Friday, July 30, 2010

Bookcovers by Merrillee Whren



Here is the cover of my latest book, HOMETOWN PROPOSAL, which is the second book in my Kellerville series, about a small fictional town located near Cincinnati, Ohio. Here is a blurb that tells a little bit about the book.

Before single father Seth Finley became a full-time dad—and a Christian—he wasn't exactly responsible. But now he can't seem to convince his former girlfriend that he's changed. Nothing is more important to Seth than family, faith and love. And since he's found Elise Keller again, he has another shot to show her what kind of man he truly is. A man who'll love, honor and cherish her the way she always deserved. But will the once-burned, twice-shy Elise ever accept his hometown proposal?

As I write this blog, I'm attending the Romance Writers of American Conference, being held near Orlando, Florida. Since I live in Florida, I had an easy drive to the conference. On my way, I stopped at a Super Wal-mart just to see whether HOMETOWN PROPOSAL, was on the shelves yet. I was happy to see it sitting there among the other August Love Inspired books. The thrill of seeing my book for sale in a store never gets old. I love the cover. It says small town USA and the Fourth of July. In the story, the hero and heroine go to the big Fourth of July parade held in Kellerville each year. When I first saw the cover, I knew it was a snapshot of the little town that I had created in my mind.

Do you ever wonder how the covers for books are created? Each publisher has a process for creating the cover. For Steeple Hill books, the authors fill out what is called the Art Fact Sheet that gives information about the book to the art department. Then using this information, they can produce a cover that will create an interest and give the reader an idea of what the book is about.

I also had an interesting thing happen with this cover. The mother of the little girl who was the cover model for the child on the cover contacted me. It was so fun to hear how excited the mother was to see the cover for which her little girl posed.

What kind of covers do you like to see on books? What kind of covers attract your attention?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Booksignings


This is Margaret Daley here. Last weekend I went to a booksigning with six other authors at Mardel's in Edmond. I had a great time. Not only did I spend some time with authors I'm friends with, but I got to meet some readers. What is so special about this booksigning was a reader I have been writing to for the past few years. I loved meeting her in person. This is one of the reason I enjoy writing. Booksignings to me are about meeting the readers, not selling the books. The picture above is of LInda Goodnight, Pat and me. The picture below is of me and Vickie McDonough.

What is a favorite moment you had at a booksigning as a reader or writer?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Traveling with swollen ankles--Lenora Worth

Old age is not for sissies. I'm traveling to Florida for a conference. Packing has become an all day event when I travel now. First, I have to gather all the drops--the eye drops, the ear drops, the nasal sprays. Then I have to gather all the dental equipment--floss and mouth rinse, night guard for TMJ, picks and polishes. Then it's on to the pills--high blood pressure, sleep medicine, migraine medicine and the usual pain medicine and vitamins, calcium and vitamin D for bones. You name it, I've got it. Next, it's the makeup--concealer, de--puffers, brightning creams and brow and lash enhancers. And don't get me started on Spanx and elastic--they are my new best friends.

And to add insult to injury, I had three doctors appointments before I ever left home. New medications to try, and something went terribly wrong with one of them. I now have swollen ankles and water retention. I called one of my doctors to find out why my ankles look like I've been stung by a bee. His reaction--I'm on vacation and I'm probably eating too much salt. I won't tell you what I thought, but I did politely explain to the "on-call" doctor that I've avoided salt and I know all about what not to eat while on vacation. I didn't need a lecture; I needed help.

Such is the joy of growing old. But hey, the water is beautiful and not a tar ball in sight. Everyone should start packing for Florida right now. Just don't forget the drops, the polishes, the brightener, the Spanx and whatever you do, avoid salt.

Wish you were here!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hero Interview for Bride in Training

Interview with Martin Davis, hero of the novel, Bride In Training by Gail Gaymer Martin

1. Martin, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
That’s a hard one. I don’t think I have much that’s interesting about me. I suppose the most interesting thing is that what I appear to be on the outside is far different from the real man inside. I come across as gruff and uncaring. I suppose I use that to hide my real feelings.


2. What do you do for fun?
I’ve never had much time for fun. I grew up in a family where career meant everything, and I carried that mind set with me into adulthood. I’ve learned some things though about myself, and I enjoy friendships now, and—now that I think about—one thing I really enjoy is surprising people. I have fun planning surprise parties and doing the unexpected. Maybe, that’s because I never did that until lately.


