Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update on Yard Sale

Well . . . it was fun. Not terribly productive, unless you count the various thrift stores that will receive our left overs. Since I didn't have much stuff, I cleaned out a cupboard of VHS tapes--some of them as old as my kids--and sold them 2 for $1.00. Actually sold TWO books (thought I'd try an experiment--offer new books, autographed by the author) and some country decor that was left over from my old house (just too cute to part with before this, you know).

During that first hour--from 8 am. until 9 a.m.--the street scene reminded me of Halloween, when all the trick or treaters rush from house to house with their bags. But this time, the trick or treaters were all silver-haired, bundled up, and from Michigan. (The snowbirds are here in full force).

Around noon I cleaned up and pruned a crape myrtle, painted some porch furniture, potted some bulbs, and prayed for sunshine. And actually had my prayers answered for an hour or two.

And now (it's Saturday night), I think I'm heading to bed. A very busy day. :-)


P.S. This week I'll be teaching at the Florida Christian Writers' Conference with my good pal and teaching buddy Nancy Rue. Yes, "Nangie" strikes again! We're looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yard sale!

We've lived in our present house for seven years, and we did a major de-cluttering during our last move. Well--after seven years, we're ready for another de-cluttering, made simple by a yard sale.

Our little subdivision is governed by the state of Florida and a homeowners' association. Well, for the first time, the HOA is "sponsoring" the yard sale, so we are all throwing open our secret stashes of stuff and setting it on the sidewalk tomorrow morning (unless it rains--70 percent chance of that.)

We first scheduled the yard sale for this past fall, and I collected a huge heap of stuff and put it in the back of the kitchen. But that sale got rained out, and while we waited for a new yard sale date, the hubby and I put our house on the market. This necessitated a MAJOR clean out and the rental of a storage unit, so everything--yard sale stuff included--went off to storage. Where it shall remain.

So tomorrow we're all having a yard sale, and all I was able to dig up was several boxes of VHS tapes, some curtains, and some country decor that serves mainly to collect dust. I could always pull some books out of the garage and have an autograph party, I suppose. Then again, maybe I could sell the HOUSE. (My realtor lives around the corner--that'd sure be convenient.)

So if it's not raining and not freezing tomorrow, that's where I'll be--sitting (and probably freezing) at my first yard sale in over 15 years. We used to sell everything for a quarter, but I suspect that times have changed . . .


Friday, February 26, 2010

Stephen Bly's Latest

One of my dear daddy's favorite authors was Stephen Bly, who also happens to be a pal of mine. Steve and his wife, Janet, live in a tiny town where Steve is the minister, the mayor, the novelist-in-residence, and the justice of the peace. He writes westerns, and I've invited him to stop by to tell us something about his latest.

Take it away, Steve!

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon/Novel As Memoir

By Stephen Bly


The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they

didn’t bother burying it until last fall.

The plot for Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon developed like homemade stew in a crockpot. A slow simmer. Then, the image of the 1950s kitchen filled with sweet aromas and sights and sounds. Hours later all the parts seemed ready.

The story grew out of fond memories from my childhood. What makes it real personal is that I was 10-years-old in 1954, just like the narrator. And I did hear numerous accounts about the “old days.” At that time, Johnny Appleseed was a legendary hero. I learned about him at the knee of my Indiana grandma. She figured anyone who dedicated himself to planting apple trees must be a good guy.

I often get asked where I grew up. Readers of my westerns suppose I was born and raised in some rough and tumble part of the west amid gunfights and wild adventures. Well, they’re somewhat right. Home for me was a ranch north of Visalia, California, in the great San Joaquin Valley.

“That doesn’t sound like the wild west,” they say.

They’re wrong. From Joaquin Murietta to the Dalton Brothers, Visalia Saddles to the Miller and Lux Ranch. . .that valley’s filled with western history. One of my favorite tales involved the gunfight and capture of Sontag and Evans at Stone Corral, a few miles down the road from our home.

Cribbage and cowboys. . .I figured I fit right in.

It seems quite natural for me to write about a grandpa and the game of cribbage. My grandpa taught me to play when I was 4-years-old. I played him once or twice a week until he died when I turned 15. In the book Pop’s name is Theodore and his wife is Katie, same as my grandparents.

