Girls Write Out
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You'd have to live under a rock not to have heard "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" lately when talking about the publishing climate out there. I'm not the fearful type, and I'm confident those of us in the writing world will weather all the changes. I have utmost faith in my publisher Thomas Nelson--but even more faith in God. But that doesn't mean I'm not constantly analyzing what is happening around me. It's interesting and I'm enjoying seeing things play out.

A thought struck me the other Alexa and Mimi 2012day thought--change is a period of great opportunity. Remember when the early church underwent intense persecution and then had to spread out into the world? What if This current situation is God's way of pushing us out into the world? The buzz word right now is discoverability, and with so many people buying books online, the walls are down. Niche writers will find their readership. Those of us who write from a Christian worldview will be able to find a great audience beyond the walls of Christian bookstores. Those who are sick and tired of gratuitous sex will be able to discover us even if they don't frequent a Christian bookstore. 

So I'm excited about what is happening! If you're a reader, what are your habits? Have you discovered new authors online yet or do you still find your next book by word of mouth or in a bookstore? And if you're an author, what new opportunities to you see in this brave, new world? 

And this is my darling granddaughter Alexa with me. She's spending the night with her Mimi as we speak. So love to be part of her life!


Colleen Coble  
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Thursday, July 26, 2012
First off, I want to thank you so much for your prayers on my behalf. Next week I'll be having a laparoscopy, followed a week later by a major operation. Your prayers have brought me this far and I know they will see me through. I never take them for granted. Thank you!!

Secondly, this picture is our granddaughter. She has a vivid imagination. Like her Nanny (me), she sometimes slips into an imaginary world (hmm, that sounds scary, doesn't it?), also like her Nanny. Our imaginations can take us to castles filled with antiquities and handsome princes. It can take us on morning walks through fields of wildflowers or bustling city streets where bakeries fill the air with the smell of baking bread.  It can also take us to scary places (enter Colleen) where murders happen and killers hide.

Imaginations are a good thing. Of course, we can't live in an imaginary world all the time. That would be weird. Though if you're a writer, you can get by with it--most of the time. :-)

You know how when you're going through a medical procedure they'll say things like, "Think of a place where you'd like to be right now. The ocean breeze tickles your skin. The smell of salt and sand stirs the air"? See, even the medical profession sees the value of a good imagination.

So let's play. If you could, for a moment, imagine a place where you would love to go right this minute. Tell me where would it take you?  You don't have to be eloquent. Just imagine a place. Maybe you're overlooking something that's happening or you're in the middle of a family feud. Maybe your place has conflict or maybe it's relaxing. A funny moment? A tender moment? A frightening moment? Whatever, it's just fun to pretend, if only for a moment. Be a kid again!

With my morning coffee nearby, a light blanket to cast off the chill of the air conditioning, the cat beside me  and our dog at my feet, I imagine a place where green grasses cover rolling hills, ivy grows on thatch-roofed cottages and cobbled streets lead to cozy shops filled with people milling around.

Your turn.

Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012
For the last year (at least) my kids' schedule has really become more of a priority than writing.  I remember a long time ago when Lawana Blackwell (a personal favorite!) stopped writing because she had to devote more time to her teens.  I remember thinking, teens?  Aren't they more independent?  Because I had little kids and was clueless as to how much guidance and driving and activity teens are involved in during their lifetimes.

For me, it got to the point where I wanted a "real" job because that would be sacred on some level.  People wouldn't look at you hammering on the computer and think you were fooling around, they would identify work time as work time.

I also thought a "real" job would make my kids more independent -- as I was on my own from the time I was ten or so and had to fend for myself.  However, I've had just enough projects to keep me writing for now, and after a brief vacation in Hawaii, I believe it's time to start up my schedule again.  The one that says MOMMY IS WRITING -- GO AWAY!

I bought myself a new coffee cup to prove my commitment.  (Do you know not all iced coffee cups are created equally.  The ones at Starbucks have superior lids that don't take twenty minutes to get on right.)  This one is from a Kona Coffee shop on Kona that was FANTASTIC!  Today is my daughter's birthday, so I haven't started my schedule today (is it sounding like I'll start my diet on Monday?)  But when I was productive, I always had a schedule, and I think that's key.  A JOB makes it easier because I'm not here to listen to the needs, but ultimately, that's a boundary issue.

