Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008

My family is blessed this Christmas season. Our older daughter Alison and her husband are having a new baby soon. Lauren is now a college graduate, and even though she hasn't yet found her dream job, I know she eventually will. Wally and I are both actively working.

As I reflect back on 2008, I realize that I'm approaching Christmas with blessings I never dreamed would happen this time last year. Since I write books for a living, I rely on my agent Tamela Hancock Murray to keep me employed. When she called back in July with a lilt in her voice to announce that my book Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida sold to Summerside Press, I was ecstatic! She told me she thought there might be more good news soon, and she was right! Her next announcement came about two weeks later with a 3-book sale to Heartsong Presents. Then later that same month, Paige Winship Dooly, Lisa Ludwig, Beth Goddard, and I sold a Christmas anthology to Barbour Publishing!

All these sales are wonderful. They also mean that I'll be busy for a while. Fortunately, I'm somewhat organized with my time, and I've been able to stay on target with my personal deadlines set much earlier than my publishers'. With three of these projects completed, I can take some time off to focus on Christmas before I jump back in to work on the other two.

Another blessing is my job as an instructor for the "Breaking into Print" writing program with Long Ridge Writers Group. I have some of the most amazing students, and I'm honored to be with them on their journey toward publication. There's no doubt in my mind that many of them will reach their goals because of their dedication and willingness to do what it takes in this exciting yet often frustrating business.

As the year draws to an end, I'll continue praying for my family, other people I love, my church family, my agent, my writer friends, my students, my editors, the USA, our president-elect, and the economy. I also want to keep the Rovenstine family in prayer as precious little Von goes through cancer treatment.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Traditions!

Growing up as a military brat (my dad was in the Air Force) had both a good side and a not-so-good side, and a lot of that was perception. Since we moved often, I learned to not hold on to traditions because they’d change with every new place we lived. Sometimes we stayed home, and other times we shared the festivities with other families. I often longed for feeling settled and knowing what to look forward to. Now I know two things: The most important thing to look forward to is spending eternity with the Lord, and changing things up prepared me for my future that is ever-shifting around me.

I’m happy that I’ll have my husband, my younger daughter Lauren, my mother-in-law Bobbie, my dad and my stepmother Eileen to share Christmas with. However, my other daughter Alison and her husband Jason are in North Carolina, and they’re unable to travel because she’s almost full term with my little granddaughter. This will be the first Christmas I won’t see Alison since she was born, but it’s not all sad. We still have the baby to look forward to, shortly after the New Year.

Jason has been doing a good job of posting events as they lead up to their baby's birth. Check out Alison and Jason's blog, and you can follow their excitement as it grows throughout this pregnancy experience. I have no doubt they'll make wonderful parents!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Research, research, research!

After reading an editor's blog post about fiction writers needing to do enough research to make the settings and characters in their stories ring true, I went back and did a little more for my work in progress, Noah's Ark, that will go to Barbour's Heartsong Presents bookclub members in October 2009. Some of the information wasn't clear online, so I called Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia and spoke to Byron Clercx, the chairman of the Department of Art and Design, to get more specific answers. What a nice man! He not only answered my questions as they pertained to my story, he gave me more information about the area. Now I have the strongest urge to write more books set in Huntington! From what I've read and heard, not only is it a gorgeous place, the strong sense of community lends itself to what I write—Christian fiction.

Something I've learned is that most people love to help writers, as long as they have a passion for their subject. Over the past twenty years, I've interviewed hundreds of people, and with only a small handful of exceptions, they've told me way more than I requested, making the experience even richer than anything I could have hoped for.

My Summerside Press book, Love Finds You In Treasure Island, Florida, is another example. Jeff Jensen who works for the city in a community relations capacity gave me enough information to add scenes I'd never even thought of. Then I called Captain Kosmakos, a favorite restaurant in the area, to find out what was on their menu. By the time I got off the phone with Phyllis Kelly, I was dying for some of their fabulous, mouthwatering seafood.

If you're a writer, what experiences have you had with interviews? Have they been good, bad, or neutral? Have you been rewarded with more than you ever expected?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Focus on prayer!

Things don’t always go our way. From sports to national elections, someone will be happy and others will be disappointed. We know going in that not everyone can win.

I watched the Tampa Bay Rays win the American League championship then lose the World Series. My first reaction was to think they’ve come so far then lost. But really, what did they lose? After years of being in last place, wasn't it a dream come true to even play in the World Series? The fact that they made it there shows that they’re winners! I think the Tampa Bay Rays came through with an awesome season, and they made all of us proud here on the Suncoast of Florida.