Talk slow and think deep. It’s part of the Code of the West. Some scoff at the notion of an unwritten set of rules that honest men lived by. Politically correct history books deny the Code’s existence. Those authors and professors didn’t grow up in the West. I remember in the mid-1980s standing at the graveside of my uncle. At the time, his place encompassed around 14,000 acres. As I looked down at the coffin of my Uncle Buster, an old-timer slid up beside me. “He was a good man, son. He lived by the Code.”

There’s a quiet buzz from antique ceiling fans, like six thousand crickets, all out of tune. You don’t even notice, until there’s silence.

Woolworth’s department stores provided lots of pleasure for kids like me. Like a Dollar Store, they included a soda fountain lunch counter, better merchandise, and a friendly clerk behind every counter. By 2001 the company focused on sporting goods and changed its name to Foot Locker Inc. A classic example of a company that adapted to the market needs.

In today’s consumer shopping mall world, it’s hard for some to envision the incredible thrill of merchandise-packed Five & Dimes. I couldn’t believe so many products existed. I’m not sure kids today can experience anything near that excitement. A $.49 badge? That’s what Little Brother, the 10-year-old narrator, gets. A little spendy for 1954. I remember getting a 25-cent a week allowance, provided I did all my chores, in a time when $1.00 per hour provided a decent wage.

My bedroom teemed with White Owl cigar boxes, my granddad’s favorite cigar. He didn’t smoke them much; mainly he chewed them. And because I lived across the road from him, I got many of his boxes. Lots of childhood treasures can be stored in a cigar box.

Folks today think that 1954 existed in some other galaxy, on some other planet. Maybe they’re right. It’s hard to believe that world and this one are made of the same stuff.

I can’t tell you about television in 1954. We didn’t have one yet. Didn’t matter. Didn’t need one. When I came home from school, I did chores or played outside until dark and Mom made me come indoors. Now, that does sound like a century ago.

I did not know cowboys named Quirt, Bronc, Thad, Shorty, Coosie or Pop. But I knew men much like them. In fact, most folks called my Grandpa Wilson “Pop.” I once met an old-timer in Magdalena, New Mexico, who had been a sheriff in the 1930s. He still packed a pistol and watched the door, just in case someone he sent to prison got out and scouted him for revenge. I based my character, Quirt Payton, on him.

All the aged cowboys I ever met wore long-sleeved shirts, usually some faded shade of white, with the collar buttoned. This kept the dirt out when he rode down the trail or behind a herd of slow moving cows. Also, an old beat-up Stetson and yellowed cigarettes stained their fingers.

I don’t suppose the current generation has ever ridden in the open trunk of a car, nor let the air down in the tires to drive down a railroad track (and they call skateboarding an extreme sport). At one point, the six cowboys in the novel, plus Miss Diane Anderson, and the boy narrator, pile into a ’49 Plymouth, without seatbelts. I could have been the poster child for the need of such safety devices. I fell out of my parents’ car, going about 55 miles per hour, in 1949. I spent 10 days in the hospital nursing a major concussion.

At least one of the stories happened to me. In 1994, in Telluride, I was told by the hotel clerk I couldn’t get a room. He intimated I wasn’t their kind. My gruffy appearance after a week’s research in the wilds didn’t impress them. So, I drove all the way to Cortez for a room, arriving about midnight. To say I was ticked is an understatement.

It’s like I’m right there in the room with these old-timers. Some of these scenes I do recall first-hand. I remember going to see a friend of my grandfather’s at a 4-story hotel in central California in the mid-1950s. His room was carpeted with out-dated newspapers that he hadn’t got around to reading yet. Such images last forever.

My favorite things to do when the weather threatens and I can’t play golf: oil the saddles, clean the Winchesters, or write a novel about the Old West.

In Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon I discover that maybe I wasn’t born 100 years too late.

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point) will be released: June 2010. Available through or

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can you Handle MORE funny headlines?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment to go back in time and need to gather my weapons. :-)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More True and Funny Headlines

Hard to believe a copy editor didn't catch some of these!


Monday, February 22, 2010


An editor friend of mine sent me 65 of these beauties! I'll be sharing some with you in the days ahead. Enjoy!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Animal Pictures from Last Week

I stumbled across these animal pictures and loved them . . . but I have not-so-pleasant feelings about the woman with the giant rat in her lap. I've chased too many of them out of my attic . . . (the attic-sized kind, not the giant variety).


