Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone

Romans 8:28 (New International Version)
"More Than Conquerors
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[a] who[b] have been called according to his purpose."

During the month of January we're decided to talk about faith.

I know, I know. It's an odd topic for inspirational romance authors and readers.

As we face the coming year we'll all have challenges in our lives. It's a given. Maybe we're facing them already. Work, finances, health, family issues, sometimes we get hit with all of them at once. Yet we know that God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

What challenges are you facing or have you faced? How has your faith affected how you deal with those issues? We're here to share our journey to faith and to help each other along the road.

May He Bless and Keep You in the Palm of His Hand.

NEW YEAR'S EVE - Resolutions, anyone?

December 31, the last day of 2008, and time to drag out our list of New Year’s Resolutions. I saw on the news that the top three are always the same – lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking. I don’t smoke but I sure would like to accomplish the other two! However, I made both those resolutions last year and gained eight pounds. Sigh. So this year, I’m making only one major resolution—I’m going to make an effort to find the positive in everything and everyone. If I can keep that one even half the time, I’ll have gained so much--hopefully not in weight, though.

So how about you? What’s on your list? If you could change anything this coming year, what would it be?

While you’re thinking, let me leave you with some funny (at least to me) New Year's Resolution photos.

Resolved: Never to cram my size twelve body into size ten pants ever again.

Resolved: To always do a 'paper check' before leaving the bathroom.

Resolved: To use spellcheck on EVERYTHING!

Resolved: That firefighters have a strange sense of humor so I will never again park by a fire hydrant!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cabin Fever

I am one of those people who like winter. Which is good since I live in the northwoods of Wisconsin, just an hour or so from the southern shore of Lake Superior.

But this year, I'm dealing with an unusual situation. I had surgery three days before Christmas. Everything is going well. But I am going out less. And doing less around the home.

Today the dust has gotten to me so I'm going to enlist my husband to vacuum. I will try to do a little dusting and putting away. I think that alone will make me feel better.

One of the main things I like about winter is watching snow fall. And it is snowing today. But it is a very fine snow against a "snow" sky that flat kind of white sky that often foretells snow.

So it's not good "snow" viewing. Bummer.

yesterday I sent my husband to pick up some prescriptions and asked him to pick me up some ice cream.

I love ice cream. I usually don't keep it around the house for obvious reasons. GRIN

I asked him to get me something with fruit in it like strawberry or cherry or whatever they had that looked interesting.

So! What did he bring me?? Butter Pecan.

Now I looked at him and was speechless for a few minutes. If I thought he'd done this on purpose, I would have been mad. But we've been married over 30 years. I know that he just forgot what I said.

He's going out to work at the local food pantry now and I said that he could stop at the local Culver's on the way home and see if they had a good flavor of the day. (Culver's is a Wisconsin based fast-food franchise which has food that tastes almost home-cooked and it also has custard, not soft serve. It's delicious!)

So we'll see if he remembers my custard or not. GRIN

I think you can tell from the aimlessness of this post that I INDEED have cabin fever. I would enjoy going out to lunch with a friend. Do some after Christmas bargain shopping. But keeping inside to recover prohibits that kind of thing for a while.

Therefore, you get the fruit of my rambling. Do you know a good joke? A surprising little known fact? A good compliment would help me. Read any of my books and enjoyed them? Please help cheer up Lyn. Please.

Now, I'm going to go over to my blog
I'm going to ramble there about Christmases that my late mother made special.

But please give me something to smile about. And banish my cabin fever!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The New Year is Coming!!!

The new year is coming and I have to say that I'm looking forward to it. My excitement has nothing to do with anything that has happened this year good or bad it is simply the idea of a new year that I love. It's a little bit like when I begin a new book. I love the book I've just spent months working on and finally finished (there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling of finishing a book but by the time I finish I'm usually worn out and some of the excitement comes from relief that God's enabled me to reach a hopeful, happy conclusion once again). But a new blank, that excitement brings with it a new energy that has nothing to do with relief, but more to do with anticipation of what will come. It is a wonderful feeling. Since I'm what is called a seat of the pants writer or an organic writer (which means I start with an idea but not a firm plot) the book is as much an adventure for me as it will be for the reader. So the blank page has a similar feeling for me as a reader would feel upon beginning the to read a new book.

I look at a new year with the same hopeful anticipation. I wonder what God has in store for me. Yes, I wonder if there will be sadness and I pray there won't be, but I know that God is in control and that He can make all things work together for my good and I know that He has wonderful things in store for me. They may be small beautiful events that I must watch for carefully or I might miss them and their blessing. Or they might be big, blindingly blatant things--like my son's wedding this last year to a wonderful young woman whom I love like a daughter--this was the highlight of my year.

Either way the idea of a whole new year is exciting and I can't help but look at this new year with that excitement and hope. I wonder what does God have in store for me? Already I know I have 4 books coming out in 2009, a blessing a dream come true, so I have a bit of a sneak peek at what the year holds. But also and more important with the new year I'm wondering what can I do for God this year? I'm looking forward to watching for opportunities to be a light for Him.

Yes everyone the new year is coming and I pray for each of you that it is a blessed and wonderful year!

What has been the highlight of your year? Or what is your hope for this new year?

Happy New Year everyone!!!
Debra Clopton

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Than A Cowboy by Susan Hornick

The identity of her daughter's father is a secret, one that single mother Haley Clayton must keep forever—for a very good reason. But when a tragedy takes the man's life—a tragedy Haley fears was her fault—the truth comes out. And now the man's stepbrother, handsome rancher Jared Sinclair, wants answers. Why has Haley kept the child from his family? What is she hiding? Haley can't tell him—ever. But then Jared insists Haley and young Sarah spend time at the family ranch, where she discovers he's not just a proud cowboy; he's her—and her daughter's—deepest wish.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Whew! I survived!!!

Well, here I am and since you're reading this, I take it you survived the Christmas rush and visitors and all those cookies, too. The fudge nearly did me in until I managed to give it all away!

It's been cold here. This is the view from my front porch. We have had more icy precipitation thad real snow. Give me flakes any time.

As you can tell, I'm starting to get the hang of doing this, although with me, anything is possible - and likely - as we continue with this blog.

Those of you who follow Love Inspired authors may know I live in the Arkansas Ozarks. If you didn't already, you do now! I was trying to put the picture of my old farm house here, in the text, and it wound up at the top. Oh, well. At least you get to see it that way. The one on the left is the old, old house that was the original log cabin on this land. The white house on the right is the "new" house that's only about 90 years old. Makes me feel like a real kid.
If I knew how to do it, I'd also post a picture here, of me. Since it would undoubtedly end up at the top, again, I'll wait till next time when I have more time to fiddle with it.

Happy New Year and please keep checking back with us. Remember, there is a contest for a gift card running right now so leave comments and enter.

Val rides again!

Okey-dokey, I wrote my post for today ahead of time, set it to load, and it didn't, so I clicked on "publish" this morning and I guess it went to that big blog in the sky because I sure can't find it.

Therefore, I'm going to try again and if you happen to see the other post eventually you'll have a double dose of me. And the day after Christmas, at that. Wow!

I had three photos on the previous, lost post. They were the oldest house on our property, the one that's "only" about 90 years old in which we live, and the snow on the front porch. Many days I like to sit out there and swing but not lately, although the weather is warming up and won't be bad for the next few days.

I am now going to attach the pics, which, if things go as usual, will end up at the top of the blog instead of down here where I want them. Yes, I am a computer doofus. And proud of it. Well, sort of. I figure, with my track record, just attempting this is a monumental step forward!

