Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last night the hubs and I went to a Tampa Rays baseball game (we have a friend who plays on the team). Anyway, as we were getting ready for bed, I said, "Don't you think it's really odd that we pay people millions of dollars to play a game for our enjoyment?"

He said, "Well, you enjoyed the game."

"Yeah, but I went to cheer on our friend. I really don't care much about baseball per se. So why don't we pay people like writers millions of dollars and have people pay to sit around and watch THEM work, and cheer them on, 'You can reach that deadline, you can untangle that plot . . . OH! struck out with that one, but you'll be up again . . ."

And hubby said, "You're tired and you're delirious. Go to bed."

And so I did. :-) Have a great day!

Friday, April 29, 2011

I made the chocolate biscuit cake

After work yesterday, I went out to scour the country looking for McVitie's Digestives and/or Rich Tea biscuits. Went first to T. J. Maxx, because I knew they had a gourmet food aisle, and came away with no McVities--though I did find some lovely sour apple gumballs and some apple chips.

Then I went to Winn Dixie. I searched the International Aisle and the cookie/cracker aisle, then I asked a young stock man. He didn't know and went looking for a manager, but after a while he came back and said he couldn't find a manger. But then, in a stroke of luck, he found both my McVities items, so I scooped up two boxes of each and brought them home.

As to chocolate, I bought a bar of semi-sweet, though now I'm wondering if I would like it better with ordinary semi-sweet chocolate chips.

So I crumbled the ten crackers as the recipe called for (and yes, they do taste very much like a Ritz cracker, but they're bigger), and added the dried fruit--I used cherries and cranberries, which I happened to have in my pantry. Then I added the pecans and melted the chocolate, butter, and mixed with Karo syrup. Then I added the chocolate mix to the cookies, fruit, and nuts in a bowl, poured it into a loaf pan, and put it in the freezer.

It won't be set until tomorrow morning (or I won't see it again until then), so I'll let you know how it tastes. I don't think it's going to be overly sweet--because the chocolate isn't, and there's really no added sugar (except for the small amount of syrup).

P.S. I was watching a TV show, and the fancy Savoy Hotel in London was also making this biscuit cake in honor of the wedding. The chef used little molds, though, so I wish I'd thought to use my mini-cupcake pan. That would be cute, plus it'd make individual mini-cakes.

I'll have to try that the next time I try another batch. This recipe is a natural for experimentation.



Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Unless you've been following the royal wedding news, you probably have no idea what a chocolate biscuit cake is or why I'd be featuring it. :-)

But Prince William has requested a chocolate biscuit cake as the "groom's cake" at his wedding, and my friend Penny Culliford (who writes smashing novels over in Britain), sent me a recipe for her favorite and very traditional "chocolate and biscuit fridge cake."

I've put the ingredients into American measurements. Fortunately, this cake doesn't require exact measurements. :-)

You're going to need a loaf pan or cake pan that holds about four cups.

3/4 stick of butter plus extra for greasing the tin (or you could use butter-flavored Pam, but with this recipe, who's counting calories?)

10 McVities Digestives (British cookies found either in the cookie or foreign foods section)

1/2 cup any kind of dried fruit you have around: cranberries, apricots, raisins, etc.

1/2 cup any kind of nut (I'd favor pecans)

4 ounces of milk chocolate (or bittersweet, if that's your fave).

4 tablespoons light Karo syrup

  1. Using a small piece of the butter wrapper or a little kitchen parchment rub a little butter over a 900 g (2 lb) loaf tin and then cut a piece of baking paper to go along the middle and up both ends of the tin.
  2. Break the biscuits into small pieces and put into a bowl. Add the dried fruit - if you have any big pieces of fruit like dried apricots, cut the fruit into small pieces using scissors. Add the chopped nuts and mix with your hands.
  3. Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a saucepan. Add the syrup and butter and put on the stove. Turn the heat on VERY low and heat gently until the butter and chocolate have melted. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix.
  4. Carefully pour the melted chocolate over the biscuits and mix together.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the pan and put into the fridge for at least 5 hours or until set hard.
  6. Pull the cake out of the pan using the baking paper – you may need to run a knife along the sides of the cake to help release it. Cut into small pieces and serve.
Packaged prettily, it makes a great gift!

*if you can’t eat nuts add 1/2 cup of a mixture of biscuits and dried fruit instead.

Original link found here.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A reading from MAGDALENE . . . for Easter

When Nicodemus had gone, I turned toward the cross. Blood still dripped from Yeshua’s body, a slow arrhythmic patting that struck the stony ground.