Saturday, February 20, 2010

American Government 101 by Dennis Prager

This may be the most educational five minutes you'll spend today. Must see video!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Heaven Sent Valentines

Ever doubt that God loves you? Just take a look at all the Valentines he's sent:

Click here, then click through the slideshow.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Want to Write Songs?

Very funny--and very true. And please excuse the occasional crude word . . .

All you need to write a song is four chords . . . :-)


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Vocal People

Thanks to our own Kay Day for sending me this link--what fun! As a singer, I LOVE the music. But I'm not sure about the androgynous outfits and that makeup . . . what's with those red lips?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deb Raney has a re-release!

Beneath A Southern Sky
by Deborah Raney
WaterBrook Press

First released in 2001, Beneath a Southern Sky, has been reissued with a new cover as part of WaterBrook Press's new value line fiction.

Her Second Husband Healed the Sorrow of a Tragic Loss.
Her First Has Just Returned from the Dead.
Which Man Has the Right to Claim Daria's Heart?

After two years of serving as a missionary in a remote area of South America, Daria Camfield has returned to the States to mourn her husband, reportedly killed while providing medical aid to a neighboring Colombian village.

One family discovers how God can redeem any tragedy.

At first, Daria finds comfort only in the daughter born to her after Nate's tragic death. As she begins to heal, she also finds a listening ear and a tender heart in her new boss, veterinarian Colson Hunter. Determined to move forward with life, Daria ignores the still small voice calling her to wait and accepts Cole's marriage proposal. But after the wedding, Daria's new dream life turns into a nightmare with the arrival of an unbelievable
telegram:"Nathan Camfield found alive. Flying into K.C. Int'l. via Bogota…"

Now two men have the right to her daughter, her life, and her love. Will Daria return to her beloved first
husband, abandoning Cole? Or will she reject Nate and choose the only man her daughter has ever called "Daddy"--a man she has come to cherish with all her heart?

• 2002 RITA Award from RWA
• 2002 FH&L Inspirational Readers' Choice Award
• Book of the Year for American Christian Romance Writers (now ACFW)
• 2001 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award
• 2002 HOLT Medallion Finalist
• 2002 Aspen Gold Award, 2nd place
• Named one of's Top 10 Fiction book of 2001

BIO: DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 20th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, will release in May from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Aunt Edna's Funeral

This may sound bizarre, but I love two things--no, three--about funerals.

First, I love learning things about the departed that I didn't know. I learned things about my father (imagine folks having a life before we came along!) at his funeral, and on Saturday I learned new things about Aunt Edna. I didn't know that she'd been Staple's National Secretary of the year! (She won the title and a trip to NYC at age 72.)

I learned that she and I are a lot alike--we both like writing, we both are hyper-organized, and we both like to plan things. Edna organized a reunion for her high school graduating class (of '42) EVERY year. She was a member of a group dedicated to preserving the history of her town, Winter Haven. I learned that Edna had preplanned her funeral, bought her casket, purchased her plot and picked out all the music. In fact, soon before her passing, she went out to the cemetery to check out her plot and discovered that a race car driver had been buried next to her spot! Apparently there was a big race car on his grave, and Aunt Edna didn't want to rest next to THAT. So she had the funeral home switch her spot out. Someone else will get to enjoy the race car for a while.

Second, I love seeing family members that I don't get to see very often. When we gathered around for the potluck dinner (kindly provided by Aunt Edna's church ladies), it felt like Thanksgiving. And even though we shed a few tears, Edna's service was quite the celebration of her salvation and sure place in heaven.

And third, I love the celebration of home going. Even though we weep because we will miss the departed, we are sure and certain that Jesus Christ has prepared a place for those who trust in him. And I was thrilled to hear that though Aunt Edna had cancer "all through her," even in her bones, she experienced NO PAIN and wasn't even taking pain pills. On Wednesday, she simply lay down for a nap and slipped away. How glorious is that?

Here's part of Aunt Edna's official obituary: She also graduated from Polk Community College where she obtained National Certified Professional Secretary (CBS) rating. She was a charter member of PCC Alumni Association. Ms. Scarborough was employed in the secretarial/accounting/legal field for over 50 years, and she served on the Advisory Council for Clerical Occupations for 20 years at Ridge Technical Center. She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Winter Haven. She was also an officer in the Senior Adult Department, and member of the American Legion Auxiliary #8, and past Presidents Parley. She was a member of the Winter Haven Historical Society. In 1996, she was Staple's National Secretary of the Year. She was affectionately known as "Garber" to her family.

