Girls Write Out
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Now that I'm working for the plastic surgeon's office, I'm having to keep my work and my time much more organized.  There are so many great applications for making that happen, and I'm grateful.  I got a timer that allows me to pause and restart and it will keep track of my hours.  It's called Desktop Task Timer.  Then, I got one that cleans up your desktop as you work so it keeps your computer looking "clean" -- I love that.  It's called Desktop Tidy.

All of these are so affordable and entrepreneurs are really making bank on these idea.  I'm just loving that it's a win-win for both of us.  What about you, do you have a favorite app that makes you more productive?

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

We're going to Montana in July to see my brothers. I can hardly wait! The thing is, we're flying and my suitcase was the size of an SUV.  So at my prodding, hubby went and bought me a mid-size suitcase, somewhere between an SUV and a Geo. I can live with that.

But here's the thing. We'll be gone for ten days and I have to fit everything in the smaller luggage. I dare not complain after hubby went to the trouble to get me a new one. So please, please, please tell me how you pack for trips to get everything into your luggage. I've seen Kristin, Colleen and Denise fit so much into small luggage and I am just amazed that they can do that. They always laugh at me with my SUV.  So now I've joined the ranks of those with smaller luggage but have no idea how to make it all fit in there.

Suggestions? Please tell me you have some or I'm doomed to wear the same clothes over and over. :-)

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Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Amy Grant is back with a new album, and her voice is as pure as it ever was.  I simply love the emotion in her voice.  When she sings, you know she means it.

On this album, she collaborates with a lot of big names, including her husband Vince Gill and one of my all-time favorites, James Taylor.  Amy's voice is like warm caramel and the musical reminders of how all-encompassing God's grace is will touch the hardest of hearts.

My personal favorite in the collection is, "Don't Try So Hard."

I did not become a Christian until I was 24 years' old, so Amy's voice has really been one of the soundtracks of my faith and all I can say is, that it's good to have her back.

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Friday, May 10, 2013
Friends, I have a stack of different Hannah Alexander titles that have filled my bookcases to overflowing. The most recent release was last year, but several from years past. So, anyone who lives in the contiguous United States who sends me an email with snail mail addy to who has entered the contest this past week, will receive a book. Thank you for your input. You've been most helpful.
If you read the book I've sent you and feel led, would you please consider leaving a review on Amazon or other site where my books are sold?
Thanks so much.


Hannah Alexander  
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Well, I've recently procured a new job!  I'm very excited to go back into the workforce.  It's been nearly twenty years and while I've loved being an author, I really am anxious to be around people again!  I'm going to be working for two plastic surgeons (seriously, could there BE a better job for me?)

My kids told me not to say, "Will work for Botox" in the interview, but I find that hysterical. (Warped sense of humor.)

I'll be starting part-time and hopefully, it will be a muse to me so that I can be creative again.  But as my oldest goes off to college, I am so grateful to have found such a great job in this down market.  God is good! It's always exciting to look ahead with hope, isn't it?
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Sunday, May 05, 2013
Coming June 4!