Tears filled my eyes, blurring my vision. I knew a group of legionnaires crouched to my right; I could hear smothered laughs and the clink of weapons as they packed up and prepared to leave Golgotha.

Was this just another day to them? Another prophet to execute, another nation to crush? Yeshua had embodied hope for Isra’el; even hope for the world. With everything in my heart I had firmly believed that only my rabboni could overthrow Rome and its Caesars. Instead, the people who had conquered our nation and murdered my family had crucified my hope.

And Yeshua had allowed them to do it.

I stepped forward and placed my hands on my rabboni’s wounded feet. His skin felt like cold marble beneath my palms.

From down the hill came the squeak of saddles and the shudder of a horse; from somewhere quite close I heard the crunch of stones beneath sandals. I would never have asked an enemy for help, but no one remained in the area … except Romans.

“Please, sir,” I said, speaking to the unknown soldier who hovered like a hulking shadow behind me, “will you help me take him down?”

The man did not answer, but the stones scrunched again and a pair of big hands covered mine. Almost tenderly, the soldier lifted my arms, then he stepped between me and Yeshua. I closed my eyes as the wood groaned and surrendered the spike. I covered my face as another man stood to help the first; together they brought Yeshua down and laid him at my feet.

When I could control myself, I blinked my tears away and looked at my teacher’s lifeless body.

“What are you going to do with him?”

I had expected the Roman’s voice to brim with contempt; instead, an almost kindly concern lined his words. I dashed wetness from my cheeks and pointed down the hill. “There’s a path … and a garden. One of the council members has made preparations.”

“Lead the way. I’ll carry him for you.”

Shock caused words to wedge in my throat. I looked up at the Roman, wanting to be sure he wasn’t toying with me, but my eyes were too bleary to see anything but the seriousness of his expression.

I reached out, touched his hand. “You are … a gift from HaShem.”

Heedless of the other soldiers who called out questions and jeers, the big man knelt and pulled Yeshua into his arms as if he were carrying a beloved son. I saw the metal of his helmet flash in the brightening sky as he nodded, then I turned and led the way down the hill.

And as I walked in a slow and stately pace, I couldn’t help but remember the thousands who had lined the road and cheered him only a few days before: “Please, deliver us, Son of David.”

Where had they gone? They were hiding. Weeping. Grieving.

They had abandoned their Messiah, leaving Yeshua to be buried by a former outcast, two council members, and a nameless Roman dog.

* * *

I did not sleep in the hours following Yeshua’s death. Every time I closed my eyes I saw his face gazing at me from the cross; every time I covered my ears I heard his rattling breaths. Throughout the long night I paced in the courtyard of the inn on Crooked Street and chewed my fingernails to nubs.

One thought filled my mind: I had failed my rabboni. I had walked and talked and lived with a prophet, but I had not listened to all he said. He had spoken of being pure of heart, but my heart had been filled with anger and resentment toward the Romans. When Yeshua realized that we were not strong enough to be the followers he needed, he had predicted his death. I had been too thick-headed to hear his warning … because I didn’t want to hear. I had even felt ashamed of his weakness … because I was too focused on my goals to see his strength.

I could scarcely imagine how hard it must have been for him to submit to the indignity and pain of the cross. Yet he had done it. Because we failed him.

We didn’t deserve rescue from the Romans.

The festival of Pesach, usually a time of rejoicing, filled our lives with despair. The sorrow of Golgotha clung to me like the smoke that had permeated my clothing as I watched my home go up in flames. The grief that had engulfed me at the cross remained with me when I washed my rabboni’s body and wrapped him in linen. I would have remained through the night to tuck spices in among the grave wrappings, but Nicodemus, mindful of the setting sun, urged me to hurry.

Jerusalem marked that day of rest with gloom. The people who had loved and supported Yeshua barely stirred from their houses, burdened not by the rules of the Shabbat, but by an overwhelming sense of loss.

“Oh, Jerusalem,” Yeshua had said, weeping, “the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

My rabboni’s words came back to me, proving that he had known what his fate would be. Still he had ventured into the city, still he had eaten with his spineless disciples and listened to them brag about being prepared to drink of his bitter cup.

On that dark Shabbat we learned other news—Judas had been the instrument of Yeshua’s betrayal. Apparently he had come late to that final supper because he had been arranging to betray our rabboni for thirty pieces of silver. Peter told me, with tears, that Judas had led an armed mob to the Garden of Gethsemane and signaled our master’s identity … with a kiss.

