Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for 2014

I rarely make New Year's resolutions, but this year I've decided to list a few things I want to do in 2014. Here they are:
Photo courtesy of Efi/

  • I'll take every opportunity possible to see my children and grandchildren, and I'll give them as many smooches on their cheeks as they'll allow me.
  • I'll spend less time on the computer and more time interacting with real people in real time.
  • If I get excited about one of the contestants on "American Idol" or any other competition show, I'll call in my vote. (I used to do this, but over the past few years, I've become a slacker.)
  • I'll spend more time with nice people and less time with those who aren't as nice.
  • I would like to tweak my beauty product list and switch out as many with unhealthy chemicals as possible. For example, I'll use henna hair color rather than the chemical-based stuff.
  • I'll watch and listen to as many of the "Teaching Series" videos by R.C. Sproul at as I can.
How about you? Do you have any resolutions for 2014 you'd like to share?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Loss of a Shining Star

The day after Thanksgiving this year was a sad one for everyone who ever knew Diann Hunt. She'd been battling ovarian cancer for several years, and eventually the cancer won. Please pray for her family who adored her and her friends who couldn't help but smile when she walked into the room. Diann exuded joy until her final hour.

I'll never forget when I met Diann on the first day of my first ACFW Conference in Denver. She and I instantly bonded during an impromptu shopping trip the day before the workshops started. I still smile when I think about the giggles and the encouragement from Diann as I struggled to find my size. And then on the walk back to the conference hotel, she offered more encouragement about my writing. At the time, I'd sold a few books and novellas, but my career hadn't hit its stride yet. There's no doubt in my mind that her words were just what I needed to hear at the time.

Diann had a huge heart for others, and it showed in her writing. Her characters came to life on the pages of her many novels. Here are some of my favorites with links to purchase them beneath each one:

Hot Flashes and Cold Cream
Love Letters in the Sand
For Better or For Worse
RV There Yet?

I also had the pleasure of being in the Delight Yourself in the Lord...Even on Bad Hair Days  devotional with Diann, Sandie Bricker, Kristin Billerbeck, and Trish Perry.

Devotional authors (sitting) Sandie and (standing left to right) Trish, Kristin, me, and Diann.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Etiquette Articles on

I've posted 8 new articles on that I'd like to share with everyone. Naturally, since it's the Christmas season, I have some emphasis on how to act during the holidays.

Here they are:

  • Christmas Holiday Manners - Don't let holiday tension bring out the worst in you.
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Gift Exchange Etiquette - Find out whether or not you need to have a gift for everyone who gives you something, if it's okay to regift, and several other ponderable topics.
  • Polite Words and Phrases - Your mama should have taught you most of these words and phrases, but just in case she didn't, here they are.
  • Respect your Elders - Yes, you saw that correctly. People who have lived a lot of years deserve respect from young whippersnappers. And that means you.
  • Ring in the New Year with Style - In other words, don't act out just because you're saying goodbye to 2013. Folks at the party will remember everything you say and do...and they just might hold it against you.
  • 12 Roommate Etiquette Rules - In college? Out of college but sharing expenses with a roommate? It's not easy to live with anyone outside your family, so sit down with your roommate and read this ASAP.
  • Good Manners at Home - Your mama might like to spoil you, but that doesn't make it right to misbehave. Treat your family with respect, and you might discover that they respect you right back.
  • 8 Etiquette FAQs - I've gotten some doozies of question from readers, so I thought I'd share them with y'all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Great Christmas and Holiday Gift Ideas for Readers

If you're looking for some gift ideas for your reader pals, consider the obvious - a book.

Here's a short list of books with a Christmas setting that you can wrap or stuff into stockings:

A fun, multi-author series set in the fictional town of Bloomfield:

Devotionals for busy women:
Books that can be enjoyed any time of the year:

Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Have a Happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

For the past year, I've eaten (mostly) gluten-free. I feel much better, and I've discovered that it's not nearly as difficult as I feared it would be. Not only are quite a few companies making gluten-free products, most restaurants have menus that I can order from.
Photo courtesy of Sideshowmom/

If you are trying to eliminate gluten from your diet, or you're hosting dinner for someone who is, take a peek at some of these recipes. You might even discover that you like them as much as the traditional offerings.

