Girls Write Out
Friday, March 30, 2012
For some reason, I look in the mirror lately--usually out of necessity--and


is what I see. Ugh. Now, at my age, it shouldn't matter so much, right? I mean, I've got my man, he seldom notices my hair unless it's tickling his nose when we're cuddling, and he seems happy with me. I've even asked him, just to make sure.

The very fact that I cut my own hair without waiting for my next stylist appointment meant I was so frazzled I needed to do something outrageous. My hair had grown past my shoulders--Have I told you this one before? I think I have--and Mel kept telling me it looked good, not to cut it. Even my stylist told me to keep it long. But neither my husband nor my stylist was walking around the house half the day with sweat-drenched hair and shoulders because of the stress of taking care of Mom, putting her in her wheelchair, then lifting her out, then trying to cook something she would eat, and worrying if we were going to be dealing with sundowner's that afternoon.

One day I opened the front door and saw yet another long, familiar package delivered by UPS. I didn't need to open it, because I knew it was a model airplane. Now, you know how Mel told me he liked my hair long? Well, I had also told him I liked having only one basement room filled with model airplanes. I closed the door, walked into the bathroom, picked up the scissors and started hacking, and I hacked until no hair touched my neck. Suddenly, all the stress disappeared.

I felt good again, and besides, I had an appointment the next week to see my stylist. Anything I had missed, she could fix. She's accustomed to my quirks and knows how to recover my style once I've destroyed it. Okay, it takes a couple of trips, but I can live with that.

When you are stressed past the breaking point, what creative ways have you discovered that will help you come back down to earth? What makes you calm down when all else fails? I might need some different ideas for the next time I lose control.

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 2:31 PM  
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Right now, I've snuck off into my son's bedroom with a bowl full of strawberries and whipped cream. I got caught. Strawberries were the only thing that used to be mine as a child. (My brother, a pack rat used to take everything.) He was allergic to Strawberries. I call this God's grace on my childhood.

But none of my four children are allergic and so tonight, after I made them dinner, I cut myself up a beautiful bowl of strawberries and snuck off like a criminal. And you know what? It feels good.

I snuck off because "The Scent of Rain" my book that isn't out until AUGUST is here in Advanced Reader Copy Form. It's a beautiful cover with a BRIGHT PINK SPINE. LOVE IT!

I think this book has my voice in it, and I LOVED all the research I had to do on the perfume business and the subject of smell. It's our strongest memory inducer. Which is why the strawberries reminded me of my childhood.

I do love the scent of rain and so many other scents -- including bleach. Go figure. It's like summer at the Rec pool! Got a favorite scent? Let us know what and why and enter to win a free copy of the ARC.

God bless.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Have you ever noticed how some people get sweeter with age and others get more contrary and hard to be around? This truth was brought home to me in a personal way in the past month.

An older lady I know used to be so much fun when I was growing up. We eagerly looked forward to spending time with her, knowing there would be a lot of laughter. For years she was the same fun person to be around. Then things began to change. To be fair, she was slammed with some hard trials--the death of her husband and the death of one of her children--and she was unable to climb out of the valley the events left her in. Instead of being an encouragement, she began to complain about everyone in her life. Little by little, it became a chore to visit with her. She's in hospice now and I need to go see her but I'm dreading it. Mostly I'm dreading remembering how she used to be and wishing she was like that again.

I contrast her with my good friend from church, Terry Carpenter. He'd been in a wheelchair for years after a car accident. But I never once heard him complain. He always thought of others, always prayed for the ones he loved and everyone he met. When a melanoma spread to his liver and he knew he only had weeks to live, he still didn't complain. His concern was for everyone else. He stepped into eternity a few weeks ago, and I'm sure I heard the angels greet him with joy.

What made the difference? I think it's because of the issue of thankfulness. Terry could have chosen to hate his life and his dependence on others. He could have blamed other people for his plight. But he held everything with an open hand. He relied on God and turned to Him for all his needs and was thankful for whatever came his way--good and bad.

I was thinking about prayer today and how sometimes we're so disappointed or disillusioned when God says no to our requests. But the reality is that while prayer might not change the situation we're in, it changes US. When we pray and truly turn things over to God, we let go of the bitterness and anger that can ruin our lives and our character. We know he will work things out for our good. We can choose to let our trials make us bitter and resentful or we can be thankful for every good thing in our lives.