After Yeshua’s trial, Judas had been so overcome with remorse that he had killed himself.

On the first day of the week, before the sun pushed its way over the horizon, the other women and I gathered the additional spices we’d prepared and began the long walk to the tomb. On the way, Joanna worried aloud that we wouldn’t be able to find a man to remove the stone blocking the entrance.

As we neared the garden in the half-light of dawn, an earthquake shuddered the ground beneath us. We clung to each other until the earth stopped shaking, then we drew deep breaths and steeled ourselves to our miserable task.

When we reached the sepulcher, we discovered that the stone had been rolled away. We bent and stepped into the crypt, then I cried out—the stone slab was bare, the grave clothes tossed on the ground, the other niches empty.

Had I come to the wrong garden? No—I distinctly remembered the vibrant yellow of the flowering shrubs beside the gate. Was this the wrong tomb? No … the linen grave clothes were the fabrics I had folded over my rabboni.

“Miryam—” Joanna’s voice quavered. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know.”

Frantic, I left the other women and hurried back to the inn. John Mark pointed me toward the chamber where Peter and John were sleeping. When they opened the door, my words spilled out in a tumble: “They have taken the Lord’s body and I don’t know where they have put him!”

To their credit, neither man hesitated. They ran toward the tomb as well, leaving me to follow on legs that felt as insubstantial as air.

By the time I arrived back at the garden, the two disciples had come and gone. I saw their footsteps in the soft sand beside the entrance to the tomb; I could almost feel remnants of their alarm and confusion in the air.

I stood outside the sepulcher with my hands over my face and tears stinging my eyes. Once again, operating purely in vain hope, I peered inside the tomb. I had expected to see an empty stone slab, but my heart went into sudden shock when I saw two men in white—men who glowed.

The closest man’s eyes warmed slightly, and with the hint of a smile he acknowledged the startling effect of his unexpected appearance. “Why are you crying?”

Somehow, I caught a breath. “Because they have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Another smile tugged at the stranger’s mouth, but he did not speak again. Instead, he tilted his head and looked behind me, so I turned to see who might be approaching. A man stood next to one of the shrubs; I supposed him to be the gardener. Perhaps he thought we had made a mistake by placing Yeshua in a rich man’s tomb …

“Sir,” my voice broke, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him and I’ll go get him.”

The man stepped out of the shadows. “Miryam.”

“Rabboni!” Yeshua’s voice leapt into my heart like a living thing. Grateful beyond words, I fell at his feet and clutched his ankles—warm, living flesh—as if I might never let him go.

“Don’t cling to me,” Yeshua said, his voice as gentle as a breeze, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

Has any woman ever been charged with a more delightful task? I rose, weeping afresh, and back-stepped to the garden gate, not wanting to tear my gaze from my teacher. Yeshua smiled at me, waiting, and though everything in me wanted to stay, I was determined not to fail him.

I ran back into the city and found the disciples at John Mark’s inn. Peter and John had not yet returned, but the other disciples were red-eyed and weary from grief.

I laughed aloud, delighted to share my news: “Yeshua is alive! He called my name!”

I thought they would rejoice, but they didn’t believe me. Neither did they believe Joanna, Salome, or Cleophas’s Miryam, who had returned earlier with the same news.

What man, after all, trusts the word of mere women?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Share it With a Sister Video Eleven!

Another batch of lovely sisters and friends. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Share it with a Sister Video Ten!

Don't forget, we still have the "Share it with a Sister" contest going strong! You can enter every day, with or without a picture. Just send your entry to

And take a look at these delightful ladies!



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ask Angie Anything!

This is a fun new feature--
go here, leave your question, and check back later for the answer. You may ask any question you like--about old books, new books, upcoming books, characters, conferences, writing, not-writing, mastiffs, whatever!



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trish Perry's latest

About Trish: Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in Psychology.

Trish’s latest novel, Unforgettable, released in March, and Tea for Two released in April. She invites you to visit her at

About Tea for Two:

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.

AND Trish is sharing an excellent recipe from the tea shop!

Chocolate Mousse Cake


6 ounces crushed malt balls

8.8 ounce container mascarpone cheese

7 ounces heavy cream, whipped

3 seven ounce packages white chocolate & Macadamia cookies

1 cup Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur (for non-alcoholic version use Irish Crème coffee creamer)

Chocolate mousse:

10 ounces chopped dark chocolate

2 eggs (room temperature)

¼ cup caster sugar (very fine granulated sugar)

¾ cup heavy cream, whipped


Make chocolate mousse—

  • In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chopped chocolate until almost melted, stirring after each minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Beat eggs and caster sugar with electric beater for five minutes.
  • Stir in cooled chocolate.
  • Fold in ¾ cup whipped cream.
  • Refrigerate until needed.

