Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hot Air Balloon Festival







A few days ago I awoke to the strangest noise. It sounded like a giant snake was outside my window. I glanced at the clock. 5am. Ugh. I just wanted to go back to sleep. But this noise wouldn't stop. I got up and went outside. There in the sky against the backdrop of the rising sun was a multi-colored hot air balloon floating over our neighborhood.
Ah, I knew instantly what was happening . The Allstate Festival of Balloons.
Every summer here in Oregon there's a weekend where you can look up into the sky and see the most beautiful, colorful hot air balloons floating over the Willamette Valley. Their launch pad is a lovely park not far from our house. The event spans the full weekend with not only the balloons but a BBQ cook off, a Festival of Cars, a fun center with games and face painting. The Allstate Festival of Balloons is a non-profit organization that benefits several local groups, including the neighborhood schools.
Its a beautiful sight to see the glorious balloons suspended in the air. One day, I want to go up in one.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Kid on the Block - Kim Watters

Kim's interview starts with a call... yup, the call. I feel really honored because after Kim sold, I got a call... from her. Kim and I have been members of the same RWA chapter for more than a decade (Yes, we both started at age 12. Okay, I was 12; she was 10). I could ramble on, but really, reading about a first sale to Harlequin's Love Inspired line is much more interesting.

MEET KIM WATTERS

1. Tell us about 'the call'.
My "call" didn't come in the usual way. It came in the form of an e-mail asking me to call the editor. She'd left a message on my home phone, but figured I'd be easier to reach by e-mail. I'm glad she sent the e-mail because by the time I would have received the message late Friday afternoon, it would have been too late to return it. Then I would have had to wait the entire weekend to know what she wanted. When I first got the e-mail I almost hyperventilated. I mean, they don't usually call you if they're not going to buy the book. So I immediately called one of my critique partners and told her about the e-mail. She asked why I was calling her and not the editor? Why wouldn't I call her? We started the writing journey at about the same time in the early 90's and have been friends since our first critque group, and truth be told, I had to calm down before I returned the call so I wouldn't sound like a blubbering idiot. By the time I called the editor back, I'd managed to catch my breath and sound like the professional I hoped to portray. :)


2. How long have you been writing?
I've wanted to write a romance novel since I started reading them in the late 70's as a teenager. I used to change the endings if I didn't like how the author handled it. I didn't find the time to write though until I moved to Arizona in 1992. I dabbled for years and I shudder to think how much time I wasted on solitaire! But I really got fully commited in 1999, but I had to take some time off with the birth of each of my children.

3. Tell us a little about your writing routine... when do you write, where, how productive are you, critique group or not?
I write at our dining room table early in the morning before the family wakes up. 5:00 am and I are close friends. I'm pretty productive then, especially when I'm under a deadline. :) And yes, I have a critique group. I wouldn't be published without the help of those wonderful ladies.


4. Tell us the 'best' event (other than your first sale to Steeple Hill!) you experienced during the writing journey..
Oh, good question. I'd have to say getting my first reader fan letter from a complete stranger. While I'm new to Steeple Hill, I have two books published with Avalon Books. It really made me feel like I'd arrived when the woman gushed about how much she liked my dog story.

5. What is it about this book, On Wings of Love, that made it the one Steeple Hill purchased? Another good question. I wish I knew the answer. My writing? My characters? My story? I know organ donation is a very emotional topic and I worked very hard to show both ends of the spectrum; the hero didn't agree with organ donation and the heroine was a donation coordinator. But this subject is near to my heart since my sister-in-law is a double recipient and the inspiration for this book.

6. What's next?
I'm working on another book, working title Hannah's House, which is the next book in the series. In the first book we're introduced to Hannah and her need for a kidney transplant. She's such a great character, I felt she needed a story of her own, along with Brad, another one of the characters introduced in On Wings of Love.

7. Anything you'd like to add.
Thanks to all you readers who support us authors by buying our books. Keep up the good work. And for you authors out there, don't give up the dream. It took me 14 years to join the Harlequin family and with God's blessings, anything is possible.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Love Inspired Classic by Margaret Daley


I really engaged writing both of these books. Both involved animals and children. One is set in Oklahoma, my home for thirty-eight years and the other in Kentucky where I grew up as a young child and my father's family lives. What I love about Love Inspired Classic books (reprinted stories) is that you get two full books for a dollar more than one Love Inspired book. What a deal!

June's Love Inspired Classic, A Family for Tory/A Mother for Cindy

A Family for Tory
There's nothing more rewarding for riding instructor Tory Alexander than making her students happy. So when Slade, the father of her favorite student, asks for a favor, how can she refuse? But is she really ready to be part of a family again?

A Mother for Cindy

Widowed mom Jesse Bradshaw has a knack for matchmaking. Now her little neighbor Cindy wants her to find Cindy's lonely daddy a wife. Jesse's determined to help—and Nick's determined to keep his distance. Neither expect love to lead them where it does: right to each other.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: SMALL-TOWN BRIDES BY JANET TRONSTAD AND DEBRA CLOPTON


A Dry Creek Wedding by Janet TronstadWhen her neighbor proposes a "practical" marriage, romantic Rene Mitchell throws the ring in his face. Fleeing Texas for Montana, Rene rides with trucker Clay Preston. Clay doesn't believe in romance…until Rene changes his mind!

