Thursday, April 29, 2010

The “new black”?

You hear a lot about “the black moment” in romance. That point where all seems lost and you can’t imagine how you’ll get from here to the happy ending. The place where the guy realizes his true heroic nature, where the heroine discovers she’s stronger than she ever knew. The moment we all reach for the chocolate and tissues...

Black moments happen in real life...their reality is what makes the best stories true and powerful. And when my teenage son was diagnosed with cancer last month, I got my own personal black moment. Like in every one of our stories you’ve ever read, life sort of exploded. And imploded. Lots of things expanded beyond my capacity to cope, while other things boiled down to the truest of essentials. It was a great lesson in life, friendship, family. People came out of the woodwork to support my son and our entire family. I’m glad to have my children--who are just really putting “feet on their faith,”--see the Body of Christ doing what it’s supposed to do. And not just deacons wielding casseroles (although we’ve had that, too)--we’ve had grace and mercy and compassion extended to us in spectacular amounts. Folks showing up in hospital elevators just when we needed companionship. Phone calls coming at perfect moments. Complete strangers all over the country praying for my son. We saw legions of heroes in action on our behalf.

Still, in all this, I could not shut off the storyteller inside me. During those long days in the hospital, I discovered what I most needed was not my knitting (I actually reached a point where I couldn’t knit--who knew I could get to that place??) or chocolate or coffee, but visitors. Companions to tell the story of what was happening to our family. Because story is how I make sense of life, how I put it in a context that has any hope of making sense for me. Story connects, remembers, explains, and explores when facts are too hard to handle.

My son is expected to make a full recovery. Hodgkins Lymphoma is highly treatable and highly curable, even if chemo is a long uphill journey for someone so young (or anyone, for that matter). But oh, the story he will have as a survivor! The story we will have as a family! I could fill twelve books already.

So here’s where I climb onto my soapbox. If you’re reading this, do two things:

1) Donate blood. My son’s used dozens of units already, will use dozens more before he's done, and we’re deeply grateful for every soul who shared their blood with our precious child--or any precious body in danger and in need.

2) Donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Whether or not you think fast food is a good thing, I’m here to tell you the Ronald McDonald House was the most blessed thing in our lives for many of those long nights. There’s a little box underneath nearly every McDonald’s drive-thru window, so don’t just throw your change in there next time you grab a Big Mac, toss in a a couple of bucks in honor of my little hero. Or support any children’s hospital near you--miracles happen inside those walls.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Because I can, I will

The other day as I was driving to make our bank deposits for work, I spotted a wallet in the middle of the road. Needing to get to the bank and not quite certain what I saw, I kept driving. On my way back 30 minutes later, it was still there and now that I'd slowed down, it certainly was a wallet. So, being the consciencious person that I am, I pulled over, ran into the street and picked it up. I'm actually surprised that no one beat me to it since it had been there a while. Just goes to show you people really don't pay attention while driving.

So now I have a wallet full of stuff. The young man who owned it sure had a lot of credit cards and bank information in there, but no contact information. (note to readers-put at least a phone number inside your wallet) Rummaging through everything, I finally found a business card with a banker's name on it. Bingo. I made the call, told the gentleman where the wallet would be and where Sean could pick it up when he managed to get a hold of him.

Okay, now my writer's mind kicked in and I wondered for a bit if there was a more sinister reason. And now, would I be an accomplice to something I knew nothing about? Hmm. I may have to write a story about this one day. Fortunately, Sean came to pick it up so I'd worried for nothing. He'd left it on top of his car when he drove off after getting gas.

Why did I do it? As a Christian I could do no less. Because I can and I will do it again and because I've been in that position before when I was Sean's age but I wasn't so lucky to get everything back. And some day I hope that Sean or someone else pays it forward when I or anyone in my family lose their wallets or something else as equally important. What choice would you make?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mark Your Calendar

Hello from Lisa Mondello. I'm in the middle of a deadline for my 3/11 book In a Doctor's Arms but I wanted to take a moment to share with you the excitement at seeing my new cover for my October 2010 book Fresh-Start Family. I know it seems like a tease since I can't show you the cover just yet. (I promise I will as soon as I get the okay.) But I can give you the back cover blurb that goes with the book. I'm really excited about this story and hope you'll mark your calendar for October 2010 when my first Love Inspired Romance, Fresh-Start Family, is released.
Fresh-Start Family by Lisa Mondello
October 2010 Love Inspired Romance
"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?
Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Heroine Interview from Rodeo Sweetheart by Betsy St. Amant