Here are some recipes you might want to try:

Remember that vegetables, fruits, and meat are gluten free, unless it is processed. If you aren't sure, read the label and look for wheat, barley, or rye in the list of ingredients. If they're not listed, you're probably fine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some of My Favorite Videos

Starting today, I'll be posting once a week, on Mondays, rather than twice a week.

Something that brings me joy most days is to watch videos about cute kids and animals.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

Friendly little girl at the mall:

Baby's emotional reaction to his mother's singing:

Little girl's birthday wish to her mother:

Slideshow of cute babies and animals:

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Etiquette Articles on

I generally post a batch of new articles on my Etiquette site at the beginning of every month. Here are the ones for November:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Motivates Me

People often tell me they wish they were self-motivated, and they ask what motivates me. That's such an easy question, but not everyone can relate to my answers. I have a list of things that keep me going, whether I'm praying, writing, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, or doing a craft.

My personal motivators: 
  • Faith. First of all, my faith in God and the fact that He gave up His only Son for my sins shows me how important I am to Him. I don't want to let Him down, so I do things to the best of my ability because that's what He would want me to do.
  • Family. Anyone who knows me understands that my family will always come before anything else on this earth. They are not only blessings from God, they are the light of my life, and they keep me going. My husband Wally, daughters Alison and Lauren, sons-in-law Jason and Ryan, and granddaughters Emma and Sophia bless me immensely simply by their existence.
  • Friends. The Lord has placed certain people in my life - friends that I can't imagine being without.
  • Work. I am very happy to have the blessing of being able to write stories and articles that people actually want to read. I appreciate all of my publishers and editors who help me become the best writer I can be.
There are smaller, less significant things that motivate me, but they all point back to the top four. I like to eat healthy food and work out, and the motivators are to keep my body healthy so I can do the Lord's work, be available for my family, enjoy my wonderful friendships, and have the ability to meet the responsibilities of my writing career.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Decorate for Fall

I love seeing simple ways to decorate the home and yard for all occasions, and I'd like to share what I found with you.

Decorating with pumpkins:

Tips for fall centerpieces:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Etiquette

Whether you are getting a small child ready for trick-or-treating or an adult dressing up for a costume party, put some thought into your manners on this spooky day. Don't forget that even though people may not recognize you or your little ones, you'll still need to act appropriately.

Here are some tips on good manners for you and your children:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Health of a Writer

I love being a professional writer and hanging out with other people who do what I do, but one thing I've noticed is that so many of us suffer from ailments associated with inactivity and bad lifestyle choices. Because of this, I've decided to work hard at staying healthy.

Here are some things I do:

  • Eat high quality food - If possible, I try to eat organic fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  • Exercise - I do something physical everyday. This can be a 4-mile walk or a 20-minute session on my rebounder (mini trampoline).
  • Walk away from the computer - Since the computer is essential to work, I can't leave it for very long, but when I'm not working or checking email, I try to find something more physical to do.
  • Manage back pain as naturally as possible - I rarely take pain medication, but every once in a while (once or twice a month, maybe) I'll take ibuprofen. 
  • Talk and laugh with friends - Laughing makes me feel good, so I do it as much as possible.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is There a Such Thing as Too Much Cuteness?

Now that I'm a grandmother, I don't think there's any such thing as too much cuteness. Here are a few videos I found and wanted to share with y'all. I absolutely love cats, dogs, and babies!

Cutest cats:

Cutest dogs:

Very cute babies:

And for the cutest of all, here are my granddaughters:
Sophia and Emma playing in a box of corn

Emma washing the car

Sophia and her dog Cody

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Preparation - Pumpkin Carving and Fun Treats

I thought it would be fun to share a few Halloween tips and tricks to help you enjoy the season with your kids. Carve a pumpkin, make spooky decorations, and then relax and enjoy a few treats.

Let's start by carving a pumpkin. Here's a video that covers how to select a pumpkin and a carving tutorial:

When it's time to make treats, try something quick and simple that the kids can enjoy with you. Watch this video for child-pleasing goodies:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Basic Etiquette

I write etiquette articles for, and it's my pleasure to announce that our titles have been changed from "Guide" to "Expert." Although I enjoyed being a Guide, I often had to explain what it meant. Now people don't even question me. However, one thing I have to remember is that when I call myself an "Expert," people will be watching and waiting for me to make a mistake in manners.