Blessings for a wonderful new year and may your computer love you more than mine does me!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve horns a blaring,
Eleven dancers a rocking,
Ten hunks a strutting,
Nine gals a shopping,
Eight women a-laughing,
Seven flags a waving,
Six teens a-texting,
Five loaded iPods,
Four kissing frogs,
Three chocolate bars,
Two sparkling gems,
And a flamingo in a tutu!

Twelve horns are blaring, announcing the birth of the Christ child. Although, there weren't really any trumpets blowing on that day when Mary lay Him in the manger. But today, I like to think of the celebration with horns making a grand announcement. Like I usually do on Christmas morning when I put in Handel's Messiah CD and blast the Hallelujah Chorus.

I hate to see our Twelve Days of Christmas has come to an end. I hope you've had as much fun as I have.

Today, I'd like to wish you a merry Christmas! I hope you're having a wonderful day with family and friends as you celebrate the birthday of the baby Jesus.

And if you have a moment, I hope you'll share with us your favorite gift you GAVE this year. :)



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dancing ladies

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Eleven ladies a-rocking,
Ten hunks a-strutting,
Nine gals a-shopping,
Eight women a-laughing,
Seven flags a-waving,
Six teens a-texting,
Five loaded iPods,
Four kissing frogs,
Three chocolate bars,
Two sparkling gems,
And a flamingo in a tutu.

For the longest time I couldn’t come up with what I wanted to do with eleven ladies a-rocking. Of course, I immediately thought of dancing, which led me to several more thoughts. One was this season on the Dancing with the Stars. I really enjoy the show because it’s something I would have a hard time doing. First, I would never dance in public on television like the contestants have to. I’m afraid I would be worse than Cloris Leachman who was full of such laughter and had me in stitches—but she couldn’t dance. Second, I’m not a star. That’s a relief. The producers won’t be at my door begging me to be on the next season’s show.

Another was the Harlequin party for its authors at the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference. They always have good music to dance to, and I’m out on the floor with probably close to sixty or seventy other people, mostly women, dancing—actually crammed on a small dancing floor where if you swing your arms you’ll punch someone’s lights out next to you. That’s about the only time in the year I dance for almost three or four hours. Talk about being exhausted when I get back to the hotel. The next day I hurt in places that I didn’t know could hurt that much.

But actually that thought led me to what my post is about. Losing weight. Now how did I come up with that thinking about eleven ladies a-rocking? You can rock (of course you can in a rocking chair, too) when you dance and dancing is great exercise, which leads to losing weight. See my thinking on that one. Anyway, I hate to mention this, but after the holidays, you might be one of the thousands and thousands and thousands (you get the picture--A LOT OF PEOPLE!) who will need to go on a diet and lose weight because you indulged maybe just a tad too much with all the sweets and goodies that abound during this time of year. So how should you lose weight?

Sorry, my post won’t be able to give you the magic (and quick—like the ads say 10 pounds a week) cure for putting on too many pounds from Thanksgiving to the New Year. It will take watching what you eat, how much you eat and doing those exercises. It will require discipline and hard work. It’s as simple as that. No grapefruit only diets. No gadget that melts the fat away. But this all gets me back to the object of the post. Dancing is a great form of exercise. Put on some good music and dance your heart out. No one has to see, but you can have fun and the pounds will melt away—that is if you watch what you eat and how much.

Oh, and I have a picture of a flamingo in a tutu (ballet dancers wear tutus)—thanks to a friend who sent me a link. So see I even connected this post with my first one about the flamingo in a tutu.

What are some ways you know to lose weight? What has worked for you?

Have a Merry Christmas and if you are traveling be safe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

10 Hunks a Strutting!

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten hunks a strutting,
Nine gals a shopping,
Eight women a-laughing,
Seven flags a waving,
Six teens a-texting,
Five loaded iPods,
Four kissing frogs,
Three chocolate bars,
Two sparkling gems,
And a flamingo in a tutu.

It's my turn! It's my turn! And I luv that I got the Ten hunks a strutting!
After all, I am one of the Craftie Ladies of Romance.
What woman isn't fascinated by the experience of falling in love?

Now I could have done a listing of all the "dishy" guys now popular in Hollywood.
But I don't know if it's Hollywood or me, but many of the "latest hunks" look like they should still be in Junior High (Now you know the truth--it's me. Junior High no longer exists.)

Anyway, I can't get excited about a guy who shaves once a week whether he needs it or not.

So I'm going to do a little remembering of some of my favorite heroes in romance.
Perhaps you'll recognize a few:
How about one of Georgette Heyer's memorable heroes:
Miles Caverleigh in THE BLACK SHEEP who abducts the heroine when she doesn't want to upset her family by marrying a black sheep. (Horrors what will the neighbors say?)

How about Michael in Francine Rivers' REDEEMING LOVE who pursues Angel the prostitute even as she rejects him over and over?

Or how about the sailor who falls in love with Elizabeth Lane (who can't cook ) in Christmas in Connecticut?

In my own books, I have a special place in my heart for my hero in my Love Inspired Suspense DANGEROUS GAME, Grey Lawson, who just returned from 7 years in prison.

And my latest, hero Matt Ritter, former Union Captain, who isn't happy to have my heroine arrive to teach freed slaves in the Freedman's School in VA before the school is built. (Her Captain's Heart Love Inspired Historical this month).

Now that's only 5 hunks a strutting. I would include my husband who I always call my real life hero. But he never struts. GRIN

So I'll let you tell me about the 5 you think should be on this list? Who are your favorite hunks or heroes?

Anyway, I love this version of the 12 Days of Christmas. What fun!
Merry Christmas!
Lyn Cote

After all, I am one of the Craftie Ladies of Romance.
What woman isn't fascinated by the experience of falling in love?

Now I could have done a listing of all the "dishy" guys now popular in Hollywood.
But I don't know if it's Hollywood or me, but many of the "latest hunks" look like they should still be in Junior High (Now you know the truth--it's me. Junior High no longer exists.)

Anyway, I can't get excited about a guy who shaves once a week whether he needs it or not.

So I'm going to do a little remembering of some of my favorite heroes in romance.
Perhaps you'll recognize a few:
How about one of Georgette Heyer's memorable heroes:
Miles Caverleigh in THE BLACK SHEEP who abducts the heroine when she doesn't want to upset her family by marrying a black sheep. (Horrors what will the neighbors say?)

How about Michael in Francine Rivers' REDEEMING LOVE who pursues Angel the prostitute even as she rejects him over and over?

Or how about the sailor who falls in love with Elizabeth Lane (who can't cook ) in Christmas in Connecticut?

In my own books, I have a special place in my heart for my hero in my Love Inspired Suspense DANGEROUS GAME, Grey Lawson, who just returned from 7 years in prison.

And my latest, hero Matt Ritter, former Union Captain, who isn't happy to have my heroine arrive to teach freed slaves in the Freedman's School in VA before the school is built. (Her Captain's Heart Love Inspired Historical this month).

Now that's only 5 hunks a strutting. I would include my husband who I always call my real life hero. But he never struts. GRIN

So I'll let you tell me about the 5 you think should be on this list? Who are your favorite hunks or heroes?

Anyway, I love this version of the 12 Days of Christmas. What fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

My true love sent to me
Nine gals a shopping

Eight Women Laughing

Seven flags a waving

Six teens a texting

Five sparkling Ipods

Four kissing frogs

Three chocolate bars

Two sparkling gems

And a flamingo in a tutu

I’ve never been one to enjoy shopping, but I do like the hustle of last-minute gift buying. And I like to shop with others so nine of my friends shopping with me would be perfect!