Interview with the heroine from Rodeo Sweetheart by Betsy St. Amant:

1. Samantha, tell me the most interesting thing about you. Well, first of all, it’s Sam. ::grin:: And I think something that might surprise people is that I skipped my senior prom several years ago to help my dad with the birthing of a foal. Sometimes, horses are just easier to be around. Less judgmental, you know?

2. What do you do for fun? I don’t have a lot of time for fun these days, but thankfully being around horses IS fun, even though it’s also hard work. I guess if I had some actual free time, I’d like to just sit out in a lawn chair in the sun with my favorite cowboy hat and a big glass of lemonade, and just sit and enjoy the view of my family farm.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? I used to put off mucking out the horses’ stalls, but now, manure isn’t a big thing. Trust me, there are worse issues in life.

4. What are you afraid of most in life? Forgetting my family’s legacy. My dad died before His time. ::pauses:: Well, I guess that’s debatable, since I know God is in control of life and death, and who am I to decide what time that is? But you know what I mean. I don’t want my father’s life to be wasted. He made some mistakes, but he was—is—my hero. My biggest goal is carrying on his legacy—for me, my mom, and for future generations.

5. What do you want out of life? I’d like to get married one day. Have kids, teach them how to ride like my dad taught me. Carry on the traditions that I still hold dear today. But who has time for dating when you’re trying to save a ranch?

6. What is the most important thing to you? Finding a way to save my father’s ranch. He put all of his sweat, money, and time into our family farm. I’m determined to keep it ours, no matter what anyone thinks—and that’s including all those bankers who refuse to give me a loan. ::glares::

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read? I’m not a big reader, but I do try to read my Bible in the mornings before starting chores. And wow, that’s early!

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? ::Shrugs:: I don’t know. A lot. Nothing. ::blushes:: This is a hard question. Maybe, uh, my stubbornness? That’s what my best friend Kate would say, anyway. Haha!

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? I have a lot of pets, most of them about 16 plus hands high and furry. Living on a ranch gives you instant pets—which means instant friends. I think me and Wildfire have a special bond, though. I love all the horses in the stables, but Wildfire’s my bud. We’ve been through a lot.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? The day my dad died in the rodeo. I’d try to talk him out of riding that bull. But if he was here today, he’d probably talk me out of riding a bull too, like I’m planning to do in a few weeks. Hmm. Maybe sometimes we just need to go with our gut and forget about the fear. Forget about the possibilities of something going wrong and just go for our goal, you know? ::hesitates:: But maybe that’s what he did. And look how that turned out...Um, no offense, but is this interview over yet? I’ve got a rodeo to prepare for—before I talk myself out of it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


To save her family ranch—and her father's legacy—Samantha Jenson reluctantly runs a dude ranch on the financially strapped property. Among the greenhorn tourists in stiff jeans and shiny cowboy boots: handsome businessman Ethan Ames. Ethan makes Sam remember her own dreams—of love and marriage. But surely he'll ride out of her life—in his fancy car—when his vacation is over. Until she learns that Ethan isn't on vacation at all. He has a very big secret. One that just might destroy her dreams of being his rodeo sweetheart…forever

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sharing a Recipe--Missy Tippens

Missy, here. I wanted to do something different today. I recently watched Alton Brown on the Food Network in an episode of his show, Good Eats, where his mother and mother-in-law (in doll form) battled it out over which type of dumplings to make--the southern rolled out and cut ones ("hard" as my family calls them) or the northern drop dumplings ("fluffy" as we call them). It was a cute show. And it inspired me to try something different. So I decided to try making the northern type--which we prefer anyway! But this was the big time. I wasn't going to be using Bisquick to make a dough to drop into broth. No, I was making them from scratch! :)

Also, everytime I make chicken and dumplings, my family tells me to lose the chicken and just make more dumplings. So this time, I got a big box of chicken broth and used that. (Not a piece of meat to ruin their meal of starch.) :)

So here's the recipe as I made it. (For the original, click here.)