If you look hard enough, you'll find me doing something wrong. But shh, don't tell anyone.

Here are some of the most basic articles I've written that can help most people:

I've written quite a few articles not listed above. If you have specific needs and would like to learn more about proper etiquette, go to my site and click around:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another Wonderful Year of Life

This is my birthday week. I really don't mind people knowing my age, but I'm not going to put it here. However, I will state that my birthday next year ends in a "0." And I'm the mother of 2 adult daughters and nana of 2 precious little granddaughters. It's not hard to figure out.

Granddaughters in their pink Barbie Jeep

Each year, I do a little bit of reflecting on my life and ponder anything I could/should have done different. This is one of those times when I can't think of a single thing I wish I'd done or not done. I'm content with everything I have, and I'm thankful to have wonderful family, friends, and business associates (agent who also falls under the "friend" category, editors, publishers, publicity geniuses, and other publishing professionals).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Online Class Reunion Party

For those who haven't received an invitation to the Online Class Reunion party on Facebook, please consider yourself invited now. All you have to do is click on this link: Class Reunion, sign in, and click "join," and you're in!
Graphic designed by Sandie Bricker

We plan to have some fun stuff, including character sketches, trivia questions, and prizes! Come celebrate this fun series, and if you've ever been to a class reunion, share your most memorable moments.

See you there!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Etiquette Refresher

Between being from the South where manners rule and the military brat lifestyle where you wouldn't dare step out of line, I've learned that proper etiquette can make a big difference in all aspects of life - from personal to professional. Now that I look back, I see that the times when I didn't do what was expected of me, things went haywire in my life. 

Here are some etiquette tips that will help bring order to an otherwise chaotic society:

Don't forget to teach your children how to behave:

Mind your manners at work:

At weddings:

At funerals:

Manners While You're Out and About:

For more information on good manners, please visit my Etiquette site:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pictures from 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis

Earlier this month I went to the 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. Not only did I enjoy seeing my beautiful agent Tamela Hancock Murray and the agency CEO Steve Laube, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my writer pal Cherie Burbach who lives across the country from me. And I got to see a bunch of my other buddies! I wish I had taken more pictures, but at least I managed to take a few. Here they are:

With my literary agent Tamela Hancock Murray

With my pal Cherie Burbach

With longtime conference buddy Lena Nelson Dooley

With friend and Bloomfield neighbor Martha Rogers

With friend and fellow "Bad Hair" devo author Kristin Billerbeck

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tickled Pink - Coming Soon!

The release date of Tickled Pink has been pushed back to October. I'm excited that Priscilla, Laura, Trudy, Tim, and Celeste will discover even more about their classmates and themselves as they head to Piney Point, Mississippi, for their 20th high school reunion.

Here's a blurb:

Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head-on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

Click on any of the following links to order Tickled Pink:
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million

I loved writing this series and getting to know the characters as they matured over the years. When people ask which character I most relate to, I can honestly say a little bit of all of them. I would love to hear from readers, so please email me at

Monday, September 23, 2013


Since we can't always get exactly what we want or need, I believe in being creative and using things you can find around the house to solve little daily problems. Who says each item can only be used for whatever it was designed?

Here are some ways you can repurpose items:

Old Doors – Turn an old door into a coffee table. Sand it down, paint or stain it, and add spindles or other wooden structure for legs.
Old door repurposed as a coffee table
Photo courtesy of Jusben/

Old Wooden Ladder – Turn it to a vertical position, hang it on the wall, and use it as a bookshelf or knickknack rack.

Chipped Coffee Cups and Glasses – Don't toss a cup or glass into the trash just because it has a small chip. Use it to display cut flowers. If you turn it around so the chip is facing the wall, no one has to know it isn't perfect.

Dish Rack – Use your old dish rack to store your file folders upright.

Squirt Bottles – After you finish using the last of the ketchup, wash out the bottle and use it for something else you can squirt, like pancake batter.

Cork Board – Add some push pins or decorative thumbtacks and use it as a jewelry display. You'll be able to keep your necklaces from tangling, and they'll be lined up, making it easier to find the perfect piece for each outfit.

