Girls Write Out
Friday, March 29, 2013


Are you ready for some GREAT news??!!! I talked to Di today (I'm in Hawaii by the way) and she was on her way to watch one of her granddaughters be baptized this weekend. She is doing soo much better! No wheelchair, feeling great, with good energy. Almost normal. Her CA-125 is almost normal. She didn't even have much nausea with this round of chemo. 

Thanks so much for your prayers, friends! It's been an amazing turnaround, and we're so grateful to God and to you for your constant prayers. We love you!

Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:22 PM  
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I have a lot of friends who are novelists, of course. We birds with the same kinds of feathers do tend to hang together. So we have taken our friendship to the next level:

We have a fabulous new giveaway for readers in the USA. The winner gets twelve fabulous books by twelve fabulous authors (and I can tell you they're fabulous, because I know them). All you need to do to enter is LIKE ALL OF THE AUTHOR PAGES WITH ENTRIES IN THE CONTEST. There are ten author Pages that must be liked in order to be entered. And we have two authors giving away books who don't have author Pages but are using their Facebook Profiles. So if you would be so kind as to visit and "friend" Deborah Raney and Cara Putman, it would be deeply appreciated. Those addresses are: and

Here is the link to sign up for the contest:
The contest ends at 12:01 am on May 1st and the winner will be announced later that day. Good luck to everyone!"

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 2:25 AM  
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

This week I drove the eight blocks to our clinic and talked to our friendly staff about business and how to improve it. After that I walked next door to the hair stylist for a trim. I needed to cash a check, so I walked across the street to the bank, then went back across the street to the pharmacy (I needed the exercise). The grocery store, a block away, I drove to, because I didn't want to haul bags of groceries across the street through the busy traffic--at least four cars pass there every minute. Okay, maybe not that many, but it is a main thoroughfare.

We live and work in a tiny town of 1282 citizens. This is where I graduated from high school, and when I left I thought I'd never return. So much for plans. During the winter months when the trees are bare, I can see my alma mater, the lights from the grocery store, the house of one of my best friends from high school from our hilltop home. My neighbor uses our extra garage to park her car during bad weather. Other neighbors mow our yard when we don't get to it quickly enough, and sometimes they'll gather limbs from our yard.

When some kids moved into the duplex a block from us and started playing loud music and partying and hollering and screaming, disturbing our quiet community late one Saturday night, another of our neighbors paid them a friendly visit. He can be big and intimidating if a stranger sees him and doesn't know he's a softie. Since the police department wasn't on duty that night, our neighbor took care of things.

Ever wonder what it's like to live in a small town? When it comes to writing, that's where my heart lies. It's actually all I know except for the year I lived in the city. From our sunroom, where I write, I can see the steers one of our neighbors raises every couple of years for beef. I can hear the roosters crow from the hillside next to ours, and can see horses and cattle out in the field to the south, because we live on the edge of town.

Everybody does know everyone else's business, and that's uncomfortable for some. For others, it's soothing to know others care. I get together with several girlfriends from high school every few months, and we try to get away for a weekend every year. This year we're looking forward to our class reunion--and no, I'm not telling you which one. I'm not sure I remember, myself. That's the fun, though, of growing up in a small community where the classes are tiny enough that everyone knows everyone else. You grow close to those people.

The picture above was taken at a local place called Jolly Mill. It was once called the Village of Jollification because in the 1800s there was a distillery there as well as grain mill. It has been mentioned that the name of the town was shortened to Jolly Mill because it's hard to say the longer name when one has partaken of the results of the distillery. Now it's a privately owned park, a beautiful place with rich history, and which I have been populating into a small town with my latest novels.

Long live small towns, where neighbors are interested in one another--good or bad--and life tends to move a little slower than in the rest of the country. Rush hour is five cars backed up at the railroad tracks. It's the only life for me. What are some of the charms of your hometown?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:31 AM  
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Mel and I had another one of our interesting conversations last night. In this new family practice venture, he's being asked to put some people on diets, and he's working on a plan of action. I think I've been on every diet known to woman in all my years of fighting weight. Mel has never been on a diet in his life unless I put him on one--in fact, he rarely eats unless I feed him, because with our food issues, he can't trust anyone else not to poison him, and he does not cook. No, wait, I think he cooked two eggs five years ago, and I nearly fainted.

But who is it who gets asked to help with diets? The Mighty Doctor.

"I don't want to prescribe diet pills," he said.

"Honey, some people need help curbing their appetite."

"The drugs for that can be too dangerous. Remember that fen-fen fiasco a few years ago?  People got heart damage from that."

"Then maybe you can give diet plans that will help curb appetites. The Paleo diet works well for that, though it's a little drastic for most people, going off all those carbs."

"I haven't read up on that."

I suppressed a grimace. Of course he hadn't read up on that. He never read about dieting. I DID. "I was on it, you know. I even had you on it, remember?"

"I'm convinced diet isn't the answer."

"Oh, yeah? So you're saying something else will help people lose weight?"