Set aside ¼ cup crushed malt balls.

Fold together mascarpone, 7 ounces whipped cream, and remaining malt balls. Remove the base of an 8-inch spring form pan and place the ring on a large serving plate (ring will serve as a mold for the cake). Cut a strip of parchment paper and line side of ring. Dip cookies, one at a time, into liqueur and place in single layer in mold to cover base. Spread half mascarpone mixture over cookies. Top with another layer of cookies dipped in liqueur.

Spread chocolate mousse over cookies. Top with one more layer of cookies dipped in liqueur. Spread remaining mascarpone mixture over cookies and sprinkle with the ¼ cup reserved malt balls.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Then remove spring form, peel away parchment paper, cut, and serve.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Kick off Royal Wedding week

In honor of what all the networks are calling "Royal Wedding Week," here's a clip that is making the rounds . . . hilarious!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

The WIP is Coming Along

The WIP is coming along, and I'm enjoying it--in fact, at times I crack myself up. I just hope everyone else finds it funny too (in spots).

I have you the first scene the other day--and if you missed it, here's the link. So now I have to introduce you to the OTHER two sisters in the next two scenes. Here goes!

Next, meet Magnolia, aka "Nolie:"

Nolie pushed at the brim of her hat to better see the man who’d identified himself as Erik Payne. He was certainly dressed up for a hot May day—he wore dark pleated trousers, a white shirt, and a red tie. What man chose to wear a tie in this heat?

She tilted her head. “You say you’re from Chattahoochee?”

He kept his gaze on the driveway as the truck rolled forward. “Until last week I was pastoring the First Community Church there. You ever hear of it?”

She shook her head. “I don’t get over that way much. Not unless somebody’s in the hospital or something.”

She shifted her gaze from his thin, unlined face to his hands. Smooth and pale, with clean and evenly-trimmed nails, they looked like a preacher’s hands.

“So.” The reverend cleared his throat as he applied the brake and stopped the truck a few feet from the front sidewalk. “Should I be nervous about talking to your sister?”

Nolie laughed. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I meant that Darlene runs the house, that’s all. She’s the one to talk to if you’re lookin’ for work.” She gripped the door handle, and grinned at him. “And you’re in luck—I happen to know she’s looking for someone to mow the lawn and all like that. Since she started having hot flashes, Darlene just can’t take the heat.”

A wave of color brightened the preacher’s face as he put the truck in park and pocketed his keys. “Okay, then. I guess I’m ready to meet your sister.”

“Her name’s Darlene. Come with me, and I’ll introduce you.”

Nolie slid out of the truck and stopped to pat Lucy’s and Ricky’s heads—the dogs had followed her up the driveway. After greeting Nolie, they darted toward Erik, positioning themselves between the minister and the walkway.

Erik lifted both hands in a position of surrender. “Do they bite?”

“They never have.” Nolie walked toward him, then looked at the dogs and touched the man’s arm. “It’s okay, baby dogs. This man is a friend.”

The dogs relaxed, their stiff tails now swinging back and forth in happy arcs. “They’re beautiful,” Erik said, following Nolie as she led the way up the sidewalk. “What kind are they?”

“Leonbergers,” Nolie answered, pleased at his interest. “A cross between St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Great Pyrenees. They’re still pretty rare over here, but they’re fairly common in Europe. I had these two flown over from Germany when they were pups.”

Giving the visitor another reassuring smile, Nolie turned toward the porch—and stifled a groan. Like a sentry on duty, Darlene stood between the center columns at the top of the stairs, a shotgun in her hands. “Sister,” Nolie said, flashing a warning, “you can put the gun down.”

Darlene eyed the stranger with a steely gaze. “I don’t know this fellow.”

“That’s only because you’ve never met him. Darlene, I’d like you to meet Reverend Erik Payne. Rev. Payne, this is my sister, Darlene Young.”

The minister took a hesitant step forward, his hand extended. “Ma’am. I’m pleased to meet you.”

Darlene lowered the gun and took his hand without smiling. “What brings you all the way out here, Rev. Payne? We don’t need any more Bibles—we have plenty.”