I know the kind of person I want to be when I'm old. (Denise, I saw that lifted brow! I admit I'm middle aged now at 60 but I'm not old yet.) :) So I want to strive every day to be thankful. If we are thankful, we will still be encouraging others on our final day before we step into God's presence.

How about you? Have you seen this in your own relationships with people? What are you thankful for today? I'm thankful for my great husband. He's a constant in my life and shows love and care for me every day.


Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:33 PM  
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I've had 2 high schoolers so far and both of them were impossible to motivate toward good grades their freshman year. 

Maybe it's because they're boys, or maybe it's because they're, well, teenagers, but it seemed impossible for them to understand that what they were doing TODAY would impact them down the road. That it would either limit or broaden their choice of college. But in their mind, college was 3 years away--a virtual eternity!

"I have plenty of time to worry about my grades," they thought.

This week in church our pastor talked about making decisions and living daily life based upon eternity. I was thinking about how hard that it is. How easy to get caught up in the day to day and lose track of what we're living for. 

Suddenly I thought of my sons. Turns out I'm not so different from them! Eternity seems so far away--there's plenty of time to do what I need to, right?

But the fact is, I don't know how long I have. I only know that I have NOW and that every day is a gift from God. If He's given me another day, shouldn't I make an effort to use it the way He wants me to? So that when I graduate, I can do so knowing I did my best, I gave my all. 

But the day-to-day motivation, well, let's just say I can relate to my sons. Maybe I need someone to ground me from my cell phone. So how do you do it? How do you keep your focus on eternal things? 

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:07 AM  
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Friday, March 23, 2012
Mel and I have been told by most of our friends that we need to take a vacation. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea and would have made plans long ago if I'd had any idea about where and when. We still aren't sure. I'd love to go to the beach--and to me that means the east or west coast, preferably the west, since I was born there and have a lot of family up and down the coastline. It all depends on time. We simply won't have enough time to drive to California in the short time we're being allotted.

Right now we're trying to save as much money as possible, so flying is out. Besides, I hate flying. I think, instead, what we'll do is take a slow vacation.

To me, a slow vacation means packing a couple of bags and hopping into the car, taking a two-lane road and looking for beauty along the way. When there's no destination in mind, every turn in the road reveals something new and interesting. When we're not in a rush, we can stop when we see a pretty stream and jump out of the car to explore, even wade and splash each other if we want to.

To me, a slow vacation means putting a cd of an audio book into the player and listening to a favorite author. It means stopping whenever we see a neat place to stay, using our AAA card for a discount, and turning in early if we wish.

I love I-40 west, and there have often been places we've passed up in our rush to "get there." I'd like to find the old Route 66 my parents used to drive to get back and forth from our home in California to their hometown in eastern Missouri. Since I'm writing some historicals now, driving west into Kansas and beyond might be good research for our next novel. And then there's always been this wide open space in New Mexico where we drove for miles and miles without ever seeing another car.

Another thing I love to do is find a pretty, small town and walk around exploring it for ideas for a new series.

Right now, I just can't decide. I could use some help. Have you seen any beautiful places you'd like to share with us? Where to you like to go on vacation when funds are tight and you just need to be calm and rest for awhile? We could use some help.

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 2:19 PM  
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I love when God shows up when we least expect Him!

Last week my husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage. The sun washed the town clean and filled the air with warmth. The sweet scent of spring lingered everywhere. A wonderful day.

The Cancer Treatment Center where I go for chemo has a double pond/park area with geese, ducks, gulls, a weeping willow tree along with oaks and maples, a romantic walking bridge and soft lamplight that follows it all. When we had a break at the treatment center, Jim and I sat on a bench at the park. Wonderful!

The last part of my very long day is chemo. There are LOTS of bays (small areas of room) for each patient. Can you believe when they took me to my bay it had a big window that overlooked the pond! And get this, they got new chairs in an hour before I arrived--recliners with heat and massage! I felt as though God said, "Happy Anniversary!" :-)

How about you? How has God surprised you?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 6:30 AM  
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I've always been a classic film buff. Since I was small, I can remember spending Saturday afternoons watching the classics. This was before TCM and AMC so you were at the mercy of local channels and commercials. I remember one Saturday night watching "Rear Window" all alone and how I couldn't sleep until my parents got home. I LOVE Hitchcock. Today my son informed me that he's been watching classic movies in class: Vertigo (not my favorite, but I did tell Seth he's been where that was filmed) and "Rear Window." I took a film class in college and I love and appreciate the skills required for a great movie.