Then there was the presidential election. In this great country of ours, we’re allowed to disagree—with each other, with the government, and with the status quo. If enough people feel the same way about something, we have the power to change things. And that’s what happened yesterday. Although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I do plan to pray for the leaders who have been elected into office. The United States of America is still the greatest country in the world, and I’ll continue to stand by that.

Like I said, things don’t always go our way. This is the time when we need to take stock of our relationship with God and pray for the leadership that our great country needs in this difficult time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Precious time!

My thoughts have been scattered lately, and I have to force myself to focus on each task as it comes up and not waste time—but I do like to daydream when I have a few minutes to myself. I've been balancing my work time between writing and Long Ridge instruction. Now that the girls are adults, family time has shifted. With Alison and Jason living so far away, most of our communication is electronic. Lauren is still busy looking for her first job out of college, so that's the focus of many conversations around here. With Wally in the financial services industry, the remainder of our dinnertime talk is centered around what everyone else in the country is talking about: the economy. During my alone, non-working time, I do way too much e-mail checking and web surfing, so I'm working on pulling away from the computer and getting out more.

My daughter Alison and son-in-law Jason continue to get ready for their baby. I love how they discuss the highlights of nesting on their blog.

My younger daughter Lauren and a friend of both of my daughters, Tina, have been hanging out lately. Since Tina is working on building her photography business, she’s been snapping shots of everything and everyone. She posts some of the pictures on her blog and website, so take a look if you have time.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in the World Series, which is probably a major reason for my scattered thoughts—and definitely the reason I'm sleep deprived. Last night they scored a free taco from Taco Bell for everyone in the US by stealing a base!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tampa Bay sports!

This was a great sports weekend for Tampa Bay! The University of South Florida won their football game, which makes us happy because we have 3 USF grads in our family (2 daughters and a son-in-law—Lauren, Alison, and Jason). The Buccaneers won their game last night, but we only saw bits and pieces since the Rays were on at the same time. I would normally choose football over baseball, but since the Rays were vying for a position in the World Series, well…there’s no way I’d miss that. I managed to stay up until almost midnight to watch the Rays win the game 3-1 over the Red Sox! I think I need to run out and buy a Tampa Bay Rays T-shirt—that is, if I can find one.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time to celebrate!

Last week, I celebrated my birthday and my 28th wedding anniversary! Other than going out to lunch with friends, I had a normal day of writing, reading student assignments, doing laundry, cooking, checking e-mail, and catering to my cats, Misty and Felix. But it was wonderful because I love doing all of those things. The Lord has blessed me with a life that I love. Everyday is a celebration!

I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful family. Wally has always worked hard, and this is a particularly difficult time for him as a financial advisor during this rough economy. He loves the Lord, though, so when he comes home, he finds peace through reading the Bible and unwinding with Lauren and me. Our daughter Lauren recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in communications. She’s a smart young woman who has surrounded herself with wholesome friends who are all like family around our house. Our older daughter Alison and her husband Jason are expecting a baby, Wally’s and my first grandchild. Even though they live hundreds of miles away in North Carolina, technology allows us to communicate daily, with phone calls, e-mail, and IM’s. I like to read their blog when Jason has time to post because he’s such an excited daddy-to-be!

Another blessing is my career. After what seemed like a very slow start, I’ve finally become an established, multi-published CBA author with Barbour Publishing and Summerside Press. Between writing contracted books and being an instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, I stay very busy!

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming! Life is good right now, so everyday is a celebration!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sweeping Miscellaneous!

After coming back from the ACFW conference, I’ve had a wide range of things to keep me busy and catching up to do, and I think I’m finally at the end of the list. It didn’t help that I had a sinus infection bogging me down, but I’m almost over it, so things are looking up again!

Isn’t it amazing how e-mail can get out of hand when you don’t check it for a few days? I’m one who worries about missing something important, so I carefully read through each and every message. After being at the conference from early Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, that took a while, but I'm finally caught up.

Then there’s the book I left unfinished. I have three February 1 deadlines, which is manageable the way I work. I set minimum daily pages, and I almost always exceed that. However, I don’t normally walk away from any work in progress for four days, so when I got back to it, I had to read several days worth of work to get back into the story. I finally finished the first draft of my third project, so now I can go back to the first one and start revisions.