Each Christmas my gifts tend to follow a theme (not always by design). I’ve done sweaters. And nativity crèches. This year I’m doing travel books.

I know where most of the people who I buy presents for want to go so I got them travel books as an encouragement to get there in 2009. I got one a book for Paris. Another Spain. I'm hoping 2009 will be a time of new experiences.

The places don’t have to be far away either. I even got one travel guide for exploring Los Angeles, which is where my friend lives.

How about you? What kinds of presents have piqued your interest this Christmas?

PS: If you haven't finished shopping, I'm going to suggest buying books for the rest of the people on your list. I love getting books and giving them. I'm sure some of the people on your list feel the same.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mistletoe Reunion

His former wife is on his flight home for the holidays? Divorced dad Tom Wallace knows their young daughter is behind this "coincidence." He also knows Norah Wallace still makes his heart skip a beat. When a snowstorm strands the trio in the airport for the weekend, Tom rediscovers how truly blessed he used to be. Once they're finally in Wisconsin for Christmas, two sets of grandparents are suddenly generous with the mistletoe. One kiss leads to another. And soon the entire family has the same sweet Christmas wish.

Here's what the heroine of Mistletoe Reunion has to say about her adventure.
Interview with the heroine:

1. (Norah Wallace), tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I work at a foundation raising grant money to fund programs that will help the residents on a reservation in Arizona.

2. What do you do for fun?
Fun? Between working full-time and raising a teen-aged daughter on my own, fun comes around in maybe softer ways than most would think. A meal and movie shared with my daughter, Isabella (Izzy for short); a free Sunday for going to church and seeing friends; a trip to visit my parents and former in-laws back in Wisconsin for the holidays.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I warn you but you’re going to find this really weird: I have not seen my ex-husband, Tom, in five years although we have worked together raising Izzy. I just can’t seem to bring myself to be in the same place at the same time. He lives in California so that helps. Why, you might ask. Was he such a terrible person? Quite the reverse – he was/is the love of my life and my best friend. We can be on the phone or e-mail about what we’re each doing and what’s going on with our daughter but seeing him face to face? Just can’t do that yet – and yeah, five years is a lifetime!

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
That my actions and mistakes will (or perhaps already have) impact my daughter is ways that will limit her happiness.

5. What do you want out of life?
For Izzy – security, happiness, the opportunity to do, be whatever she dreams. For myself? I wish Tom and I could have found the path through our differences; I wish I could find that place where we started and begin again knowing what we know now.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
My faith because it is through that faith that I believe Tom and I have been able to travel this very difficult and painful path and still have the love and respect and caring of our families, friends and most of all, our daughter.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I read as often as time allows – a lot for work. But on my own I like to read novels where the characters face – and triumph over adversity.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be more open to the world around me and more curious about the ways in which people differ yet share many similar beliefs and traditions.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No. Izzy would love a dog but we’re both on the go with work and school and church and now we’re heading to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and…well, long answer to: no pet.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
That’s the easiest one yet – I would go back to before Tom and I started to come apart and I would go home to Normal (the little town in Wisconsin where we grew up and fell in love) and put all my love and faith into putting us back together.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the Eighth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Eight Women Laughing
Seven flags a waving,
Six teens a texting,
Five sparkling Ipods
Four kissing frogs
Three chocolate bars
Two sparkling gems
And a flamingo in a tutu

Eight women laughing… I love it. I loved it from the moment I was assigned it. Of course, my original idea, boring, was to talk about what makes my eight best friends laugh. Then, I realized they all would give the same answer: me. Yup, I’m funny looking.


So, I’m going to approach the eight women laughing from a different angle.

Did you know that the Price Index people (There really is a company out there that does this) estimated how much it would cost to surprise someone with the 12 days of Christmas. The cost, in 2008, would be $86,673. Yup, pretty amazing. Me, I’m thinking the Craftie Ladies of Romance are a bit more craftie.

First, there’s Margaret. Why is she laughing? Why? Well, because due to restrictions beyond the control of a mere human, it’s near impossible to purchase a live flamingo. We’ll have to do plastic. Cost: 4.99. Then, an even better bargain. Plastic flamingoes are not very big. I can buy a child’s tutu. From Capezio, I’m only going to pay 11.95. Margaret’s spending: 16.94. Way to go, Margaret.

Now, onto our big spender. That would be Missy. Why is she laughing? Well, what woman can decide on the perfect two sparkling gems? Hmmm, shall we do discount or go for the gusto? This is tough. But, hey, it’s Christmas. I decided in all fairness to type in “Sparking Gems” on Google. The first hits were all religious sites. Wow, pretty impressive. Also, apparently, there’s a YA series called Sparkling Gems. The first jewelry spot I found that utilized the term ‘sparkling gems’ was PAVE jewelry. First, we’ll have Missy purchase a diamond 1/7 carat pendant. Cost: 169. She’ll follow up with a gold buckle design ring. Cost 75.
Missy’s spending: 244.00. Way to go, Missy.

Next we have Valerie and three chocolate bars. Personally, I think Valerie got off easy so why is she laughing? Maybe because since it’s only day three, she has enough for herself, Missy, and Margaret. If Missy gets a chocolate high, Valerie can even borrow a sparkling gem for a night out on the town. Since it’s my day, we’re going for Snickers. My personal favorite. Did you know they were introduced in 1930. I can get them at my local grocery for 50 cents. Yup.
Valerie’s spending: 1.50. Way to go, Valerie

Poor Debbie got stuck with frogs. That’s okay. She writes about frogs turning into princes at some place called Mule Hollow. Good news is, frogs are easier to purchase than flamingos.

The first frog that came up on my search was the African Dwarf Frog. They truly are something to laugh at. Congrats, Debbie, you now own four. They only cost 1.99 each. Let me know what happens when you kiss one.
Debbie’s spending: 7.94. Way to go, Debbie.

Now we come to Lenora, who like so many of us look at the next generation and wonder if they remember how to talk to each other let alone laugh with each other. We worry they might be too busy texting or IPoding to even realize Brad Pitt just walked into the room! Five IPods seems a bit much for one person, but hey, if Lenora decides to jump on the IPod bandwagon, who are we to judge. Apparently Apple has something called the 2GB model (Hmmm, apparently I should be typing little i, big P, little od) iPod shuffle that is only 49. So, I’m timesing by 5.
Lenora’s spending 245. Way to go, Lenora.

(Hmmm, Lenora, I’m thinking sparkling gems are better than iPods, and Missy spent a whole dollar less than you).

Here we are with Linda. She has six teens a-texting. Personally, I’m glad they’re at her house. I’m a college professor. I have teens trying to text during class. Big hint to parents: this might be why they’re not passing. Actually, Linda is getting away lucky (Not as lucky as Valerie). Teens will go to any house for free if there’s food. I have it on good authority that Linda is quite a cook. Hey, I’m heading over there. Maybe Valerie will show up with her bars of chocolate. Teens cost nothing (unless they’re your own – and Linda doesn’t have six). So, no cost but pizza. Six kids, that equals three pizzas. Hmm, the first Dominoes I visited wanted me to type in personal information before it would give me a cost. Next Dominoes site was their job site. Linda is laughing and wondering if being a Dominoes delivery woman pays the same as being a Harlequin writing woman.
Finally, a Dominoes in St. Louis that is user friendly (Hmmm, St. Louis will not deliver to Phoenix. Go figure). 12.79 times three. Okay, now I need a calculator. Found one.
Linda’s total cost is 38.36. Way to go, Linda.