A Mule Hollow Match by Debra CloptonTrace Crawford broke Paisley Norton's cousin's heart—so Paisley thinks he deserves whatever trouble he gets! Yet Trace really is lost when it comes to caring for his new niece. Paisley's got a soft heart for children…and for adorably clueless cowboys, too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Hero


Since we are talking about heroes and the men in our lives, I have to brag about my hero husband. In the photo above he is standing on the Wimbledon tennis grounds in front of a statue of Fred Perry, a famous English tennis player.

Two years ago, I was watching the Wimbledon Tennis Championships on TV. I'm a tennis player and a big tennis fan, so I watch every year. My birthday always falls during Wimbledon, and I was thinking that it would be really cool to celebrate my birthday at Wimbledon. I casually mentioned this to my husband, never dreaming that it could be a reality. Little did I know that he took my wish and started working to make it come true. Nearly a year ahead of time, he began asking around to learn how he could get tickets.

He discovered that you must submit your name to a lottery for Wimbledon tickets. He put our names into the lottery, as well as the names of a number of relatives. But he didn't stop there because he couldn't rely on getting tickets through the lottery. He continued to talk to people about getting tickets. Mike, one of the men my husband plays cards with each week, used to live near London. His former neighbor in England has been a line judge at Wimbledon for twenty years. So Mike contacted his friend and asked whether he could get tickets for us. As you can see from the photo of me in the stands of Centre court, he was able to get us tickets.



Just a year ago today, I was sitting in Centre court watching Andy Roddick play. Unfortunately, he got beat. But he played today and won. As I'm watching the tennis at Wimbledon this year, I can see the different courts and have a better appreciation for the traditions of Wimbledon. The strawberries and cream are so good. This was an experience I will always treasure, especially because it was such a thoughtful gift from the man who has been my hero for over thirty years.

He's not just a hero because he got me tickets to Wimbledon, but he's a hero because he is a man who shows love and consideration to the people around him. There is a little bit of him in every hero I write.

Going to Wimbledon was a fabulous surprise. Tell us about your hero or a big surprise, or maybe both.

Merrillee

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heroes


The Important men in our lives are our fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and many others. But there are some I haven’t mentioned. The heroes of our books.

Yup, heroes are important men in our lives. They embody things we admire. They overcome challenges. They will even turn their lives around for the women they love.

So let’s talk about heroes in romance novels. How about favorite heroes?

I have mine. Will Parker in LaVyrle Spencer’s wonderful book, Morning Glory. He was a man with such a gentle heart who longed for nothing more than the simple things. A farm, a mule, a meal, a woman to love. He broke my heart and glued it back together a dozen times in the story. He was my perfect hero. Of course, Indiana Jones isn’t bad either.

I’ve never been able to write a story with a man like Will. I tried in Speed Trap, my next book from Love Inspired Suspense that coming out in August. Garrett Bowen is my Will Parker, but I’m afraid he didn’t quite hit the mark.

So who is your favorite fictional hero? And why? Share.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My dad

My dad died when I was twelve. I have fond memories of him and will always miss him. Some of the memories were of decorating the Christmas tree (once going into the country and chopping one down), family dinners at my grandparents, Dad teaching me to water ski on the Kentucky River, his laugh, his smile. He was my dad to me, but once I talked with a friend of my parents who told me my dad had saved her daughter's life. My father was a pediatrician, but I never realized his effect on other people's lives until she told me that. Oh, and another memory was being a guinea pig for new vaccines for children. I was one of the first people to take the polio vaccine. He had been involved in its development according to my mother who told me that later.

My mother remarried several years after my father died, and I was fortunate to have a wonderful stepfather, too. When my mother became ill, he took care of her and stuck by her to the end. Fathers are so important to a family. Although Father's Day was several days ago, I wanted to pay tribute to all the fathers out there--especially my husband and son who has four girls. Oh, and today is my husband's birthday. MIKE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I LOVE YOU!!

What are some fond memories you have of your dad?

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Dad


Hi Everyone, Debra Clopton here sticking my head up from deadline, deadline and more deadlines (I love my life!) Anyway, I'm so sorry I missed my last post but had to find time to do this and honor my dad. I have a dad who can do anything. This is a picture of my dad and my youngest son Kris. It's not the geatest picture in the world but the only one I had on my computer this morning. Growing up my dad could fix anything and is still that way. He could also out work any one. I take after him in both of those departments...though I can't fix everything I can try to fix it and if I can't I call my dad and we work on it together. I can out work most folks and that is the truth. The one thing my dad could do that he didn't pass down to me was his ability to whistle. My dad is a whistler and I love hearing him whistle songs as he works. I however can not whistle at all. It is the weirdest thing. Believe me I've tried all my life to be able to do it and God did not form my mouth to make a single whistling note. But it will always be one of the things I will always remember about my dad. Sunday at church (I go to a Cowboy Church)there was a little boy sitting in the seat across from me and as we were singing he started to whistle. I started to smile and caught his eye. You could tell he was a little shy about doing it but I grinned really big at him and nodded my head in encouragement and he started to whistle a little louder and soon he was whistling the song, his high notes ringing out louder than the band. It was wonderful and of course made me feel like my dad was at church with me. I could just see my dad at the young age of this little boy and I thanked God for giving me that moment to feel close to my dad during the service.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday I know I did.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heroine Interview from A Ring and a Promise