“Please, call me Erik. And I’m not selling anything.” He pulled a folded handkerchief from his pants pocket and wiped perspiration from his forehead. “Since you asked, ma’am, I was pastoring a church in Chattahoochee until those folks felt the time had come for me to move on. With the employment situation being with it is today, one of my parishioners gave me your name—he said you and your sister might be willing to take in a stray like me. I’m not looking for a handout, mind you, but a job and a place to stay. I had to leave the parsonage, so I’ve been staying in cheap hotels and lookin’ for work.”

Nolie tugged on Darlene’s apron. “You were just sayin’ we need someone to mow the lawn. And wouldn’t it be nice to have someone take that old siding off the guest house? He could do that and a lot of other things around here.”

“Yeah . . . that’s the trouble with owning an old house. No matter where we sit, we’re looking at somethin’ that needs doin.’” Darlene shifted her gaze back to the minister. “But before we commence, Rev. Payne, I have to ask somethin’ and I’d appreciate an honest answer: why did that congregation ask you to leave? Did they catch you stealing from the offering plate? Or were you spending too much time counseling somebody else’s wife?”

His mouth twisting, he reached up and loosened the knot of his tie. “Nothing like that, ma’am. I—well, I was married when I took the church. I’d been married five years and my wife supported me all the time I was going to school and seminary. But once we went to Chattahoochee and actually got into the work of the ministry, she decided she didn’t like being a pastor’s wife. She didn’t like living in a parsonage, she didn’t like going to people’s baby showers, and she really didn’t like sharing me with a hundred other people. So a year ago she up and left, and after six months she divorced me. The church was good enough to allow some time in case God wanted to work a miracle and heal my marriage, but He didn’t, and the church decided that a divorced man couldn’t be a good example to the flock. So they asked me to leave, and that’s probably all you want to hear.”

He dabbed at his forehead again, then shoved his handkerchief back into his pocket. “That’s God’s truth, Ms. Young, you can call and ask anyone in Chattahoochee.”

Darlene narrowed her gaze. “The man who gave you my name—who was he?”

“Beverage Simons.”

A smile finally broke through Darlene’s mask of indifference. “I do know Beverage Simons—and I know he wouldn’t have sent you here if you weren’t a good man.” She looked at Nolie. “I suppose we can work something out. We can put him in the guest house, can’t we?”

Nolie stared in pleased surprised, then she beamed. “Indeed we can.”

The minister slumped in relief. “Thank you, ma’am. Thank you ladies.”

Darlene leaned the shotgun against a porch column, then folded her arms. “Now—what can you do, Rev. Payne?”

He looked at Nolie as a half smile crossed his face. “Honestly, ladies, I haven’t done much manual labor lately. But as a kid I did some painting, lawn mowing, and general labor. You tell me what needs to be done, and if I don’t know how to do it, I’ll go into town and find somebody to teach me.”

Darlene nodded. “And in return we’ll give you use of the guest house and one meal a day. How long do you think you’ll be stayin’?”

He took a deep breath and scratched his chin. “I can’t say. I know I’ve been called to the ministry, so as soon as I’m settled, I’m going to start sending out resumes and looking for another position. God called me to preach and teach, so that’s what I aim to do . . . as soon as the Lord opens a door.”

“So we’ll be waitin’ on God, then.”

“Yes, ma’am. Is that acceptable?”

Darlene looked at Nolie again, then nodded. “I think so. What do you say, sister?”

Nolie smiled, glorying in the shared moment. She’d been holding her breath, hoping Darlene would see that the good and Christian thing to do would be to help this man regain his footing. He had a look in his brown eyes, the same look she saw when one of her dogs was in pain, and she couldn’t bear to see any living thing in need of help . . .

“I say ‘Welcome to Sycamores.’” She turned and gripped the man’s hand, grinning as the dogs picked up on her excitement and began to bark. “Come on, and I’ll walk you down to the guest house. It’s not fancy and it needs some work, but it’ll keep you warm at night and dry in the rain.”

“No matter what it looks like,” Erik said, following her, “it’ll be an answered prayer.”

And now, meet Carlene:

Sitting in her doctor’s Manhattan office, Carlene Caldwell couldn’t stop thinking about how a single hour on a particular September 11 had shaken her city to its foundations, and taught every New Yorker that seismic change could arrive without warning. Though her doctor’s report wouldn’t affect millions of Americans, it certainly held the potential to destroy her future.

So where was her young doctor, and why did he have to keep her waiting?

She folded her hands in her lap and tried not to look at her antsy agent, who was jiggling his crossed leg more energetically than usual. “I want you to know how grateful I am that you were willing to come down here with me,” she said, eyeing a thick folder on the physician’s desk. “I’ve been dreading this appointment, so it’s really nice to have someone along for moral support.”