Here we come with Pat, who has seven flags a-waving. I own a flag. It’s in my grandmother’s display case. I received the flag over four years ago at my father’s funeral. See, he was a veteran. I can’t calculate the cost of that flag. Honor doesn’t have a price tag except in tears. Not much laughing here, but my father laughed enough for all of us. He was a great man and avid practical joker. So, let’s do the more traditional route. We’ll do the 12 by 18, canvas header and brass grommets, at 14.88. Yup, I’m back to my online calculator.
Pat’s total cost is 104.16. Way to go, Pat!

Now, there’s me. I have eight women laughing. I’m laughing. That’s one. I’m laughing because in the time it took me to do the above calculations, I could have written five pages. Pat is laughing because one flag is enough and she doesn’t even like to fold clothes. That’s two. Linda is laughing because after six teenagers leave your house and you clean up the pizza, laughing is better than crying. That’s three. Lenora’s laughing because she thinks it’s ridiculous that IPOD is spelled with a little i, a big P, and little od (me, too, Lenora, and that’s four). Debbie and Valerie are laughing because the frogs got loose and ate the chocolate bars. That’s five and six. Missy’s laughing because she knows that one of us didn’t get a royalty check big enough to buy two sparkling gems (grumble). That’s seven. Margaret’s laughing because she started this whole venture and didn’t realize that in just eight days the Craftie Ladies of Romance could spend 709.08.

So now you have it. Eight women laughing. Pam's total cost: Priceless. And, as Santa would say HO HO HO

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

On the Seventh day of Christmas,

My true love sent to me
Seven flags a waving,
Six teens a texting,
Five sparkling Ipods
Four kissing frogs
Three chocolate bars
Two sparkling gems
And a flamingo in a tutu

Seven flags a waving?

Christmas isn’t normally what comes to mind when we think of a patriotic holiday. Waving flags come to mind on the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, but say the word Christmas and we think of the Nativity scene, decorated trees, the smell of pine and pretty presents spilling out from beneath the branches. Festive lights, family gatherings, solemn church services, jingling bells and snow, but not flags.

Maybe we don’t think of flags because this is supposed to be a time of peace on earth and good will toward men. A tiny babe born in a stable brought us that promise. Angels of God announced it to us. Jesus was born the King of Jews and yet He had no flag, no banner to proclaim his Kingdom because His kingdom is not of this world.

I believe one day His peace will cover the earth, and I will rejoice with my Lord and Savior face to face.
Growing up in America, it’s hard to imagine that there are countries where I would be arrested and jailed, or worse, just for saying that out loud. Aren't we blessed?

Today, I’m sending a special thanks to all who have, or who are, currently serving this country in the military. Without the sacrifices of so many American servicemen and women, I wouldn’t be able to worship as I see fit. Defending our way of life includes defending our freedom of religion. Thousand upon thousands of American lives have been laid down to protect not just our physical country, but to protect the ideals we hold most dear. Our faith is the dearest one of all.

Let us remember our brave soldiers and their families this holiday season. Add a small American flag to your collection of Christmas tree ornaments . The red, white and blue will fit in perfectly with any holiday décor.

Oh, wait a minute. Why stop at one? There’s plenty of room on that tree. Why not have seven flags a waving this year. Or more!!

My niece and her husband will be home for Christmas this year. He’s returning from a tour in Iraq. We are all so thankful for his safe return. Do you know someone serving overseas? Share your story with us. We'll gladly keep them in our prayers.

Pat Davids

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Six Teens a-Texting – Making Memories

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Six teens a-texting
Five sparkling Ipods
Four kissing frogs
Three chocolate bars
Two sparkling gems
And a flamingo in a tutu

When I first learned my topic (via my laptop), my granddaughter sat across the room, her thumbs moving ninety to nothing on her little red chocolate phone. Don’t ask me how a chocolate phone can be red. I’m as clueless about that as Lenora is about I-pods. At the same time that Lexi was texting her friends, my son sat beside me playing on his I-pod Touch. Now, that’s a snazzy little toy. Who knew you could go bowling on a five inch screen? The point is, electronics have taken us over!

Now, for the most part, this is a great thing. But for some of us this year, the latest cool electronic toy may be out of the budget. And you know what? Maybe it should be. Maybe this little economic tightening of the belt is good for us if we let it be. Before any of you start throwing rotten tomatoes at your computer screen, let me explain.

When I asked my kids to share what they got for Christmas for the last five years, they drew blanks. So did I. But when I asked them to share Christmas memories-the things they love and remember most about Christmas past, I knew I was on to something. It’s not about the presents. They break. They wear out. We forget them. What we don’t forget is the things we did together as a family that were special.

So this year, as the bad news on the TV reminds you of how much money you don’t have, stop worrying so much about buying and start doing. We have a phrase here at the Goodnight Ranch and Kid Farm when anything funny, sweet, or off-kilter occurs(which is often.) We look at each other and say, “Making Memories.” For indeed, it’s those things we cherish. It’s those things we will talk about and laugh about for years to come.

When our kids were small, we didn’t have much in the way of money, so we made memories. To this day when our kids can afford about anything they want, they still get together every Christmas to talk about those memories. Let me share one.

We could never afford a store bought Christmas tree, so we made a huge production of cutting our own cedar. Now folks, red cedar are not the prettiest tree. But we would pile the kids and the dog in the back of the old truck, bundled to their ears, cheeks as red as Christmas bows, and head for the woods. My husband Gene, an overgrown kid himself, would “play” Jingle Bells on the truck horn while the rest of us sang at the top of our lungs. We’d bounce and bump across the fields checking first one tree and then another until we found the right one. Then, the chosen son for that year would have the privilege of making the first whack with the ax. Once the tree was cut, we would carol and honk and laugh all the way home to popcorn and hot chocolate and an evening of decorating and Christmas carols.

Simple? Yes, very. But you know what? We love that memory, and I still put up a red cedar each year, not because I have to but because I want to. My boys still look forward to joking about Mom’s ugly Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, go on. Stop stressing and enjoy what makes Christmas special—the love of Jesus, the love of family. Make a memory this year. And if you’ve already made some, won’t you share one with me?

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the fifth day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Five sparkling Ipods
Four kissing frogs
Three chocolate bars
Two sparkling gems
And a flamingo in a tutu

Okay, I am the most technically challenged person on this blog site. I can't ever remember my past words and I usually misplace my blog notes. I'm scatterbrained--it's true. But the funny thing is that when it comes to writing, I can stay focused on the story for days on end and forget everything else around me. So which day of Christmas do I get? I-pods. Fear the little things. Don't have one. Don't know how to use one or download one but if I had five---well now that's different. I'd want them to be in different colors--like five different presents underneath the tree. I'd want them to be hot pink and bright purple and lime green and pearl white and shining red, and all with lots of bling on them. I love presents, I'm a girly-girl, and I love my bling.

But that's what Christmas is all about, right? Presents and shining bows and bright lights and songs running through our heads? Christmas is the advent season. And it is a true adventure--the anticipation of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ always makes me stop and pause for just a few minutes, usually on Christmas Eve, with that song "Do you see what I see?" traveling through my mind the old-fashioned way. I hum it as I look out at the stars. I love Christmas music so I guess I really should ask Santa for an I-pod. But knowing me, I'd trip over the little cord and break a leg just trying to get the thing connected to my ear. The other night, our neighbor who is in middle school came over to ask for our help with a science project. She wanted my husband and me to listen to music for thirty minutes. She took our blood pressure before we listened and then after, to see if the annoying music she'd picked raised our blood pressure. I thought this would be fun and ... I'd actually get to sit still for thirty minutes. The only trouble I had was with the little ear things. I couldn't get them to stay in because I am not I-pod smart. She had to show me how to make them hang off my earlobe. Now if that had been a set of pearls--- Anyway, I have high blood pressure and take medication for it but when the songs finished my pressure had gone down. And these were not my usual choice in music, trust me.