I’ve been reading some wonderful manuscripts from my Long Ridge writing students lately. Some are highly polished and professional looking, and others are diamonds in the rough. What I find amazing is how people from all walks of life have so many different stories to tell—and there’s probably a market for most of them. It’s my job to recommend points to revise and markets that might consider their work. Nothing would make me happier than to have all of my students get publishing contracts and have the freelance writing careers of their dreams! When I edit their work, I want to give them what they need for success without destroying their hope. After all, I was in their shoes once as an unpublished writer, and it didn’t take much to dampen my spirit. Now when I get my work back from a critique partner, I look at the revisions as helpful suggestions that will make my project better. Hopefully, my students will view my edits the same way.

My younger daughter Lauren and her friend Tina are having a baby shower for my older daughter Alison on Sunday afternoon. Since Alison lives in North Carolina, she’s flying in tonight and will spend the weekend with us. I’m trying to get the house in order so I can concentrate on enjoying Alison’s time here. Her husband Jason is busy working on the nursery and getting their house in order for their little girl who will be here in January. I've been following their blog and enjoying the journey with them.

Speaking of blogs, I’ve been working on a plan to add another element to this blog after the first of the year. Since I enjoy sharing information about my friends’ books and stories, I’ll continue adding their links with news. I’ll also add writing articles—some from friends and others I’ve written—as topics come up.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The ACFW party's over!

But not really. I just got back from the annual ACFW conference in Minneapolis, where I got to hang out with some old friends—all folks who have the same passions as me. I hung out with Sue and Melanie, two delightful new friends, while the hotel got our rooms ready. Later that night, after the general welcome session and agent and editor panels, I headed on down to a late night chat where my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray (pictured with me), and one of her associates answered questions about how their agency works.

The next day, I ate, chatted with friends, ate some more, went to meetings, and hung out in the meeting room area, where I saw (and hugged) Margaret Daley, Shelley Galloway, Janet Barton, Rhonda Gibson, Irene Brand, Miralee Ferrell, Lisa Ludwig, Beth Goddard, and Jean Kincaid.

Then that night, Janet Spaeth, Lena Nelson Dooley, and I went to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company for dinner before the Barbour dessert reception at the Mall of America Aquarium. What a wonderful—and yummy—party! Thanks, Becky, JoAnne, and Susan, for such decadent sweet treats in a creative venue! This is definitely a first for me—eating chocolates beside shark-infested waters!

On Saturday afternoon, we had what just might be the biggest book signing ever at the Mall of America. I had the privilege of sitting between Vickie McDonough and Shar MacLaren (pictured to the left of me). Did I mention the fact that I love their books? If you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for? Run to your nearest bookstore and look for their latest.

The awards banquet on the last night was amazing—from the dinner to sharing the winners’ joy. We ended the evening at Becky and JoAnne’s room where a bunch of Barbour authors gathered to surprise Susan Downs on her (?) birthday. No one told us how old she was, but I bet most of us have her beat by at least a few years.

I’m back home now, unpacking and doing laundry. It might not sound like fun, but the occasional flicker of the special memory brings a smile to my lips.

Oh, before I left home, I got my hands on a copy of soon-to-be-released Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandie Bricker. What a cute story about a woman who experiences a series of mishaps (some hilarious and some that are sure to make you cringe) as she tries to be someone she’s not, just to get the attention of a special guy! Look for it wherever you buy books on October 1. This book was so captivating, the time to and from the conference flew by—pun intended!

I'll get back to work tomorrow on my work-in-progress with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm for my writing. My biggest challenge will be to ration my time sending e-mail to all my old and new friends from the ACFW!

Monday, September 8, 2008

2008 ACFW Conference!

The ACFW conference is less than two weeks away, and there are still so many things on my to-do list. In addition to the standard laundry and packing, I have to figure out what kinds of promo items to bring for the book signing at the Mall of America on Saturday, September 20. There will be more than 120 Christian fiction authors poised with pens and ready to sign books for eager readers—and that includes me, on both sides! Not only will I be signing, I’ll be able to pick up autographed copies of books by my favorite authors!

The conference isn’t all that long, so it’ll be a whirlwind of activity! In addition to the signing, Barbour editors Becky Germany, JoAnne Simmons, and Susan Downs are hosting a get-together for their authors. I’ll get to meet my new editor, Rachel Meisel from Summerside Press. My agent Tamela Hancock Murray will be there, and so will quite a few of my writer friends. I’ll take pictures and post them on my website after I get back!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hurricane season is here!