Martin laughed, but his laughter contained an edge. “I’m always happy to help you, Carlene. It’s the least I could do after all our years together.” His brow furrowed. “How many years has it been?”

She paused to count them up. “Let’s see—I got my first part in ’84, and signed you right after. So that’s—what?”

“Twenty-eight. You never have been good at math. ”

“That’s why I trust you to keep my accounts straight.” She smiled at him, grateful that he hadn’t brought up the reason for their visit. “We’ve lasted longer than a lot of marriages.”

“Including yours and all three of mine.”

She glanced at her watch, then sighed and crossed her legs, struggling to get comfortable in her chair. “Good thing we never married.”

“Good thing I never asked. I knew you had better taste.”

She turned and stared at the closed door behind them. “What could be keeping that doctor?”

Martin’s eyes softened. “Are you nervous?”

“No—well, yes. I keep hoping for good news, but I don’t know . . . common sense tells me something’s not right. My voice tells me something’s not right. I don’t even talk like I used to; this rasp in my voice is driving me crazy—”

“Some people might find it sexy.”

“Those people know nothing about singing.”

Martin fell silent, then he reached out and squeezed Carlene’s arm. “I’m sorry you’re in this spot.”

She choked on a desperate laugh. “If I’d known losing my voice for six months was even a possibility, I would never have had the surgery.”

Martin shifted his weight, then cleared his throat. “By the way, how’s your understudy doing? Are the producers happy with her?”

Carlene shrugged. “I think so. But almost anyone could play Golde. It’s not the most demanding part in the world.”

“Any thought about what you might like to do next?”

“That all depends on the outcome of this meeting, doesn’t it?”

The door behind them finally blew open, revealing the young doctor who wore a furrowed brow and a concerned expression. He walked around the two guest chairs, then paused to shake Carlene’s hand. “Thank you for coming in, Ms. Caldwell.”

Carlene introduced Martin, who stood to shake the doctor’s hand. When the introductions were complete, she leaned forward. “I hope we can skip any other formalities, Dr. Weston. I have to know—is my throat going to get better, or will I sound like this for the rest of my life?”

The doctor frowned and perched on the edge of his desk. “You haven’t noticed any improvement since I last saw you?”


“Your upper register is still affected?”

“My upper register is gone. I used to have a five-octave range; now I can barely manage one.”

“Well.” The young man rubbed his palm along the seam of his trousers, then released a machine gun volley of words: “The reason I asked you to wait for the result of the latest scan is because I was hoping the scar tissue would recede. But apparently the thyroid cartilage has elongated and reinforced the loosening of your vocal cords. I was hoping you’d be better after several months of recuperation, but sometimes our purposes are thwarted and our goal is not achieved. But you are able to speak with no problem, and that may be the best result we can hope for.”

Carlene blinked, her mind reeling in the verbal onslaught. “You thought I’d be better? Doctor, I can’t simply be better. I have to be exceptional. I have to be able to sing like I used to.”

The doctor’s expression remained locked in neutral. “I’m sorry the results of your surgery were not what we expected.”

He was sorry—was an apology all he could offer her? Carlene struggled to swallow as her throat tightened. Perspiration soaked the back of her hand while a drop of sweat trickled between her breasts.

Not what he expected? Why didn’t he call this what it was, a disaster, catastrophe, calamity, and tragedy?

“Martin, I can’t—” She closed her eyes as the objects in the office swirled around her. She heard Martin bark a command, then felt a strong arm support her shoulders and hold her upright.

A moment later she opened her eyes to find the room’s furnishings settled in their proper places. She fastened her gaze on the doctor’s white lab coat.

Martin took her hand. “Are you all right, Carlene? Would you like to go home? I could call a cab—”

“So that’s it, then.” She lifted her chin and looked at the doctor, who was moving to the chair behind his desk. “My voice is ruined.” She uttered the words in her new voice, trying them on for size.

The doctor’s mouth changed just enough to bristle the fashionable stubble on his cheek. “I’m so sorry.”

“You’ve already said that.” She blinked, then looked at Martin. “I think I’m ready for that cab now.”

Martin helped her to her unsteady feet as the doctor stammered behind his chair. “If—if there’s anything I can do—”

“Thank you,” she said, moving toward the door. “Thanks for destroying my life.”

That's it for today! Comments? Questions? What are you thinking? What are you impressions of these women?

Thanks for the feedback!


Friday, April 15, 2011

The power of words . . .

Ah, it's not what you say sometimes, but how you say it. May we all remember this as parents, friends, spouses, and neighbors.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lyn Cote Shares a Recipe!