3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Yard work is one thing, but I think, if I look more deeply, talking about myself, especially my feelings, is something I avoid like the plague.


4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Easy. Relationships. They’ve always been difficult for me. I tend to be a user, and when I start using people, I lose them—a wife, almost my brother. I couldn’t even handle a relationship with a pet.


5. What do you want out of life?
Now? Companionship. I’m trying to change and that’s another thing I want. Everyone loves my brother Nick. I want to be more like him.


6. What is the most important thing to you?
I’ve always thought my business, but recently, I realize my faith and friendship is much more important.


7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I never had time to read. Workaholics don’t, but I make more time for pleasures now. I read the Bible but not faithfully. I suppose I read non-fiction books most. If I read fiction, I enjoy corporate thrillers.


8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That should be obvious by now. I wish I had been more patient and understanding during my life. I didn’t give people a chance. I tended to manipulate situations because I could, and that’s very lonely. When I face the void of my life, I had to climb upward. It was a long haul, but I made it. It’s paid off in wonderful ways.


9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it, and why that pet?
Certainly do. Her name is Nessie and she’s a Cairn terrier. I think she got her name from the Loch Ness Monster, and she was one when I first brought her home from the dog shelter, but Emily came to my rescue, and Nessie and I learned a lot. Before Nessie, I owned a Bouvier des Flanders for all the wrong reasons. I wanted her for prestige and to mate. The puppies could be sold for a high price. Suzette—that was her name—needed far more than I could provide. I didn’t give her my time or any training, yet I expected her to behave. My brother Nick took care of her far more than I did. I ended up giving her to Nick and his wife Steph. Now she’s a great pet, because they show her love. Love changes everything.


10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
Funny you ask that. The other day I was wondering what would have happened if I could go back in time and relive my life so I could correct the major character flaws that caused me so many problems for too long. As I mentioned, my wife left me. I blamed her for a long time until I turned around and realized I was as much at fault as she was. It’s easy to blame others. It’s hard to take a deep look and face our faults and learn from them. That’s a lesson, we can learn from dogs. Dog’s don’t put on false fronts. The are who they are. If they like you, they wag their tails and if they don’t, they growl and bear their teeth. Human’s are dishonest. They hide under layers of distrust and protective shields until they don’t know what is real. A dog loves unconditionally. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do that?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hero Interview for Klondike Hero by Jillian Hart

Hero interview for Klondike Hero by Jillian Hart:

1. Gage Parker, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

There is nothing interesting about me. I like living in Treasure Creek, Alaska, and I'm on the search and rescue squad when I'm not leading tours through the Alaskan wilderness. Can I go now? I don't like being interviewed.

2. What do you do for fun?

I like to fish and hike when I'm not working or rescuing people.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I would rather not talk about my divorce. So don't ask me any questions about it, okay?

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

I'm not afraid of anything. But I sure hope I never fall in love again. Love is brutal on a man.

5. What do you want out of life?

To be left alone and to not have to answer these questions. Can I go now?

6. What is the most important thing to you?

My family. I moved my grandmother in to live with me because her health is frail. I have a brother, who I hope one day will turn his life around, but in the meantime I'm taking care of his baby boy, Matthew. Karenna, the nanny I've hired, irritates me but I would stand in front of her if a bear were attacking her so I guess that means she's sort of important to me.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

I like books about the Alaskan wilderness. It's where I grew up, and it's what I do.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would want to know how to live with hope and not let the past trouble me.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

I haven't had a dog in a long time, but I have a feeling one might be in my future. Karenna seems to like animals.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

To the evening I was minding my own business driving home and I spotted a sports car broken down on the side of the road. The driver was a jilted bride in a white wedding dress. If I had been smart, I would have just kept driving. But no, I had to stop and now she's wormed her way into my life and if I'm not careful she will work her way into my heart next.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Allie Pleiter on Kindness



One little act of kindness can trigger a flood of grace.

In our many trips to Comer Children’s Hospital, we’ve encountered hundreds of small acts of kindness. A warm blanket here, a door held there, someone who remarks my son’s straw fedora is “cool” rather than just a way to cover up his bald head. A children’s hospital is a monument of kindness--one you never recognize until you’ve been there.