That little lesson can be applied to the holidays. We rush and run around and search for all those shining baubles and perfect gifts and really, the real treasure is being able to just sit still long enough to feel the presence of peace and to know that the Lord is watching over us. It's hard to just "be still and know that He is God" but we really should do that.

I remember one Christmas years ago when I had to have a minor surgery done to make sure all my female parts were working correctly. I was put to sleep but when I woke up, I felt ill because of the medicine. My husband came to pick me up from the day surgery and since it was close to Christmas and I guess because he was a bit worried about me, he'd bought me a gift. It was an Aaron Neville Christmas CD. Now I'm a Louisiana girl and I love Aaron Neville. My husband loaded me into the Yukon and presented me with this sweet gift. The first song I heard was "Please Come Home for Christmas." I remember tears streaming down my face and a bit of nausea searing my stomach, but I will always remember that sweet gift.

This is the gift the Lord gives us--a gift of thoughtfulness and love, an unexpected gift that we didn't even ask for. It's ours for the taking. And maybe we do need a little speaker in our ears to hear of this precious gift. Do you see what I see? I hope so. Do you hear what I hear? I'm thinking you do. Take the time to listen, just listen, to the quiet amongst this busy season.
And if Santa brings you an I-pod, please post here on how the things really work. I'd love to know. Merry Christmas and I hope you always hear a song of joy each time you wish upon a star.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What a birthday!

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Four kissing frogs
Three chocolate bars
Two sparkling gems
And a flamingo in a tutu

Though I’m posting this on Monday, I’m writing it on Saturday night. Here in Texas it's just a few short days after we had 3 inches of fluffy, white snow! Snow on the ground is a very unusual thing for central Texas. We recieve a snow every year or so but it usually melts as soon as it touches the ground so actual snowman building snow is a rare treat. But good old Texas weather kicked in and the snow was gone by noon the next day and tonight the weather is about sixty degrees…maybe high fifties. It’s a lovely, perfect night and it’s my birthday!

I had a wonderful day with my family, and now as the birthday winds down, it’s nearly midnight. I'd been trying to write this blog entry for a few hours but kept coming up blank. This lyric, "four kissing frogs", is supposed to be about how Christmas should be about our prince, Jesus, and the real meaning of Christmas, and the peace our Prince brings us…but incorporating the frogs gave me pause. Though it is true that the world is full of people searching for something and coming up with frogs when all along Jesus is right there waiting for them. This is all so true but I really wanted to write more than this one paragraph and I wanted to write something special, something inspired...but I was coming up blank (sigh).

Now, getting back to my birthday, and that it was eleven o'clock--hang in there I think this is all about to make sense. So I was sitting here coming up blank and I finally gave up and decided to take advantage of the beautiful last hour of my birthday. I wrapped a throw about my shoulders and walked out onto my back deck. The night is absolutely gorgeous (did I say that already) the moon is just one night short of being the biggest it has been or will be all year long. It is sitting up there in the sky, so big and bright that at eleven o’clock I have no need for a night light. Despite the glorious illumination the stars are still clearly visible and so bright themselves it is surreal. Amazingly, no sooner did I sit down and look up than a shooting star flew across the sky!!! My heart jumped and I smiled feeling as if God had just given me His own Happy Birthday visit. It was soooo cool!

But you know, God is good—no, He is awesome and He could have stopped at one shooting star—after all it’s not just every night that you see one. But God didn’t stop there. OH NO, for my birthday my Prince gave me a fireworks display. I kid you not, I sat there for thirty minutes and saw eleven shooting stars, ELEVEN (or I guess it would be classified as a meteor shower ) either way it was the most awesome thing to see and the most awesome feeling sitting there. I felt as if God was putting on the show just for me! And to think, I almost missed it by sitting inside at the computer trying to figure out something inspiring to write for this blog entry…

I believe Christmas is like that. We can easily get caught up in the tinsel, the shopping, the cooking, the preparations and we can forget to stop and spend time with the birthday boy! The one and only Prince of Peace. I know for me today was my birthday and He gave me a marvelous gift—a reminder that He is with me and He cares for me and that I am special to him. Spending time with my family was the best present my family could give me and with Jesus it is the same way...He desires time with us. To write this blog I was trying to write something inspirational and God was outside waiting to inspire me all along (so I was kind of kissing frogs) I pray that during these next few days you’ll take time to spend time with Him. Just walk outside and take a few moments to look up at the sky and imagine how it was that glorious night long ago when He was born. I can only imagine what the sky must have looked like--what a night that must have been!

To us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and governent will be on his shoulders,
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas everyone, peace and blessings to all,
Debra Clopton

Jillian Hart's interview

1. What made you start writing?

I have been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. When I was in third grade, I started writing them down. First it was a continuing series of stories about a family with four sisters. Then it was an adventure series starring Murphy the Martian. As a college student, I fell in love with Jane Austen in my literature classes, and later discovered romances at the local library. Writing romances just seemed natural. There’s nothing more rewarding as a writer than helping your characters find their happily-ever-afters.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I have been published for over eleven years. I sold my first book in October, 1996. I remember the day I got the call. It was around noon and I was slicing lettuce for tacos.

3. How do you handle rejections?

I expect rejection. I’m actually surprised when I’m not rejected. I’m the kind of person who just expects some amount of doom, I guess, which makes rejection oddly earlier to deal with. . It’s never a surprise and I’m well prepared for it.

4. Why do you write?

I love being transported into a story. I love stories.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

I would be reading. I used to constantly have a book in my hand. Since my time is limited, reading these days is a luxury. Also, I would have a very large rose garden. I might even be able to scrapbook, rubberstamp, knit and cross-stitch regularly again!

6. What are you working on right now?

I’m starting a new family series for Love Inspired. The Grangers of Wyoming are hard-working ranching folk. I’m loving this family. I’m also working on series 4 of the McKaslin Clan.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I think it’s impossible not to. I think my sense of humor comes through (for better or worse) and my love of close families and a small-town way of life.

8. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what you believe in. Write from your heart. I think it’s such an uncertain business that we are always looking for advice and guidance, which can be wonderful and make all the difference. But always take care to nurture your unique voice and your vision.

9. How important is faith in your books?

Very important. I try to write books about faithful heroines who are trying to walk the right path, make right choices and find true love along the way. True love ought to happen to nice girls, and in my books it always does.

10. What themes do you like to write about?

The bonds of family, overcoming tragedy, and the obtainable dream of true love.

11. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

There’s something that is my favorite in every book I’ve written, which makes picking one very difficult. But if I had to choose just one, it would be my July 08 release from Love Inspired Historicals, High Country Bride. The story and the characters were extra special to me. I don’t know why, but the characters touched me a little more deeply than usual.

12. What is your writing schedule like?

I work five to six days a week, from 6 am to 6 pm. Sometimes longer.

13. For Love Inspired you write for both the regular line and the historical line. Which one do you like to do the most and why?

I could never choose, which isn’t fairly answering your question! I love the historical line because I love traveling back in time to 1880s Montana to the town of Angel Falls and the characters I have met there. I adore Love Inspired because of all the families I have been able to write about and the characters I have fallen in love with. It’s a tie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Featured this Week!