Brought together by a Matchmaking Dog--

Dr. Jake McClure’s basset hound has fallen in love. With a single mom, her adorable twins and the orphaned kittens they rescued. Man’s best friend suddenly won’t budge from Jeannie Broussard—and Jake can understand why. Jeannie is full of love, laughter and everything Jake has been missing in his life lately. As Jake spends time with Jeannie and her girls helping to build her Habitat for Humanity house and rescuing stray animals, a bond forges between them, and soon Jake is wondering if he’s the perfect fit in this fatherless family....

To purchase, drop by

New Friends Street:

Where love and dreams find a home.


When Lyn Cote became a mother, she gave up teaching, and while raising a son and a daughter, she began working on her first novel. Rejection followed. Finally, Lyn got "the call." Her first book, Never Alone, was chosen for the new Love Inspired romance line. Since then, Lyn has had over thirty novels published. In 2006 Lyn's book, Chloe, was a finalist for the RITA, one of the highest awards in the romance genre. And her Her Patchwork Family was a Carol finalist in the short historical category in 2010. Lyn’s brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories,” always includes three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail and a multicultural cast of characters. Lyn also features stories of strong women both from real life and true to life fiction on her website homepage, Lyn also can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Drop by and "friend or follow" her. Now living her dream of writing books at her lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, Lyn hopes her books show the power of divine as well as human love.

One of the secondary characters in this book, Millie, is famous for her Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Here's my recipe.

Lyn Cote's Baked Macaroni

I adapted this recipe from my 1940 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I've cut the fat content from the original and changed to whole wheat or SMART TASTE macaroni to up the fiber. So you can indulge with this recipe, knowing that it's healthy!

1 lb. whole wheat macaroni or Ronzoni Brand Smart Taste pasta (fortified with Calcium, Vitamin d and Fiber)


White sauce:

6 Tb butter or margarine

¾ c. flour

5 c. skim milk

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper


1 lb grated medium cheddar cheese (Or if you want to give this a Mexican flavor, substitute pepper jack cheese.)

1 c. bread crumbs (or crushed tortilla chips)

Cook macaroni, drain and put into greased, deep casserole dish or bowl. Make the white sauce and take pan off heat (to keep the cheese from becoming stringy). Add 2/3rd's of the grated cheese. Stir till melted. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs over top. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. May serve as side dish or main course.

Drop by to learn more about Lyn's literary concoctions. And catch up on her free read, La Belle Christiane, an original manuscript never published, a new scene every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

War Horse

I am so EXCITED--as it happens, a friend and I booked a trip to NYC last week. We were going up for some girlfriend time, some research/sight seeing time, and some brainstorming time.

And then I saw a clip about this show opening this week at Lincoln Center . . . so we're going! We're not going until the end of May, but I can hardly wait. These puppets are amazing, and I'm a wee bit familiar with this story because I saw a trailer about the upcoming movie the other day--I think Spielberg is doing the movie version later this year.

And I also ordered the novel today, so I'd be thoroughly informed. :-) As a girl who grew up on reading BLACK BEAUTY and lots of other horse books, I can't wait to see/read/experience this.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Music is all around us . . .

A tip of the hat to Kay Day for sending me this link. Forget that it's a commercial and simply enjoy the concept and the melody. Fascinating! And at first I thought all they were recording was the sound of the wind, the trees, and the river . . .


Monday, April 11, 2011

If you like the Beatles . . .

What do Christian musicians do when they're between gigs? Well, maybe they do this . . .Featuring: MercyMe, Jars Of Clay, Matt Maher, Thousand Foot Krutch, The Afters & Lecrae of The Rock & Worship Roadshow 2011.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

When one twin has only one sock . . .

You may have already seen this . . . the video has gone viral, and I saw these boys last week on Good Morning America--and they were chattering up a storm on GMA, too. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 09, 2011

First Scene of the WIP

Okay, would you like a sneak peek at FIVE MILES SOUTH OF PECULIAR? I'd love your feedback.

Don't be misled by the picture--it's not a Christmas story.