Still, most of us witness small kindnesses every day without realizing how much they add up to the grace of life. My new novel, MISSION OF HOPE, was born of an act of courage as much as of kindness: the declaration of San Francisco’s postmaster that he would deliver mail after the 1906 fires and earthquake. Any kind of mail (for paper was scarce and messages were written on tiles, book pages, shirt collars, cloth, etc) and regardless of whether postage had been affixed. It was a small choice, but a monumental choice. Postmaster Arthur Fisk realized how vital messages were in those dire times, and made a single choice that influenced the lives of thousands. I don’t use his real name or character in the book, but Nora Longstreet’s fictional postmaster father makes the same choice and starts a chain of events that changes many lives forever. Quinn Freeman--whom we met as a boy in MASKED BY MOONLIGHT but has now grown to be a man of firm faith and daring resourcefulness--wields his own brand of kindness to fight the devastation all around him. Quinn knows what we all should remember: kindness always breeds hope, and hope is often the strongest weapon we have against any threat.

Mail is ordinary stuff. But kindness is often born of ordinary stuff, if we’d just take the time to look. Where can you do a small act of kindness today? When has someone done a small kindness to you that wasn’t really small at all? For really, kindness is never small--it’s almost always the start of something much bigger.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Perfect Shell

My daughter’s favorite activity during our recent vacation was collecting seashells along the shore. A true beachcomber like her mom, she was up at the crack of dawn because that’s when the best shells are available. Also like her mom, she also doesn’t realize that vacations are meant for sleeping in, hanging out by the sea or pool and not doing much of anything.

Another perfect morning dawned as the tide ebbed in and the sun’s rays stretched across horizon, staining the sky a bright blue. We had the beach pretty much to ourselves, except for the lone jogger playing tag with the sea. Strolling through the rocks and sand, we found all kinds of fascinating shells. Some whole, most not because of years of the pounding surf. Some still had creatures inside that we had to take back and toss into the sea when they stuck their black legs out and took a stroll along our condo balcony. My personal favorites were the corkscrew shells, but most of them were still occupied and had to be left behind. My daughter’s favorite was pretty much all of them.

“Look, Mommy. I found one.” My daughter holds up half a clamshell covered with some sort of black growth.

“No, Emily. That shell is broken. Let’s throw it back.”

“But I like it. I want to keep it.” Into the bucket it goes.

“Really, darling, we can’t keep all of them. See? It’s broken and not very pretty.” I pick up a shell, shake my head and for affect, look it over, show her the flaw and throw it back into the tide pool.

“Why not? We found them.”

Good point. Score one for the seven year old.

“Because its not perfect. We need to pick and chose the best ones.”

Good point, Score one for mom.

“I don’t care. I like them all.” She picks it back up and drops it into the bucket.

Okay, maybe I’ll find a use for it after all.

This conversation with my daughter got me to thinking about the perfect shell—and the perfect word. How many times have I struggled to find the right word? Said could be written as growled, or whispered, or muttered. It all depends on what feeling I’m trying to convey. I toss around a few more options and throw the ones back that don’t seem to fit, just like the shells that don’t fit my criteria for going into the bucket.

Picking the perfect word is as important as making sure I don’t find an unexpected guest on my patio later. I have to look inside and all around, hold the shell up to the light and run my fingers around the edges. In my manuscript I have to test out the word, and see how it flows in the context of the sentence. Does it convey what I really want to say? Is it pretty? Is it the perfect word to compliment my manuscript or the perfect shell to grace my bucket?

My daughter wants to be a writer when she grows up. I sincerely hope she figures out some day that there are differences in words and shells and that not all of them are as perfect as we sometimes think they are. Sometimes it might take a few tries to get it right, but in the end we will find the perfect word and the perfect shell.

What will I do with all the shells we collected? I plan on gluing them to a picture frame and putting a family photo from our vacation inside. What will I do with all the words that simply can’t be used? Throw them back for now and let the sea of sand and time mold them into something that can be used at a later date.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Revisions and New Cover!