With 2 books and a novella due on February 1, I've been so busy writing, I haven't posted here. Then Hurricane Gustav started his trek up the Gulf of Mexico, so when I wasn't writing or working on Long Ridge assignments, I found myself glued to the TV—watching and waiting to see where this monster would hit. The entire northern section of the Gulf Coast has always been a target for these storms, but that doesn't make it any easier for those who call it home. I live in a town that's on the Gulf of Mexico, but so far this season the storms haven't affected us beyond a little gusty wind and a crazy amount of rain. Throughout the 2008 hurricane season, we need to pray for everyone in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes.

To keep up with the latest tropical storms and hurricanes, check out the National Hurricane Center.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Oh wow!

Paige Winship Dooly, Elizabeth Ludwig, Beth Goddard, and I just got word today that Becky Germany, Fiction Editor with Barbour Publishing, wants to buy our contemporary novella collection for Christmas 2009! Our anthology title is currently Christmas Homecoming. We have no idea if we can keep that title or if it’ll be changed, but whatever the case, we’re ecstatic about this sale!

I feel incredibly blessed by what's happened over the past month—a sale to Summerside Press, a 3-book sale to Heartsong Presents, and now this. I have lots of hard work to look forward to, but it's such a dream come true!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Getting ready for ACFW!

Now that the conference is slightly more than a month away, I’m starting to think about things like how should I wear my hair (curly or straight, long or short), what to wear, should I or shouldn’t I lose weight. That last one’s a problem for me because I love food. I eat plenty of the healthy stuff like lean protein, fruits, and veggies, but I’ve never met a brownie or cookie I didn’t like. I work out five days a week, starting with a 2-mile walk before coming inside for some strength training and stretching. Sure, I could do more, but I have books to write and students to work with, and I like having a little fun every now and then.

As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I realize that no one else really cares if I’m a few pounds thinner or heavier. If they’re my friends, they’ll like me anyway. But I do think I could stand to lose a few pounds for health, so I’ll give it a shot. I think I’ll probably back off the second portions for the next few weeks, but I won’t stress over the muffin top or freak out if the scale doesn’t do what I want. I might even add another half mile to my walk.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More exciting news!

My editor JoAnne Simmons with the Heartsong Presents line at Barbour, wants to publish my contemporary, 3-book, West Virginia set. I’m ecstatic! Looks like this is turning out to be a great summer for sales! Thanks to my wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, for her hard work and diligence!

I'll post updates with publication dates. In the meantime, pick up some of my friends' books and enjoy!

Treasure in the Hills by Paige Winship Dooly
To Trust an Outlaw by Rhonda Gibson
Tennessee Weddings by Joyce Livingston
Forsaken Canyon by Margaret Daley
Bayou Brides by Janet Spaeth, Lynette Sowell, Janet Lee Barton, and Kathleen Miller Y'Barbo
Rose Kelly by Janet Spaeth
Off the Record by Beth White
Maryland Brides by Tamela Hancock Murray
Florida Weddings by Lynn Coleman, Kathleen Kovach, and Kristy Dykes

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kristy Dykes—wife, mother, and friend

As I have every morning for the past several months, I woke up and headed for my computer to see how my friend Kristy Dykes was doing. I wasn’t surprised, but I was deeply saddened when I learned she passed away yesterday. She was one of the most joyful, truly committed Christians I’ve ever met, and she will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to ever be in her presence.

She is survived by her wonderful husband/hero Milton and their beautiful daughters Julie and Jennifer. I remember hearing her talk about her family with pride and love. Through Milton’s posts, I got to know her family even better as they went through this journey with Kristy.

Today is a sad day for people who love Kristy, but it’s a joyful day for her to now be with the Lord.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lazy days of summer!

I’m generally extremely disciplined, and I don’t need much prodding to get to work. However, this summer, I find myself spending way more time than I should reading other people’s blogs. Here are a few I enjoy: Summerside Press authors, Barbour editors, author Janet Spaeth, the Seekers, HSN product information writer Carrie Henderson, and my daughter and son-in-law Alison and Jason.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summerside Press!

I’m very excited to announce that I sold a book set in Treasure Island, Florida, to Summerside Press! I’m thankful for my wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, who believes in my writing and works hard to get it into the right hands. I’ll post more details soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Exciting news!

My daughter Alison recently told me she and her husband Jason are going to have a baby soon! Yep! That’s right! I’m going to be a grandmother! I don’t have to tell anyone who knows me how excited I am!