Interview with the heroine, Abigail, from A Ring and a Promise by Lois Richer:

1. What do you do for fun? FUN?
WHO HAS TIME FOR FUN? I CAN BARELY GET MY JEWELRY DESIGNING WORK DONE AND TAKE CARE OF MY PARENTS. THEY’VE MOVED INTO A NEW PLACE BECAUSE MY DAD HAS ALZHEIMER’S AND MY MOM WANTED A SMALLER PLACE. IF I HAD TIME, THOUGH, I’D LOVE TO LEARN HOW TO SAIL. I LOVE THE WATER.

2. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I PUT OFF BEING AROUND DONOVAN WOODWARD. HE PROMISED TO MARRY ME FIVE YEARS AGO AND THEN HE JUST WALKED AWAY. I NEVER HEARD A WORD FROM HIM. THEN, A FEW DAYS AGO, HE SHOWED UP WITH A GODCHILD IN TOW, ACTING AS IF WE’RE GREAT FRIENDS.

3. What are you afraid of most in life?
I’M AFRAID I’LL NEVER FIND SOMEONE WHO THINKS I’M ENOUGH JUST AS I AM. EVERYONE IS ALWAYS TRYING TO CHANGE ME. MY PARENTS THINK MY WORK AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER ISN’T AS GOOD AS THEIR SCIENTIFIC WORK. DONOVAN MUST HAVE THOUGHT I WASN’T FUN ENOUGH.

4. What do you want out of life?
A HOME OF MY OWN, A FAMILY I CAN LOVE.

5. What is the most important thing to you?
TO PROVE THAT I AM GOOD ENOUGH AT MY WORK TO BE AMONG THE BEST IN THE FIELD.

6. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I READ AS MUCH AS I CAN. I LOVE FAMILY SAGAS, THE HISTORICAL ONES THAT FOLLOW ALL THE FAMILY. MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE I’M AN ONLY CHILD AND I WAS ALWAYS LONELY.

7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I WISH I WAS MORE EXTROVERTED. I LIKE PEOPLE. THAT’S NOT IT. BUT I CAN’T SEEM TO RELAX AROUND THEM. I FEEL LIKE I’M ALWAYS BEING JUDGED.

8. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
I DON’T HAVE A PET, BUT I’D LIKE A DOG, A NICE BIG COLLIE. DOGS ACCEPT YOU THE WAY YOU ARE. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SAME SILLY THINGS PEOPLE DO.

9. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I’D GO BACK TO THE 1800’S. I’D BE ONE OF THOSE WOMEN JANE AUSTEN WROTE ABOUT—STRONG ENOUGH TO SPEAK MY OPINION AND HOLD OUT FOR WHAT I WANT.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: A RING AND A PROMISE BY LOIS RICHER


Five years ago, Abby Franklin thought she'd marry Donovan Woodward. But her first love walked out of her life. Now he's back in town, with his motherless godchild, Ariane, in tow. Avoiding him is essential—and impossible. Because Donovan has rejoined the family business, Weddings by Woodwards…where Abby works as a jewelry designer. Then Abby meets Ariane, and something about the silent young girl draws Abby in. In spite of herself, Abby finds herself opening up her heart…to Ariane and Donovan.

Friday, June 19, 2009

real-life heroes




My dad has been gone a long time but I still think of him fondly and wish I could share the blessings of the rural life I now enjoy. He was from Norway but was the most patriotic American I've ever known. He would have loved it here in the Ozarks.



The man in this picture with me is my real-life hero, my husband of a gazillion years. When I was invited to come to New York City and sign copies of my latest book for Love Inspired, he gallantly offered to drive and escort me. You have to understand. I may be outgoing at times but I'm basically shy. Plunk me down in a hectic place like NYC and I'm worse than a "fish out of water". I'm a wreck. As in the past, my husband not only kept me sane, he made sure I got to where I was supposed to be. Well, except for one wrong bus. We had the right number. Who knew that one little additional letter after that number would take you on a tour of New Jersey! It was lovely, by the way.



This is a view of the conference floor at the Javits Center. Love Inspired authors Cheryl Wyatt and Linda Goodnight signed at the same time I did and it was wonderful to meet so many fans. Librarians are amazing. They remember details about my books better than I do!

I was supposed to post the very day when I was signing, didn't realize it till I was already on the road, and had trouble making my laptop work. Remember, machines hate me. If it hadn't been for my "real life hero" I might not have even been able to pick up my email. As it was, I came home to nearly 400 emails.

Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! My hero and I made it home without a glitch and right now he is outside cutting and splitting firewood for the winter. In 95 degree heat. I said he was heroic, and he is, but he is also the most stubborn man I have ever know.

Except maybe for my Norwegian daddy.

Blessings,
Valerie Hansen

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Memories of Dad

Well, technical difficulties (and I think bad weather) have really messed with my Internet, and apparently, Blogger as well. So I don't have the photo I wanted to post. Imagine a sweet picture of a man, dancing with his little girl, who's standing on his feet.