Today is the 70th anniversary of "Casablanca" and I'm taking my family to see the film tonight at the local theater. I am so excited about it, although everyone, including my husband, has tried to get out of it. But they're going. They're going to see real magic on the big screen.

These movies to me are like old friends and I can't wait to revisit one of my very favorites. "Notorious" is my top choice, but "Casablanca" is a pretty close second. I believe, along with the classics in books, we should teach our kids the beauty of the classic films. Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant may not be Shakespeare, but they're more fun to watch. What's really sad is I didn't need to look up this photo. I had it handy.

Do you have a favorite classic film?
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I know I'm a bit of a health nut. Okay, maybe more than a bit. LOL But I've heard from a lot of my readers about Natalie's gluten problems. I knew there were a lot more out there who can't eat gluten besides me so it's been great to talk to you. People often ask me what I eat so I decided we'd talk health today. It's a subject near and dear to my heart.

Fifteen years ago I was a mess: fibromyalgia, allergic to everything under the sun, hair falling out, chronic fatigue. . . the list goes on and on. I decided I was going to take charge of my health. I found a naturopath and began reading everything I could get my hands on about health. I found out that fibromyalgia is caused by undertreated low thyroid. Allergies are based in the gut and our diets promote what is called leaky gut. The gut becomes permeable and allows larger molecules to pass through to the body and trigger a response. Celiacs is often a base problem with people. Candida is also the cause. I had both.

So here I am: healthy, happy and in my right mind. Well, some would question that last item! :) So how did I eat my way to health? Here's my prescription:

Fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, and naturally fermented sauerkraut (no vinegar) are super good for your gut. If you have allergies, get checked for candida and gluten. You can have a test run at

I eat primal. People are always asking me what is the difference between primal and paleo. Primal allows dairy and paleo. You will only pry my heavy whipping cream for my coffee from my cold, dead fingers! :) So of course I chose primal! I eat no gluten. and lots of meat, vegetables, and some fruit. I've recently gone to no grains at all. I've been following a neurosurgeon in Nashville, Dr. Jack Kruse, since last summer. He advocates allowing at least 4-5 hours between meals to allow leptin signaling to be restored. I start off with a large protein breakfast and that lasts me until about 1. No grains at all. He's on a quest to eliminate disease and has helped a lot of people. Warning--he does talk a lot about evolution but just ignore that. When I first recommended him, Christian readers objected to his discussion of evolution, but even though most of us don't believe in evolution, his principles are sound for health.

I had my lab work done in January and the change was astounding. My hs-CRP dropped to .1 which is basically NO inflammation and my homocysteine level plummeted. I'd been working on both those numbers for years with no real success. For the first time my cholesterol went from a very unhealthy total of 130 to 200. My sugar level plummeted too. Cholesterol is not the bad guy, by the way. Your body needs it to make your hormones. The bad guy is inflammation that takes whatever cholesterol you have and uses it to pad your cells for protection. So I was delighted by those numbers. I feel great and have tons of energy!

I eat lots of fats. No fats are not the bad guy either. Unnatural fats are but natural fats are good for you. Your body needs them to function properly. My ratio in a day's food is about 65% fat. Here is a typical day's menu for me:

Breakfast: Mug of coffee with heavy whipping cream, 3 egg omelet cooked in coconut oil with steak, mushrooms, veggies, topped with avocado and pepper jack cheese. Serving of what we call cocoa crack. (coconut oil, cocoa, stevia and shredded coconut plus some nuts)
Small lunch: Pink Lady apple and tuna salad with melted cheese on top. More coffee with cream!
2nd meal: Large salmon patty, 1/2 sweet potato, asparagus or broccoli.

So that's my typical menu. I vary it with different fish or meat. I eat a lot of Mexican too like steak fajitas without the wrap. If I want dessert, I fix a mug cake (like a brownie) made from almond flour (pure ground up almonds) and it is yummy! But I have worked hard at breaking the sugar monster's hold on me. He might still have a finger on my arm, but most of the time I can resist him. Dark chocolate that has very little sugar is allowed too.

