Girls Write Out
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
One of the hardest things for me when on deadline is caring about what I serve for dinner at night.  By the time the day is done, my creativity is zapped and I have nothing left to give to dinner for six.  That is, until I found the Chew.  It's a TV show with Michael Symon (who is meat-centric) and Mario Batali (Pasta based) and their food is always delicious and usually very easy.  It takes a few more minutes that what I might do, but ultimately, is so much more satisfying.  So I wanted to share my secret.  Yesterday, Elle and I watched Michael Symon teach how to make Chicken Scallopini and we made it last night.  It was delicious and the boys ate everything.

Also on their site, they have other moms making their easy recipes with cans.  I love that!

posted at 2:02 PM  
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Sunday, February 17, 2013
Giving away 3 signed copies of Barefoot Summer!

I just got a few advanced copies of my June 4 release in the mail. I'm SO tickled to see the beautiful cover in my hands!

The purpose of advanced copies is to get a little buzz going, so that's where I need your help.

How can you help spread the word about Barefoot Summer? Can you write online reviews? Blog about the story? Recommend it to your book club? Tweet and FB about it? Be creative!


1. Leave a message telling me how you'd use a free copy of Barefoot Summer to spread the word.

2. Leave your email address.

That's it! I'll email the winners on Wednesday (Feb 20).

Barefoot Summer: 

             In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her. To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.  
              Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.  
Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him begin to grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart. 
                      But Beckett harbors a secret—one that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison’s faith. Can their new romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 7:19 PM  
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Today I didn't know what to blog about, so I called Mel at the clinic and asked him what he could tell me about pain, since I always seem to be in it. These are the highlights of our conversation:

"I'd love to help, sweetheart," he said.

"Oh, thank you, honey. Make it simple for me, okay?" I asked. And now you will see why I stressed that.

"Pain is usually a reflex arc," he said. "Every part of a pain response is a two-part. There is the afferent and there is efferent. Afferent is affect, and efferent is effect and--"

"Wait! Honey? What was it you just said?"

"The classic is you put your hand on a hot stove and you don't know it's hot. Pain is the afferent response. As a result of the brain feeling pain, it triggers you to pull your hand back, therefore it's efferent--or the effect. It's what the muscles do in response. So a reflex arc doesn't require a higher brain function."

"Um. Mel? Mel? Honey! Wait, I can't keep up! I can't type that fast--"

"--so treating pain is a process of cause and effect. You just have to remove what's causing the pain. It isn't usually as simple as taking a hand off the hot stove. The cause of most pain is not nearly as obvious. The best thing is to figure out what's causing the pain."

"Okay, wait, I have afferent and efferent. How do you spell those?"

"If you take away the cause, you take away the pain. While you're trying ot figure it out, you give pain blockers, which are narcotics--not something the doctor will willingly give you. Ultram is a newer pain med that works pretty well and doesn't have as much of an abuse potential, so the docs are more likely to give it to you. However, if you already take narcotics for pain--"

"Mel? Mel! Slow down! I have reflex arc for the second time. Is there another word for--"

"If you can't adequately block the pain, then you distract. That is how a tens unit works. It comes from the term trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It substitutes one pain for another, but the electrical stimulation distracts them from the old pain."

"Hold it. Wait. I'm trying to type this quickly, honey. What did you just--"

 "Lidocaine, on the other hand, kills pain as an anesthetic. It doesn't block nerve endings, but it numbs them. It doesn't last long, so it doesn't work well for long-standing pain."

"Okay, lidocaine. Is that spelled with an e at the end, or--"

"General anesthesia puts the brain to sleep--another way of killing pain for surgery, though of course you can't use that for chronic pain. Epidurals are versions of lidocaine, going for bigger nerves to anesthetize, so it's a regional anesthesia."

"There! That's the word I want. Chronic pain. I need to know how to treat chronic pa--"

"For chronic pain, if you have a tens unit and use it daily, that could help distract from the pain. Capzacin has a distracting agent in it that burns the skin, but the burn tends to go away if you can stand it long enough."

"All right! Now we're on a roll!"

"Benzocaine is a topical lidocaine, so that's used for sunburns or toothache. Ambesol and Orajel are toothache benzocaines."

"How can that help with chronic pain?" 

"A classic example for fixing pain is to liken it to a broken bone--not to gross anyone out-- that's out of place, when you reset it, lining the bone up is probably as good at pain control as blasting the patient with pain medi--"

"No, honey, please go back to the chronic pain treat--" 

"It's the same with dislocations. It hurts when something is dislocated, and it hurts getting it back into place, but the body wants you to know about the problem with a lot of pain. You fix it, you're better. Like a thorn in the foot. You don't take pain meds for the thorn in the foot, you remove the thorn."

