that kind of relationship with their mothers or daughters-in-law.
My good friend is writing a non-fiction book on mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships. She is gathering vignettes and opinions along the way to deal with issues in her book. I told her I would blog this and get your views on the matter. :-)
As a daughter-in-law, I wanted to be the best I could be. Now that I'm older, as a mother-in-law, I want to be the best I can be. I love Ruth and Naomi's story in the Bible. But let me just say for the record, I'd have some serious issues with my mother-in-law if she told me to lie at a man's feet.
Still, we all want a good relationship with the woman who marries our son, don't we? Even if you're now a mother-in-law, you've developed a long-term relationship with your mother-in-law. So all you daughters-in-law out there, no matter your ages, answer me this:
"What one thing could your mother-in-law do (or could she have done) to help you have a better relationship?"
Labels: husband, mother-in-law, relationships, Ruth and Naomi
posted at 7:10 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Yesterday was the official RE-release of Surrender Bay with its pretty new cover! I loved the first cover, but Thomas Nelson really nailed the Nantucket Series with this one.
I've been asked about the new content I added for the re-release. Basically, I added an overt faith thread to the story. There was already--and still is--faith content, in the form of an allegory.
The Convenient Groom and Seaside Letters will be RE-releasing shortly with the same beautiful look and new faith content.
Labels: Nantucket, new releases, novels, Thomas Nelson
posted at 2:19 PM
Monday, January 10, 2011
I brainstormed with friends this past weekend. Cheryl and Mel Hodde, Nancy Moser, Deb Raney, Rene Gutteridge, Judy Miller, Till Fell, and Stephanie Whitson. Sooo much fun! We all cook dinner together. This pic is my resisting the cream cheese that was to be used in the mocha souffles. Nancy had this fabulous menu all planned around coffee. Could anything be better? Even the beef was coated in coffee and a spicy mix. It sounds, well, unusual, but it was really good! And the gravy had coffee in it which again sounds really strange but we all loved it.
This was in Kansas City, and we stayed at Springhill Suites by Marriott in Overland Park. We've stayed there for 9 years, every trip we've made. We love the hotel but it held one slight disappointment this year: the coffee. And I realized just how important that small detail is to me. LOL As we traveled to see Kara (just arrived, yay!) I found myself deciding which hotel to stay in along the road based on what I knew about the coffee offerings of that particular hotel. Crazy, huh? It's not the beds or the decor but the coffee. Hampton Inn always gets an A because of their coffee. Comfort Suites and Best Western failed me so I think I'll stop at Hamptons on the way back.
So what about you? What little special touch will make you want to go back to a hotel? We know the bedding is important but what else makes a difference for you?
Oh and by the way, it's 65 here. :)
Labels: Caribou Coffee, Hampton Inn, Springhill Suites
posted at 10:49 PM
A READER'S BLISS
We readers like our books. We like our stories, we like finding bits of quiet time, and we might occasionally like a bath full of warm water AND a book. We definitely like finding new authors we love.
But for me, there's no reader's bliss like discovering a "new" author with a backlist. Oh the joy! For a picky reader, this can be sheer bliss. Sometimes in the past, I've discovered a "new" author only to be let down by the backlist. But sometimes, less than once in a blue moon, the backlist doesn't disappoint.
This happened to me over the holidays (author Kristan Higgins) and I've been happily reading her backlist ever since. Six good books in a row. Color me happy!
What's your Reader's Bliss?
PS Kristan Higgins is not a CBA author. I would put a PG13 rating on her books.
Labels: authors, Reading
posted at 7:28 AM
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Typically, I don't like to carry personal defense devices with me to the bathroom, but last night I kept it by my side all the time Mel was at choir practice; there was a stalker who had been walking past our house, slowly, sneakily, several times a day.
I finally got nervous enough to mention this man to Mel. Since Mel sometimes works at night, and since I have a very vivid, active imagination, and since I was reading a scary novel, I did NOT want to be home alone without protection. I mean, this man not only walked in front of our house, but he turned the corner right beside the house and walked up the dead-end street. I know, because I watched him several times.
After I told Mel, he flexed his muscles and stood in the window while the man walked past, just so the stalker would see a strong man lived here. Mel even offered to stay home from choir practice. I insisted he needed to go, but I made sure I had my personal protection device within hand's reach everywhere I went. I also did the safest thing and emailed my GirlsWriteOut girls and asked for prayer. And so for the next hour, they kept me occupied emailing me back and forth. I didn't have much time to be afraid. And I had no opportunity to use my personal protection device. I planned to call the police today and find out what this man was doing circling our home all day long.
Well, today, I was letting one of the cats back in the kitchen window (they like entering by the window so they can get a better look at the food on the counter) and I saw the man. He was still walking very slowly, and he still wore his hooded camouflage jacket, but the wind had blown a little of his long, wild gray-white hair from under the hood. And he was muttering to himself. You cannot imagine my relief! Not only was he old enough to have gray hair, but he talked to himself, just like I do!
Then I called a neighbor and asked about him. She said his nickname in the community is Hillbilly. He lives in a house beside the trailer park where everyone goes to buy drugs, and he has four beautiful cats. Mel and I know because we've walked past that house, and have seen the cats. My neighbor said the man's harmless. Well, of course he is. He talks to himself and has animals.
And then later, while I was running errands, Mel saw him walk by again, and the man stopped for a moment and kind of shuddered. Mel ran and got the binoculars to get a better look at him.
"Honey, he didn't see you do that, did he?" I asked.
"No, I don't think so, but I'm a doctor. If he was in trouble, I had to be able to see if he needed help."
Well, there you go. Another problem solved. We don't have a stalker, after all.
Labels: home alone, Scary men
posted at 9:42 PM
I woke up in a blue funk this morning. Hey, it happens. The sky is grey and gloomy. I got bad news on the health of three friends this week. Guess it just all added up.
But here's the thing. I refuse to stay there. Mood swings are a part of life. We can stay there or we can do something about it. When I'm "down," these are the things I do to get back up:
--Read God's Word.
--Help someone else.
--Listen to uplifting music.
--Trip a little old lady as she's crossing the street.
Okay, the last one was just to see if you were still awake. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. See, I'm feeling better already! :-)
So what do YOU do when life gets you down?
posted at 8:52 AM
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
This year's HGTV dream home giveaway is in Stowe, Vermont -- which is one of the places we modeled Smitten after. It's actually a composite of a few towns, but seeing that this year's dream home was built there, I thought that was a sign. However, then I looked at the home, which is beautiful. And if you want to see the whole thing inside, here's the link:
I LOVE the loft-style kids' room, but I have to admit, looking at the photos made me reach for my electric throw. So would you live anywhere for a free, perfect house?
Labels: HGTV Dream House 2011, Smitten, Stowe, Vermont
posted at 3:08 PM
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Several years ago I remember calculating that my oldest son Justin would be graduating from high school in 2011. It seemed so far away. Eons away. The next year, I got a contract and I remember thinking it would keep me busy through 2011--an eternity away.
And yet, here we are. The first GWO post of 2011. Time just slips by, doesn't it? It seems like the millennium just rolled around, and now the first decade is already gone. It seems to go faster each year and I'm wondering if, when I'm 70, a year's passing will give me whiplash.
I hope you're all off to a great new year. I hope you'll stick to whatever New Year's resolutions you've made--I've made none, so I'm pretty sure I can stick to them. My prayer is that this will be a year of growth, a year of hope, and a year of all God's richest blessings for you and your families!
Labels: 2011, New Year's
posted at 8:52 PM