Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
My friend Lisa, who knows how I feel about dogs, sent me this clip. And yes, I cried watching it, because it only goes to prove that NO life, human or animal, is without purpose if we will reach out and value it.
Thanks Lisa, for sending this clip. And thank you, Father, for blessing us with those who remind us that all life is precious.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Drum roll, please (a tiny one!): I finished the rough draft of GRANDMA GENE on Friday. It is completely and totally stinky. But my first drafts always are. I always find that producing a first draft is just like birthing a baby--lots of groaning and moaning and pushing and you end up with a squalling mess on the table, but at least you have something to clean up. Which is what I do in drafts two, three, four, and five. :-)
But let me take advantage of this wee break to tell you about Cindy Woodsmall's latest. Cindy is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish has been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Plain Mennonite and Old Order Amish families.
Cindy is the mother of three sons and two daughters-in-
Synopsis for The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry. Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?
The Sound of Sleigh Bells is a heartwarming Christmas novella where lack and abundance inside an Amish community has power for good when it’s tucked inside love. Romantic Times gaveThe Sound of Sleigh Bells 4 ½ stars, saying ~ This is a wonderfully written, transformative story of two Amish families at Christmastime. It will bring sleigh-riding memories to life as readers vicariously join in this jolly and exciting holiday tradition.
To read the first chapter of The Sound of Sleigh Bells, go to: http://www.cindywoo
To purchase through Amazon: http://www.amazon.
To purchase through CBD.com: http://www.christia
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Okay--yesterday I showed you the vid from the "Day in the Office" folks. Today I have a video put together by some of my gal pals--Terri Blackstock, Carolyne Aarsen, Robin Lee Hatcher, and Kristin Billerbeck. We had lots of fun shooting this goofy thing, so enjoy! (And a big thanks to Robin Lee for splicing it all together!)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
A big tip of the hat to novelist and pal Sunni Jeffers for sending me this link! I LOVE it!
Some of you know that I'm a bit of a Mac chauvinist. :-) Unless you have a Mac, you probably don't know that every Mac has a tiny video camera built into the top of the screen--makes it easy to do video chats, etc. Well, these enterprising workers used their individual Macs to record and lip sync a song by the Backstreet Boys, and you have to admire their creative camera effects. So sit back, enjoy, and if you have a Mac of your own, why not join them? I wonder if some friends and I could do this long distance? :-)
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
In honor of October's being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it might be fitting to dust off a mention of THE PROPOSAL, first published in October 1996 by Tyndale House.
Here's the scoop:
Two Theo Russells
Two book proposals
One topic some will go to any lengths to keep hidden.
While attending a writers conference in Washington, D.C., Theodora Russell gets a call from an editor who wants to discuss her proposal. During their meeting, however, Theodora discovers that the editor actually wants Theodore Russell and his latest novel. Before she can correct the misunderstanding, Theodora becomes intrigued by the proposal tossed into her lap—a proposal that links breast cancer with first-pregnancy abortions. Determined to do her own treatment of the topic, Theo researches the link—only to wind up running for her life.
This book is currently out of print in the first edition, but it's available in the Kindle edition AND in a back-in-print edition on Amazon.com. I think I've learned a lot about writing thrillers since writing this book, but it does address an important topic: the link between abortion and breast cancer. If you'd like more information on that seldom-discussed connection, check out this web site.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today I'm delighted to tell you about my friend Susan Meissner's new book, white picket fences. Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will enjoy this novel. It's ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?
The story in a nutshell:
When her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece. Tally is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she and her family can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.
Here are a few questions and answers from Susan:
What led you to write White Picket Fences?
Several years ago I was a court-appointed advocate for children involved in protective services. There were times when I saw that despite the outward appearance of a less-than-perfect home, a child could be loved there. Just because a parent is unconventional or unsuccessful career-wise or makes choices that buck societal norms, it doesn’t mean that he or she is by default a “bad” parent. Likewise, parents who we would traditionally call “good” -meaning they provide, they protect, they don’t hit, they don’t ridicule - can nevertheless make decisions regarding their children that have hugely negative effects and yet their outward appearance would never lead anyone to suspect it. Even if you live behind a white picket fence, you still have to deal with the fallout of a living in a broken world. You can’t hide from it. The perfect, idyllic life is an illusion. Life is a weave of both delight and disappointment and it’s precisely these things that give it definition and depth. To ignore what is ugly is to cheapen what is beautiful.