Okay, so now that you have that visual, I'm going to try to give the abbreviated version of the post I spent all evening writing (sob).

I'm excited that my family is coming to visit this Sunday, so I'll get to spend Father's Day with my dad. They live 7 hours away, so this is a rare treat.

In my post, I shared some beautiful memories from my childhood (and here's the shortened version)...

1. My dad rescuing me off the jungle gym, running out in his sock feet after my sister hollered for him to help. I think I enjoyed that attention a little too much, because I remember repeating it several times. :)

2. My dad teaching me to ride a bike without training wheels. And me, at first, furious at him for letting go!

3. When I got older, we hung out in the neighborhood at night. And if I didn't watch, I would step (barefooted) on slugs. Ugh! But once again, as I screamed in horror, my dad would run out, pick me up, and carry me to the tub to wash the goo from between my toes while I bawled my eyes out, thoroughly grossed out. :)

4. As mentioned above, I remember vividly dancing with my dad, standing on his feet as he waltzed me around the family room.

So many great memories. Not all good, of course, like any family. But I have so much to be thankful for this Father's Day.

Would you like to share any special memories of one of the special men in your life?

Missy

Honoring a Less-than-Perfect Father

Linda Goodnight here. Not everyone is blessed with a great relationship with their father, but the Bible tells us to honor him anyway. There is not an ‘except’ on the end of the command. It doesn’t matter if he was absent, a drunk, abusive, or just a jerk. We still have to honor him. How do we do that? Well, here’s a simple idea the Lord dropped into my heart years ago - Find the good and honor that.


My dad had the most amazing work ethic. No matter the weather or how he sick he might be, he got up before 5 A.M. and made that hour commute to work. And he did it for 35 years. The only days off, other than regular vacation, that I remember is when his appendix ruptured and later when a boiler at work exploded and he was hospitalized.


When I asked him why he was so faithful to his job, he told me this. As a young high school drop-out with three kids to support, he needed a good job badly and there were none in our small town. He heard that an air force base sixty miles away was hiring civilians. He hitchhiked that distance to and from work, not once, but for over a week until he could find a ride and later could buy a car. He was so grateful for that job that he was determined to keep it and to do the best work he could. Those are things I can honor about my father.

What is one thing about your father you can honor?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The VIP Man in Lyn Cote's Life


That's my husband. I love this pose because it shows the essence of my husband. He enjoys life. He's a kidder, a punner, and starts making me laugh every mornings while he cooks breakfast.

I hear other women dreading when their husbands will retire and be home all day. My husband and I aren't retired. But since we're both self-employed, we are home together most days. And I miss him when he's gone. I think that's the nicest compliment a wife can give a husband, don't you?

Below you see him doing one of his favorite things--fishing. This photo was taken in Sylvania Wilderness in Upper Peninsula Michigan, but we live on a lake. The other night my dh was fishing in his "kick boat."

A kick boat is for fishermen who want to be right down on the water. The fisherman wears waders and fins and actually sits in the water. He's sitting in his kickboat in this photo. Anyway when he goes fishing on out in front of our lake cottage, he carries a two way radio. That way while I'm sitting up on the porch, he can radio me about what he's catching and seeing. Now that's togetherness!

Anyway, I hope your husband makes you laugh--in a good way. One of the way, my husband makes me laugh is reciting (over and over) sayings of his father and his great uncle. Example: "I got a good education. I just never let it go to my head."

Or interesting rhymes: "Oh, Theodore, don't spit on the floor, Use the cuspidor. That's what it's for."

Did your father or does your husband tell any really dumb jokes? Tell me and I'll have something new to surprise my dh with. He'll love it!

Lyn Cote
www.strongwomenbravestories.blogspot.com
Every woman has a story. Share yours!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Legacy of Adventure




When I think of men who have influenced my life, I have to mention my grandfather. My grandmother married him at the turn of the century because he was the best dancer around and his love of life has influenced our whole family for decades. I thought of him several days ago when my sisters and I and my niece all took a European cruise to Spain, France, Italy and Greece -- how he would have loved it and what a good time we had together! I trace some of our family's love of travel to the zest he showed for life. Is there someone in your family who has given you values that you hold today?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hero Interview from His Forever Love

Interview with the hero of His Forever Love by Missy Tippens:

1. Bill, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
Well, most people seem interested in the fact that I’m a physicist—at least until I get carried away talking about particle physics. Then their eyes tend to glaze over. :)

2. What do you do for fun?
I’m spend most of my time on campus or in the lab. But I do enjoy cooking for friends and see an occasional movie. I really should get out more, but I love my work.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I’ve always dreaded having to go home to face the townspeople where I grew up. I never felt like I fit in. And when Lindsay got engaged to someone else, I left and never looked back. But my grandmother still lives there, so I make quick visits sometimes. And now that she’s taken a fall, I’ll have to put aside my feelings to go check on her.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Not having a place where I’m accepted—a place that feels like home.