A large box of chicken broth plus some water to bring it to about 8 cups. Heat to simmering. (or use the broth from cooking your chicken.)
3 Tbs. butter
1/2 c flour
2 large eggs at room temp
1/2 tsp. salt

Put 1/2 c of the broth, the butter and a 1/2 ts salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Once it boils, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, about 1 minute.

Then decrease heat to low and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball and is no longer sticky, about 3 minutes. (Note, this didn't happen for me. It never formed a nice ball like it did for Alton.)
Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 5 minutes with electric hand mixer. Beat until cool.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in the first before adding the second.
Transfer dough to a gallon size ziplock baggie. Cut off one corner so it's about a quarter-size opening.

Squeeze out 1 inch of the mixture, then snip off with kitchen scissors right into the simmering broth. Repeat until empty. Cook, covered (without stirring!) about 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat. If you're using chicken, add back in now. Wait 2-3 minutes before serving.

Though my process didn't go quite like Alton's, the dumplings were yummy. And cute! And honestly, they were more like hard dumplings in my opinion, not fluffy like I was expecting.

I hope you enjoy. How do you make your dumpings? Northern or southern?? :)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Wedding Garden

A few years ago my brother married in a lovely garden setting in Atlanta. The harp played, the vocalist’s sweet soprano soared over the gathering, and tender vows were exchanged under a floral arbor. And then, right in the middle of all that romance, a cop car wailed past, sirens blasting. I have to tell you, everyone in the place cracked up. We’re a crazy bunch, but that’s our favorite memory about the wedding. Well, except for the chocolate table.

Now, I’ve told all that to set you up for THE WEDDING GARDEN, the second book in my Redemption River series, which releases any day now. This is one of my personal favorites, with an edgy, reformed bad boy, a couple of secrets I hope will surprise you, a cast of colorful townspeople, and a dose of southern charm. Hope you like it, too.

Are there any wedding gardens in your past?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tell Someone--Happy Mother's Day--Lyn Cote

Lyn Cote here!--Isn't this a cute postcard? Last year I sent out about 25. I hope to send out double that this year. With your help!

Here's the deal-- I celebrate Mother's Day all the month of May on my personal blog: Strong Women, Brave Stories I call it MEGA May. One of the specials that month is my offer to send a postcard to any woman who has been special in your life--a mom, sister, mother in law, best friend, teacher.
The card reads:

Happy Mother's Day from Author Lyn Cote--
Someone who loves you, asked me to send you these loving wishes!

On the back it reads: This wish comes to you from __________________.

I'd like to fill your name into that blank line on the back of the card. If you'd like someone special to receive this postcard by Mother's day, send me an email at l(dot)cote(at)juno(dot)com Give me the person's name and their mailing address.


So who would you like to honor this Mother's Day? Let me know ASAP! The wind's a blowing!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Tired Cat Makes a Great Story

This is Janet Tronstad checking in with everyone. Did you get a chance to read the incredible story of a cat named Charles who made the 1300 mile trip from Albuquerque to Chicago? He had run away when his owner, Robin, was away volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. Charles had been staying with a friend of Robin's and, for whatever reason, took off. Robin was heartbroken when she heard about it. After eight months, she had given up hope of seeing Charles again. Then she got a call from the animal control folks in Chicago saying they had picked up Charles and found the microchip embedded between his shoulder blades. AT first, Robin felt joy at knowing where Charles was -- then she realized she could not afford to go to Chicago to get him.

So far, Charles's story is playing out in classic story form. Problem - hope - hope dashed - more problems.

Then came the true black moment. If no one picked Charles up, he would be euthanized.

Finally, the hero enters the story. An Albuquerque resident, on his way to Chicago to a wedding, offeredf to bring Charles back with him.

This is a story that could inspire a book. I tend to like a book that is based on some event like this - how about you? Do any books come to mind that were inspired by real events?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hero Interview for the novella by Arlene James in A Mother's Gift

Interview with the hero from the novella by Arlene James in A Mother’s Gift:

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

I wish I could see your face when I say this, but then that’s the thing. I’m blind. Lost my sight in an explosion in Iraq. Since I’m studying law now, I’m set to be the only blind attorney in my hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma.