Where's Dr. Henry Cloud when you need him?  This coffee cup is a symbol of my commitment to get busy and finish the magical YA I'm writing and edit a book too risque for CBA (not really, but it's been overedited in my opinion and needs to be reworked to its original message.)  So say cheers with me, will you?  And I'm happy to hear any boundary tips you may have!

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Monday, July 23, 2012


Lambs Well

I'm a nut about home improvement, especially historic preservation. We bought an old Victorian home to restore, and it turned into a much bigger project that I ever would have dreamed. We've been working on it f
or fifteen years and still aren't done. But I still love it. When we bought our home, it was a duplex. We knocked out a wall that had been added and found the pocket doors still hidden inside. That was a super fun day! 

In Tidewater Inn, Libby has the same passion for historic preservation. She and her business partner are working on a new project in Hope Beach. Her friend calls with some amazing news--some of Libby's family is on the island, siblings she had no idea even existed. Before she can assimilate the information, her friend is kidnapped by two men while Libby watches helplessly on a beach cam feed. When she arrives at Hope Beach to try to find her friend, she meets a hunky Coast Guard officer who helps her begin to figure out what is going on. I hope you can smell the ocean breeze and feel the sand between your toes!

In honor of our shared passion for historic preservation, I'm going to pass along my recipe for stripping old paint from a home's exterior. It's a job that Libby has to do at Tidewater Inn, and it's one that I kind of enjoy. You need a heat gun. We used this one but there are others that are less expensive. We liked this one because it had two temperatures. I like to start at the bottom because heat rises. Aim the heat gun at the board. I start at the bottom of the board. The paint will begin to bubble. Wait until it's really softened.  I use a 1 1/2" putty knife like this to scrape it off. It's a heavy duty one that works great and the sharp point can get into the crevices. The paint will come up easily if you've gotten it hot enough. By the way, this works on painted furniture too. And it's kind of fun! 

There are a lot of layers in Tidewater Inn, just as there are paint layers when you are working on restoring a project. Between the suspense and mystery, there is romance and family relationships. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think.

Comment on the blog for a chance to win 1 of 3 free copies of Tidewater Inn. And visit your local Christian bookstore. Some of them are giving away of my friend Erin Healy's new book when you buy a copy of Tidewater Inn!

The group picture is in Lamb's Well in Warner Robbins GA. One of their former employees and a friend of mine on Facebook saw my post that I was on my way in. She (Sarah) threw her toddler in the car and zoomed to the store before I left. Once I knew she was on her way, wild horses couldn't have dragged me off! The owner of the store, Carla, is on the far left. She's got an awesome store!

I also stopped at The Potter's House in Valdosta GA but didn't get a picture, doggone it! But it was a terrific store and I loved meeting Brenda and Cherie!

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Colleen Coble  
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012
We're ready to embark on a family vacation and whenever the suitcases come out, my dog doesn't leave my side.  She knows something's up and she's not about to let us get away without her.  Tomorrow however, she has a house/dog sitter coming, and I can't help but feel guilty.  Like I'm abandoning one of my own.

I hear Fiona calling, "What about me?"  Fiona is my first dog, and I never understood how they become so important to your life.  Such a part of your family...and I'm leaving her behind.

Now I have guilt.  I couldn't leave her in a kennel.  I'm really looking forward to the vacation -- I just wish the whole family was coming...

Doesn't she look like she knows I'm up to something?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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I'm at the International Christian Retail Show this week. It's always a lot of fun connecting with retailers and getting to hug friends. This year was more than just fun though--it really brought home to me how important affirmation really is.

i'm an encourager. It's just part of my personality. Affirming other people just bubbles up. I'm the oldest of 4 kids and I picked up that mothering instinct early in life. I know it can be highly annoying but I can't seem to help it! :) But yesterday it was MY turn to be affirmed and it impacted me more than I can say.

The first event was early. I had a brief meeting with a lovely gal from a radio station. Her smile beamed out and she came toward me and said, "I'm so thrilled to meet the legendary Colleen Coble, just to know you really exist. I just love your books." Me? Legendary? It's pretty tough to make me speechless but she did it! I floated around the floor all day on that one statement. I mean, I knew I was getting rather long in the tooth in the Christian fiction world. My first book was bought 15 years ago, and while that doesn't sound all that long ago, there wasn't nearly as much Christian fiction back then as there is now. But legendary? That sounds so much more attractive than ancient!