As an added plus, after the graveside service, my uncle and I went searching through that cemetery because I have lots of relatives buried there. I found my paternal grandmother, another aunt, a cousin who was stillborn . . . and I know there are several others. I took snapshots of their tombstones just to affix those spots in my memory. One day those graves will open, and my family will have the best reunion . . . :-)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Invisible Women

I've heard Nicole Johnson give this presentation many times . . . and I'm so glad I now have the video to share with you. For all of us invisible women out there . . . God sees what we do. :-)


Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Memory of Edna Haynes Scarborough

On Saturday, the hubby and I will be driving to a funeral, that of my aunt, Edna Haynes Scarborough. She died Wednesday afternoon.

Aunt Edna was the eldest of four sisters, whom I lovingly refer to as "the aunts." My mom and her sisters are genuinely close--they used to take trips together, they visit often, and we all get together every Thanksgiving, when we catch up with the cousins.

I could write a lot about Edna and her four children, but she was very pleased with her status as a professional woman. She was a legal secretary for years, and was still working on her church newsletter and taking the occasional typing job.

Last Christmas, Aunt Edna took a spill and was bitten by a dog--a nasty combination of injuries that resulted in nearly a year of hospitalization and rehab. Soon after leaving rehab and going back home, she discovered that she had breast cancer. This photo was taken only a few months ago, at our Thanksgiving reunion, when she assured me that she was spreading the word about my books to everyone who lived in her retirement development. :-) Bless her heart, she was a devoted reader and encourager, even occasionally leaving notes on my blog (along with Aunt Rene.) :-)

Aunt Edna knew and loved the Lord, so I know she's with him. But we will miss her at the reunions . . . and I know her children will miss her support and her strong opinions. :-)

See you soon, Aunt Edna. We'll be looking for you when we go Home.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Ice Castles Redux

One of my favorite movies is ICE CASTLES, an old movie from the late 70's, I think. They're just released a new version (just in time for the winter Olympics), and I watched it last night. I have to admit that this is a more family-friendly version, but it lacks the emotional depth of the original . . . I always cry buckets in the original, and I think I shed about two tears in the remake.

The writer in me wonders why the difference, and it wasn't because I missed the swear words. It was because they cut a subplot that dealt with the extreme mental pressures involved in such high stakes competition . . . and as any writer knows, the higher the stakes, the more involving the story.

In any case, it's still a fine film, and one you can show to your children (the new version). If you love ice skating, you ought to check out ICE CASTLES.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let It Snow!

Several enterprising folks have posted time-lapse photography of recent snowstorms on youtube. This is one of my favorites--I love the chair--and they all make me grateful that I live in Florida!

Though there is nothing nicer than being snowbound in a cozy house. :-)


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Celebrate Pandas

Because I don't think God made a cuter animal. :-) Check out these short videos:

Aren't they adorable?


Friday, February 05, 2010

Heavenly Daze Cruise Pictures

I wanted to post some of the pictures from the Heavenly Daze cruise. Here's a sampling. The first picture is an iguana in the wild--they run around all over the place down there, and our guide assured us that this 18 inch guy was a little one. :-) [You can click on the photos to enlarge.]

The second picture is of the Tampa skyline, and this is to answer Clyde's question about which building was the setting for THE ELEVATOR. It's the fifth building from the left, the one with the thin towers on top. It looks short in the photo, but it's set behind the others (though it's certainly not the tallest building in Tampa).

The third photo is of most of our group on "dress up" night for dinner. :-) The men were dressed up, too, but none of them apparently made it into the picture.

The fourth shot is something you don't see every day--two ships parked side by side. Our ship, the Grandeur of the Seas, and a Celebrity Ship.

Finally, the last shot is of Barbara West, who opened our first meeting with a fun game. And we owe a huge round of appreciative applause to Linda Gordon, who coordinated the entire event. Thank you so much!


Heavenly Daze Cruise Report

We had a wonderful time on the Heavenly Daze cruise to Cozumel. It was such fun to finally meet so many "Dazers," people who belong to the Heavenly Daze yahoo group and who have corresponded and prayed for each other for years. Lori Copeland and I answered their questions and led discussions on each other's books--fun! Then we worshipped together on Sunday morning.