As promised, I'm posting the cover to my 10/10 Love Inspired Romance book, Fresh-Start Family. From the back cover:
"Please, It's a Matter of Life and Death!"
Civilian life is a strain for war hero Tom Garrison, but he's an expert at emergencies. And he puts his training to good use helping his lovely neighbor, single mom Jenna Atkins, and her sick son, Brian. Tom thinks he can rescue the family and walk away, but he's in for a big surprise. Despite his efforts, Jenna and Brian capture his heart---just as he captures theirs. Both Jenna and Tom have reason to be wary of letting anyone close. Can they overcome the past to give this family a fresh start at love?
Mark your calendars for October 2010 for my first Love Inspired Romance release. I love Jenna and Tom's story and hope you do too.
As I'm typing this I'm taking a quick break from doing revisions on my 3/11 Love Inspired Romance called In a Doctor's Arms. I'm desperately trying to get everything done before I head off to Orlando at the end of the month for the Romance Writer's of America annual conference.
So until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hero Interview from The Guardian's Honor

Interview with the hero from The Guardian’s Honor by Marta Perry:

1. Adam Bodine, tell me the most interesting thing about you. I’m a Coast Guard officer, through and through. That’s what I wanted to be since the first time I can remember seeing my daddy in uniform, and I’ve never changed my mind about that, even if I sometimes fear I’m not cutting it.

2. What do you do for fun? Fun is spending time at the family beach house on Sullivan’s Island with the whole Bodine clan. When all the brothers, sisters, and cousins get together, anything can happen, and probably will!

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? Facing the memories that haunt my nightmares.

4. What are you afraid of most in life? That I’ll let down the people who depend on me—my crew, the Bodine clan.

5. What do you want out of life? I want to be the kind of man and the kind of officer my daddy is.

6. What is the most important thing to you? Honor. Duty. That sums it up.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book? I still have a collection of kids’ books out at the beach house, and I like sharing them with a kid. I don’t get a lot of time for reading, but when I do, it’s likely to be a biography of a historic figure in American life.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I could get past my fear of failing, but I’m not sure I ever will.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? As much time as I spend on duty, there’s no room for a pet in my life—not unless you count those sea turtles that my grandmother, Miz Callie, always rounds us up to help with.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? That’s an easy one. I’d go back to Sullivan’s Island in the summer of 1942. Then maybe I’d really understand the thing that changed my family’s story.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

FEATURED BOOK: THE GUARDIAN'S HONOR

Coast Guard officer Adam Bodine finally finds his long-vanished great-uncle. But the secretive elderly man has adopted some new kin…single mother Cathy Norwood and her disabled little boy. Adam is grateful when Cathy convinces his relative to reunite with the Bodines. Until he learns why she's so eager. Though his heartstrings are tugged by their plight, he knows he doesn't deserve them in his life—not with his past. Unless one big extended family can teach Lieutenant Bodine something about love and honor.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Val is back from Norway!



Velcommen! I only learned a couple of of Norwegian words and "welcome" is one of them. We had a wonderful time and except for the fact that we were both so tired and sore from walking up and down those steep hills, we wished we could stay much longer. The country is beautiful. Breathtaking! And the tour we were on was filled with lovely, friendly folks who made our trip even more enjoyable.




Maybe I will eventually add a hunky Norwegian hero to one of my books but right now I'm still recovering. Our actual anniversary is today so we're continuing to celebrate with a quiet dinner out. My sister-in-law offered to throw us a party but we're not really party people and considered the trip to my father's homeland to be our official celebration. Besides, many of our friends are here in AR and family is spread all over the US. Getting them together in one place would not only be a logistic nightmare, it would be far too costly for all concerned.




I'm adding a couple of pics taken while we were traveling.




Oh, and back to the craft of writing! I came home to the news that I had sold another story to "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters". I think it's a hoot. My husband finds some of my family embarrassing. I guess that's why they bought the story!!!!




Blessings,


Valerie Hansen

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sharing a Summer Recipe

Missy Tippens, here. Summer is in full swing, and I'm really enjoying grilling out! Recently, I was about to boil some fresh corn-on-the-cob, but since I was already grilling hot dogs, I decided to grill the corn as well.