The 2nd encounter was at the Christy Awards last night. Liz Higgs was recognizing our new publisher Daisy Hutton, and Liz looked at her and said, "Colleen Coble just loves you." Daisy straightened and flashed me a smile. After the awards she told me how much my belief in her has helped her confidence. Affirming her actually affirmed me too. Isn't that funny how it works? 

Then last night after the Christy's we were sitting with Allen Arnold. Daisy and Katie had just toodled off to bed. A young man named Dave came up to hug Allen, and it was clear they were close. Dave shook my hand and said, "You were always Allen's pride and joy." Whoa. I grew about ten feet in that instant. As we all went off to our rooms, I was struck again with how the words we say may seem inconsequential, but they can impact us all so much. You can use your words to build up or tear down, but they always leave an impact. And isn't that what life is all about? How we all impact each other is what builds community. The day was a great encouragement to watch my words and try to lift up others. 

How about you? Who have you affirmed lately and what impact did it have, even if the visible impact was on YOU?

And oh yeah, Denise's Smitten novella is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Award and Lonestar Angel is a finalist in the romantic suspense category! :)

Colleen Coble  
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Sunday, July 15, 2012
I'm not much of a sports fan, but even I get excited when it's time for the Olympics. The combination of private stakes (each athlete's story) and public stakes (countries collaborating in a worldwide competition) provide an exciting and compelling event.

My favorite event is women's gymnastics--probably because I used to do a little tumbling myself. Another factor is that the first Olympics I remember was the great '76 games with Romanian Nadia Comaneci. She so inspired me.

Watching the US Gymnastics trials only made me more eager for the Games. I'm excited to watch the entire USA Women's Team, but I have to admit Gabby Douglas in particular won me over with her athleticism, determination, and winning smile. Not to mention she placed 1st.

I'm also eager to see Michael Phelps compete in the pool again. What events and athletes are you most looking forward to?

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Denise Hunter  
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Friday, July 13, 2012
ACFW Girls STanding 2010
We got news yesterday what we weren't expecting. Di's ovarian cancer has returned. To so we were all blindsided is an understatement. Denise and I had lunch with Diann last Saturday, and she looked and felt great. Her CA-125 was still super low so when the PET scan found a tiny nodule we all hoped and prayed it was scar tissue. But the biopsy came back early and Di is facing another battle.
She will have a laparaoscopy surgery to remove the tiny tumor (on her BIRTHDAY no less!) then a week later will have a treatment where they open her up and pour heated chemo into her abdomen. I'm excited about this treatment. From all I've read, this could deliver the knock out punch we've all been praying for. But it's major surgery and she will need all our prayers to get through it.
Will you lock arms and walk with us through these challenging days ahead? We need God's strength and intervention in the worst way. Thanks for praying, friends! We know you love Diann too and will lift her to the throne.
Colleen Coble  
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Thursday, July 12, 2012
Names mean a lot.  I was musing how Kourtney Kardashian, trying to break the "K" curse had named her daughter Penelope.  Because that is the long-suffering wife of Odysseus, I wonder if that name isn't a harsh sentence.

I named my son "Jonah" and one time I was at the San Francisco Zoo and this mother and I were both yelling, "JONAH!" At the top of our lungs.  I looked at her and said, "Rethinking that name, aren't you?"

I mean, sure it means dove.  As in gentle as a dove.  But he was also a defiant prophet.

When naming characters, it can be a battle in itself.  My new heroine, "Daphne" is a perfumer.  I really loved the symbolism of her name -- she is turned into a laurel tree in Greek mythology.  Since my heroine is left at the altar, I loved the concept of my heroine commiserating over her name.  That perhaps her parents had cursed her by naming her something that was beautiful to look upon, but not be loved.

Wouldn't we all wonder what caused us to be unlovable when left?  There are some characters whose name can be interchangeable, and then there are those who I just see as, say a Daphne.