And we got to roam around Cozumel on Saturday--and I got to practice my Spanish! I happily asked how much several items cost, but the answer came so fast, I had to stop and say, "I think you'd better tell me that answer in English." LOL! Fortunately, most people in the shops spoke English a lot better than I spoke Spanish, but at least I am getting better.

Nothing is as relaxing as a cruise. Every night feels like you're being rocked to sleep in a cradle . . . so roll on, sea, roll on!

Enjoy the photos!


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Gail Martin's latest book

Isn't this an adorable cover? I'm such a pushover for dogs.

Groom In Training
by Gail Gaymer Martin

Friends, Four-legged Friends and Love.

A widow with a sad past, Steph Wright, finds comfort in her faith and her adorable Border Collie, Fred. When Fred becomes enamored with the neighbor's pedigreed Bouvier, Steph meets Nick. With a broken engagement and a busy job, Nick isn't open to love and romance. But when Nick steps in to defend Steph, long talks ensue during dog walking, and both begin to learn that God has plans for each of them, especially Steph who sees some unexpected "groom-in-training" going on.

Endorsements from readers:
Had a hard time putting this book down. I highly recommend Groom In Training, and look forward to reading more from Gail Gaymer Martin.
Rikki Lee Howland, Reader
A delightful story of two hearts discovering where they belong.
Jo Huddleston, Reader

Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes fiction for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing, where she was recently honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. Gail has written forty-four contracted novels with three million books in print. She is the author of Writing the Christian Romance, a Writers Digest Books release. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations and also presents workshops at conference across the US. Gail has a Masters degree and post-master’s classes from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and is a licensed counselor. She lives in Michigan with her husband.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A sweetheart of a deal!

In honor of Valentine's month, we're running a promotion over on my book buying page--$5.00 off a $25.00 total, plus a free book! Just click here and shop away!


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

So sweet . . .

Someone posted these pictures of a newborn colt . . . so precious. Nothing like a mother's lap, no?

If the Lord wills, we have docked in Tampa and are home from our cruise with the Heavenly Dazers. Traveling is nice, but coming home is wonderful!


Monday, February 01, 2010

Book of the Month: WHY I STAYED, by Gayle Haggard

This month we do have a new release, but it's not a novel--it's one of the collaboration projects I've been involved in. It's Gayle Haggard's story, WHY I STAYED.

Whenever these collaborative books come out, I always receive a flurry of emails from people who want me to tell their story in a book, but it doesn't work that way. I don't meet the people who have the story until after they've contracted with a publisher; then it's the publisher who contacts me to see if I'm interested in working alongside.

When my agent first contacted me with news of Gayle's forthcoming book, I was a little hesitant--first of all, I hadn't kept tabs on the Ted Haggard story, and I didn't even know they were still together. I assumed not--after all, if any woman had a biblical reason for divorce, Gayle Haggard did. When I heard that Gayle was still with Ted, my thoughts jumped onto the same assumption that I've heard coming from several major newscasters--Gayle Haggard must be one of those women who simply can't imagine herself without the powerful man she married. Still, I was intrigued, so I agreed to do the project.

When I met Gayle (we were cloistered in a lovely bed and breakfast to work for three days), I soon found out that my assumption couldn't be more wrong. Gayle is a VERY strong woman, a leader in her own right, the mother of five children, and anything but a powerful man's doormat. She's very bright, extremely articulate, and quite brave . . . and I found myself caught up in her story. I learned a lot through the writing of it, and I've learned that just because God allows us a way out of a tough situation doesn't mean we should automatically take it. Instead the best thing--the godly thing--is to choose to stay and tough it out through the hard times.

Whenever I think of Gayle's story, I think of my book, THE PEARL, in which I wanted to explore what happens when God calls us through the valley of the shadow and we don't want to go. Or we go (because we have no choice), but we go kicking and screaming. I've done that . . . how about you?

In any case, I soon discovered that working on WHY I STAYED was a blessing for me. Gayle is a treasure, Ted is a gem, and I love them both. And this book is more than a story--it's a life lesson for all who believe. A lesson wrapped in love.

Pick up a copy today (and no, I don't get royalties). :-) I promise you'll be blessed.