You dovetailed a current day family drama with the Holocaust and the
I think it’s fair to say that the depth of the atrocities inflicted during the Holocaust wasn’t fully appreciated until after the war. There was ugliness happening, if you will, and much of the West failed to see it — for whatever reason. Within the horror, though, people made brave choices, selfless choices. And there were survivors who had to choose what they would take with them from the ashes of their suffering. I wanted to explore how a person makes that decision. Even the decision to pretend it never happened is a decision regarding those ashes.
What do you think interests you about the intersection of personal relationships and perceptions – a theme you wove into both The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences?
I see every great work of fiction being about human relationships.Gone With the Wind is so much more than just an epic story with the Civil War as a backdrop. It’s a story of human relationships. Scarlett and Ashley, Scarlett and Rhett, Scarlett and Melanie, Scarlett and her father. It’s within our closest relationships that our brightest virtues and worst flaws are exposed. That’s why there is such tremendous story value within intimate human relationships. We are at our best and our worst when we are responding and reacting to the people who shape who we are. Human history is the story of relationships and what they teach us about what we value. And what we don’t.
White Picket Fences is a different kind of novel than your acclaimed book, The Shape of Mercy, but there are some similarities too. Can you explain those?
As with The Shape of Mercy, there is a historical thread in White Picket Fences, though it is not as dominant. The invasion of
What do you hope readers come away with after reading White Picket Fences?
The pivotal moment in the story for me is when Josef says to Chase: “[This] is what all survivors must decide. We have to decide how much we will choose to remember, how much courage we are willing to expend to do so.” It takes courage to acknowledge and remember what drove you to your knees or nearly killed you. If you choose to forget – and that’s assuming you actually can – then it seems to me you suffered for nothing. You are different but you don’t spend any time contemplating – or celebrating – how. I’d be happy if there was a takeaway for someone out there who needs to consider that.
Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of The Shape of Mercy, named one of the Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. She is the leader/moderator of a local writer's group, a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. A native San Diegan, Susan attended
You can purchase White Picket Fences here:
And read an excerpt here:
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Hunt (The Face) whips out a shut-the-cellphone-off, cancel-all-appointments legal thriller whose surprise plot twist caroms out of nowhere. When Erin Tomassi is arrested for the murder of her husband, prominent Illinois state senator Jeffrey Tomassi, his powerful father arranges for Erin to be represented by inexperienced attorney Briley Lester. The defense seems hopeless: abused wife, her fingerprints on the murder weapon, no intruders. Even the opening description of the murder leaves the reader convinced of Erin's guilt. But once Hunt's sophistication with plot and character development kicks in, there is no escaping the notion that Erin is indeed innocent and Briley just might get her acquitted with a shocking and elegant final move. Readers will find the story gripping and compelling from start to finish. (Dec.)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I'm flying to Evansville, Indiana today for a meeting with the others enrolled in my Th.D. program--so I have to think like a student for the next couple of days. Looking forward to meeting everyone in my virtual "class."
is just too cute. Snowball the dancing cockatoo really dances--and sings! And bows when the song is over!
This just makes me smile all over. :-) Hope it brightens your day, too.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I've got to stop reading reader reviews. It's just too frustrating.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Can your broom do this? I heard it has something to do with polarity or something, but whatever it is, I'm off to experiment with my broom! (News flash: my broom won't do it, though my girlfriend Cheryl's will.)
Google "broom stand on its own" for more results!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Today is my father's birthday. This is the first year I've been unable to send him a present, because he's with The King. :-) (And I'm sure he's not missing my earthly tokens.)