2. What do you do for fun?

Jogging. I love to run, love being out-of-doors. I get on that track at the park and just let it rip. That’s where I feel the most free, the most me.

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

Well, as a former Marine, I’m a big believer in getting it done, whatever it is, but I have to admit that I sometimes dread meeting up with old friends. If they haven’t heard about my blindness, they are invariably shocked, and if they have, they invariably feel guilty because they can still see. I don’t feel that way. I know God has a reason for this, and I’m okay with it. Now. Wasn’t always the case.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Getting lost. I can manage quite well in familiar territory, and that is an ever-expanding area, thankfully, but it’s so easy to get disoriented in a strange place. Thank God for cell phones!

5. What do you want out of life?

The same thing that every man like me wants: a family of my own, wife, kids, career, a home, the works. And I want to fulfill whatever purpose God has for me in this because I know in my heart of hearts that He has one. I’m blind for a reason, and I’m cool with that; I just want to live out that reason to the best of my ability.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

I’m alive. Not everyone who was there that day is. That’s the most important thing. I have a life, and I intend to live it completely right up to the instant God finally calls me home.

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

I haven’t learned Braille, so technically, I “listen” to books. I’ve always liked the legal thrillers—big surprise, right?--but it’s all about the studies just now, you know?

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

Duh. Don’t mean to laugh, but it is rather obvious.

I probably ought to say that I’d be a better son or brother or something like that, but the truth is that if I could change things, I’d have my eyesight back. That’s just human, I think. On the other hand, I’m willing to do this any way that God wants it done. Believe me, I worked hard to be able to say that.

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

Nope, no pet, but I may take on a seeing-eye dog soon. I’ve always loved animals, and let’s face it, I could use the assistance, especially when I go onto campus. Right now, I’m studying on-line, but eventually I’ll have to walk the hallowed halls of law school, and that time is coming soon.

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

Oh, I’d go back to that day, years ago, when my mom pointed out a certain girl to me, and this time I wouldn’t turn away.

This time I’d walk over, introduce myself and say, “Our moms are best friends, you know, and you’re just as pretty as they’ve been telling me you are.”

Maybe it wouldn’t change anything. I mean, I was already on my way to boot camp and she had a boyfriend, but you never know, do you? That face, that pretty face, has been in my head all this time. I see it constantly in my mind’s eye.

Could be worse, right? Believe me, considering all that I’ve seen, it could be much worse.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heroine Interview from Her Forever Family by Mae Nunn

Interview with the heroine from Her Forever Family by Mae Nunn:

1. Doctor Alison Stone, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I grew up in an abusive home. When I was twelve my father killed my mother during a fit of alcoholic rage. That ultimately sent my two younger siblings and me into foster care until we were legally adults. The interesting part is that I put myself through college to become a psychotherapist so I could help other kids who were also victims of violent homes.

2. What do you do for fun?
For fun I’m a volunteer with West Texas Rescue in San Angelo, Texas. I get to hang from the bottom of a Bell Helicopter by a “long line” and be dropped into canyons to recover people who’ve been trapped or stranded. I specialize in rock climbing and repelling.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Billing my clients! I have huge student loans to pay off but I just hate to take money for what I love doing; helping kids in trouble.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
I guess I’m most afraid of being totally alone. God created us to be in relationship with Him so by nature we are intended to share our lives , our joys and our sorrows with one another.

5. What do you want out of life?
A family that no one can ever take away from me.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Security. Financial security is nice, but I mean the kind of security that comes from having peace in your heart as you go through your day and when you lie down to sleep at night. That kind of security can come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I mostly read trade journals so I can keep up with the latest on treatment for anxiety and OCD. When I travel I like to take along one of those great Love Inspired novels.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My thunder thighs! I shouldn’t complain, because having muscular legs helps me climb better. I accepted years ago that I’d never be a skinny Minnie like the girls in the magazines but it’s still difficult not to look in the mirror and be critical of my body.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Simba is my best friend and my pride and joy. She’s a full-blooded Rhodesian Ridgeback. She’s a registered working dog and she accompanies me everywhere.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would go back to the day before my father killed my mother and find a way to stop him. That was my dream when I was a kid. Today I understand that it was always in God’s hands and He had a plan for me even though there was such terrible tragedy early in my life.

