Saturday, October 31, 2009

Baby and Beyonce

LOL! I found this video sort of by accident . . . and my hubby and I sat here and giggled all the way through it. Who said babies don't have rhythm? This one sure does!



Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin cannon

Huge Cannon Fires Pumpkins at 600 MPH - Watch more Funny Videos

This is such a man thing. As a woman, I'm more fascinated by the men's fascination. My main question: WHY?


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.

Grab a tissue!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Musical Skating?

File this one under "simple idea, difficult set up, simple execution." I am amazed that people have the TIME to do things like this!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Fun Theory, Part 2

This video is brought to you by the same people who created the keyboard stairs, remember? Fun! (Maybe there's a lesson in this for child-rearing . . . )


Monday, October 26, 2009

Cindy Woodsmall's Latest Amish title

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-law, and she and her husband reside in Georgia. Visit her Web site at

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:

To purchase through Amazon:

To purchase through

Happy Reading!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paperback Writer

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!)

P.S. Happy Birthday to my Mom! :-)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Musical Geek video

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

Silent Monks Sing

For a moment I was mystified . . . then I realized that these are not real monks, but high school students being creative. So sit back, relax, and watch a little Handel being sung by these silent monks . . .


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seems apt to mention: THE PROPOSAL

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 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

Susan Meissner's Latest Title

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 theWarsaw Ghetto. Why the connection?

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 ofPoland by the Nazis is woven into the story, and provides the backdrop for Chase’s and Tally’s discoveries about hope, dreams, and redemption. This thread is enhanced by visits to a nursing home where Chase and Tally meet a man blind from birth who survived the occupation of Poland. It is also a story that draws its pathos from family dynamics and the near-universal desire we have to make straight what is crooked. There are two young protagonists in White Picket Fences, like there was in The Shape of Mercy, as well as a third character, who, along with the two men in the nursing home, provide a similar multi-generational story thread.

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's bio:

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 Point Loma Nazarene University. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at The Church at Rancho Bernardo.

You can purchase White Picket Fences here:

And read an excerpt here:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One world government in the making?

Is a one-world government far away? Food for thought . . .


Monday, October 19, 2009

Let Darkness Come

You may not believe this story, but I promise every word is true. Last Tuesday I was looking forward to another day at the dentist (sigh) and plugging away at a difficult book. As I had my morning quiet time and wrote in my journal, I wrote, "Please, Lord, I could really use some great news today." (And as I wrote, I was thinking of the Publishers Weekly review that might be showing up soon. Maybe--they don't review every book.)

By the time I got back from the dentist, I had an email waiting from my editor, who attached the PW review . . . and it was starred! I danced in a sixty-second wave of jubilation, then I burst into tears. My hubby called and I was still sobbing--and trying to talk though half my mouth was numb. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"It's a writer thing," I blubbered. "I'm okay."

How to explain the self-doubt, the insecurity and uncertainty, especially after a long period of no work at all? All I know was that I felt relief . . . and deep, unwavering gratitude.

Anyway--I think I've stopped blubbering now. And I'm thrilled to be able to share this review with you (because it doesn't contain any spoilers!)

Let Darkness Come Angela Hunt. Mira, $7.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7783-2653-3

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

This is Not Far Away . . .

I've already seen bits of this technology on the web . . . so it's not far away. Still, I'm not sure how this can answer my basic question--how do I FEEL in this dress? Comfortable or not?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'd Take the Stairs, too, if they looked like this!

Isn't this a fun idea! But boy, I'll bet it's noisy during rush hour!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Three Swedish Guys, some guitars, and a tractor.

So these three Swedish guys with guitars needed a drummer. No one around. But there was a tractor . . . .

This will start your day off with a smile!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

May I Have This Dance?

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."

In the mean time, I leave you with this repeat video, but it's priceless. Makes me laugh every time I see it.

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

Slapping my own hand . . .

I've got to stop reading reader reviews. It's just too frustrating.

The other day I got a reader letter from a woman who said that "The Note" and "The Note 2" had disappointed her because "all the major characters were having premarital sex." Then she asked if I was compromising my Christian values simply to sell more books and movies.

Sigh. I wrote her back and told her shame on her for jumping to such conclusions. And there was no premarital sex in either movie or either book (kissing, yes; sex, no).

Then I made the mistake of going to a reader site and reading reviews of some of my books. I've got to remember not to do that again. Some folks were disappointed in some titles because it didn't have enough Christianity. Others thought there was too much; that a story was "heavy-handed." On and on it went, people hating first person present tense (hey, I use it with good reason) or completely missing the message of the story. Yes, there were lots of positive reviews, but (human nature being what it is), those don't stick in my brain.