As I thought about it last night, I realized that this changes everything for a lot of people. Not only will Alison and Jason be parents, Wally and I will be grandparents. Lauren will be an aunt. My dad, step-mother, and my mother-in-law will be great-grandparents for the first time! Even some of the extended family will gain new status (great-aunt, great-uncle, etc.) Everyone’s life will change and all because of a brand new baby!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Be prepared!

We’re about a month into hurricane season 2008, and so far, things have been fairly quiet. The season generally kicks into high gear in August and continues through November, so we’re on guard. I have a box filled with hurricane supplies, like flashlights, batteries, a windup radio, and a few other essentials (lipstick, powder, mascara, wet-wipes, etc.) I still need to buy some jugs of water and canned goods.

It’s good to be prepared in every aspect of our lives. Our spiritual preparedness is ongoing. We prepare our children for the real world by making sure they’re educated and have a working knowledge of being good citizens. We prepare for marriage, jobs, and having children. Life is full of preparations for something.

When I first started writing, it didn’t dawn on me to prepare for anything other than the submission at hand. I used the proper format and wrote what I thought was an excellent story. Then I mailed it. What else did I need to do?

Um…quite a few things, actually. I should have done a much better job of researching markets. I needed to have a better understanding of what constitutes a great story. And I needed to prepare my ego for the rejection. Yup. My first and the next dozen or so submissions were rejected, and every single time, I was floored and confused.

Then I discovered there were workshops, classes, and books on writing. Not being one to give up easily, I pounced on every bit of information I could find. I practiced and had people critique my writing, until it sparkled. Then I submitted some more.

An amazing thing happened. I sold my first book to Avalon on October 6, 1999, and my first novella to Barbour Publishing a week and a half later. I now have a bunch of books and novellas in print.

As for the hurricane preparation, I’ll get everything we need for the season. I’ll even make sure we have enough gas in our cars to get away from the coast if needed—even at these crazy fuel prices. I'll also check the National Hurricane Center website periodically to see what's brewing. But still…hurricanes have been known to do the unexpected and go inland, so we’ll just have to do the best we can with what we know. And pray.

There are still no guarantees in anything outside God's promises through Christ—from hurricanes to publishing—but I’m convinced that all my preparation has set me up for whatever success He thinks I should have.

What are your goals? What have you done to prepare?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Somebody stop me!

I went shopping with Beth today and wound up with some of the best stuff! I got a brown leather Terry Lewis jacket (Yeah, I know it’s almost 100 degrees out, but it was a good deal!), 2 pairs of really cute, comfy Helle shoes, a fabulous Falchi handbag, a soft, stretchy Carolyn Strauss top, and some Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers (You wouldn’t want me hanging my new jacket and top on regular old wire hangers, now would you?). In case you haven’t figured it out, this was bring-a-friend week at the HSN employee store, and I was Beth’s guest! She didn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to go. In fact, the second I read her e-mailed invitation, I grabbed my keys and purse and headed for the door, only stopping off at my computer for the five seconds it took to let her know I was on my way!

Working as a product information writer at HSN was a wonderful experience because I got to know some really great people. When I resigned, I left all my buddies in PI and QA with the promise I’d visit once in a while. Of course, I haven’t been back as often as I would like, but I ran into some of them while they shopped during their lunch break. It was great seeing Sherrie, Danielle, and Deborah who all looked beautiful as ever. Maybe next time, Carrie, Ortaega, Angelina, and Meaghan can get away for a visit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Special birthday!

Today would have been my mother's 77th birthday. I've thought about her throughout the day and wondered how things would have been if she hadn't passed away at such a young age. She was a wonderful grandmother, and she would have been so proud of how her grandchildren turned out. Seeing both Alison and Lauren graduating from college would have made her extremely proud. She would have loved the sweet beauty of Alison and Jason Ingraham's wedding. And she would have enjoyed the feeling of looking in the mirror when she looked at Lauren.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What are your characters wearing?

I’ve always enjoyed fashion, even when I didn’t like what was in style. From the mid-calf bohemian-style skirt to the micro-mini, women have defined their fashion sensibilities since they started wearing clothes. As a writer, I try to incorporate fashion into my books to add an extra dimension to my characters. Here are some high fashion concepts I’ve noticed for this season:

Fabrics, colors, and prints: Go for color and interesting prints with as much natural fiber in your fabric as you can manage (consider dry cleaning, laundering, and need for ironing). Bright primary and secondary colors as well as earthy tribal prints will give your wardrobe a boost. Florals, ombre and muted metallics are hot this season. Yellows, blues, and all shades of purple rule.

