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/Morguefile.com

  • 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 Ligonier.org 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 About.com

I've posted 8 new articles on Etiquette.about.com 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, December 2, 2013

Is Balance Always a Good Thing?

I've been working really hard lately. I have a novel due in a few months, and immediately after I turn it in, I'll need to start promotion on the first book of this series. When I'm working, I often spend 10 or 12 hours a day at the computer. But then I try to schedule a week or two in between big projects where I might only spend a couple of hours a day writing articles or doing maintenance on my Etiquette site at About.com.

When the holidays are over, I'll probably cut back to no desserts for a while because I'm sure I'll indulge in too many between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes it is an all-or-nothing life, and I'm fine with that.

Most of my life I've heard about balance. It's important to balance. From the first steps a baby takes to the stumbling steps we make as we grow older and lose it. Balance. It applies to almost all aspects of life, such as budget, diet, work, and family time.

Something I've noticed, however, is that balance isn't always possible, nor is it always something I want. When I'm having a great time, I don't want someone telling me I need to balance it with something that isn't so much fun. If I'm eating my favorite chocolate dessert, I don't want to hear about balance. Let me splurge and enjoy a little out-of-balance treat. When I'm on a deadline, don't even bring up the word balancing work with personal life because I don't want to hear it.

Now that I'm "mature," I think about some of the wisdom I tried to impart to my children, and I realize it wasn't always that good. I had something to say about almost everything, even when I didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Things that were important to me then, I now realize were trivial. And balance was one of those things.

Granted, we don't want to have a full-time diet of sugary treats. We shouldn't sacrifice our families by working too many hours. Spending all your time at leisure isn't good either because we have to have a way to fund our recreational activities. But it isn't about balance. It's about common sense and knowing when to stop. And then when to start back.