If you'd like more information on the primal lifestyle, I highly recommend Mark Sisson's books and his website.

I'm on a quest to get as many people healthy as I can. Read up on the paleo or primal lifestyle. You'll be amazed at the benefits! Natalie (from Smitten) would approve and so would I!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:02 AM  
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Thursday, March 15, 2012
One of my favorite things to do, next to spending time with Mel playing gross-out to see who can watch the bloodiest episode of NCIS or Bones and maintain an appetite, is to spend time with girlfriends.

There hasn't been a lot of time for that lately. I did get to see my girlfriends from high school, who came to Mom's funeral, but we usually like to spend more time together than that, hence this picture of some of us blowing off steam on a recent retreat.

This week, however, Mel and Bonnie, our assistant, and I were told by the grief counselor that we needed to take some time away and just play. Well, I've had God tell me that same thing on a talk on one of my hikes in the past, but the words sounded strange coming from a real, live therapist who was once a minister. So on Monday he advised Mel and me to take the rest of the afternoon off and go to Joplin to Red Lobster. Since king crab is our favorite food, and safe on our gluten free diets, we did as we were told, leaving Bonnie at home to type one of our next projects. Poor Bonnie.

The food was great, since we both love crab legs, and we relaxed as we took our time driving back home to check on Mom's gravesite. It's beautiful out there in the middle of the country, serenaded by milk cows, and we held a serious discussion about what next in our lives. Mel had promised to live where we are as long as Mom was alive. He could now choose where he wanted to go, what hospital he wanted to work in, what kind of job he might be interested in.

Yesterday, Mel had to work, so Bonnie and I decided it was her turn to take a trip with me to Springfield, eat at Outback, shop for shoes (she needed a new pair) and just have some fun. No one warned me before we went that Bonnie is a shoe freak. Even Bonnie didn't warn me until we reached Sears and I saw the gleam in her eye at the 1/2 price sale signs all over the place in the shoe department. She had five pairs tried on and replaced before I could even figure out what she was looking for. I can tell you this for sure: her taste in shoes is the exact opposite of mine.

I go for hiking boots and Birkenstocks--one pair of which I did find at deep discount in Dillards. I salivated so heavily that by the time I made up my mind about them. they were so slobbered on I no longer wanted them. Besides, they were pea green. Yes, the same color as the shoes Bonnie had just purchased and loved, but her coloring matched that color of green. Mine definitely does not. I have to return to Springfield next week with Bonnie to have one of "those" follow-up check-ups where parts of your anatomy is hideously abused, and you have to take narcotics to bear the pain. I figure the shoe sales will still be on, and we missed at least one shoe store on the mall. I have a feeling I may go back and check on that one pair of green Birks that I might be able to dye when I get them back home.

But speaking as someone who isn't a shoe freak, I can still admire from afar the sparkling, high-heeled monstrosities of ankle-breaking seduction that has obviously drawn many a woman into crutches much too early in her life. The last time I wore high heels was when the heel broke on my right shoe. I twisted and fell on my face in the gravel, and was sure I was scarred for life. When it turned out I had jumped to conclusions I decided I wouldn't take that chance again. Now I love flats. Cute sandals with darling rows of straps and chains around the ankle. Oh, my. So may shoes, so little time!

How about you? Do you have a shoe preference? If so, is it modest and comfy, or would you be willing to suffer agony to wear a beautiful pair of high heeled shoes with gold sparkles and straps and even glitter on the soles of the shoes? How far are you willing to make sure your feet are beautifully adorned?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:51 PM  
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's getting worse. Have you noticed? The way Christians are portrayed on television and in the media? We're always the intolerant, the rash, and the stupid. This drives me nuts. Christians are not one type of people. We're everyone, so for television to portray us as ignorant fools makes me a little insane. (okay, MORE insane)

Last night I was watching our equivalent of Shakespeare -- "The Real Housewives of the OC" and they have this really ignorant woman who is a Christian. God love her. He made the Gospel simple for everyone, but this girl does not exemplify a lot about Christianity -- though she really tries. She's just so lost in her own world she can't see beyond the fake extensions and the rest.

Last night, she said over and over again, "You threw me under the table." BUS. BUS! She threw you under the bus. Say it with me...IDIOM.