Silhouettes: More volume in skirts and dresses will give you the oomph you might be looking for, but if you have the figure for it, you can still rock the pencil skirt.

Handbags: Clutch, frame, and metallics are all buzzwords for this season’s bags. Look for saturated color that makes a standalone statement. Purple, yellow, silvertone, goldtone, bronze, and lots of beads! Oh, and don’t forget about metal mesh!

Footwear: Flip-flops aside, what better way to show off a great pedicure than with some strappy wedge sandals? From the gladiator and tribal ankle strap to the cork wedge, stepping out has never been so cool. Platforms, cone heels, and cutout wedges make the statement that you know exactly where you’re going. And what shoe-loving woman doesn’t have at least one pair of peep-toes in her footwear lineup? For a full-on color statement, let your shoes show off your favorite pattern, print, ombre, or bright color!

Jewelry: Whether custom-made or mass-produced, every woman needs at least one signature bracelet and lots of necklaces for extra fashion dimension--layered or worn solo. What better way to draw attention to your pretty wrists than with bangles, cuffs, and charms! Although it’s fine to have a standard watch that goes with everything, jump out of your comfort zone and sport a timepiece with lots of zing. Whether longing for drops of glistening gemstones or manmade knockoffs, why wait for someone to give you that perfect necklace? Don’t hesitate to decorate your neck in the perfect face-framing piece of jewelry that will turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into the talk of the party.

How do you dress your characters? Are they in or out of step with current fashion trends?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What flavor of ice cream are you?

Janet Spaeth made a comment that maybe we'd have ice cream flavors named after us one of these days, and I started thinking about that. Hmm. So I asked my pals to name an ice cream after themselves, and here are the flavors they came up with:

Janet Spaeth, Barbour Books and Heartsong Presents author: Anyone who orders a Janet will get coffee ice cream streaked with hot fudge! Yum!

Sandie Bricker, Summerside Press and Avalon Books author: She’s always been called Red because of her hair, and red velvet cake is one of her faves. So the Sandie would be lots of pieces of red velvet cake mixed into smooth vanilla ice cream. Sounds out of this world and very pretty!

Tina Russo, Woman’s World fiction author and blogger: Vanilla. The Tina Vanilla. Why mess with a good thing? You can dress it up, you can dress it down. It can go anywhere with panache. Vanilla is a classic, like pearls and denim. They aren’t showy; they don’t worry about trends. They don’t have to. They never go out of style.

Rhonda Gibson, Barbour Books and Heartsong Presents author: She loves chocolate but not alone. Nope! Rocky road is her choice, and if it’s a DQ treat, she wants the Chocolate Extreme to be renamed the Rhonda!

Carrie Henderson, Home Shopping Network PI Writer: Smooth vanilla (for the color of her skin), chunks of pineapple (rays of sunshine), and chopped nuts (which she says is self-explanatory ) all in one scoop will be the Carrie.

Margaret Daley, Steeple Hill author: She loves cookie dough, so the Margaret flavored ice cream would have to be chocolate chip cookie dough. Unfortunately, she'd have to ban it from her house because she could eat the whole gallon in a few sessions. It's strictly a special-occasion treat for this gal!

Gail Gaymer Martin, Steeple Hill and Barbour author: Mix some large hunks of peanut butter and peanuts, swirl them with chocolate in some vanilla ice cream, and add some dark chocolate syrup running through the mix for the Gail. Similar to moose tracks only better! Delicious!

Me: I’ve always liked layering, so natural double vanilla with toffee crunch for flavor and swirls of caramel for tone-on-tone color would be my choice for the Debby. Lots of texture and flavor. Plop a strawberry on top for that perfect splash of color.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

American Idol!

One of my favorite things to do is watch “American Idol.” My husband and I prefer to watch it live, but if we have other commitments, we record it on the DVR. I have my favorite singer, and my husband has his—and it’s not always the same. However, one thing we do agree on is our faith. We know why we’re here on earth and where we’ll be after this earthly life, which is comforting and keeps us grounded. It’s okay, though, to enjoy the pleasures He has granted us on this earth, so we’ll continue watching “American Idol,” as long as we don’t put too much importance on the outcome of a TV show. This season, I like David Cook. Who is your favorite?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Writers do other stuff!