Old Rake – Another idea for displaying your accessories is to cut off the handle of a rake, hang the tine section on your wall, and use it for your necklaces or scarves.

Old Socks – Turn any sock into a puppet by adding felt eyes, nose, and ears. You can also fill them with lint from the dryer and turn them into stuffed animals or holiday decorations. 
Turn an old white sock into
a holiday decoration.
Photo courtesy of LadyHeart/

Paper Coffee Filters – Use them to separate your dishes or nonstick cookware.

Egg Cartons – You can use empty egg cartons for a variety of things around the house. When your child wants to paint, dribble a little bit into each section to prevent the colors from running together. You can use them for beading or anything else with small pieces.

Last Year's Lunch Box – Your child might want a new lunch box every year, but that's not a good reason to toss the old one. Use it for other things, such as a carrying case for electronics accessories, place to store receipts or manuals, or a first aid kit. Don't forget to label it before putting it away.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

My husband and I both work out quite a bit, and we're not getting any younger, so we occasionally have aches and pains. Neither of us likes to take painkillers, so we try to take care of our health as naturally as possible. In addition to other things I've mentioned on this blog (hanging upside-down on an inversion table, using my Aurawave T.E.N.S. unit, various massagers, etc.) I use as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible in recipes. Here is one that Wally and I both enjoy.

Blend the following ingredients until the consistency is smooth:
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 10 walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
Makes enough for 1 very large smoothie or 2 small ones. It makes a delicious between-meal snack or dessert.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spa Day at Home

For anyone who enjoys being pampered, a day at the spa is fun and relaxing. However, it's not always possible to do that. Whether it's money, time, or distance holding you back, there is an alternative. Try a spa day at home. With a few inexpensive products and some items you're likely to have around the house, you can give yourself a quick pick-me-up and be ready for whatever you have to deal with later.


I frequently do facials, but I like to vary them according to what my skin seems to need. Here are some things I do:
  • When my skin is dry – I mix 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 avocado (eat the other half for internal health). I slather that over a clean face, place a chilled cucumber slice over each eye, and lie down for about 20 minutes. It's easy to rinse off, and you'll feel moisturized and refreshed afterward.
  • When my skin needs tightening – I separate the yolk from the white of an egg and discard the yolk. Then I smooth the remaining egg over my face (avoiding the under eye area) and lie down. It takes about 10-15 minutes for the egg to dry. After that happens, remain lying down for another 15-20 minutes before rinsing your face. Your skin should feel tighter for several days.
  • When my skin is rough or dull – I use my Neutrogena microdermabrasion gizmo that you can purchase at almost any drugstore. Afterward, I always moisturize with a cream that has extra nutrients.

Achy Feet

At the end of a long day—particularly one when I've done a lot of standing—I like to soak my feet in Epsom salts. I don't know why those little crystals work, but they do. I generally sleep much better that night.

Achy Back

Like most people who sit at their computers for hours on end, my back often feels tight or achy by mid-afternoon. I have discovered several things that help:
  • Fitness ball – Sit on an inflated but squishy fitness ball with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and do a gentle bounce for about 5 minutes. This helps strengthen your core. Here is an example of a more advanced way to do this: Ball Bounce Intermediate Warmup.
  • Inversion table – I like to hang upside-down on my TeeterHang-Ups inversion table once or twice a day. It helps realign my spine and relieves the pressure.
  • Vibration or Shiatsu massaging cushions – I lean my back against a cushion that vibrates for about 15-20 minutes most nights. That increases the circulation to the area and promotes healing. I've had one made by Homemedics in the past, but now I'm using one by Dr. Scholl's. They're inexpensive and can be found in most big-box stores and some drugstores.
  • T.E.N.S unit – I use the Aurawave T.E.N.S. unit that delivers electrical current to my muscles. These little gizmos are amazing and provide relief that lasts for hours and sometimes days.

Achy Body

If I ache all over, I pull out the bath salts and dump a bunch of it into a tub of very warm water. If you don't have bath salts, use your Epsom salts instead. Then climb in and lie back for a few minutes. You should feel the tension fade away. For an extra treat, sip cold beverage while you soak. After you get out and dry off, slather your body with your favorite moisturizer.