I know this shouldn't bug me, but the fact is, she'd never be a part of the Real Housewives if she were an intelligent Christian woman. They have her character there for the bumbling comic relief and it makes me so angry when she lives up to it! It could just be the editing, but I know that casting had a lot to do with it. You mean with Saddleback down there, they couldn't find a smart Christian?

Then you have ABC airing GCBs, which is a terrible show about fake Christians written by those who hate them. Christians are out saving the world every day with their ministries and it's not okay to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you want to be truthful in fiction, you have to show both sides. Show both sides Hollywood!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I had a blast at the Facebook party and was thrilled so many of you showed up. Here are the answers to the trivia questions. :)

How well do you know the 1870s?
1. How did most people travel in the 1870s? (horse and buggy)
2. How much did sugar cost in the 1870s? (.07 per pound)
3. What famous book about a horse was published in the 1870s? (Black Beauty)
4. What famous cavalry massacre occurred in the 1870s? (Battle of the Little Bighorn)
5. What item of clothing that we all wear was invented in the 1870s? (jeans invented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis)

How well do you know Colleen?
1. Where is my favorite place to vacation? (Hawaii and we just got back!)
2. What do I call my granddaughter? (That's easy, right? Punky.)
3. What is my husband’s name? (Another easy one--Dave!)
4. What tragedy compelled me to start writing? (My brother Randy's death by lightning)
5. What is my favorite beverage? (Come on, you know this one--Coffee, of course!)

Three Super Duper Trivia Questions – for a chance at the Kindle Fire!

1. What creature did Lucy fear and what did Nate call his “pet” one? (spiders, Zeke the tarantula)
2. Where did Lucy hide the coins? (pickle barrel)
3. In what town does Blue Moon Promise begin? (Wabash Indiana, my hometown)

And here are the prize winners!
Winners from Colleen Coble's Facebook Party!
Colleen Coble, author of Blue Moon Promse, is thrilled to announce the winners from tonight's Under Texas Stars Facebok Party.

Here is the list of every one who won something at the party tonight:

Congratulations to Ashley Roberts! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Karla Hanns! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Linda Gordon! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise and the gift certificate of your choice (Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks)! Email your mailing address and choice to amy {at}!

Congratulations to Kristine Morgan! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Paula Griffith! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Betsy Blasser! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise and the gift certificate of your choice (Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks)! Email your mailing address and choice to amy {at}!

Congratulations to Stacy Tozier! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Alisha Wood! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise!

Congratulations to Bette Sklon! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise and the gift certificate of your choice (Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks)! Email your mailing address and choice to amy {at}!

Congratulations to Kate Scott! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise for posting your photo on my wall! Email your mailing address to amy {at}!

Congratulations to Patty Saunders! You've won a copy of Blue Moon Promise for posting your photo on my wall! Email your mailing address to amy {at}!

Texas-sized, Lucy-inspired HouseKeeping Basket winner:

Congrats to Becky Stelwagon! You won the housekeeping basket! Email your mailing address to amy {at}!

And here is the Kindle Fire Winner:

Congrats to Brenda Stimely! You are the winner of the Kindle Fire and Blue Moon Promise! Send your mailing address to amy {at} and we'll get right out to you!

Congrats to all the winners - please email your mailing address to Amy {at} litfusegroup {dot} com.

Congratulations to everyone and thanks for coming!


Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:25 PM  
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In spite of the rain, we've had a fun time on Kauai. In case you haven't heard, our island has had 46 inches of rain in the past week. Flash floods, even hail. Crazy! But in spite of it all, we've had a great time. We stayed here and it's a fabulous house with a pool. Glad we had that pool because there was no snorkeling to be had in this weather. I tried yesterday but the visibility was about 2 feet. LOL

One thing has become very clear these 3 weeks. I'm directionally challenged. So much so that my dear daughter has taken to mocking me when I point toward where I think something is located. She's now suggesting that I point upward since I'm not going to be accurate anyway! I'm laughing but she's very right. I couldn't tell you which was was north or south. Some people have an innate sense of direction. That would not be me. I park my car in the same row at Walmart so I'm not wandering around looking for it.