I sat back and studied him closely. He'd been doing some strange things lately--putting a toner cartridge in backwards, checking the Monday appointment schedule to see if he had patients, when the clinic isn't even open on Mondays--but I didn't think he'd totally lost it. Until now.

He caught me staring. "Think about it, the way cyanide kills is by shutting down every aerobic function of the body. It kills in seconds. That's how aerobic our bodies are. A person can walk for miles and not rev up her metabolism for the long haul. However, when you throw in anaerobic exercise, your body has to hustle to keep up. It's very hard, but I think that's the answer for increasing the metabolism. Short bursts of hard exercise that gets you sweating."

"So diet is just an afterthought?"

"Both together, I think, is the answer."

"Wow. Diet and exercise. Who'd'a thunk? Cool, Honey. I might just try that."

He nodded, pleased with the decision. "Yeah, I think that's the answer."

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:40 AM  
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ACFW Girls STanding 2010Pedi

Ive been mussing a bit over friendship. Not just casual friendships, but ones that are really close. A good friend is one who tells you the truth, who loves you in spite of your flaws, who encourages you yet is willing to cry with you while she does. A good friend is there to stand in the gap with you and walks with you through the mountains and valleys both. 

It's just kind of mysterious to me how the connection is instantly there. When I look at the friendships in my life, they have started with one look into their eyes. There is something about our souls that bonded together right from the start. I don't believe I've ever had a friend where that connection didn't happen right from the start. 

Some of my friendships started over email. That was more a melding of minds at the beginning, but when we met in person, that soul connection was still immediate. I've had other connections over email where the personal meeting didn't result in the instant soul bonding so it's still mysterious to me. Some friendships started with respect first, but the instant eye-to-eye bonding still happened and the professional relationship grew into friendship. 

But sometimes one side of the relationship feels a connection and wants to bond better, but the other person doesn't feel it. Again, it's so mysterious how some relationships progress to a close friendship and others don't. I've always thought God brings in the friends we need as a special gift. There is no other explanation for it to me. :) 

How about you? When you look at the friends in your life, how did the friendship start? What was the magic ingredient for you? 

Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:59 AM  
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Monday, March 11, 2013
I've had this thought before, but yesterday I took the time to write it down and stick it on a pin. (I actually took this photo in a castle in England.)

I put it on my facebook page and have gotten over 70 shares, so it must ring true to others too.

On one hand, the whole idea makes me feel a lot of pressure as a novelist. My only tool: words. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be in charge of an entire cast of people, sets, lighting, and tracks either.

I also wonder, with all the tools available to movie makers, why do I always like the book better? Maybe imagination trumps reality. What do you think?

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:15 AM  
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Mel and I have become couch potatoes this past year. It seems when everything in life comes at you at once, it kind of knocks the breath out of you, so for the first time in my life, instead of taking things outside to the hiking trail, I've taken to lying on the love seat or the exercise floor while Mel lies on the sofa, and we watch shows on Netflix. I've blogged about this before and received some great TV show tips from this blogsite. Thanks, girls. You've told me about NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Bones, Castle, some of the most exciting shows out there. Some gave me nightmares, granted, and I've had to get away from those at times and fall back on lighter fare, but you've given me some interesting hours of couch potato time.

Some friends of mine recently talked me into checking out Firefly--something I'd passed over before, even though it looked interesting, because it only lasted one short season. I figured the viewing public knew what they were talking about when they canceled it. After my friends did some arm twisting--these friends are of the creative persuasion, and insisted I must study the show for it's creativity--I decided to check out Firefly. Mel gave up after we were halfway through the long pilot because there wasn't nearly enough man-action while they introduced characters. I went back to my friends and complained. They continued raving about it. As a writer, I must experience it, or some such nonsense.

So while Mel was gone last weekend at a medical conference, I fired up the television, put on my exercise gear and went to work. I was going to find something to like about this show for the sake of my friends. Nathan Fillion (the star of Castle, by the way) is a funny actor. In my opinion, he has good comedic timing, which made the character work even when he was coming across as a hard-nosed jerk. I'm really slow on the uptake, but by the third or fourth episode, I realized the show was very truly a space cowboy show. In fact, the intro is played with extreme country twang and the picture shows horses running beneath a low-flying spaceship. Maybe in 500 years horses will become accustomed to spaceships and not stampede--oh, wait, come to think of it, they ARE stampeding on the intro.

Most of the settings are on western-style planets far from the center of the galaxy, and on those planets, the people live as Americans lived in the 19th century in the desert, much like the picture above. The main characters have quirks aplenty, and they talk the way we perceive hillbillies talked far out in the middle of nowhere over a century ago. I wasn't able to complete my marathon of 22 hours of Firefly before Mel got home Sunday night, so I tied him down and forced him to watch the final shows, as well as the follow-up movie, with me. He didn't complain much. We watched the movie, Serenity, tonight. I don't know that the movie would stand alone, but it does an interesting and exciting job of tying up loose ends, and there was plenty of fighting and action to keep even Mel interested.