God is good, all the time!

My best,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

S is for Spring!

To me, Spring is a season of "new".

New blooms, new buds, new grass, new leaves, new chances and opportunities. For some reason, even though winter is technically the beginning of the calendar year, Spring really inspires me to get started. And not just with Spring cleaning, but with my writing and other personal goals!

This Spring has already been super busy and its not over yet! I've got multiple writing projects going on, I started freelancing for our local Forum newspaper, I have two speaking events between now and June, I'm celebrating and promoting my April 1st book release of RODEO SWEETHEART, I started a part time job outside of the home, trying to help fill the gaps while my husband continues to search for a full time job, and my sister's first baby is due in May. I'm about to be aunt, and nothing screams "new" like a sweet little newborn! I can't wait, and neither can she. (and apparently, neither can the baby. my sister was in the hospital last week for early contractions, but is home now on bedrest hoping the little one can "bake" a few more weeks!)

What about you? Does Spring kick-start something in your brain that makes you to go-go-go? Or is just another season (that makes you sneeze!)

Monday, April 12, 2010


The romance world can be a tight-knit world. This weekend, I did one of the no-so-fun things that naturally comes in a community. On Saturday, with a van full of romance authors, I drove more than two hours to attend the funeral of a good friend's husband.

I've known Roz Denny Fox, a beloved SuperRomance author for more than a decade. We have the kind of memories that knit friendships together . My favorite is me and Georgina Devon in one car - I'm in the lead. Roz and Kit Dee in the following car, and we're heading for an event. I am the only one who knows the way. I drive 60 mph; Kit drives 30 mph. Georgina and Roz were continuously on the cellphone loudly singing a SLOW DOWN/SPEED UP song. That's just one memory.

With Roz, if you become her friend, you become her husband's friend, too.

He was the kind of husband who stands by a romance writer, who brags about her books and attends her book signings.

The kind of husband who lives a romance with the wife who writes them.

Nuff said.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Heroine Interview for Love Lessons by Margaret Daley

Interview with the heroine from Love Lessons by Margaret Daley:

1. Alexa Michaels, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I want to travel, see the world and help people.

2. What do you do for fun?
I don’t have a lot of down time because I’m working and going to school, but I will get my teaching degree soon, and then I can travel and teach in underdeveloped world countries.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Talking to my father—we did not part on good terms. He wanted me to become a doctor like him, and I can’t stand the sight of blood. I always wanted to be a teacher, but he didn’t understand.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Of never having a family. My one true love was killed in a freak accident right before graduating from high school. Yeah, I know I was young when that happened and I have a lot of years to find another love, but that man will have to be special.

5. What do you want out of life?
To help others through teaching.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
To make a difference with my life.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I love to read—all kinds of books.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I really should be more organized than I am. Some times I’m late. I get caught up in what I’m doing and lose track of time.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Charlie is a big dog with a mixture of breeds (probably part German shepherd, part collie, and maybe some Great Dane).

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I’d love to see the Tallgrass Prairie in Oklahoma during the time of the land rush at the end of the 19th century.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Homeschooling his daughter is new to devoted single father Ian Ferguson. To ensure his child gets a good education, the busy CPA hires a temporary tutor. Twenty-three-year-old college student Alexa Michaels is too young—and too pretty—to be right for the job. Yet his daughter is coming out of her shell and learning. Still, Ian is traditional, and sweet Alexa—who graduated from the school of hard knocks—is challenging some of his old-school ways. Can this dad learn some valuable lessons about love, family and faith from the least likely teacher?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Power of Blogs

We live in a marvelous time. I'm amazed at the way we can communicate with each other these days. Anyone from the average person to someone who is famous throughout the world can have a blog. The Craftie Ladies have a blog, and we can talk about so many things. In the past few months, I've been introduced to a blog site called Caring Bridge. Their slogan is "Connecting family and friends when health matters most."