Have you ever thought a character's name didn't fit her?  Remember, before editing Scarlett O'Hara was Pansy O'Hara.  Lot of power in a name.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ACFW Girls STanding 2010

I know you all love Diann and would want to have the chance to pray right now when we need it. She is at Zion and had a PET scan. The scan found what appears to be some kind of nodule in her stomach. Her CA-125 is great, so the doctor thinks it's either scar tissue or a return of the lymphoma so she's having a biopsy done tomorrow at 4. Please pray it's just scar tissue! She's been through so much this past month with losing both her mom and her sister. 

Thanks for praying, friends! 

Colleen Coble  
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Monday, July 09, 2012
I love home improvement. Dave and I watch HGTV incessantly. I've read every issue of Old House Journal and have tackled more things than you can imagine when it comes to home restoration. Libby in Tidewater Inn restores old houses so I have to admit there's quite a bit of me in Libby. We stripped off about 15 layers of paint and wallpaper in all the bedrooms. and in our bedroom alone, we hauled out 15 of the largest garbage bags full of paint and wallpaper chips. It was a huge project. But I just loved it! Weird, I know. I'm eying the wallpaper in our living room now and thinking of pulling it down and painting this time.
But I thought it would be fun to pass along your favorite tips for home improvement. I love the old finishes: shellac and linseed oil in particular. They have so much more character than plain old polyurethane. My favorite is shellac and it's got a warm color that just love. But shellac can get spotted when it comes in contact with water, and it can bubble up with age or get scratched. But there is a super easy way to fix this without having to do a full strip job. Denatured alcohol is a miracle worker! Get the finest steel wool and put some denatured alcohol on it. Then just rub it on the board. The bubbles will vanish and smooth all out, and you can give the piece a fresh coat of shellac if necessary, though it usually looks perfectly fine after going over it with the steel wool and alcohol. Give it a try!
Now it's your turn. Post your favorite tip and I'll enter you in a drawing for a copy of Tidewater Inn. I'll give away 3 copies. It can be a tip about anything: picking paint color, painting, stripping wallpaper, yard work, anything you like.
Ready, set, go!

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Colleen Coble  
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Sunday, July 08, 2012
I just received my advanced copies of The Trouble with Cowboys! Advanced copies are used to get advanced reviews and buzz going about the book, so naturally, I thought of you! 

How to Enter the Contest: Leave a comment including:

1. Your email address

2. All the ways you will use your free copy to spread the word. (Reviews on blog, Amazon, CBD, etc; Convince your book club to read it; Tell your friends about it; Tweet and Facebook about it, etc.) Get as creative as you can!

That's it! I'll choose 3 winners and notify them on Wednesday (July 11). Everyone else will have to wait until Oct. 2. :)

Here's a blurb of The Trouble with Cowboys

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek's premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. 
But when her column is cancelled, she's given first shot at a new lovelorn column--and she can't afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie's never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town's smooth-talking ladies' man Dylan Taylor: She'll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he'll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can't risk getting hurt now. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.
Denise Hunter  
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Friday, July 06, 2012
I had an "awe" moment today in the grocery store. A couple had brought their tiny baby shopping with them, and the daddy held her. I never got a good look at her because it always seemed busy around them. My assistant, Bonnie, was shopping with me, and she couldn't get a good look at her, either. It wasn't that busy in the store, because we were able to get to a checker right away. We didn't have any trouble getting to the items we needed--how many people shop for special diet cat food and distilled water? Still, we just got tiny glimpses of the baby.

It wasn't until I was through the checkout line and unable to get further that I realized a handsome, tough looking elderly man was stopped in front of me with the most tender and loving look on his face. He was tall enough to see over other heads to the baby, who was surrounded by at least ten people.

While I waited for him to move--I wasn't about to interrupt the joy I saw in those wise old eyes--I started watching others who entered the store. Every single person who came into view of that tiny infant was immediately caught in wonder. Many of them, like the man blocking my way, simply stopped and gawked. I had to settle for the enjoyment of watching them, and that was quite a treat.

Any of those people whose eyes lit up could have been a likable character in one of my books. Another word for that could be a "pet the dog" moment, in which a character we want our readers to care about does something that tugs at our hearts, like becoming enthralled by the sight of a tiny baby.

What enthralls you? I'm not asking whether or not you're a writer, but what moments in your life have made you stop and catch your breath in awe?