"Okay, honey." Sigh. "I love you! Thanks for helping. See you soon! Remember, I have an appointment for you to adjust my back today."

"Oh. Okay, sweetheart. Is that all you needed?"

"Yeah, once I get it sorted out."

So, girls, you got that? You slog through those brainiac words and decipher them. My job here is done.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 3:03 PM  
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Happy Valentine's Day! The day where people express their love with flowers, candy, cards, etc. I've celebrated 38 Valentine Days with my hubby and they grow sweeter every year. No, we don't always buy each other things, but our love grows deeper, and that's what truly matters. Wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day with the love of your life!

Now, having said that, I've discovered an old love. That's right. The Andy Griffith Show! I watched it as a kid, but then not for years. Since I've been too sick to do anything but watch TV lately, I'm hooked on Andy and Barney.

What draws me to them isn't so much the comedy as it is the community of Mayberry. I love how the characters interact and care about one another. I love how Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney & Opie sit on the front porch and talk, sing with a guitar, and just plain sit in one another's company. Sometimes those things mean more than candy, cards and flowers.

Our world is fast-paced. Computers, ipods, iPhones, all lift us from whom we're actually physically with and take us to someone elsewhere. Not that that's bad, but it can be if we neglect the people close at hand.

Today is a day for love. Tell someone you love them today. Make a phone call. Go for a visit. Life is so short. Let the people who matter to you know that they matter to you. Every day is a gift--with or without chocolates (did I just say that?).

In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day!! Make it count!!

Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:08 AM  
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bubble Gum

Cambodia. The very word conjures up an exotic land, and everything you think about it is true. It's wonderful, scary, poignant, dirty, full of smiles and friendly people, heart tugging, with an overwhelming need. We have fallen in love with the people from the first moment. We have so many THINGS in America. It's hard to understand just how much need is here. It already feels like our mission field. 

Our missionaries here have wonderful churches in the provinces and an orphanage in the city. The orphans came to meet us at the airport, even though it was eleven at night. The little ones cried to come meet us, and their small faces smiling at us made us forget we'd just flown 23 hours. They were holding up a big sign welcoming us to Cambodia. We went to the province churches on Sunday and Monday, and when I sat in that first service and heard their fervent singing of Cambodian hymns my eyes welled up. I was so struck with God's love for these people, for all people. I realized I'd been insulated in the U.S. about how much He wants us to reach others with the gospel. At the 2nd church the people all had Bibles and took notes as Pastor preached. Their hunger for the Word put me to shame. 

We took a tuk tuk ride today, and THAT is the way to travel! It was scary but exhilarating, and we could feel the heartbeat of the city. A tuk tuk is a little carriage like thing that's pulled behind a motorbike. It darts in and out of traffic and sometimes you just have to close your eyes and pray. LOL We loved our time in the provinces. The pastor's home was open air with only 2 walls. There were chickens, puppies, ducks, chickens, and pigs running around. They sleep on a mat on a wooden deck. Yet I could see the beauty of living in such simplicity. 

Ahem. The only hard part is the Cambodian toilet. LOL it's an open porcelain bowel set in concrete in a small building similar to an outhouse. We call it a squatty potty. LOL Luckily the missionaries' house where we're staying is a western style home, but when we're out and about we have to face the other kind. 

I hope you'll pray for us while we're here--that we can minister to the people and the orphans and make a difference. I think when we leave here, we'll be leaving our hearts in Cambodia. If you go to the my Facebook page, you'll see all kinds of pictures. This picture shows the how excited the children are to get a piece of bubble gum. This is right after the first church service. 

Colleen Coble  
posted at 4:36 AM  
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Friday, February 08, 2013

It has come to my attention lately that I'm skimming life. I don't take time to watch the sun rise even when I'm up at that hour, and I seldom see it set. I'm too busy rushing around, cooking dinner, seeing to  business, cleaning, skimming through my Bible reading, rushing through an edit. How did life become so overwhelming?

Every so often, I catch myself rushing through something I once enjoyed--like rewriting--and I wonder what happened to me. Why on earth am I no longer enjoying the very exercise of a talent God gave me? Why am I not milking that time, doing what I love to do, for all it's worth? When I lose the joy of doing what I love, why on earth even bother? I mean, if I don't enjoy writing, why am I busting my brain in the middle of another novel? If I don't enjoy it, I doubt my readers will.