My first encounter with Caring Bridge came when a dear friend, with whom I had played tennis many times, went into the hospital for a routine heart procedure. The doctor had done this procedure hundreds of times, but this time something went wrong, and my friend had a stroke. She went into a coma. At this time one of her sons started to blog and give us updates on the Caring Bridge site. His daily updates were an inspiration to those who loved my friend. Many people prayed for her recovery, but the Lord saw fit to take her home. Now I know she is rejoicing and singing in heaven, because she loved to sing. Her witness for the Lord touched many, and even after she left us to be with the Lord, her testimony lived on. Her son shared the messages from the funeral services on Caring Bridge for those who were unable to attend the inspiring and uplifting service.

My most recent encounter with Caring Bridge came when my mother-in-law's good friend, who had gone north with his wife for the summer, fell while working in the yard. He had multiple internal injuries that resulted in pancreatitis and diabetes. He nearly lost his life. His wife began posting updates on Caring Bridge to which I subscribed so I could update my mother-in-law since she doesn't use a computer. Over the months this man's health improve little by little with some setbacks but ultimately better health. His health improved enough that he and his wife were able to travel back to Florida for a short visit. They arrived here this past Tuesday. I loved her statement in her last blog. "Spring waited for us."

Normally, by this time of year, the azalea blooms have come and gone as well as the Indian Hawthorne blooms. But this year because of an usually long and much colder winter than normal, the azaleas are in full bloom now. The photo below shows what the cold did to my oleander plants. If you look closely, you might see some green leaves right at the base of the plant (not the pesky dollar weed to the left) where it is coming back from the roots. Even in nature, God gives us a picture of the rebirth we have can in Jesus.

But the photo below shows the glorious array of azaleas in the part of my yard that looks out on the local golf course. Spring has finally come. God probably knew that my mother-in-law's friend would need to see this late spring.

Praise God for His wonderful creation!

Do you find blogs informative? How do you use them?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Writing and Speaking.

Some say that writing is a lonely profession. I guess it can be. Most of the time it’s just me and my keyboard and the white monitor screen with the little blinking line waiting to scoot left with each word I type. I don’t mind being alone with my thoughts and my characters. We sort of understand each other. If only being a writer was simply about writing.

Alas, I have found that being a writer requires me to have a whole other skill set. Public speaking.

Standing in front of people who are waiting for gems of wisdom or humor or both to drop from my thin white lips. Fingers clenched and cold, a stomach full of butterflies trying to churn my morning coffee into butter, a heart that keeps missing beats, that sums up what it’s like for me when I’m waiting for my introduction. Fear.

Happily, once I start speaking thing get better. The butterflies settle down, my heart steadies and my fingers stop aching. Why? Because I love writing. It’s God’s gift to me.

I love to talk about what it’s like for me to be a writer, what it took for me to become published and what happens when a manuscript leaves my hands to become a book for Steeple Hill.

I love educating people about our myth-filled profession. One woman didn’t know we did revisions. She thought all books were written down once and that was all it took. (Don’t I wish.) A lot of people think we make millions of dollars. (Don’t I wish.) There are actually people in the world who don’t have voices in their heads. (How is that even possible?)

I don’t really like public speaking but I love talking about being a writer because I want others to see more than a collection of pages when they pick up a book. I want readers to know the efforts and sometimes the agony that writers face trying to create wonderful stories for them.

What about the rest of you? Public speaking. Love it? Hate it? What makes you do it? How do you avoid it?

Mother's Day is coming!

Hi, this is Margaret Daley here. Okay, I admit we have a month to go, but when I was thinking of what to write for this blog, this is what came to my mind. I think it is because I may be out of town on Mother's Day, which will be a first for me. What are some special things you've done on Mother's Day or someone did for you? What I treasure the most have been the big family dinners with multi-generational mothers in the family attending. I love seeing the interactions across the generations. I don't need a card, flowers, candy or anything--just the presence of my son.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I think Spring is here--Lenora Worth

Hello. I think spring is finally here. I have a big back yard full of trees and all sorts of blooming greenery, but this winter just about took care of all of my flowers and shrubs. Our saga palms are now bald and without fronds. We had to cut them back to scratch and hope they'd sprout wings again. My jasmine bush died on the vine. The Confederate jasmine survived and seems to be thriving. It has the most wonderful smelling yellow blossoms. My gardenias took a direct hit but we managed to cut away the dead leaves and find green underneath. Most of my hibiscus and parlor ferns died underneath the protective plastic we thought was saving them. I had ferns that had been growing for years and now they are gone.