5. What do you want out of life?
I want success in my career. The respect of peers. The joy of doing something I love. And if I were totally honest, I’d admit that I dream of having a wife and family.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Right now, taking good care of my grandmother. Family is most important.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
When I was young, I read mostly non-fiction—books about space and the planets. Now most of my reading has to do with my research, things like professional journals.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would love to be more outgoing and less awkward—especially around Lindsay. I wish I could be charming.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No, I’m afraid I don’t have a pet. A dog would be nice. Maybe someday if I ever realize that dream of a family and white picket fence.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would go back to the day I was going to tell Lindsay I loved her, the day she showed up with an engagement ring from someone else. If I had a do-over, I would find the nerve to tell her the truth about my feelings to see if she might reconsider the engagement. If she might give me a chance.

Thanks for the interview, Margaret. I enjoyed being on your blog today. And for readers, you can find out more about how my visit back to Magnolia, Georgia, goes in my story, His Forever Love.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: HIS FOREVER LOVE BY MISSY TIPPENS


In Magnolia, Georgia, local legend says that a couple who holds hands around the "forever" tree will have an unending love. Even so, Bill Wellington held Lindsay Jones's hands around that tree years ago…and then left her behind. He chose the big city, and now he wants to bring his grandmother there. But to his amazement, he finds that Granny has a boyfriend—and a vibrant life. A life that includes Lindsay, Granny's caregiver. Bill never thought he'd want to come home, yet Magnolia clearly has its charms. As does Lindsay, who makes him long for a second chance at forever love.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's a toss-up


It was a toss up today as to whether to write about my dad or my husband. So I'll take the opportunity to brag on them both.

Trust me, to that end, this blog post could go on forever...or at least to novel length. I'm on deadline this week so this post will be kinda short. Speaking of deadlines though, hubby knows that I am writing on a tight deadline this week. In addition to being brave enough to conquer Mount Laundry for me this week, he brought in two (2!!!) HUGE cups of McDonald's Sweet Tea yesterday...

When did he figure out that I love to sip on it (in between water bottles) when I write? And I have two days until deadline. That he takes enough interest in my writing to make making deadlines easier means so much. But the sweetest thing about yesterday wasn't exactly the tea.

It was when I took a stretch break and wandered into the living room to see my husband in the middle of the couch, all three of my girls cuddled up next to him watching Hanna Montana. I could tell by the wry humor on my husband's face that watching Hanna Montana was a real stretch for him. LOL! But that was one of many sweet images to add to my mental photo album...and the look on his face as he met my gaze was the sweetest thing of all. Because I know that man was thinking, "I'm doing this for you, so you can concentrate on writing the best book possible."

My June book, A Soldier's Reunion, that's in stores now was challenging for me to write in that the heroine's father wasn't really there for her, which led her to have trust issues later in life. My husband is such a great father and my dad was such a great father that one of my biggest challenges as an author is writing about characters who have a hard background as far as their parents.

I write military stories for the time being. My dad served as a Marine in Vietnam and they went through so much, not only during the war but once they came home. I have often wished the U.S. would make a day and have a redo of when those guys came home. And this time that the country would welcome them. My dad was pretty tough on us as far as when we'd say we couldn't do something. He'd prove to us that we could. I learned the courage to do many things because my dad wouldn't let me believe otherwise. He said that it's okay to fail as long as you did your best, but it wasn't okay to sit back and not try just because you think you can't do something. He said that to me when he and mom taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. He said that to me when I broke and trained my own horse the first time. When I learned to use a firearm after him teaching me gun safety. When I learned to use a bow and arrows. When I learned to play chess and ride a motorcycle at age five. All those things and a gazillion more.

I came home once crying from school because my PE teacher and the class gave me a hard time and made fun of me because I couldn't do a push-up like a guy. Yes, I know I'm a girl and I tried explaining that to the PE teacher. But she was like a drill sergeant and refused to let girls do girlie push-ups. We had to do them like a guy. Only I couldn't.

So when my dad asked me what was wrong, I told him I was upset because they made fun of me because I couldn't do a push-up. Did he pull me in for a hug and tell me he was gonna go beat up the PE teacher for me as I'd hoped he'd say?

Nope. He smiled. Nodded and pulled me in for a quick hug then jabbed a finger at the floor and said, "Get down there and do a push-up."

Then he got down in the floor beside me and showed me the best way to build my arm muscles. Every single day he worked with me on practicing push-ups until I could do them. I was so mad at my dad at first...MAKING me do push-ups. But now, I understand that what he was trying to teach me. Failure is not an option. Well, it's an option but refusing to try because you think you'll fail is not an option.

Had it not been for my dad's manner of teaching and not allowing us to shy back from anything, I may not be the writer I am today. May not even have had the courage to try to be published. Nor would I have lasted the seven strenuous years and the seven manuscripts it took me to finally break in.

Likewise, if my cute, rocker dude husband didn't love me enough and wasn't willing enough to subject himself to shows like Hanna Montana, I'm not sure I'd have the privilege and honor of being able to blog with the rest of the Craftie Ladies of Romance. Such an honor and I'm so thankful to have men in my life who champion my dreams.

I pray that you do as well.


So, Cowboy Dad and Cute Rocker Dude...if you guys are listening...thanks!

Cheryl

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A different kind of hero



I'm sure some of you have heard from my personal blog or through the ACFW, but right now, we are dealing with a family emergency. My mother in law is in bad shape in the hospital after a horse back riding accident this past Sunday. We were visiting her for the day in a town about 2 hours from where we live, when it happened. She was galloping her horse, the horse caught a stone in his hoof and stumbled off the path, and knocked her against a tree. She was knocked unconscious by that tree and then fell off the still running horse into a second, bigger tree.