Chapter One

Madison McKinley scanned the crowded town hall, wondering how many of her friends and neighbors she’d have to fight to get what she came for. Half of Chapel Springs had turned out to support the fire department. The faint scent of popcorn and coffee from last night’s Rotary club meeting still lingered in the air, and the buzz of excitement was almost palpable.
When she reached the front of the line, she registered for her paddle then looked for her mom. She spotted Joann McKinley seated on the left, near the old brick wall.
Before Madison could move, Dottie Meyers appeared in the busy aisle. “Madison, hello, dear. I was wondering if I could bother you about Ginger. I found a little knot behind her leg. I’m worried it might be something serious.”
Last time it had only been a burr. Still, Madison set a hand on the woman’s arm. “I’m sure it’s fine, but I’ll have Cassidy call you tomorrow and squeeze you in, okay?”
“All right, everyone,” the emcee was saying into the mike. “It’s about that time.”
“Thank you so much, dear,” Dottie was saying. “I’m so excited about this year’s play. It’s called Love on the Line. You are planning on coming out again, aren’t you? You’ll be fabulous as Eleanor.”
Auditions were still two months away. “Looking forward to it. See you tomorrow.” Madison participated in the town’s production every year. She enjoyed the theater, and the proceeds supported the local animal shelter, a cause she was committed to.
She turned toward her mom and ran straight into a wall. “Ooomph.”
Or a chest. A hard chest.
She looked up into the face of the one man she least wanted to see, much less slam into. She jumped back, looking square into his unfathomable coal-colored eyes.
She nodded once. “Beckett.”
He returned the nod. “Madison.”
His black hair was tousled. He wore a Dewitt’s Marina work shirt and at least two days’ stubble. His jaw twitched. She hadn’t spoken to him since she’d confronted him two weeks ago—for all the good it had done.
“Please take your seats,” the emcee said.
She stepped to the left at the same time as Beckett. He was wide as Boulder Creek and twice as dangerous. She’d always thought so. The incident with her little sister had only confirmed it.
“Excuse me,” she said.
He slid right and swept his arm out as if to say After you, princess.
She shot him a look, then hurried down the aisle and slid into a metal chair beside her mom.
“Hi, sweetie. Good day?” Mom’s short blond hair and blue eyes sparkled under the florescent lights, but it was her smile that lit the room.
“Twelve dogs, seven cats, two bunnies, and a partridge in a pear tree.”
Beckett passed her row and slid into a seat up front by his sister. Layla had long brown hair and a model-pretty face. Their mom must’ve been beautiful, though Madison didn’t remember her. Beckett leaned over and whispered something to his sister.
Madison tore her eyes away and loosened her death grip on the auction paddle. She refused to think about Beckett O’Reilly tonight.
The emcee took the podium and spoke about the importance of the fire station and their financial needs, then she introduced the auctioneer—hardly necessary since he also ran the local gas station. Moments later the bidding was underway.
Madison’s eyes swung to Beckett’s dark head. She could swear he was stalking her lately. He seemed to be everywhere she turned. If anything, the man should be avoiding her. Should feel ashamed of . . . well, whatever he did to Jade.
Madison tracked the auction items, ticking off each one as they sold to the highest bidder. A handmade quilt, piano lessons, pie of the month, a cabin rental at Patoka Lake, and dozens of other things generously donated by the community.
Someone had made a miniature replica of the town’s sign. Welcome to Chapel Springs, Indiana, it said. Prettiest River Town in America. A writer from Midwest Living had used the phrase twelve years ago, and the town had squeezed every last drop from it.
Evangeline Simmons, eighty-five if she was a day, amused all by driving up the bids. It was no secret that the fire department had saved her beloved Persian from a tree last month. So far her generosity had left her with two items she probably had no need for. But money was no object for Evangeline.
People trickled out as the auction wore on. Beckett left after losing a tool kit. Over an hour later, Madison grew tense as her item came up. The auctioneer read from the sheet.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen, this next one’s a winner. Dewitt Marina has kindly donated a sailing/regatta package. Lessons taught by sailing enthusiast Evan Higgins. Learn how to race on the beautiful Ohio River, just in time for our 45th Annual River Sail Regatta, and sail with Evan Higgins, winner of the regatta for two years running! Now, who’ll give me five hundred?”
Madison’s grip tightened on the handle, waiting for the auctioneer to lower the bid. Her breath caught in her lungs. Patience, girl.
“All right, a hundred, who’ll give me a hundred? A hundred-dollar bid . . .”
Casually, Madison lifted her paddle.
“A hundred-dollar bid, now a hundred fifty, who’ll give me one and a half . . . ?”
In her peripheral vision she could see her mom’s head swing toward her just as Evangeline raised her paddle—and the bid.
“A hundred fifty, who’ll give me two, now two . . .”
Madison lifted her paddle, keeping her eyes straight ahead.
“Two hundred, now who’ll give me two fifty, fifty, fifty . . . ? Got it! Now three, three hundred, who’ll give me three . . .”
Madison sighed, waited a moment before nodding.
“Three, now who’ll give me three and a half, three fifty, fifty, fifty . . . ?”
Evangeline turned toward Madison, her eyes twinkling. She raised her paddle.
Evangeline. Madison hadn’t counted on spending so much. Would serve the lady right if she dropped out. Just imagining the spry old woman on the bow of a boat, trying to manage the ropes and sails and whatnot, all four-foot-eleven of her . . . It was tempting.
Madison could, after all, just go down to the marina and buy the lessons, but then she wouldn’t be virtually assured of a win, would she? She needed Evan Higgins for that.
“Three fifty, do I hear three fifty . . . got it! Now four, who’ll give me four . . . ?”
A murmur had started in the crowd that remained, a few chuckling at Evangeline’s antics.
The woman lifted her paddle.
“And now we’re at four and a half, four and a half, who’ll give me five, five, five . . . ?”
Madison clenched her jaw. She glared at Evangeline’s silver head. It’s a good cause. It’s a good cause.
“And we have five, five, who’ll give me five fifty, five fifty, five and a half . . . ?”
The rumbling had grown louder, though half the crowd was gone now that the auction was nearly over. The remaining people were being rewarded for their patience with a good show.
“Five fifty, fifty, fifty . . . ?”
Evangeline turned, and their eyes met. Her thin lips widened into a grin, then she folded her hands on top of her paddle.
“I’ve got five, now, five fifty, five fifty . . . anyone, five fifty . . . and . . . sold at five hundred to Madison McKinley.”
Madison expelled a heavy breath. She was five hundred dollars poorer, but she had her lessons. She was going to learn to sail, and she was going to win the regatta. For Michael’s sake.