But ... I'm blessed. Our yard didn't flood; our house is still intact. We didn't suffer an earthquake or a flood. We just had a harsh winter. I often wonder if God made sure we'd have spring after winter so we could rejoice in the rebirth of our world and see the hope of that rebirth in our own lives. One of the blessings of Easter is that after death comes triumph, after sorrow comes joy. This is our hope. When bad things happen in the world, we have the hope of Christ to guide us through the darkest of winters. I pray for all those hurting out there, that you may see the hope of a fresh new spring just around the corner. Hope springs eternal.

This hope is why we write our stories. We are blessed to write what we call the three-cord plot--with a faith element and with all the joy and conflict of falling in love. We have external conflicts, internal emotions and a strong faith element in our stories. And for that reason, each time we start a new book, it's like spring blossoming all over again. Happy Spring. Look for a flower bud today. If you look closely you'll find one I'm sure.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Day After The Most Important Day of The Year!

Hi, Debra Clopton here :D

Today is the is the day after the most important day of the year--Easter.

Today is the day after Jesus rose from the grave, all those years ago, and gave us the gift of everlasting life. Today we as Christians are free. We are new. I can't stop thinking about that this morning as I write this post. Jesus rose from the grave! The stone was rolled away so that we could look inside and see that he was not there.

If not for Jesus dying, burial and then his rising up on the third day we wouldn't have the opportunity to accept His gift of life.

As I write this post this morning I'm so very thankful that my Savior loved me and you enough to give his life for us.

I hope you all had a blessed Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Part 12, the Finale of The Easter Story--Lyn Cote

Feeling the silkiness of the white sheer curtain against her cheek, Sam stood by her bedroom window. She didn't know what had wakened her but here it was sunrise on Easter morning. There was a touch of chill by the window. She recalled the story of the women going to the tomb on the morning after the sabbath. They had risen at dawn too.
Sam turned to see Greta knuckling eyes and yawning just inside the door. Gretta was wearing her pink nightie and was barefoot. "Did the Easter bunny come?"
Sam grinned and pulled on her robe. "Let's see," she whispered. "Where do you think your Easter basket is?"
"I don't know."
Sam took Greta's hand and led her toward the front of the house. "Let's start in the living room."
As she led her little girl around the living room, looking under furniture and behind potted plants. She thought of the women at the tomb again. Those women had thought they had lost their Lord--that the man who had made the lame walk and the blind see could have been killed. Why didn't they realize that if He could raise Lazarus, death would not be able to keep him either?
"I found it!" Greta squealed. She pulled the basket filled with yellow peeps, a chocolate bunny, a white bunny PEZ dispenser and more all nestled in that fake green grass that would be everywhere within moments and lurk for weeks.
Sam sat down on the sofa and watched her dear daughter examine each little trinket and candy.
How had bunnies been added to the Easter story anyway?

Sam couldn't believe all that had changed in her life since moving into this house. Had it only been just shy of two years since Jeff had done the renovations to this house, Carla had appeared at her door and the paternity test had come back negative?

Jeff walked out of the bedroom, yawning. "Why didn't you two wake me up?"
"You looked so tired," Sam said, patting the sofa beside her. "I saved the egg hunt for you and Greta."
Jeff kissed her and then rubbed her nose with his. "Well, good. I can't wait to find those eggs."
Greta ran over and climbed into Jeff's lap. "Is there a basket for the baby?"
"No," Jeff said, kissing Greta's cheek, "he or she has to be born first, okay?" Jeff rested his hand on Sam's abdomen and the unborn child did an impromptu bunny hop. Sam started laughing and Jeff raised his eye brows. "What?"
Sam couldn't speak. She just treasured the moment. All the fears and sorrow had gone. Just like all the sadness of Good Friday had fled in the light of Resurrection. Hallelujah and amen!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Story Part 11 by Merrillee Whren

The Masters - Preview Day 3

Holding Greta's hand, Sam followed Dan's parents out of the little white clapboard church located near the center of Sunrise. Jeff walked beside her, his expression somber. Was he thinking about the solemn message of the Good Friday service, or was he wondering about the results of the paternity test he had taken? Any day, he would find out the results of the test. She understood his need to know for sure whether he was Greta's father, but she wondered how the knowledge would affect all of them, one way or the other.