A heart full of love for the orphaned boy he saved from a war-torn country? Check. Adoption forms filled out? Check. Yet M.A.S.H. surgeon Mike Montgomery is barely back on U.S. soil when his plans are squashed. Someone else has already petitioned to adopt little Ali: Sarah Alpert, the boy's foster mother—and Mike's former fiancée. Sarah broke his heart, but he won't break hers by sticking around. Until a little boy puts his holiday wish—for the mom and dad of his dreams—into adorable action

Friday, December 12, 2008


OOOOH! They gave me chocolate!

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Three chocolate bars,
Two sparkling gems,
And a flamingo in a tutu.

I used to bake cookies and do all the other special holiday things that many do every year but lately I've scaled back and am making batches of only one thing.FUDGE
Surprise, surprise. My fave and that of my hubby so he's usually the one who buys the ingredients.

I do the boiling of the sugar and butter and milk to the "hot ball" stage but then he helps me mix it quickly into the chips and stir before it sets up on the spoon.

I decided, since this was so appropos, I'd share the whole recipe. It's not foolproof but hey, even if you goof, it makes great chocolate sauce to put over ice cream. (If you like to eat a lot!)


4 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 large can evaporated milk
1 1/2 sticks butter (works better than margarine)
3 C. chocolate chips (this equals 3 small bags)
7 or 8 oz. marshmallow creme
nuts - optional

First, lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil and butter it so the candy will release. If you don't do this before you start to cook, you won't have time. this stuff sets up FAST.

Boil the sugar, milk and butter to the soft ball stage (about 10 min. of hard boiling) I keep a cup of cold water next to the stove and check several times. Better to cook it too long than not enough.

Pour the hot mixture over the other ingredients and stir like mad (that's actually what I wrote down after my mother-in-law showed me)

Pour the candy onto the foil and spread it around to the proper thickness. If you're having trouble moving it at this stage, you did it right.

Let it set, then cut it in place, taking care not to slice up your table, and you're all done.

I don't have a picture of the fudge because I haven't made it yet this year but I do have a pic of our first Christmas tree when we moved out to this old farm and began to renovate, so I'll include that. As you can see, I'm not a fancy person. What you see is what you get, which is probably why my rural stories and historicals ring true.

Okay, this is how it is, my friends, I can't find the picture but I can't find the way to add it, either, so it doesn't matter. LOL! I belong in the country, in maybe 1850? Talk to you later. Have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed Christmas, and may your fudge always set!!!!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas...

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...

Two sparkling gems,

And a flamingo in a tutu.

As soon as I saw Margaret’s version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the first thing I thought of was the first Christmas my husband and I were dating. The Christmas I HOPED he would propose to me.

At the time, his parents lived in Washington, D.C., and we drove up to spend the holidays with them. As we neared the city that night, traffic was horrible. Cars were lined up for miles, streaming headlights and taillights in both directions. And out of the blue, my husband said, “Looks like rubies and sapphires.” And I said, “Do you mean rubies and diamonds?” So he corrected himself, then changed the subject.

But it got my brain clicking. I mean, he never talked about diamonds and rubies and sapphires. So of course, then my mind took the giant leap that he was going to propose at Christmas! I was ecstatic! I could hardly stand waiting till Christmas day.

And then the day rolled around. And, oh my gosh!!! He handed me a small package. Jewelry box-sized. And then I ripped the paper off. A jewelry box!! I nearly hyperventilated. Ever so slowly, I cracked the lid open… and then I found…

Earrings. Sapphire earrings.

I almost cried. But I put on a good act. At least I thought I put on a good act. But later, his mother told me she was sorry. She could tell I was disappointed, that I was probably hoping for a ring. I admitted that, yes, I was, but I loved the earrings.

Little did I know that, while we were visiting, he had informed his parents that he was going to ask me to marry him. And at some point, he called my parents and asked their permission. He proposed about a month later on the one-year anniversary of our first date. And he did so very romantically at the exact spot we met (by a water fountain in the youth ministry building!). :)

So all’s well that ends well. And once I got my diamond ring, I ended up loving those earrings.

So what about you? Does anyone have any holiday stories of proposals? Weddings? Falling in love? Any favorite proposal scenes in books?

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in our drawing for a $50 gift certificate!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flamingo in a tutu

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A flamingo in a tutu.

When I was trying to come up with different things to fit the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, I looked around my office and all I saw were flamingos so hence the opening for the song. I am surrounded by flamingos in my office which has hot pink walls. I have included pictures of some of the various flamingos I have--none in a tutu but one in a grass skirt, another in a skirt, a Santa hat wearing one, another with a hot pink coat on and lastly a flamingo in pants.

So my topic for today is having fun during the holidays. Here are some suggestions I came up with, but I hope you will add yours. What do you and your family and friends do to have fun at Christmas?

1. Decorate the tree with family and even friends--make it a party. (The picture is of my granddaughter having fun with the beads that go on the tree--she's a diva at 17 months--loves those necklaces, even extra long ones.)

2. Bake cookies with the children or grandchildren and then have fun decorating them--the rule is anything goes.

3. Make Christmas cards together.

4. Make Christmas gifts together. In these economic times this is a great way to cut cost and have fun at the same time.

5. Going caroling with friends and family and visit your neighbors to sing to them.

6. Wish people a "Merry Christmas" as you go through your day even strangers on the streets.

7. Listen to and sing Christmas carols in the car, while you're cooking dinner, doing housework--whether you can sing or not. So many of the songs are uplifting and fun.

8. Give of yourself--anytime I do I find myself having fun. I sewed Christmas stocking for some needy children and had a ball coming up with different designs.

9. Visit people who are shut in and bring them some cookies you baked (see #2). Their smiles of appreciation will be contagious.

10.Bake a birthday cake for baby Jesus and have the children decorate it.

Of course, there always is getting together with friends and family. Coming up with a reason to have a party and enjoying it even if you are two friends having a tugging of war over a Christmas basket as Myra and Therese did at our WIN party.

Mostly smile and laugh. Don't let the holidays overwhelm you (that can be hard at times, I know). Take everything one project or task at a time.

Okay, what are some things you do for fun during Christmas? I only mentioned a few. There are so many other things you can do to bring cheer to yourself and others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas!

I don't know if any of you have noticed but Christmas is ALMOST HERE!

I always try to keep my focus on the true meaning of Christmas, God's gift of His Son to this dark world.

But I love all the holiday fun too. And we're going to have some with you here on this brand new blog.

Our own Margaret Daley has come up with her version of
The Twelve Days of Christmas.
And her emphasis was on the fun part of Christmas.

On a personal note, I am very pleased to announce the release of my first Love Inspired Historical TODAY!

Most of you know that I've been a long time Love Inspired author and I am thrilled that LI now has a historical line.

My book is titled Her Captain's Heart and is the first in my Gabriel Sisters series which will be released one each December starting this year and finishing in 2010.

These three sisters, Verity, Felicity, and Mercy, live in the turbulent period after the Civil War and do their best to try to bind up the wounds of the injured nation both North and South. If you have a heart for children, you will love the first, Verity's story.

Please drop by my website if you'd like to see the trailer I made for this book on my home page and to read more about it or to order it for some delicious winter reading. (I designed a really great hero for Verity. She deserved him and he needed her.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Last Roadtrip and New Beginnings

I just got back from a roadtrip between central Montana and Tucson, Arizona. There's nothing like the feel of the open road for adventure. It all reminded me of a remark I heard at the last RWA convention in San Francisco -- it seems that the Harlequin editors had realized that a lot of books begin with a scene of the heroine or hero driving into town. As I was driving along, I started thinking about books I had written with that beginning -- my very first Steeple Hill book, An Angel for Dry Creek, for one. Can you think of books that have begun with the road into town? Tell me what you think of it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hero Interview from her Small Town Hero

Hero Interview from Small Town Hero by Arlene James:

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

Goodness, ma’am, I don’t suppose there’s anything interesting about me. I’m a wildcatter and driller, like my daddy before me. It’s a dangerous job. He was killed doing it, but I don’t lay hands on the rig much anymore.