Do you know the King? The all important question.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Alfred N., the inventor of TNT, woke early one morning, picked up a French newspaper, and was startled to find his own obituary printed within its pages. An incorrect source had reported his death, and the writer of the obit called Alfred "a merchant of death."
http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article3311997.ece ("Dette er så jävla dumt." = "This is so *^&*% stupid.")
http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article3311543.ece ("Dette er en skandale. Dette er en «krig-og-fred-og-sånt»-pris. Det er en fortsettelse av dette kjendiseriet som begynte med Al Gore-prisen." = "This is a scandal. This is a 'war-and-peace-and-so-on' prize. It's a continuation of the celebrity series that started with Al Gore.")
About the book
U.S. Air Force commander Aaron Petrowski leads pararescue teams, yet can't find one nanny for his three-year-old twins? The widowed father is returning to duty, but not without the best care for his beloved boys. So when Sarah Graham applies, the young woman surprises everyone by passing inspection. Until Aaron discovers Sarah has a secret tied to a tragedy in his past. He can't keep her in his employ—or in his heart. Until his brave little soldier boys teach him a thing or two about love.
Soldier Daddy-4 Stars-Romantic Times
About the Author
Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-
Join her newsletter mailing list by visiting her Web site and signing up in the space provided if you’d like Wings of Refuge recipes, new release news and goodies exclusive to newsletter subscribers.
Book purchase link:
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Remember all those SNL spoofs of past presidents? Of Sarah Palin? Here's the first one of our latest president!
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
(I'm sure my former students are groaning at that headline. As a teacher, I was BIG on vocabulary lessons.) :-)
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I don't know if you've heard of the Sweet Potato Queens (a series of books about life as an, um, unrestrained Southern Woman), but this is real. The Sweet Potato Queen's mama died, and she wrote the following for the obit. If you don't believe me, you can check it out here.
Janice “Jan” Louise Wendt Conner, wife of the late and much lamented John A. Conner of Ethel, Mississippi, died peacefully at the Lake Caroline home of her favorite daughter Jill Conner Browne on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.
Mrs. Conner grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the daughter of the late Mr. & Mrs. Walter Wendt. As a young woman, her statuesque beauty won her a spot among the models at the John Robert Powers Agency but her mother disapproved of that career and so she became a buyer for the J.L. Hudson stores. During World War II, she and many of her friends worked tirelessly at the USO, where she met the only man she ever really loved, her sailor boy, John Conner.
She became a devoted Southerner by choice when she finally defied the wishes of her mother (who was by all accounts and evidence, the Meanest Woman Who Ever Lived) by marrying and following “that hillbilly” back to Mississippi, where they lived happily until Mr. Conner’s untimely death in 1982, after which Mrs. Conner never gave so much as a thought to another man.
The Conners’ home was a haven for all the children in the surrounding neighborhoods, having a wide-open, fully-stocked kitchen, a refrigerator full of Cokes and the only swimming pool for miles around. (It should be noted that the 20’x 40’, 7 foot deep hole for this pool was personally dug, with picks and shovels, by the two of them. If you’ve ever tried to dig even a small hole in Yazoo clay, the extent of the Conners’ devotion to their children can be extrapolated from that endeavor. It should also be noted that this pool was the pet project of Mrs. Conner and there was no peace for Mr. Conner until it was completed. He might have initially thought that she would be discouraged when she saw firsthand how difficult the digging proved to be—one of the many but more significant times He Was Wrong.)
They were active members of the Alta Woods Presbyterian Church where they, for more than 50 years, provided thousands of cookies as Sunday bribes to the children of the church.
Mrs. Conner’s daughters, the aforementioned Jill and that other one, Judy, were finally sources of pride for Jan as they both became bestselling authors. It did remain a lifelong disappointment to her, however, that neither of them ever chose to pursue the career she would have preferred for them: writing messages for greeting cards.
Both daughters give much credit to their mother for spending countless hours reading to them until they finally started reading for themselves. Mrs. Conner also taught her grandchildren to read and to love it. Blessed be her name for that.