"Mommy, are we having tuna casserole when we get home?"

"We are. I made it just for you."

"It's my favorite."

"Good thing. Since that's what we're having. " Sam hoped Jeff didn't mind eating tuna casserole, but she had invited him to supper because she wanted to show him the finishing touches she had added to his wonderful renovations. Even though he had completed the renovations in record time and had seen the final results of his own work, he hadn't seen the kitchen since she'd put up the curtains and brought in the dinette set that she had refinished.

Jeff held up his hand for Greta to give him a high five. "That's my favorite, too. My mom always made tuna casserole on Good Friday. This will be like a little taste of home."

Jeff's comment brightened Sam's thoughts, but the ride home in Dan, Sr.'s car, while Greta peppered Jeff with dozens of "why" questions, gave Sam too much time to think of questions of her own. They buzzed in her mind like the honey bees flitting from blossom to blossom on the pink Dogwood trees that lined the road. How would they tell Greta? How would she respond to the news? And Sam grappled with the same old question that had haunted her since learning that Greta might be Jeff's daughter. Would he want custody of his child? He had every right. After all, he had never signed away his parental rights when Carla had.

The thought of losing Greta, even to a wonderful man like Jeff, curdled Sam's stomach. How could she cope with losing her husband and her daughter all within a year's time? She had to remember the message of the Good Friday service. The celebration of Jesus's resurrection was only days away, and she recalled how desolate Jesus's followers felt. Everything seemed lost when Jesus died, but they had forgotten the words He had spoken to them that the minister had read from the gospel of Mark during the service.

"'We are going up to Jerusalem,' he said, 'and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.'"

Now Sam had to remember that God loved her and wanted the best for her and Greta.

"Mommy, are we going to show Mr. Jeff the resurrection eggs we're opening?" Her daughter's sweet little voice changed the direction of Sam's thoughts.

Leave it to Greta to set her mother's mind on the right path. "Yes, you can show him all the ones you've opened so far."

"Mr. Jeff, would you like that?"

"I'd like that very much." Jeff glanced at Sam over the top of Greta's head and smiled.

Sam's heart fluttered. Jeff was a good man, and no matter what happened in the days to come, she had to believe that he wouldn't do anything to hurt her or Greta.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Story Part 10 by Janet Tronstad

The doctor asked Sam and Jeff to go into a small office at the back of the clinic. The past few days had passed in a blur for Sam, but Jeff had been beside her every step of the way, first as they took Greta for the initial blood test and then as they came back today to hear the lab results.

"Please, be seated," the doctor said as he indicated two chairs next to his desk. "I'll be back in a second. I just need to sign a prescription for someone."

The doctor left the room as Sam sank into one of the chairs. "We have a reprieve. I want to know the results, but, at the same time, I don't."

"I know," Jeff said as he reached over and took her hand in his. "But whatever the news, we'll face it together. Greta needs us."

Sam nodded. She had asked Jeff not to tell Greta he was her biological father yet. He had been excited to find out he had a daughter, but Sam worried the excitement would fade and he might not stay in Greta's life. Her daughter had already lost one father; she didn't need to lose another one. "You've been kind to spend time with her -- with us -- while you've been working on our house."

Jeff frowned. "I wouldn't call it kind."

Just then the door opened again and the doctor walked back into the room. "Sorry about that."

Sam watched the doctor sit down and pick up a file. She didn't realize she was squeezing Jeff's hand until he put his other hand on hers.

"I know you're anxious," the doctor said and then he smiled. "The test came back just fine though."

"She's not going to be sick like her sister?" Sam asked to be sure. "She's okay?"

"That's right," the doctor said.

Sam felt the tears start to fall down her cheeks. "I was so worried."

Jeff leaned over and put his arm around her. "We were both scared. Let's go home."

Sam nodded as she stood up. She pushed aside the bitter sweet sadness she felt whenever Jeff called her house home. She had come to care for him more than was wise. She'd do well to remember he'd finish with his work by Easter and then he'd be gone. She and Greta were survivors though. They would be fine without him, wouldn't they?

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