2. What do you do for fun?

I mostly spend time with my family. Like my grandpa Hap, I do love a good game of forty-two. More than anything, though, I guess I enjoy a good meal. Folks say I have two hollow legs, and I guess it’s a good thing I’m built lean.

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

Goodbyes. You never know when you say goodbye to someone if you’re ever really going to see them again. I like to keep my loved ones close. That probably comes from the way my folks died. Dad was killed on the job, and Mom couldn’t face a future without him, so she swallowed some pills. I was off in the City at the time, just out of college, and I can’t help thinking that if I’d been around Mom wouldn’t have done what she did. I’ll always remember my last goodbye with my folks. But sometimes you just have to let go and trust.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Hurting those I love and those that love me. I never want to disappoint them or see them unhappy.

5. What do you want out of life?

I’ve got most of what I want, my ranch and my house, my business and my family, friends who respect me. Of course, I don’t guess you ever have enough friends or family.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

It’s not a thing. It’s an idea, I guess. Living so that my life pleases God and harms no one else is more important to me than having things.

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

I read when time permits. I especially like history and most especially a good western.

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

Well, it’s a sad fact that I worry more than a Christian man ought to. My baby sister Charlotte says it’s because I’m overprotective, but I don’t know about that. A man takes care of his own or he isn’t much of a man, if you ask me.

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

I’ve got an old dog, a black-and-white border collie named Skunker. He’s half-wild, never spends more than a minute or two indoors and is fool enough to love harassing every skunk he can find on the property. Good cow dog, though.

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

Oh, I’d put my boots down in the Old West. Hard to separate fact from fiction about those days, you know, and I wouldn’t mind a front row seat on that period of history, just to see it all firsthand and really know what it was like. My own past, now that’s God’s business. My future, too. My business is today, right now. It would be fun, though, to take a peek at how it was done back in the 1800s.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Featured this Week!

Help Wanted at the Heavenly Arms Motel

If only someone will take the job so oil rigger Holt Jefford can stop making beds and burning breakfasts. And then someone does: a lovely single mother with a baby boy—and secrets.

Sweet, kind Cara Jane is scared of her own shadow—why? Holt warns himself not to trust his skittish new employee, but watching her with her son and his old granddad breaks through his guarded heart. Holt senses she's hiding out here in Eden, Oklahoma. Good choice, because the place comes with her own small-town hero.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ooooh! I got here. I think.

When it comes to things electronic, give me old-fashioned any day. I know the "good old days" were far from perfect, yet there are times, like when I sit in front of my computer, when I miss just using a pen and paper. At least that way, if I make a mistake, I can wad up the paper, throw it away, and no one else will know I goofed. On a blog, it's right up there for all to see! Therefore, I vow right now, to NEVER make another error. Yeah, right!

And as soon as I figure out how to add pictures, which I may have just done, I'll post a few of me. The one I did try to add ALMOST looks like me. Well, not quite, but I often share that sentiment. Machines hate me. My vacuum lies in wait and I know my sewing machine is in cahoots with it.

Yes, I have an off-beat sense of humor. There are days when I'm actually serious but I try to limit those!

Dorm Room; Blog Room

Then: Roughly [insert ridiculously high number here] years ago, I went off to college. I looked a lot different than I do today. I had long, long, black hair – so long that it hung over the backs of the school desks and sometimes got caught in bolts. I wore bell bottoms and my girlfriends and I promised each other we’d never wear the dreaded straight legs. I weighed a lot less. I drove a gold Camaro. My favorite group was LoverBoy. And, the best thing about going off to college was living in the dorm and making new friends. I attended a Christian college. My room-mate was a spunky barrel-racer who rodeoed during the weekends and who took me home with her sometimes so that I could learn to bale hay, milk cows, and ride a horse (I do have a funny horse story – there’s even a cute hero in it, but I didn’t marry him). Across the hall was one of my best friends. She was a leader. She did yearbook and such. Because of her, my name is on the yearbook. I learned to cut and paste and crop. Her room-mate became a great friend of mine. She was the tallest girl on campus and played sports with ease. She took me home with her, to Montana and I learned to ski (Okay, I learned to fall). Down the hall, there were so many different personalities, so many smiles, so much potential for friendship.

Now: Roughly one month ago this blog started to come together. In so many ways, it reminds me of the first time I walked down the hallway of my college dorm. Excited girls on both sides (Okay, today they're women). Yup, I’m there, too. Today I have shoulder length black hair (I dye it red, the gray goes red, and I have this neat highlighted color.) I wear suits during the day (college professor) and stretch jeans and baggy shirts most of the other times. I have in-between clothes for church and conferences. My best friends and I are a little embarrassed about our bellbottom days, and today we love straight legs (it could be that chubby women should never, I repeat, never wear bellbottoms). I weigh a lot more (no, I’m not telling). I drive a Rav4. It was purposely purchased with baby in mind. Said baby is now 3. My favorite group is Rascal Flatts. And today, one of the highlights of my day is coming to this blog room and making new friends.

Look, They're all here. Do you see the potential in this room. And, excitement. Just like the first day.

I look to my right and I definitely see a cheerleader. Look at that big smile. She’ll definitely rah rah our sales and her own and she lead as we thank the Lord for his blessings. Look, there’s her roommate. Yup, she already getting ready for the semester. She’s setting in front of her computer, not doing homework, but working on that next book. So much dedication; what an example. She’ll offer advice on plotting, characterization. We’re so lucky she’s here. Ah, here’s another friend. She’s an organizer. She’ll help make sure everything gets done. The ideas that woman has. Ah, I see someone I know. I room with her an a different dorm. She’s always willing to pitch in. Plus, she’s not afraid of anything. If the light go out in the blog room, she’ll find the switch. And there’s another friend. I’ve known her for a decade, since we both were first published at a different house. Small world, too, one of her best friends is in my critique group. I guess she’s destined to be a friend since our paths keep crossing. Oh, just look to the right. Do you see? The gangs all here, smiling, waiting, ready to cross the line to friendships both on and off the blog.

I don’t remember who said this: If you have a friend, you’re lucky. It you have more than friend, you’re more than lucky.
Thank you, God, for making all of us more than lucky.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Last Vacation

As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in Thermopolis, Wyoming. The snowfall today was beautiful but brief. I came out from Abilene, Kansas with my parents. We met up with my brother, Mark, from Montana for a few days of rest and relaxation in the hot springs here. It’s a long way from Kansas and I really couldn’t spare the time off, but I also knew there wouldn’t be many more trips like this that I’d be able to take with Mom and Dad. Their getting up in age and Mom’s health is frail.
This morning, Mom, my sister-in-law and I were visiting about our childhoods when Mom suddenly forgot who I was. She was convinced I was one of her sisters. Several long minutes later, she piped up and said, "Oh you’re my daughter. You’re not my sister."
We all laughed about it, but for those few minutes I saw what was to come and it was incredibly sad.
I am so glad I came on this trip. I thank God for all the wonderful minutes, hours, days and years I’ve had with my parents. I pray I’ll never take another minute together for granted.
Pat Davids