Believe it or not, writers have lives aside from…writing. I asked my friends what they like to do in their spare time (besides write), and here are their answers:

1. Margaret Daley: I like to read a good book, go to lunch with a friend, go to a movie, see my grandchildren, exercise (you didn't say we had to enjoy it, which I don't, but it's important for health reasons), volunteering (now that I'm retired--sort of), talking to friends on the phone.

2. Carla Capshaw: Spend time with my family, travel, read, watch movies and make crafts.

3. Kim Vogel Sawyer: I love to quilt, and whenever I can commit to it, I adore acting in community theatre. I wish I could do more of it.

4. Tamela Hancock Murray: I crochet poorly and read rapidly.

5. Lena Nelson Dooley: I love to read. James and I like to travel, but we don't do as much as we would like to. We like to spend time with our family.

6. Sandie Bricker: I'm ridiculous about scrapbooking. I love it. I've become the most annoying friend because I'm always in people's faces with my camera. And as I take the pictures, I've already got it in my mind how it's going to be placed on the scrapbook page.

7. Rhonda Gibson: I love to read and make greeting cards.

8. Paige Winship Dooly: walk on the beach, hike in the woods, read, paint, 4 wheel with dh.

9. Janet Spaeth: Reading, of course. Do puzzles. Knit. OH! And shop. I do love to shop.

10. Shelley Galloway: I like to bake and I love to shop. : 0

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cute pets!

Many writers are inspired by our pets. Here are the top 10 cute things our pets do:

1. Kim Vogel Sawyer: I've had my cat, Isabella, for over 15 years now. Or maybe I should say...she's had me! When I don't pay attention to her, she jumps in my lap and sits facing me. If I still ignore her, she takes her paw and taps my cheek.

2. Sandie Bricker: My dog Caleb (who died last year) was an Old English Sheepdog, so he was a born herder. If I'd stay up too late, he'd start nudging me and circling me, trying to herd me toward the bedroom.

3. Carla Capshaw: I have two cats. My little girl hates when I have to wake up and leave in the morning. Whenever she hears the alarm clock, she jumps on my chest to keep me in bed. I've brainwashed little boy into thinking he's a tiger. He patrols our yard and chases off the neighbor's dogs when they jump the fence.

4. Kim Vogel Sawyer: I recently lost my dear little Dachshund, Meinie, and what I miss most is her happy front-feet-only dance of joy when she saw me. I could have been gone for two minutes or two weeks, the welcome was always the same.

5. Rhonda Gibson: Sheba's (my dog) bark is way cute.

6. Paige Winship Dooly: Our new puppy, an Australian blue heeler, stands on her hind legs like a meerkat and jumps like a Jack Russell. She's full of energy.

7. Janet Spaeth: Roll over. Trust me, it's cute. (She's a huge gray Maine Coon cat.)

8. Shelley Galloway: Suzy the wiener dog 'penguins' when she wants attention. She also burrows under anything.

9. My cat Misty, a fluffy gray and white Maine Coon cat, chirps when she wants to play.

10. My gigantic male cat Felix greets everyone at the door and begs to be picked up. He’s never met a stranger.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top 10 vacations!

It's been a long time since my family has been able to take a vacation, so I decided it was time to start thinking about one. I asked some of my favorite authors where they liked to go, and I added a couple of my own.

Here's my list of the top 10 vacations:
  1. Carla Capshaw’s favorite vacations were in Italy and Japan.
  2. Kim Vogel Sawyer had a great time taking a cross-country trip from Kansas to California with her husband and daughters. They saw some beautiful country along the way, including the Grand Canyon, and she cherishes those memories.
  3. Sandie Bricker loves to go to San Diego as a tourist. She stays in a particular hotel where they have English high tea, fireplaces and journals in the rooms, and live jazz every Friday night. She enjoys going to Sea World, taking a whale watching cruise, or walking around Seaport Village.
  4. Tamela Hancock Murray and her family have gone to Myrtle Beach almost every year for 25 years.
  5. Lena Nelson Dooley enjoys taking trips to Minnesota to visit relatives.
  6. Margaret Daley loves to travel, and her favorite places include the Southwest United States, England, Scotland, all over Europe, Tahiti (one of her all-time faves), Belize (loved looking at the Mayan ruins), Hawaii (favorite island is the Big Island with the volcano), Alaska (cool helicopter ride and fun dog sledding), Bermuda, Costa Rico, and Biloxi (to see family, fish, and enjoy the sun & fun).
  7. Paige Winship Dooly loves the beach and the Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri.
  8. Tara Randel and her family spent many memorable Thanksgivings in the mountains of north Georgia. Just a few days in the cool weather, collecting colorful leaves and visiting quaint towns made for wonderful family memories.
  9. I love San Francisco because of the cultural blend, pastel colors, hills, water, and fabulous food!
  10. Even though I live in Florida, I still enjoy going to any tropical place where my husband can play golf, and I can enjoy the warm weather and sunshine by day and a seafood dinner at a laid-back restaurant on the beach in the evening.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Top 10 coming soon!