I have to pull away and remember that I write for an audience of One. Yes, I try to please my readers, yes, I try to write the best story I can write. But I will never please everyone all the time. Ever. So I write to honor my Boss. If He approves my story, that's enough for me.

And I write for two audiences: the Christian audience (through Christian publishers), which often (but not always) feature a Christian protagonist. And sometimes I write for the general market (through general publishers). But even those "general" books are parables with a spiritual message, though you might have to dig for it. (And if you ever need help, I have discussion questions on my website.)

Jesus told stories, too, and his parables were "one approach fits all." And you know what? No one was ever converted in his parables (with the possible exception of the prodigal son, who came back to his Father). Jesus' parables weren't at all overtly religious--they were stories about sinners and saints, farmers and fathers, reapers and sowers, fools and wise men.

I remember when THE NOTE the movie first aired. Among the messages I received were two emails: one from a woman who had been "embarrassed and terribly disappointed" that the movie depicted people drinking; one from a man who said, "I've never heard of you, but you must be a Christian, because the note so clearly represented the Gospel."


Well . . . thanks for listening and letting me vent. And helping me remember why I've been at this job so long--it isn't to please all of the people all of the time, but to tell the best story I can in the hope that the message will touch a heart or change a life.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bewitched brooms? Not really.

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

The King

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.)

The video above is another "visual sermon." I've always loved S.M. Lockridge, and this visual really enhances a message that needs no enhancement.

Do you know the King? The all important question.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is cool

Hat tip to Michael G for pointing me to this. How cool is it?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

I think I've written about "dats" . . .

This one goes out to my cousin, Belinda, who loves cats and dogs . . . but do her pets love each other? LOL. Cute video, adorable puppy. Enjoy!


Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Prize

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."

The unfortunate realization that he would go down in history with such a negative stain on his name inspired Alfred to do something better. He used the huge profits from his invention to establish a prize for those who worked for peace, and today we call it the "Nobel Prize." All this was done to gild Nobel's name with positive memories and associations.

The recent award, however, has just tarnished poor Alfred's name, perhaps forever. Even Time Magazine admits that the Nobel's committee awarding Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize was "prospective" and "premature." (Oct. 9, 2009).

Peace Prize, indeed. Forgive my snarky attitude, but as the sages always say--Wishin' don't make it so. I have a strong feeling that this president will do more to destroy our country than any president in recent history.

Recently a friend told me about an email exchange he'd had with some colleagues who didn't see why anyone was concerned about Obama's original birth certificate (which has not been released to the public). So what if he was born in a foreign country? they asked. What difference does it make?

Ah--it makes a HUGE difference. If he was born in another country, then he purposely lied and covered up evidence in order to advance his political ambitions--and he took other people with him as they joined the "smother-up." If he was born in another country, and lied about his citizenship on his college applications (which have also been withheld from the public), then he has evidenced a total disregard for our laws, our Constitution, our procedures and the rules to which we hold every other candidate accountable. If he was born in another country, he has shown incredible disdain for the American people . . . and tricked millions into following a liar. Character counts. This issue matters. And still, one has to ask: why hasn't he come clean? Because he doesn't think he has to.

Unlike thousands of American patriots who gave their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to establish and defend this country, Obama won't even reveal his birth certificate.

That disappoints me most of all. Mr. President, PLEASE show your original long form birth certificate (the one with the footprint on it!), so we can all get back to our work. If you were born in the U.S., great--we who want to see the birth certificate will apologize and leave the matter alone. But if you were born elsewhere, it won't be the birth certificate that disqualifies you from the office of the president--it will be your arrogance, your lies, your total disregard for our national constitution.

Please--all this can go away with the truthful admission of one tiny piece of paper. The ball's in your court . . . until a judge decides to take it into his.


Update: the emperor has no clothes, and people all over the world are beginning to realize it. A friend who has been following this in Sweden and Norway (where the Nobel prize originates) sent me these links with comments (and translations) from folks in those countries: ("Dette er så jävla dumt." = "This is so *^&*% stupid.") ("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.") ("Jagland uttalte tidligere at prisen burde gå til en kandidat det var bred enighet om. Obama er ikke en slik kandidat. Det er vel og bra å gi mennesker forhåpninger om fred, men håpet kan fort bli borte hvis handling uteblir." = "Jagland said earlier that the prize should be given to a candidate who had broad unanimity of support. Obama is not such a candidate. It's well and good to give people hope for peace, but hope can quickly vanish without actions.") BTW, "Jagland" is Thorbjorn Jagland, former prime minister of Norway and currently head of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee) (This is a video interview with the political editor at Aftenposten and he speaks with a dialect, so my translation is a little rougher. But the text snippet "en uhyre dristig tildeling" means "an exceedingly bold/brazen award.")