My husband was with her, and not only saw the accident but he had to work on her medically as a trained fireman/EMT until the ambulance and helicopte could arrive. You can imagine that kind of emotional trauma to him, but he's handling it well. I'm so proud of him. Everyone says if he hadn't been there, things could be even worse.
We'd appreciate prayers during this time. Right now, it seems that she will live, Lord willing, but we're not sure what kind of permanent damage has been done regarding her brain. However, God is faithful, and we trust she will wake up from the coma as soon as she needs to. The most serious of her injuries are bruising on the right brain lobes, a fractured skull, a twisted neck (but not broken), two broken ribs, a severed right kidney (her left is still working fine though, praise God) and facial fractures.

So, please pray for Cindy and my husband Brandon and the rest of our family. Cindy has a daughter and fiance, too, who are at her side at all times like my hubby is doing. We are going to be back and forth a lot between the cities taking hospital shifts so someone is always in ICU. It's going to be a load road regardless of how it turns out. Thank you.


On that note, I need to brag about my husband. He's a good man and an even better father. Who else would go to Sam's Club to shop with a 10 1/2 month old, come out with groceries to a downpour, and take off his own shirt to drape over her so they could run to the car and she be drive? I love that visual! =)


This father's day will be tough with our current circumstances but I have to alert the world that my husband is a hero - as a fireman, as a son, as a husband, and as a daddy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Heroes in Romance



When I first started in this business of writing romances a very dear friend and successful author recommended a book that she promised would give me that "Ah, ha!" moment about writing romances. And the book delivered.

Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women--Romance Writers on the Appeal of Romance, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz is a compilation of wisdom and insights into writing the romance novel by some of the genre's most beloved and successful authors.

My copy of this book is now dogeared and highlighted on almost every page. I flip through it occasionally to remind myself of the helpful tips gleaned from the book's pages.


My current June release is a Love Inspired Suspense titled HER LAST CHANCE which has a strong, wounded hero who must ultimately decide where his faith and his heart lie. I really enjoyed bringing Roman Black to life and hope you will enjoy him as well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Tribute to my Dad

This is my dad and me. My cousin sent me the picture a few years ago. It was one I'd never seen. It's one I now look at daily. See, my dad died five years ago. Exactly nine months before my son was born. The title of this blog entry is what I titled what I wrote for his burial. See, Daddy outlived all his close friends. All of them. The preacher who resided at the burial wasn't a preacher but a friend who preached when there was a need. So, when he was done with the generic stuff I spoke. Here's what I said back in May of 2004:
"They said on the news that 1000 World War II vets die each day. I sighed in relief and thought, 'not my dad.' Then, last Sunday, the phone rang, and I realized how erroneous that sigh of relief was. My dad was 83, and he was a WWII vet. Last Sunday when I walked into his hospital room to say 'Goodbye' he was already gone. Not my dad. No, please. But it was my dad. He had gone to a better place where I like to imagine the words from Matthew 25:21 being softly stated... Well done my good and faithful servant. And the best thing about those words is the fact that my dad will be able to hear them clearly for the first time in years.
Albert (He was named after an uncle) Hammonds (After the doctor who delivered him) Tracy (We've never successfully figured out the history of the Tracy name) was born in Lafayette, Georgia, in 1920. He was an oldest son. Six brothers and sisters followed. They lived in a time and era where very few families owned cars. Dad talked about falling out of the back of a wagon. He told about his grandmother sitting on the front porch and not even blinking as she took up a nearby rifle to shot a rabid dog. One of his favaorite stories had to do with playing baseball. The neighborhood boys didn't own gloves, or even a bat, but they made due with hands and a ball and a good-sized stick. Then, the uncle of one of the boys breezed into town and when he saw what the boys were playing with, he went into town and bought each one of them a glove. The nephew got a bat. Dad says the uncle was Pretty Boy Floyd. My Aunt Bernice always looked sideways at him when he told this story. He always looked sideways back. I like his story, so I believe it.
When I was a little girl I didn't realize his name was Albert. I thought it was Dick. Even this past week, his current wife's (Noralee) son asked me who was labeled Dick in all the military photos. Dad said he used to deliver newspapers, and there was an old lady in the neighborhood who couldn't remember his name so she called him Dick because she could remember Dick Tracy. He was so excited when he went into the army. Finally, he'd shed the Dick nickname and be Albert. He said he no more had exited the bus when someone shouted out, "Hey, Dick!" and so he wound up being Dick in the army, too.
He met my mother when she was only sixteen. He was quite a bit older, in his twenties, and in the army. His job as military police was escorting Japanese prisoners, via train, from the East to the West. He often had a layover in Omaha. One day, he and some buddies were on a bus in downtown Omaha, way back in the forties, and he looked out the bus's window and saw my mom and her girlfriend walking. He made his friends exit the bus and they followed the girls to the movie theator. Such a romantic beginning. They were married 48 years.
He died on Mother's Day. At first, that really hurt me because how will I ever face Mother's Day, but the truth is I've had a hard time with Mother's Day since my mom, Rosemary, died. She was a great mother and thought I was a perfect angel, but that's a mother's job. I don't think Dad thought I was a perfect angel - he was a bit more realistic, but, then, he'd been in two wars. Two: Korea and World War II.
He took a lot of pride in the fact that he'd served his country. He must have seen some horrible things because he didn't like to talk about it much. His favorite stories were about being a cook in the army. He'd cook for me and my mother even. I guess in the army, pepper was the seasoning of choice. He had little songs having to do with biscuits and coffee in the army. Those were his good memories, but he had some bad. When I was little, he used to walk out of the church whenever they sang Precious Memories. I found out that he was sitting on a log with a buddy, and the buddy was singing that song, and the next thing Daddy knew the buddy was gone - like my dad is now gone.
I was on an airplane when my dad left this world. I didn't make it to his side to say goodbye. I'll always feel a bit guilty about that. Just like I've always felt a little guilty about being an only child. You see, my dad should have fathered 12 kids. He loved kids. He carried candy in his pockets for them. He'd offer to take strange kids home because he needed a dishwasher. My friends loved coming to our house. My parents were the drive-to-skateland-movies-Peony Park kind of parents. Sometimes on the ride, he'd stop the car and my friends would say, 'What are you doing, Mr. Tracy?' Dad would say, 'Did you see that sign?' They'd all look and ask, 'What sign?' 'That one,' he'd point. 'It says Stop Ahead so I'm looking for a head to stop.' Like most kids, I didn't appreciate my dad's humor until I got older.
Albert also loved his church. If you go by the North Omaha Church of Christ, you'll see a brown, shingled sign that announces all the services times and important information. My dad made that. I can remember cleaning the North Omaha church. I was so young I didn't have to help - or maybe they simply didn't make me. I'd crawl under the pews and count the gum stuck there. One time I threw a ball and it landed in the baptistry. Dad just put on the waders and fetched it. We were at the church every Wednesday night and two times on Sunday. There was never a debate. We attended church.
The only books my dad owned were the Bible and Bible companions.
This week, he went to be with his Lord. I truly hope to see him someday. And I know he's waiting to reacquaint with those who loved him.
Thank you for coming.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hero Interview from A Soldier's Reunion