Starting next week, I’m going to feature some top 10 lists—strictly for entertainment. People are always asking me questions, like what do writers do when we’re not writing, what inspires us, and what our home life is like. I’ve polled some of my favorite authors and asked them to send some of their top 10 answers to add to my own lists. I’ll post a new list every couple of days, so drop by occasionally and take a peek into the world of a few of my published author buddies.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Books arrived!

Last night my husband walked into the house carrying a box filled with copies of my brand new book, If the Dress Fits! This means that bookclub members will be receiving their copies very soon!

Even though this is my seventeenth published book, I’m as excited as I was when copies of my very first book showed up on my doorstep. The process of writing the synopsis, submitting, writing the book (the most fun part!), working through issues in copy editing, and looking over galleys is long and requires lots of eagle eyes, but it makes the final result much better. I’m thankful to my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, my editor, JoAnne Simmons, and Barbour Publishing's Heartsong Presents staff for all their hard work and commitment to excellence!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Conflicting emotions and writing time!

I’m thankful my daughters have grown into such responsible women. Really I am. But seriously, why do I feel so sad when I watch them doing what we raised them to do? Didn’t the Lord put parents in charge of teaching our children to stand on their own and be able to make good decisions?

My older daughter Alison flew down to visit for a few days. I love having her here, but seeing her reminds me that she’s not a little girl anymore. She’s a grown woman with a husband, a full-time professional job, a house with mortgage, and a couple of animals she and her husband so responsibly take care of. I’m going to force myself to focus on the moments she’s here rather than thinking ahead to when she’ll get back on that plane.

The “baby” of the family, Lauren, isn’t a baby anymore. Not only is she almost finished with college, she’s thinking about moving away if the right job comes along. She’s smart, witty, and very responsible with her job, which means she’ll be a great catch for any employer who is sharp enough to realize how much she has to offer.

I’m not sure if I’ll suffer from empty nest syndrome, but based on how I feel now, I just might. Hmm. Maybe I already am.

Over the past few years, I’ve had to work around everyone else’s schedule for my writing, and it’s worked out quite well. Now that I have time to write whenever the muse strikes, I wonder how I’ll do. Having only a few minutes here and there has made the time seem more precious. I need to change my thinking and value larger chunks of time as much as I do the stolen minutes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Exciting and congratulations!

Last night, my very good friend Paige Dooly IM’ed me and told me that Barbour had posted the Heartsong Presents awards for 2007. I didn't expect my name to be on the list, so when I saw that my book Double Blessing placed second, I was flabbergasted! What a wonderful surprise!

Here's a link to the blog from the Barbour editors:

Congratulations to all the fabulous authors who write for Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line! I feel blessed to be named with such a wonderful group of people who write books that are uplifting and Christ-centered.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

It's 2008 already!

What? It’s 2008 already? What happened to 2007?

My older daughter Alison and her husband Jason moved to North Carolina last year. They both have great jobs, and now they own a beautiful home in a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood—a great place to raise children. Wally, Lauren, and I spent Christmas with them in their new home, and we’re thankful that the Lord has blessed them so greatly.

This is the year Lauren will graduate from the University of South Florida. Although I’m happy for her and excited to see what she does with her life, I have to admit to confusion and feelings of trepidation about what I’ll do with our “empty nest.” I’ve heard about this syndrome, but I never thought I’d feel this way. Wally and I will have more freedom, time, and money to do the things we’ve always wanted to do, but we’ll miss our daughters more than we ever imagined.

What I need to do is count my blessings. First of all, I’m grateful to have wonderful adult children who’d make any parent proud. Next, I’m thankful that Wally survived a serious health scare back in May, so we can hopefully have many more years together. There are so many other things I appreciate and give credit to the Lord for, I can’t possibly name them all here.

2008 has gotten off to a good start. I pray that my family and friends will continue to be blessed with good health and love for each other so we can shine our light on the world as Christ-followers.