So I went to the Food Network website (one of my favorite channels as well as website!) and looked to see how Bobby Flay grills corn. One of his recipes just called for husking/shucking it (peeling off the husks and silks) and putting it directly over very hot coals for 5-7 minutes (turning frequently). I decided to lightly oil the corn first, then put it on my gas grill. I turned it several times until it looked just like this photo! I ended up grilling it for a little over 7 minutes. And oh, my! It was so yummy! I'll never boil it again in the summer.

What are some of your favorite things to grill? I'd love it if you'd share your recipes!

Missy

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Booksigning

Linda Goodnight here in hot and humid Oklahoma. Tomorrow is hair appointment and manicure day. I might even get my eyebrows waxed. Why, you ask, go through this trauma in the summer? Because I have a book signing on Saturday in Edmond at the Mardel’s Christian book store. There will be eight Oklahoma authors, including me. K-Love Radio will be there broadcasting and there will be lots of door prizes and freebies. So, if you’re in the Edmond, OK area from 11-3 July 17, stop in and say hello. There’s always free chocolate whenever I’m around…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do You Know What a RITA is?


Lyn Cote here--The RITA Award is the most prominent award given throughout the genre of romance novel and some other romantic fiction. It is presented by Romance Writers of America (RWA). It is named for the RWA's first president, Rita Clay Estrada.(and also her mother Rita Gallagher.) It signifies excellence in one of 13 categories of romantic fiction.

Authors and editors submit manuscripts for consideration in the fall. In mid-spring, 100 finalists are announced. The winners are presented with a statuette in a ceremony held on the last day of the RWA National Conference each July.

Categories

The categories are:

  • Best First Book
  • Best Contemporary Series Romance
  • Best Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure
  • Best Contemporary Single Title Romance
  • Best Historical Romance
  • Best Inspirational Romance
  • Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
  • Best Paranormal Romance
  • Best Regency Historical Romance
  • Best Romance Novella
  • Best Romantic Suspense
  • Best Young Adult Romance

The novels are picked from among the novels published the previous year.

I am going to be featuring the eight 2010 RITA nominees, one a day, on my blog starting a week from today. Drop by and read about the best in inspirational romance!

BTW, among our own Craftie Ladies of Romance, I was a RITA nominee in 2006 for my book Chloe. And our own Linda Goodnight won a RITA in 2008. (I remember that because I was sitting next to her when they called her name and she leaped up and began crying. GRIN.)

Did I miss any of our other craftie ladies who have been nominees or winners?

And readers, did any of you hear about the RITAs before now?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reunion Days


Janet Tronstad here, getting ready to make mounds of potato salad for a large family reuinion tomorrow. This is with my mother's family and has the cousins I remember best from my growing up years so there'll be lots of hugging and questions about what everyone has been doing. When we get together, there's anywhere from fifty to a hundred people milling around. I love large, loud families and ours qualifies. I'm also glad the family meets together once a year in the mountains at a cabin my grandparents bought decades ago (as in before I was born). How about you -- do you have any reunions coming up this summer or fall? Family or school?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hero Interview from Heart of a Cowboy

Interview with the hero from Heart of a Cowboy by Margaret Daley:

1. Zachary Rutgers, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I used to ride bulls on the rodeo circuits.

2. What do you do for fun?

Ride a horse, camping and fishing. I enjoy spending my time outdoors.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Cooking and now that I have a son, I’ve got to learn how to cook. We can’t eat out all the time.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Falling in love with Jordan again. Not being the dad my son deserves.

5. What do you want out of life?

To run my ranch and be a good dad to my son.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

My son. I didn’t know about him for ten years so I have a lot of time to make up.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

Nope, but I guess I should now that I have a son. He’s so smart that I don’t know if I can keep up with him, but I’m proud of what he’s accomplished.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My past. I did some things I regret. I wish I had been there when my son was born—been in his life from the very beginning. If Jordan and I hadn’t fought, things might have been different.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

My horse—of course, I don’t think of him as a pet like a dog or cat.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

Back to the summer Jordan and I broke up. Knowing what I do today, things would have been different.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

FEATURED BOOK: HEART OF A COWBOY BY MARGARET DALEY

Ten years ago Jordan Masterson left her hometown heartbroken—and pregnant. Now, yearning for connection with her family, the single mother returns to Tallgrass, Oklahoma. But she's shocked to find her son's father—unaware he has a child—a vital part of the community. Zachary Rutgers owns the ranch that the local homeschoolers use for riding and recreation. Which means little Nicholas, Jordan and Zachary will be spending a lot of time together. Jordan must tell Zachary the truth about their son—and ask for answers herself. Hoping the heart of her cowboy will still be hers for the taking.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lyn Cote's Summer Gift to Readers!