Cheryl Wyatt's latest book

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-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. www.CherylWyatt.com ">Cheryl’s Web site

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:">Soldier Daddy on Amazon


Thursday, October 08, 2009

SNL adds another president to its repertoire . . .

Photo: Teaching at the Novelists' Retreat at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Flying home today.

Remember all those SNL spoofs of past presidents? Of Sarah Palin? Here's the first one of our latest president!


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Vocabulary Quiz

(I'm sure my former students are groaning at that headline. As a teacher, I was BIG on vocabulary lessons.) :-)

A couple of weeks ago Jack Rosenthal had a column in the New York Times Sunday magazine. He offered words that are often used incorrectly--and he called them phantonyms.

His list reminded me of my own mental list of words I often see misused. So I've combined his list and my list and come up with a little quiz for you to test your knowledge.

Ready to play? For each word, choose the best definition.

1. Fulsome: a) brimming full, overflowing.
b) disgusting, excessive, insincere
c) smelly

2. noisome: a) aggravating
b) noisy
c) smelly, unhealthful

3. Enormity: a) great wickedness, a monstrous act
b) enormous, gigantic
c) not normal

4. disinterested: a) removed from a grave, exhumed
b) uninterested
c) unbiased or impartial

5. enervated: a) exhausted
b) energized
c) lifted above the ordinary

6. fortuitous: a) lucky
b) unfortunate
c) happening by chance

7. penultimate: a) next to last
b) the ultra-ultimate, the top or best
c) literally, the level top of a mountain peak

8. presently: a) now, in this moment
b) in a little while
c) bestowing a gift

9. restive: a) restless
b) restful
c) stubborn, balky

10. notorious: a) famous
b) well-known for doing wrong
c) the actions of a notary public

11. inflammable: a) able to catch fire
b) unable to catch fire
c) flammable

Ready to score your answers? Correct answers are: 1-B, 2-C, 3-a, 4-c, 5-a, 6-c, 7-a, 8-b, 9-c, 10-b, 11: A and C. Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. :-)

How'd you do?


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sweet Potato Queen's Mama

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

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

Thanks for your help!

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.

If you didn't get to take the survey but would like to, here's the link:
Click Here to take survey

If you've already taken the survey and would like to see the results, you can view them here.

Several people asked questions in the "comments" section, and I plan to answer them in the next few newsletters. (So if you'd like to sign up for a newsletter, see the box to your right . . .)

Thanks again for your help! It is much appreciated!

Back to teaching,


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Elevator Fun

OH, those Germans! My Aunt Irene sent me this (and to look at her, you'd never think she had a mischievous streak). Please notice that the man on the "throne" IS fully clothed. :-)

Can you imagine?

If this is Sunday, I've been up since 4:30 a.m. (Yawn!) I'm winging my way to Yvonne Lehman's Novelists' Retreat in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, where I hope to wear a sweater, feel a chill, and maybe even see a colored leaf. Four days with some novelists in training, working together on our books . . . ah. I'm ready to be inspired.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Freaky, freaky

A snake with an ATTACHED claw has been found in China.

Oh, yeah. I can see all sorts of stories springing from this one photo. But I don't think I'm the one to write them.

(Photo: the snake residing at my house. Not IN my house, though I think I've found a couple of her babies in my bathroom.)


Friday, October 02, 2009

This Cracked Me Up . . .

From a recent Publisher's Weekly (the publishing industry's trade magazine):

About three things I was absolutely certain. First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe. Second, there was a vampire part of him--which I assumed was wildly out of his control--that wanted me dead. And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogeneously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me.

The above quote contains no typos--yes, it's from NIGHTLIGHT, a Harvard Lampoon spoof of TWILIGHT, a story in which a girl named Belle Goose falls in love with Edwart Mullen. Look for the book in November. :-) Sounds hilarious.

My bookclub also read--and loved--Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST, which has just been optioned by a film company. If any of my book club members are reading this, I feel a girls' night out at the movies coming on! :-)


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Where's the Rescue Squad?

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?

You've probably heard about a neighborhood cat who got up a tree and was then afraid to come down. Same story here, but the cat is a bit . . . unusual. LOL! Some big animals are scairedy-cats. Just like some dogs. :-)