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Denise Hunter  
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Friday, May 03, 2013

Since we're writing about  the subject of books and writing this week, I'm going to start by announcing that I will enter your name in a drawing for a free autographed Hannah Alexander novel (sorry, only within the contiguous United States) if you will tell me what some of your favorite things are about your favorite novels. Do you love humor? Describe what kind of humor you like and what turns you off. For instance, do you like slapstick or sarcasm? Or both? Or neither?

Do you like a little romance in your novels, or a lot? Do you prefer suspense with your romance, or romance with your suspense? What about historical novels? Do you like feisty heroines, or stories in which the hero rescues the heroine? Your answer will determine which novel I will send you--of course, if you already have most of my novels, we'll figure out which one you don't have and work from there.

I'm considering a slightly different direction in my writing career, and would appreciate some input. I know I love to write with some gentle humor, but if I try too hard it falls flat. I like to read novels with intelligent heroes and heroines who are strong and know what they want, even if that causes them some trouble. I'm hard to please when it comes to humor, but I do need humor in the novels I read. Life's already too serious, so I want something to lighten the darkness at some points in the story.

As I've done before, I will consider drawing more than one name from the basket if I have enough entries. I will announce the winner/winners next Friday. I hope to hear from you!

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Hannah Alexander  
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Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I think all writers/readers have in them, an innate passion for books that first touched their heart, books that made them feel they were bigger and better for having known the characters.

As I'm editing the third Smitten book, I realize how much fun it is to find that inner passion for my first literary obsession:  Jane Austen.  I just got a new iPhone cover that is my favorite line in all of literature.  Mr. Darcy's first proposal (which Elizabeth refuses) in Pride & Prejudice.

In vain I have struggled, it will not do!

 I have read these books so many times.  (Except for Emma, which bores the heck out of me.  She is far too stupid for an Austen heroine -- or at least my view of an Austen heroine.) 

When I found Austen as an author as a freshman in high school, I devoured all of her books.  Sharing P&P with my son in high school was one of the highlights of my life.  He got an "A" -- an 18-year old boy -- got an "A" on everything P&P.  To make another understand that passion feels like a win to me. Which books make you passionate?

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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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