On my personal blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories at http://bit.ly/N4yOf I've posted my short story, "Watermelon Cowboy" as a summer gift to my readers. I posted the first half on Friday, July 2nd and the finale on Tuesday, July 6th. So scroll down to the 2nd and then up to the 6th to read the story in order. This short story was first published in Women's World over a decade ago. Let me know what you think of my "Watermelon Cowboy?" GRIN

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What are you reading?

I'd like to hear some feedback from fellow authors and readers.

What are you reading?

Simple question, but carries a lot of weight. Think about it. What you are reading also likely means what you are buying, unless you're a library-only kind of gal ;) What are you buying helps determine the market, which then helps determine what publishers are willing to publish, which directly affects us - the authors.

Didn't realize a reader had that much power did ya? :)

There's a reason celebrities thank their fans when actors and actresses/musicians/singers, etc. accept awards - fans matter. Readers matter. You help make us what we are. You help determine the current of the publishing tide.

So, tell me. What are you reading?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aloha


Aloha, Terri Reed here frantically trying to get a proposal for my next book out the door as I get ready to go on a vacation/work trip with my husband to the Big Island of Hawaii. He'll have to work part of the time. I'll try to write part of the time, but I'm looking forward to seeing the island since we've never been to this one. We've been to Maui several times, Kauai for our honeymoon and Oahu several times. I'm looking forward to visiting the Macadami Nut farm. Yummm. I also want to see the volcano, though I've been told to expect the stench of sulpur. We'll start out on the Hilo side and then move over to Kona for a couple of days full of sun on Hapuna Beach. Having fair skin that burns and freckles, I'm not much of a sun person. My husband will soak up the rays, while I'll hide under my wide brimmed hat and tons of sunscreen, unless we're in the water snorkleing. There's supposed to be a beach cove where you can swim with sea turtles. That's my goal.

Later this month I'm off to Orlando for the 30th annual Romance Writers of America conference. I plan to play at least one day in Disney World.




So much traveling so little time.
What travel plans do you have this month?

And more news, my lastest release Treasure Creek Dad hits the shelves on August 1st..

A hui hou kakou (Until we meet again)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gloria Stuart Turned 100 Yesterday

Pamela Tracy here, and I have the weirdest memory. Really, I do. For example, Saturday night I went to a BBQ, and I sat down at a table (husband didn't go; son headed right for the pool) and promptly a man introduced himself. I said, "Eric, I've known you more than 20 years." Eric, of course, looked confused. There's no reason Eric should know me. See, I hung around with his little brother. So, last time I saw Eric was 12 years ago at a JB's restaurant. We're talking a 30 second encounter. Before that, it would have been another decade at the church I was attending and I really don't remember ever exchanging any words. But, I remember him. Know him when I see him. Etc. That's my weird memory. BTW, the word weird is one of 16 that fulfill the i before e except after c rule. And, did you know that there's one word were ie does follows a c? What is it?

Enough about that, the title today is Gloria Stuart Turned 100 Yesterday. So, here's my trivia. Gloria Stuart played the elderly woman on James Camersons' Titanic. She played a 100 year old who survived the sinking. I love, love, loved much about that movie. How cool that in real life, that actress just turned 100. Think of all she's lived through. Flapper. Depression. When she was born, William McKinley was president.

Right now, my favorite kind of book is framework historical. That's what Titanic was. History written in a faction (blend of fiction and fact) manner through the eyes of someone (usually fictional) who lived the time. Water for Elephants enthralled me. I can hardly wait for the movie. And, The House at Riverton was another such book.