Hero Interview from A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt:

1. Nolan Briggs, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I have been in two branches of the military. I went into the Navy first and went through SEAL training. But now I'm in the Air Force as a special forces pararescuer. We are military skydiving paramedics who go after downed pilots and other allied servicemen and women.

2. What do you do for fun?
Anything high-octane. I love to hang with my team doing training ops every weekend. We like extreme sports and anything dangerous. I love scuba diving and skydiving better than anything in the world.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Saying I'm sorry. I really hate that. I try not to have a reason to have to do it. LOL!

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
I most fear losing one of my teammates and not being able to do anything about it. We are in a dangerous job and on any given work day, during a rescue, we could become bullet sponges trying to save someone else.

5. What do you want out of life?
I want to be successful at my job which is rescuing people. We also rescue civilians. I also am going to school to get my counseling degree so I can help post-combat soldiers and airmen and other military men and women through post traumatic stress.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Right now I'd have to say God. I'm fairly new in my faith. I owe my relationship with God to a girl named Mandy. Haven't seen her in ten years and man, do I miss her. She may soon find out about my faith...and the fact that I've never fallen out of love with her. We were high school sweethearts. The author who created me tells me we meet again on a bridge collapse. I'm looking forward to seeing Mandy again and hopefully rekindling what we had. Also looking forward to letting her know her prayers all those years ago finally paid off.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
Skydiving. Scuba diving. Military handbooks. Kettle ball and other fitness books because that's the kind of thing I like to do to keep in shape/top form for my job which is beyond physically demanding.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I didn't try harder to find Mandy after she left for med school and I entered Air Force boot camp.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
I have a pet, he's my roommate and fellow PJ Brockton Drake. OW! He just punched my arm. He's leaning over my shoulder reading this right now. (laughs)

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
Back to the time before Mandy and I knew we had to say goodbye. I'd give anything to see her smile one more time. We were blissfully in love and I miss her so much. Can't wait to walk into the pages of A Soldier's Reunion and see her again. I hope you enjoy our journey.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: A SOLDIER'S REUNION BY CHERYL WYATT


Despite a decade apart, this isn't the reunion Mandy Manchester expected! She thought she'd put high school sweetheart Nolan Briggs behind her. Now he's back…and the pararescue jumper literally sweeps her off her feet. He's ready and willing to rekindle what they once shared. Mandy, though, isn't prepared to put her heart at risk. He left her before—she won't trust him again. Can Nolan teach this grounded girl to take a leap of faith?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sons-in-law


This month as we are talking about the men in our lives, I would like to talk about my two sons-in-law. They bring a new dimension to our family. I grew up with three brothers, so it is fun to have more guys in the family.

Joe joined our family in May 2006, and he is now the proud father of Katelyn. You see them sharing some father-daughter time as they watch opening day for the Boston Red Sox this year. As my daughter Kara says, Katelyn in teaching her daddy how to share the remote. Daddy is teaching her all about sports. Joe lives, breathes and eats sports. As you might guess ESPN is his favorite TV channel. Besides being a great sports enthusiast, he is also a stay-at-home dad. As he will tell you, his life has changed completely since Katelyn was born in December. He's a very proud and protective dad.