Jan’s only two grandchildren—Trevor Palmer and Bailey Conner Browne—were born 23 years apart; thus, each was able to enjoy the many benefits of being “the only grandchild,” a position both exploited to the fullest and with great felicity to all parties.
Mrs. Conner was well known in her younger years for adopting families in need and browbeating them into prosperity via the many donors she “persuaded” to join the effort and her relentless and most often successful attempts at placing them in gainful employment—often without any particular desire or willingness on their part. She would and often did give “the shirt off her back” to someone; but, if her own didn’t happen to fit the need, she had no qualms about obtaining, by whatever means necessary, the more suitable shirt off someone else’s back. Her daughters dreaded the annual Christmas Flooding of the town of Flowood, knowing that the pantry would be emptied and their own closets would be raided, in support of the victims.
Jan Conner was an advocate of the homeless—be they human or otherwise—long before it became fashionable. She never passed a panhandler without giving him something (along with an admonition to “go eat something”) and she never turned away a hungry creature of any species. She basically, over time, stole the neighbor’s non-descript brown dog, Rascal and was somehow able to elicit from him that, although before moving in with us he had considered himself fortunate to get a dab of dog food now and again, all he truly liked to eat was chicken livers and that furthermore he only liked them fried very brown and crispy. Rascal ate crispy brown chicken livers every day of his 10 years with us. Whenever Jan left town, it was only after giving John strict instructions on How to Cook the Chicken Livers for the Dog, lest he (the dog) suffer in her absence.
To this day, Mrs. Conner’s entire family has an inordinate fondness for Brown Dogs.
Mrs. Conner is widely known as a world traveler as she frequently arranged group trips, which she sometimes guided or at least herded. A most interesting aspect about all of Jan’s travels was her high and constant level of disdain for Other Countries, or at least all of Europe. She did love a cruise, though—any time, anywhere—which accounted for her enjoying 50 or so of them. As much as she disparaged all of Europe, she loved Alaska and anything west of Hawaii. All things Asian were wonderful to her and she made numerous trips to the Far East.
The latter years of her life were spent joyfully at The Waterford on Highland Colony with her many friends, especially the rowdy bunch on the Second Floor North. She declared that living at the Waterford was “like being on a cruise, every day.”
Since 1999, no St. Paddy’s Parade was complete without the lead car carrying “The Queen Mothers of the Sweet Potato Queens®” and while she shared this title with dear friend and fellow Queen Mum, Caroline Hewes of Gulfport, it cannot escape attention that Jan always rode in the front seat.
Jan is survived by the aforementioned favorite daughter, Jill Conner Browne and husband Kyle Jennings, and that other one—Judy Conner Palmer of New Orleans—granddaughter Bailey Conner Browne of Oxford and grandson Trevor Palmer and his wife RuthAnna and their daughter Riley and sons Conner and Mason, of New Orleans.
The family wishes to lovingly thank Barbara Whitehead for her devotion and support to us all and to Marie Fenton of Hospice Ministries for her sensitive care to Jan and to us.
No flowers please, Mrs. Conner was allergic. Because of Jan’s lifelong propensity for taking in strays, be they four-legged or two, she would love for you to make a very generous donation in her name to the only no-kill animal shelter in Rankin County—Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi, founded by Sweet Potato Queen Elizabeth (Pippa) Jackson, located at 1963 Holly Bush Road, Pelahatchie, Mississippi 39145 or www.arfms.com.
There will be a mercifully brief and joyous Memorial Service on Monday, October 5, 2009, at 5:30 PM, at Wright & Ferguson on Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, followed by Celebration of a Life Beautifully Lived and a Very Fun Reception, until around 7 PM.
Monday, October 05, 2009
If you took my readers' survey, thanks so much for your help. I think it's a good idea to take my readers' pulse every now and then to make sure I'm staying true to what I'm called to do--and to make sure my books are hitting the mark.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
A snake with an ATTACHED claw has been found in China.
Friday, October 02, 2009
From a recent Publisher's Weekly (the publishing industry's trade magazine):
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Yesterday was the first day in ages that we could step outside and not swelter. I think autumn is on its way! The air outside is positively delicious. How is it where you live?