But I've got good sense about health things. Probably because I'm interested in it. I'm not so interested in directions. LOL But isn't it great how God gives each of us different gifts? Dave is great with directions and he makes sure I never get lost. If he has a health issue, I research it to death and figure out what needs to be done. He hates to cook (his idea of cooking is to take me out) but he's great at fixing things. I'm hopeless at fixing things like plumbing but I'm good at fixing computer problems.

So all in all, I'm comfortable in my skin and with the gifts I have. It wasn't always this way when I was younger. I always wished I had someone else's gifts. All that striving and angst isn't good for cortisol levels so I'm glad I have grown contented! But what about you? Are you aware of your gifts or are you still wishing for what you don't have? Evaluate what God has given you and see how you can use them in more ways.

Want to share what you're good at? I love hearing about gifts.

And a quick thank you! Blue Moon Promise just hit #6 on the CBA best seller list, my best ranking EVER thanks to you!

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 1:30 AM  
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

"My son," he said. "There is inside us all, a battle between two 'wolves'. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

This Native American legend could easily represent the Christian struggle between the flesh and the spirit. 

We feed the fleshly wolf by: dwelling on sinful thoughts; reading books, watching movies, or listening music that draw us toward unChristlike things; seeking close companionship with unGodly people; entertaining a spirit of ungratefulness; focusing on self and selfish desires.

We feed the spiritual wolf by: spending time in God's word; fostering relationships with Godly people; having a rich prayer life; reading books, watching movies, and listening to music that encourage a Godly lifestyle; striving to keep our thoughts pure, focusing on others instead of ourselves; having a spirit of gratitude.

Which wolf are you feeding? 
Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:51 PM  
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Friday, March 09, 2012
Colleen mentioned this week in her blog that my mother passed away two weeks ago. Caring for Mom in her illness has kept me focused on her for quite some time, and I've done little more. Hence, I've written few blogs to some of my favorite blog girls. I've missed y'all.

Though I'm an only child with no children of my own (except for my wonderful stepsons) I was surrounded by family from before the night Mom passed away and for a whole week afterward. Our house was packed, and those days I would otherwise have spent in grief recalling the awful last days of Mom's life, I spent instead with Mel, and cousins and my uncle and close friends keeping food in my mouth whether I wanted it or not, keeping me active and distracted, even taking me to get a massage.

The day after everyone left was the first time I had alone, and I cried all afternoon, despite the fact that Mom was a staunch believer, and I knew she was forever out of pain. I could close my eyes and see Mom's face, eyes open wide in fear when she didn't know what was happening to her in her demented state. The memories of Mom's suffering were like a haunting I could not shake, and I walked around the house devastated, sat on her bed and sobbed.

But then I received an email from yet another cousin, who is a missionary in China. She'd been trying to reach me for several days, but their systems don't always work where she lives. She'd had a dream the night before Mom died, in which she saw Mom in the arms of Jesus. Her words brushed away those awful memories that had haunted me. I don't even have to close my eyes to see that picture in my mind. Yet another cousin to the rescue. Have I mentioned that I love my cousins? So now I can attend grief counseling for six weeks and learn how to do this right--if there's really a right way to do it.

Last night I was alone again while Mel worked a late shift. I went down to the basement laundry room to check on his scrubs, and my attention caught on the row of Mom's clothing we'd hung there because we had run out of room in her small closet upstairs. For the first time, I didn't feel pain at the sight of something that reminded me of Mom. In fact, I smiled. I walked over to the first shirt and caressed it. Mom had no more use for these clothes because she is now dressed in her heavenly clothing, and she's in the arms of Jesus. There is sadness and pain in suffering, and there is a sense of loss when someone you love is no longer with you. But in truth, there is great joy with the realization that the one you love is with Christ in heaven, never again to be confused or frightened, never again to suffer pain.

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 10:41 AM  
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Thursday, March 08, 2012
My four year old grandson colored this picture yesterday and his mom sent it for me to see. Not only was I proud of his fine job, but I saw the spark of imagination in his eyes.

It occurred to me. Writers are just grownups who never lost their imagination. Think about what great story tellers kids are! There are no boundaries, no set of rules, to follow. If they want a purple dinosaur, so be it. They haven't developed that inner editor yet.

What if we could do that. Forget genres, forget grammar, forget plot and structure. Today, make purple dinosaurs. Write whatever you want to write--no matter what your inner editor tells you--and free up your creative side. It could just be your breakout novel waiting to be jostled loose.


Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:48 AM  
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I'm in between ideas, unsure of where I'll go next. That's both freeing and frightening. Freeing because the world is my oyster, I can start something new. Terrifying because I can easily shop online or redecorate my house or play Angry Birds instead. So I need an idea. Wait, I have an idea. I'm just not sure I'm ready to write it. Did you ever have something feel too important and that you're not ready yet?

I know Moses did. And God gave him Aaron and said, "Go ahead, you're ready."

So I need to find my Aaron, my crutch and get back on the horse as soon as possible. Today I'm going to write a proposal. I may never send it anywhere, but it's something to get me started, right? I want to write a chick lit again, so I'm working hard on keeping my perspective UP. So I'm trying to think WITH people so that I don't get too bogged down in the thought process.

I find that if I have too much time on my hands, I waste it. So I need to have a plan and a schedule. Do you have any motivating ideas for when you weren't ready for something and God said, Go Ahead and you survived it? Flourished in it? Inspire us!
posted at 3:33 PM  
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012
First off, please pray for Cheryl. She lost her mother a few days ago, and it's been a very hard time for her. Praying for you, Cheryl!

I'm working on Rosemary Cottage, the sequel to Tidewater Inn. I'm supposed to be on vacation here in Hawaii, but after about a week, I found myself thinking about my plot and characters. The next thing I knew I was jotting down ideas. Then I was actually writing a scene here or there. :)

My new book is set in the Outer Banks so the setting is conducive to the thought process as well. And I'm getting some great ideas for characters here as well. Like surfers who are out in the middle of the storm that's been hitting us the last few days. And the Hawaiian lady down by the harbor feeding hundreds of cats dressed in her muumuu with her white hair trailing down her back.

Writers are like that. We see story everywhere we look. We watched a documentary about Taylor Camp the other morning. Taylor Camp was a hippie commune on Kauai's north shore. It was started back in 1969 on some property that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor's brother. I wrote about it in Midnight Sea. The longer I watched the documentary, the more I realized how horrible that lifestyle would be to me. Laying around on the beach all day with NO GOALS for years . Nudity and drugs, nothing but the next selfish activity. Shudder. The thought is unbelievably abhorrent to me. And that tells you something about me as well. :) So again, a study in character that has been fun for me to analyze the past few days.

My definition of a writer is someone who can't NOT write. If you can take up another profession and be happy not creating story, then do it because there's really no down time for a writer. We've been here in Hawaii for two weeks and in that time I've written a newsletter, updated my website, edited and compiled the final manuscript of Secretly Smitten for Ami, attended to some Facebook housekeeping, and done some writing. And of course jotted down ideas! In the past week, I've been antsy to get back to writing more than the occasional scene or two. But that's my life, the mindset of a writer.

So how about you? How long are you able to go without writing? What is your definition of a writer?


Colleen Coble  
posted at 1:30 AM  
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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Taken at the ACFW Conference by Amber Zimmerman
Writer's conferences aren't cheap, so maybe you're thinking you'll just skip that part of the writing world and go straight to publication. Maybe you're already published and wondering why you should spend your hard earned money on a conference. I'd like to suggest you think of conferences as an investment in your dream. Here are some reasons you should attend:

1. Knowledge - You can learn from the best in the industry. Bestselling authors, editors, and agents teach classes for everyone, from the beginning writer to the multi-published. Learn about craft, marketing, publishing, and more!

2. Networking - Where else can you meet industry professionals, authors, and fellow writers all in one place? And you might just meet your future critique partners or best friends (case in point, Girls Write Out).

3. Opportunity - Face to face time is invaluable in this industry, and many conferences give you the opportunity to sit down and pitch your work to the agent or editor of your dreams. If the manuscript fits their house, editors often invite conferees to send their proposal post-conference--one of the few ways you can get your story seen by an editor!

4. Insider Information - Most conferences have spotlight workshops with publishing houses and agents where they tell conferees exactly what they're looking for. What better way to figure out where your manuscript might fit?

5. Belonging - Your family doesn't understand the voices in your head? Your friends think your little hobby is a waste of time? Come to a writers conference and mingle with other people heading the same direction as you! You will come away refreshed and encouraged!

You can find a list of Christian Fiction Conferences here. In my opinion, the best conference for Christian novelists is the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:59 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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