Paul joined our family in October 2008. Just as our two daughters are very different. Our two sons-in-law are also very different. Paul doesn't have much interest in sports, but he makes sure my daughter Danielle can watch Wake Forest basketball, and he always joins in our NCAA basketball pool and often beats us all. He is brilliant when it comes to computers, and he loves any and all of the electronic and techie gadgets that can be found. He's also a vegetarian, so it is always a challenge to make sure we have something that he can eat when he comes to visit.

Having these two young men as part of our family is a true delight. We are thankful that our daughters have found such good men to be part of their lives. And I hope I am a good "mother-in-law."

Do you have stories to share about your sons or sons-in-law?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I went fishing with my father.



I first posted this blog over at the Love Inspired Authors Blog, but I wanted to share it here, too. This is my dad, Clarence, and my grandson, Josh. They are the special men in my life.

My dad developed a wonderful tradition of taking us all fishing after Mass on Easter Sunday. In the Flint Hills of Kansas, not too far from a wide spot in the road called Delevan, is my dad’s cattle pasture. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Flint Hills, let me draw you a picture.

Imagine grass. Miles and miles and miles of emerald green new spring grass laid like a carpet over gently rolling hills and loaf shaped bluffs that aren’t very tall but stretch as far as you can see.

Is it in your mind? Can you see it? Blue sky, green grass and nothing else but the wind whistling past your ears. That’s it.

What that grass covers in rock. Not flint for which the hills are named, but limestone that juts out in big blocks and millions of white stones that defeated man’s attempt to plow every acre of my state and turn it into wheat fields. Gotta love those rocks. They saved a beautiful part of God’s lawn.

Now, if you are out in the Flint Hill and you see a tree, it will be down in a gully hugging the banks of a spring fed creek. It will most likely be a thorny wonder called an Osage orange or a tall shimmering cottonwood tree. There are lots of springs hidden out in the hills. The ones in our pasture come out of a rocky ledge in five big holes about three inches across. The water pours out like someone left the garden hose running and it’s cold.

Are there any fishermen or women reading this? Well, if there are you know that bass love the cold water, and my daddy loves to catch bass.

So each Easter Sunday, weather permitting, we gather up the family from across the state and head to the pasture and a deep section of the creek where the bass and catfish have waited all winter for our spinners and worms.

If the truth be told, it isn’t so much about the fishing. Oh, the rods and reels get a workout, but so do the lawn chairs. We all catch up with each other’s lives, we LAUGH and we eat. Hot dogs and marshmallows cooked over an open campfire taste better in the shade of those old Osage orange trees than they do anywhere else in the world.

At the end of the day we’ll leave the pasture to the cattle getting fat on the endless supply of grass and we’ll go home with a few pictures of someone’s big fish (this year it was mine) and one other things that’s essential to us all. A sense of renewal. A family brought closer together - reconnected by a powerful sense of belonging to the land.

It’s a wonderful Easter gift. One my father has given to his children and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. Thanks Daddy, for teaching me to bait my own hook all those years ago.
Pat

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Special Men in My Life

Father's Day is in June. It was always a special time for me. I was lucky to have three father figures in my life. My own father died when I was twelve but my memories of him are fond ones. Then my mother remarried three years later and I was fortunate to have a good stepfather who until the day my mother died, he cared for her even though she didn't recognize him. He died several years after her and I think it was from a broken heart. My mother was his world. I loved him for that. Also I had a wonderful father-in-law who had such a deep faith and lived a life full of the Lord. He, too, is gone.

But when we celebrate Father's Day this month we will keep all three in our prayers and thoughts as we celebrate with my husband (the best!) and son's family. My son is now a father of four little girls and I think he's doing a great job. When I think of all the females in that household, I have to chuckle. Lots of estrogen. And he will be in for a "treat" when those girls become teenagers and start dating.

Who are some special men in your life?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fatherly things


I'm late getting in my blog today. But I have some very good excuses. I'm doing revisions on a book--always fun!!! And I worked in our local Dress for Success boutique today, sorting jewelry and other things--always fun, too!

This month, we thought we'd talk about fathers in honor of father's day. You might notice our Scripture verse to the right of the posts. A father truly does have to show compassion but sometimes it can be very hard. We recently had to do this with one of our children. Said child--a college student--was struggling with some heavy issues. Dad got angry then he turned compassionate and worked with said child to make things better. Sigh. That's why I love said parent (also my husband.)

That's about all I can say on the subject, but this is a good example of what a father should be. Lots of us might have had this growing up. My Daddy had a big temper and we were afraid of his wrath but he always managed to cool down and forgive his seven children for their misdeeds. And we had lots of misdeeds, let me tell you.

I believe Christ is the same. I think He gets angry with us and maybe a little disappointed with us, but He never abandons us. And he never turns against us. We might turn from Him but He is always waiting to show us compassion.

That's about the best Father's Day a person could ask for, I think.

Whether you have a loving relationship with your earthly father or not, you can rest assured that your Heavenly Father will never let you down. He allows us to keep revising our faith journey and that is a true blessing. And speaking of revising, I'd better get back to that job.

Lenora :)