So I've reminded myself to slow down. A lot. I need to dwell in this moment instead of racing toward the next. I need to indulge in this book instead of fixating on the plot for another. I love working with words and making them flow. So why rush? If I take it a little at a time, I can meet deadline and enjoy it while I do it.

What do you love to do, and what's getting in the way of your enjoyment these days? We're not supposed to use cliches, but taking time to smell the roses, pet the cat, kiss your husband, those should be our enjoyment in life. Let's keep things in perspective.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 8:06 AM  
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Thursday, February 07, 2013
I remember, back in the day, when Colleen and I read everything the other wrote.  Nowadays, our schedules have really filled up -- and there is so much more to writing than the actual writing.  That kind of bums me out.  I miss the days when writing was simply writing and editing for each other.  Life was so simple then.

As we are struggling to coordinate four schedules for the third Smitten, it's been almost comical how difficult it is for the four of us to work out timing.  Colleen is off to Cambodia on a mission trip.  Diann should be getting out of the hospital today.  (WOOOHOOO!) Denise has bronchitis. (Boo!) and I'm jugging four kids with crazy hours of their own.

While it's more difficult, I am so grateful to have these friends to call upon for brainstorming help.  I notice how much stronger our ideas become when we bounce them off of each other.  I miss the simple life -- but without those old days and the connection, we wouldn't be able to accomplish what we must in a fraction of the time.  And that's a good thing.

So if you're in that stage where it feels like nothing is happening in publishing.  Enjoy that stage.  You're building relationship -- working on your craft and that's a beautiful thing.  One day you might look back at the struggles warmly.  Trust me on that.  : )

posted at 12:35 PM  
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Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Due to illness, we need to postpone tonight's webcast. :( Please mark Feb. 28 on your calendar. We look forward to chatting with you then!
Denise Hunter  
posted at 5:09 PM  
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Girls Signing Smitten

If you've ever wanted to hear us interacting, this is your chance! We're doing a video chat tonight where we will give you the scoop behind the Smitten idea, and we'll answer questions LIVE. We'll talk about how we became friends as well.

Unfortunately Diann can't join us. She's in the hospital again, and we covet your prayers for her. She'll be with us in spirit!

There will be prizes given away, and we promise an evening of fun and laughter, so come join us! Here's the link for a reminder to show up at 8 pm EST.

Or if you're not on Facebook, go here:

Hope you can come! If you can't make it tonight, the video will be up to watch later. But you'll miss the prizes so try to hop on over. :)

Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:14 AM  
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Sunday, February 03, 2013
Join the Fun Tuesday Night (Feb 5th) at 5:00 PST / 8:00 EST

           We girls are so excited about Tuesday's LIVE webcast  Go behind the scenes with us as we chat about how Smitten came about, what we're working on next and more. We'll answer your questions, and you'll have chances at free books, gift cards, and more! We hope to see you there. (Don't worry, we won't really see YOU, so feel free to come in your jammies. We, however, will be fully made up. You're welcome. :)  

Go here and enter your email to RSVP! 

Denise Hunter  
posted at 5:32 PM  
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Friday, February 01, 2013

This picture is one I recently shared with my publisher to reflect a sense of my historical novel, Keeping Faith, which is coming out in September. Set in 1855, when wagon trains were still traveling west, the novel has characters heading for Kansas Territory instead of California or Oregon. I didn't want to focus so much on the full journey across country, but on a story taking place in an isolated area of Missouri, where I already know the lay of the land, knew the kinds of characters I could have there, and could easily research the history of the region.

As mentioned on another recent blog, when a friend of mine asked me why I'd chosen to start including historical novels in my offerings, I told her I wanted to have a chance to go back in time, imagine the feel of a different land without highways, modern buildings, airplanes, cell phones and the computerized world we live in. Yes, times were more difficult in many ways in the past, but they were also simpler in other ways. People weren't too distracted by texting strangers to spend time with family. Though they couldn't get to a phone in 1855 to call for help, they also couldn't be located via satellite by the villains.

I set my first historical novel in 1944. It was more fun than I expected, though it still had a modern feel to it, so I set my next one in 1901. That was nice, because there were no automobiles. There were, however, trains. So the one I just finished, set in 1855, has no trains. People used animals for transportation, or they walked. Folks were pretty much on their own, and information didn't travel quickly. I would probably have hated living in that time, but I believe I would have wanted to venture west, despite the hardships involved.

What about you? If you had a chance to travel back in time, what time would you choose, and why?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 2:29 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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