I need to find another book to read!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Heroine Interview from Waiting Out the Storm

Interview with the heroine from Waiting Out the Storm by Ruth Logan Herne:

1. Sarah, tell me the most interesting thing about you.


Margaret, I’m pleased and honored to meet you, although I find your question a mite odd. I’m a simple woman of mixed blood and great ethnic heritage, a shepherd and farmer who takes pride in my chosen profession although it’s drawn scowls from my step-family. And others, (if you must know), especially the classy, to-die-for good looking doctor who’s building his gorgeous house right across the street from me. Seriously, what was God thinking???? I love books, I love learning and I find great peace by hand-spinning fine woolen thread at my wheel, but real life has intervened, leaving me little spare time since my nieces and nephews have moved into my now-cramped bungalow. In the shake of a sheep’s tail I’ve gone from my quiet, singular life into mayhem.


2. What do you do for fun?

Well, this is a problem. There isn’t any time for fun by normal standards, not with the farm by day, keeping accounts for local businesses by night (I was a business accounting major in college, you see), and now with Livvie, Brett and Skeeter here, I’m finding fun is a whole new category marked by confusion. We have new puppies in the barn. I love that. Both the Maremmas (my wooly white and gorgeous guard dogs) and the Border Collies have babies, and there’s one tiny Collie that’s taken a shine to my new neighbor. I keep telling her he’s off limits. We (I mean SHE, of course) could never fit into his heart, his home. He’s different, and there’s no use in pretending otherwise, right?

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Housework. And confrontation. My Native American heritage has brought me restraint, but sometimes that’s at odds with my African and Caucasian ancestors. They insist I stand my ground. Go the distance. Housework… well, I’d do it more often if there was more time, but my goal right now is to develop my farm into a money-making entity and that’s not easy. So I keep books for others at night, and that bites into household tasks. It didn’t matter so much before, but do you have any idea how quickly three kids can destroy a house? Milliseconds. Sigh…
So then I insist they help clean, and that puts us right in the middle of a confrontation. Which (as you may note from above) I hate. But I’m strong with the land, and one with the Spirit and I do what I must.

But I DO put it off as long as possible. I think a nice, thick slice of Rita’s lemon pie would help, don’t you? Fresh baked goods are great soothers.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
The people have a saying: Fear nothing, respect everything. I abide by that, but I have fears nonetheless. My mother died when I was a young girl. I miss her still. She was my shining light in a family of darkness, a Christian stronghold in a house of non-believers. So I would have to say abandonment. I fear being left and so I protect my heart while God governs my soul. It’s not a BAD way to live, you know? Although a bit lonely at times. Still, we all have those moments, don’t we?

5. What do you want out of life?

Peace. I want time and God to erase my self-doubts. And I want to be (please don’t laugh…) pretty. Like the other girls. Not like Craig Macklin’s parade of pretties with their jazzed-up heels, flirt-skirts and perfect nails, but I’d like to feel attractive when I look in the mirror. Rita says I’m lovely, she calls me ‘earth-mother’, and Craig has sworn that I’m beautiful, but he probably says that to all the girls, don’t you think?


6. What is the most important thing to you?

My relationship with my heavenly father because my earthly father is not a good man. How blessed are we to have that option?

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

I have so little time, but when I do have time to read, I love adventure stories. I went off to New Zealand after college and worked a sheep farm there, just for the experience of learning about others, their wants, their ways, their needs. That’s where I finessed the art of spinning wool. Did you know that some wool is better for hand-spinning than others? Finer? Less coarse. It surprised me that Craig knew that, a veterinarian who hates sheep, and yet he understood the intricacies of wool. How odd…

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My appearance, with no hesitation. I’d lighten my skin tone, soften my hair, brighten my eyes. For so long my half-brothers reminded me that I’m not normal, that I’m not attractive, that I’m different.
I want to stop feeling different.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

Some would say I have a hundred pets, but they would be mistaken. On a farm, you cannot afford to call your work animals pets, even the dogs, although my affection and respect for them is keen, as it should be.

The dogs would be the closest thing, and they are part of my heart and soul, the backbone of a sheep farm. And when I nurse a tiny baby lamb to strength and health, I love the delicate feel of its body, the slightness of limb, but then I must separate myself and offer the lamb back to its mother. She is much better equipped to raise her baby than I.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

Please take no offense, Margaret, as you are a lovely and gracious women, great in your own right, but I do not think I would do this.

As a woman, I love this time, the current time. I respect the past but because of my mix of heritage, there is no spot in the past for me to be the strong, independent woman I am today. My mixed culture would find little sympathy in many places (perhaps New Orleans, but I don’t see a sheep farm there, do you????) and the fact that I’m a woman would only make it worse.