Hannah Alexander  
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Thursday, July 05, 2012
Heroines. Heroes. We cheer for them, cry with them, laugh with them, get angry with their stupidity, marvel at their wisdom, and sometimes, we never forget them.

Think about it. Who are your favorite heroines? Favorite Heroes? What made them memorable? Who do you think of (books or movies) when I say the following words:


It's not their outer beauty that we remember so much. It's goes deeper than that. We remember their character.

Quirky:  Lucy Ricardo (I Love Lucy)
Spoiled: Scarlett O'Hara (Gone With the Wind)
Naive, Sweet:  Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)
Unconventional: Madea

Quirky:  Dr. Doolittle (Eddie Murphy)
Workaholic, Hard-shelled turned soft: Linus Larrabee (Sabrina)

Well, you get the idea. They are always redeemable. They can be hard-shelled and rough around the edges, but ultimately, we see there is a reason for it and they change by the story's end.

So my challenge to you is to answer this:  What I really like to see in a heroine or hero are . . . .

Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Writer's Block is what happens when you don't deal with real life effectively.  I've come to this conclusion after having to drive my son three hours away so that he could leave for Egypt with his grandfather (husband's father.)

I didn't want my son to go to Egypt.  I knew that stopping him would have been a mistake because it's a once in a lifetime experience and my son LOVES Egypt.  So I couldn't let my fears get in the way of his life.   Well, on the way up, I believe I had a panic attack.  And I could not drive.  We were stuck in Stockton, which isn't the best city in the world in terms of safety, and I had no choice but to let my son drive the family while I regrouped.

Once I got to my parents' house, I realized that I was holding in so much emotion because my truth was that I didn't want my son to go.  Once I let him go, and prayed through the angst, and the entire night while he was on flights, my writing brain returned.

And I came to a conclusion as a seat-of-the-pants writer.  You must deal with real life before you can deal with characters who work.  Otherwise, your characters will have all this excess baggage and they won't work for you.  Their conversations will be riddled with angst that doesn't move the story forward and worse?  They'll become victims of circumstances instead of movers and shakers.

So if you happen to be a SOTPer, deal with your emotions.  Food addicts will eat.  Drinkers will drink. And writers will pawn off their unwanted emotions on their characters.

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Monday, July 02, 2012


Some things you never forget even when you don't do them every day. When I went to Nashville to speak at sales conference, I wanted to spoil my fiction girls a bit in celebration of 10 years with Thomas Nelson so I took them all out for pedicures on Thursday afternoon. It was soo fun! But we got to talking about colors, probably because we were all picking out nail colors. When they learned that one of my previous careers was as a color consultant, I had to go around and tell them what season they were. Some of them were easier than others, and I had to guess on Daisy and Jodi. Next time I go, I'll take my color drapes and figure it out for sure. But we laughed and talked LOUDLY for quite some time. I advised the girls what highlights might look good and what colors to wear. So fun!

When Ami, Katie, and I started to leave, another young woman not in our group stopped me and asked if I'd tell her what she was. She said she'd been waiting patiently until her turn. it was clear she thought I was an employee! I got tickled about that, but told her I'd be glad to tell her anyway. I had to give her the bad news that she was a winter (brown eyes and olive skin) and should get rid of the blond in her hair. I told her that the older she got, the worse the blond would look next to her skin. She was a great sport about it though and said she was due a trip to the hairdresser and would go back to her real hair color of dark brown. 

When we left, I was struck at how easy it was to go right back to a skill I hadn't exercised in a while. But then I realized that I still notice when people are wearing the wrong hair color or makeup for their skin. It's ingrained now after all my training.

It's like writing. Certain skills become part of your "voice" as you progress as a writer. One part of my voice is a strong sense of place. That comes naturally to me when writing a scene. Another skill is intuitively knowing whose POV a scene should be written in. I try to write the scene in the POV of the person who has the most to lose by the resolution (or lack) of the conflict. And I never use semicolons! LOL It's part of my style sheet. But I'm always working on new skills to add so that they become part of my voice. One thing I'm working on right now is incorporating shorter scenes and not showing movement to a new place. I'm also working to make sure interior dialogue doesn't diffuse the tension in the scenes. When I'm finished learning those things, there will be a new skill to try to master.

What about you? What new skill are you working on? It might not be in writing but in another area of life. 

Colleen Coble  
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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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