One other perk, every time I watched it I saw our own beautiful Denise Hunter in the guise of one of the characters. If Denise had dark brown, wavy hair, she would be the spitting image of this young woman.

If you get Netflix, you might want to check out Firefly. It might not be for you, but then again, the dialogue truly is more interesting than the average fare. I fast-forwarded one scene I did not like, but I played back some scenes so I could catch the rhythm of the words.

So...anyone else have some favorite shows to share? Now that I'm done with Firefly I'm back to watching reruns.

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 11:43 PM  
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I'm so happy to have finished my third Smitten novella. I've been so sick, I wondered if I'd ever get it done, but God is faithful! He helped me and now it's finished.

We have a cat and a dog. The cat was my mom's which we took on a temporary basis and somehow ended up keeping her. At any rate, she's my hubby's pet.  The dog, Latte, is mine. Patches, our cat, could care less when I walk into the room. Latte throws a party if I get the mail and come back in the house.

In the picture above, if you look real closely, you can see Latte. She was under my blanket and sat up. I laughed and laughed and she just sat there, so I took a picture. It was hilarious! That's a dog.

Do you think our cat would have held still for that? No way.

I'm not saying cats are bad. I'm just saying they're very different from a dog. Okay, maybe it's cause I've been sick, I want to be pampered. Patches just wants me to keep her seat warm. Latte is pure bouncy joy.  Patches doesn't want to be bothered with anything, unless of course it's feeding time. Then she's all purrs and cuddles.

Whether cat or dog, how could we live without our pets? They bring joy to our lives and a special company that makes loneliness flee.

Wouldn't you agree?

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:56 AM  
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013
After finishing the last of the Smitten novellas, I've decided to go back into the Silicon Valley high tech workforce.  I've been very lucky in that I've had high-ranking friends helping me with positions and interviews, but I am VERY excited about going back to work.  Twenty years is a long time at home and I have always loved to work and be in an office environment.

I hope to have a new title soon, but I wanted to express my thankfulness at being allowed to do this job for so long.  Readers are FANTASTIC people and being in their midst has been exciting and fun!  I do hope you'll check out my last offering.  It's one I'm very passionate about -- it's about a person's relationship with God, when you've been misunderstood and even hurt by the church and leaders, who are supposed to care for their flock. People may let us down, but God is always there. It's called Swimming to the Surface and it's available in all formats.

Thank you all for allowing me to do this job for so long!  You rock!

posted at 1:11 PM  
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Monday, March 04, 2013

Cambodian Camp

We authors talk a lot about incorporating universal truth. More readers can relate to what we write if the book contains a universal truth. When I wrote Safe in His Arms, I thought Margaret's dislike of her personal appearance was a universal truth for Americans who are my core readers. I just got back a week ago from Cambodia, and I discovered women there share the same feelings of inferiority over our appearance. 

I was at a slum camp. (Seeing five year old children sort trash to earn money was a life changing day for me.) After Pastor spoke, we gave out some food and stood around talking. An older lady approached and knelt down to stroke my foot. She was admiring my paler skin, and our interpreter told me pale skin is highly regarded in Cambodia. I bent down to touch her arm and told her I preferred her warm colored skin. She smiled, but I'm sure she didn't believe me, though it's the truth. :) 

As I walked away, I realized the human condition transcends national borders and cultures. It's in our natures, hard as that is to wrap my head around. It made me more conscious than ever of universal truth. I'm going to be starting a new book soon. Any universal truths you'd love to see covered in a book?

Colleen Coble  
posted at 11:59 PM  
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Sunday, March 03, 2013

I'm often asked if I keep a story diary and where I get my ideas. The ideas often come when I least expect them. When I'm reading another book or watching a movie or listening to a song. (How interesting is it that other people's creative pursuits spark my own?)

The number one thing I've learned: WRITE IT DOWN!

I learned this the hard way unfortunately. I wonder if my forgotten ideas from those early days are sitting in a big gray room somewhere with all my lost socks. Anyway . . .

So I keep a folder--which happens to be gray. Coincidence? I don't think so. It goes back years and contains napkins, bulletins, Post-Its, scraps of paper, and magazine pages. Each item contains an idea or a nugget that inspired me. Sometimes it's just the name of a song as I often choose a theme song for my books. Music so inspires me.

Whenever it's time to start a new book, I go to my Idea Folder. Even if I already have an idea for a plot, sometimes the story needs "something more". I'll look for another idea I can blend with it. I love blending two ideas. It can create a really unique story.

So that's how I handle my ideas. This tip and more is on the video above. Kristin, Colleen, and I (missed you, Di!) sat down for a webcast last week and invited a few friends. Okay, the general public. It was a blast! We talked about collaborating together on the Smitten books, how we met (sorry for the towel story, Kris!), and why Colleen's hair looks so curly. Thought you might enjoy a peek into our lives--as if you don't get enough of that here.

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Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:21 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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