Today most people (some of my family the exception, of course…) think nothing of my cultural blend, my deep-toned skin, my heavy hair, but historically… I think I’m safer right here!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

FEATURED BOOK: WAITING OUT THE STORM BY RUTH LOGAN HERNE

When family tragedy strikes, Sarah Slocum steps in as guardian to her two nieces and nephew. But raising children isn't like raising sheep, and the beautiful shepherd soon finds herself in over her head. Who'd have guessed that new neighbor Craig Macklin would jump in to lend a hand? Craig's always held a grudge against Slocums—Sarah included. Now the handsome local vet is helping with her livestock, giving her young nephew a job and smiling at her every chance he gets. Sarah must decide whether she can trust Craig—and God's plan—and allow him into her family.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Learning to Leave the Nest

On a recent trip to Tucson to babysit my granddaughter, I was able to witness an interesting aspect of God's creation. A bird had built her nest in the corner of the roof that covers the patio at my daughter's house. Each morning my granddaughter would go to the window and look up and say, "bird" in her little eighteen-month-old voice. She had to check on the bird several times a day. So I too began watching the bird.






One morning I noticed that there was a baby bird in the nest, too. Several mornings the mother bird would be gone, then come back and feed the baby. Watching the process was amazing. The baby bird seemed to grow up overnight. The baby seemed small, but by the day I left it had learned to fly and had left the nest. I took a couple of photos of the baby bird after it had flown out of the nest. But mama bird was close by watching and swooped in, but not before I managed to snap the photo below.



The photo below is of mama and baby sitting on the fence around my daughter's swimming pool.


Baby had flown from the nest, when just days before the mama bird had been protecting her baby beneath her wing. It reminded me of the scripture, Psalm 91:4. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

Have you ever had an interesting experience watching God's creatures?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ready for the bang, bang, bang!


Pat Davids here.
I don't know about you, but my family is into Independence Day fireworks in a big, big way.
Not the ones you see on T.V. or even the ones that the city puts on. Nope. The Stroda family (my maiden name) puts on a private show that rivals the pros.
Now we weren't always crazy about fireworks.

When I was growing up it was the usual Black Cats, sparklers and Roman candles. My dad would light one of those stinky old cigars and it would burn forever with my brothers sneaking an occasional puff. It's glowing red tip was perfect for lighting our firecrackers. I shudder to think of all the hazards my four brothers and I skimmed by without a single accident. God was watching out for us.

As we got older, the fun died away. We went to see the big city displays and didn't bother to light our own little sparklers. Somehow, the whole event became too noisy and crowded to really enjoy. Until...
Enter my son-in-law. When Tony joined the family we got a really nice guy, a professional clown with his own magic show and unicycle (talk about cool parties) and a guy who loves fireworks. I mean loves fireworks. He's a bit of a pyromaniac. The only thing holding Tony back from putting on a dazzling 4th of July celebration of his own was the fact that he lived in a city that didn't allow fireworks within the city limits.

But my daughter has grandparents who live on a farm. In the middle of nowhere--where almost any type of fireworks is allowed or at least ignored as long as there isn't a burn ban in effect. Over the years Tony's celebration of all things that go bang has grown to include all my brothers and their families, even neighbors have opted out of the town fireworks to come out to Dad's farm for the big show. The kids have traveled two hundred miles to get the "big stuff" over the state line and bring it back. Everyone in the family contributes to the staggering pile of gunpower filled canisters waiting to illuminate the night sky for our delight. Golly we have fun.

The whole things doesn't always go off without a hitch, mind you. Twice we've been rained out. Once, because of a custody battle with my daughter's ex, my grandson couldn't be there for the 4th. No problem. We moved the whole celebration to Labor Day so Josh could enjoy it with us. I think that was my favorite Independence Day. He felt so special because we saved everything so that he could be there.

Now, the whole thing is noisy and crowded and I love every minute of it because it's become a family affair. Cross your fingers and pray it doesn't rain us out this year. I've got a trunk full of firecrackers in my car.

Tell us about your Independence Day celebrations. What will you and your family be doing this holiday weekend?
Blessings all,
Pat Davids.