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I can explain

Okay, Tuesday was my day to blog! And where was I? Sitting in the dentist chair having a root canal done. Honestly. I had my blog day marked on the calendar but I got confused. (This often happens to me!) I thought we'd changed things a bit. So even thought I kind of thought I should speak up yesterday, I was sitting at dentist and wondering what to do. I then had some holiday errands to take care of. So with a numb lip, I went shopping to find gifts to send to all my relatives who live in Georgia. Well, you know how that goes? It took longer than I expected and of course I found some great buys for myself, too! Then I ran into to two nice ladies from church having lunch and they invited me to sit with them. Well, I was hungry and my lip was no longer numb so I ordered lunch and had a nice visit with them. By the time I got home I had three messages to return and a ton of work waiting on my desk. So I tried to get through all of that, thinking somewhere in the back of my mind--there's something else I'm supposed to check on today! Then I had a friend drop by to give me items for some goody bags we're putting together for Dress for Succcess (I'm on the local board). Then my husband came home and I caught him up on my day. Then it was time to cook dinner. And all the while, I'm still thinking what was it I wanted to check on today. Then just as we sat down to eat, our daughter called. She'd moving into a new apartment so we're trying to get that organized before the holidays. Then my husband's sister called and we talked to her a while. And I'm still wondering what I can't seem to remember that is really important. By then, I exhausted and go to bed. And then, I wake up in the middle of the night and sit up and think "I never did check on whether I'm still supposed to blog today or not! I didn't blog!" Well, of course I felt so bad that I'd managed to SKIP my first official day of blogging here. But I'm here now and that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Please somebody tell me I'm not the only one with menopause moments such as this. And to top it off, I was shopping for my great niece and nephew (my nephew's children) and I couldn't for the life of me remember the poor kids names. That also hit me in the middle of the night! I'd better start writing things down all around the house!

Lenora :)

We Need a Little Christmas

Is it just me or is Christmas shopping different this year? Yesterday, inspired by Debbie’s post about friends, I met an old friend for lunch and then cruised off to the mall for a few hours of Christmas shopping. Granted, this was on a Tuesday afternoon, but the mall was dead. Dead. I felt like I was in some alternative dimension alone in a giant mall. A couple of stores played Christmas carols and there was the ubiquitous Santa display at center mall (no kids or elves), but otherwise I saw little sign of festivity or activity, including only a handful of shoppers. One problem I think is the lack of Christmas spirit among retailers. Stores around here just don’t decorate up the way they used to, so no one is ‘window’ shopping either. I could tell them that if they would make a little more decorative fuss, if they would play lots of Christmas carols over the loudspeaker instead of rap or elevator music, and if the sales clerks would wear Santa hats, reindeer antlers, or at least say, “Merry Christmas”, they would sell more stuff! I mean, come on, who gets into the Christmas spirit by being asked, “will this be on your (insert store name) card?” When I ‘feel’ Christmassy, I tend to linger longer and shop more. Don’t you?

So, what’s your take? Is your shopping done? Started? How are you feeling about the slow disappearance of traditional Christmas and the sneaky efforts to de-Christianize the holidays? Or am I the only one who thinks Christmas has really changed in the last few years?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Treasuring Good Friends

Welcome! This is my first post to the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog and I am so excited to be here. We hope this will be a place where readers can come share time with us as we talk about the joys of friends, family and faith...and as we build new friendships with you. We hope you'll join in on the fun.
I wasn't sure what to blog about since my post is the first official post to blog so I decided to talk about friends...
Friends are so needed and we as women sometimes neglect to maintain those bonds because we get caught up in our jobs, and doing for everyone else. We're just busy people! This picture is of me and my two best friends since 3rd grade. That's me in the white jacket then my friends Deb and Lisa. They have been such a blessing to me over the years but especially over the last five years. While our kids were growing up we were so busy working and taking care of family that we disconnected from each other even though we all lived in the same small town. But after my husband died in 2003, Deb and Lisa made it a priority to come back into my life. They have been a great blessing to me. Especially since I write full time and can become a hermit! Really, I've always been a workaholic, only now I hole up here at the house with my imaginary friends and create my books--and while I love doing that I do need to get out. We all need to take time out for friends. For me, a break with people who've known me for so long and who share so much of my past is not only fun but relaxing. What I've found is sometimes the best time for Deb and Lisa to sweep me away for the evening is when I'm on a horribly tight deadline(lol which is most all the time)...why? Because laughter truly is the best medicine. It renews our spirits and lets joy flow through us. My writing is always better afterwards. I thought I'd share a special gift idea that my friend Deb had last Christmas. It was her idea to take the picture above. We had been out to eat and she had us sit on the bench in the order in which we are sitting. Then at Christmas she presented Lisa and I with a cool, double photo, glass frame she'd bought at Hobby Lobby. The frame stood on its own with one photo on top and one on the bottom. This second photo is us at 17 on our senior trip! (As you can tell I'm not the photogenic one but I was having a blast :) We are sitting on a paddle boat and as you can see I have no makeup on because I have been swimming. I thought it was such a wonderful idea for a gift and brought back such great memories. Deb had also placed gold numbers of the date of each photo at the corners to remind us of then and now. I will treasure it always and wish I'd come up with the idea :) Maybe you can use it for your friends.
I hope you will bookmark our site and that you'll count all of us Craftie Ladies of Romance as your new friends here in cyberspace. Come share with us, leave comments, join in on the contest! And when you can, call up your old girlfriends and make a date--especially if its been a while since you connected with them. You deserve it!
Also, if you'd like to know more about me and my books drop by my website and my personal blog where I just posted a few fun coincidences I share with NYT best selling author Debbie Macomber!
Until next time live, laugh and seek God with all your hearts,

Debra Clopton
Stay tune for book 10 in my Mule Hollow Series, TEXAS RANGER DAD hits the shelves April 2009! For more information visit my website

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

What a great time to be with family. I am so grateful to God for all he's given me. And, right now, I'm especially grateful to the authors on this blog who are all chipping in to make it a standout sight/site!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with friends and family! Today, I especially want to give thanks to God for the opportunity to write stories for Steeple Hill Love Inspired. I love writing, I love my editor and all the Steeple Hill folks, I love the readers and their letters that touch me and humble me, I love that I can work in my p.j.'s if I so choose, and I love that I get to meet so many great authors who also write for Steeple Hill!

So, enjoy the turkey and dressing on this special holiday. And once you've cleaned up and had your nap, be sure to pick up a book and spend some time reading. That's what I plan to do. :)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Look who's here!

I did it. I'm so proud of myself for making it all this way. Not only do computers hate me, all machines do, so they do their best to thwart my best efforts. Hopefully, I'll be able to post here as promised. At least that's plan A!

Valerie Hansen

Thanksgiving Recipe and Stories of Strong Women

This is my first posting on this new blog. I'm excited to have another chance to talk to the faithful readers of Love Inspired Romances. I was fortunate to have my very first book, Never Alone, come out in the first year of the Love Inspired line which has grown so much with the support of faithful readers like you.

Now first, I was to give you an inexpensive and easy coffee cake for Thanksgiving (or Christmas) morning that you can make ahead.

It's adapted from a recipe I watched Paula Deen make on her TV show.

Easy Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
3 tubes of refrigerator biscuits
1 tube or 1 8 0z package of cream cheese
3/4 cup ground pecans ( the nut of your choice)
Cinnamon Sugar
1/3 cup melted butter (Paula Deen can't cook without butter!)

Now this is what is called a tease. Today I'm also launching my first ever personal blog, titled "Strong Women, Brave Stories" and I'm going to post the rest of the recipe on

And a story about my first strong woman in my life, my mom.
Didn't you always suspect that I was a big tease?

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