Here's the Back cover copy (still in progress):

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending the estate known as Sycamores. She cared for a husband and raised two children in the spacious house, and now that she’s a widow and grandmother, she enjoys hosting the Peculiar Quilting Club and the Ladies Book Club in her living room. Friends call her the “Southern Martha Stewart,” and Darlene relishes her expertise in all things domestic. She may own only one-third of the estate, but she sees Sycamores as a kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her lime-light stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery spells the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in her life, she retreats to the home she and her sisters have inherited—Sycamores, a spacious estate in north Florida, five miles from the heart of a little town called Peculiar. She may not be able to sing like she used to, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to create a new life in the place she once called home.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls, and though she’s never lived anywhere but Sycamores, Nolie inhabits a world of her own. Innocent and nurturing, she spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the five-acre estate. When she meets a man haunted by troubles of his own, she develops feelings for him, but they cannot have a future unless she cuts the apron strings that keep her tied to the dear and familiar.

Can these three sisters reach an understanding and discover who they are meant to be now that life is leading them down a different path? Three different women, with three opposite temperaments, reunite in a season of destiny and take an unexpected journey of the heart.

And here's the first scene in the book:

The problem with turning fifty, Darlene Young philosophized as she sank into a rocker on the front porch, was that the dog days of summer and hot flashes didn’t cancel each other out. Weren’t two negatives supposed to make a positive?

She pulled a tattered Japanese fan from her apron pocket and opened it, then frantically thrashed at the hot air. The porch lay in deep shade, but beyond it simmered a sun-spangled garden where roses nodded their heads and sunflowers followed the blazing torch in the sky. Nolie was staking the top-heavy gladiolas while her dogs, Lucy and Ricky, romped across the wide lawn stretching beside the mile-long driveway.

Darlene frowned at the lawn. The grass looked to be ankle-deep, and Nolie didn’t like to ride the tractor mower—the big machine probably intimidated her. Darlene would cut the lawn herself, but in this heat, she’d have to cut it either before sunup or after sundown, and she didn’t want to risk running over a possum or armadillo in the half-light.

“Lawn needs mowin’,” she called, trusting that Nolie could hear her above the sound of the barking dogs. “Do you think we could get Henry to find a boy in town to come out and take care of it?”

Nolie looked up, her eyes shaded by the wide brim of her straw hat. “Didn’t we just cut it?”

“Been nearly two weeks.” Darlene fanned herself again. “Your dogs are gonna be itchin’ if the grass gets too long. We won’t be able to keep the fleas off ‘em, and I’m not gonna put up with fleas in the house again.”

Nolie turned, the hot breeze ruffling her long over-the-head apron as she watched the dogs play. “You’d better call Henry, then,” she yelled, picking up her gardening basket. “Ask if he can find someone regular.”

“Only till the heat passes. Might as well save the money and do it ourselves once the weather cools down a bit.”

Nolie waved in silent agreement as she followed the dogs and walked toward the driveway.

Darlene propped her hand on her chin and watched her baby sister move away. Oh, to be young and carefree again. Though Nolie had just celebrated her fortieth birthday, she was still a child in many ways. She’d never been married, never raised children, never been widowed . . .

Darlene straightened as an unfamiliar sound reached her ear. A red pick-up truck was rattling down the gravel drive, its bed loaded like a gypsy’s and covered with a bright blue tarp. Nolie slowed as the truck approached, then the driver stopped and lowered his passenger window.

A sudden chill climbed the chinks of Darlene’s spine as she stood and walked to the edge of the porch. This was how every crime show on TV began—some suspicious vehicle stopped beside an innocent woman while the driver asked about a child’s birthday party or which way to the police station. But this road led to this house and nowhere else, so the stranger had either made a wrong turn or he was about to kidnap one of the Caldwell women.

Darlene clenched her teeth. “Don’t you get in that truck, Nolie.”

As if she heard and wanted to disobey, Nolie stepped over the shallow drainage ditch at the side of the drive and approached the vehicle. She reached for the door handle, stepped up into the cab, and slammed the door.

Darlene stood in hypnotized horror. If that truck raised dust in a sudden u-turn, she was calling the sheriff and raising an alarm—

But the truck continued toward the house, its giant tires making soft popping sounds as it rolled over the gravel. Darlene pressed her lips together, then stepped inside the foyer, where Daddy’s shotgun waited.

The stranger in the truck might not intend to harm them, but when two women lived alone five miles south of the only town within half an hour’s drive, Darlene would rather be safe than sorry.

That's it! Comments? What do you think of these people? What genre vibe are you getting? What "tone" are you getting?


Friday, April 08, 2011

Do You Have an Accent?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I posted this some time ago (a long time ago!), but I find it fascinating, so I took the test again. I really don't have an accent--probably because Florida is a mixture of all the states (nearly all of my neighbors are from Somewhere Else.)

What accent do you have?


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Domestic Diva meets Domestic Disaster

My saga began Tuesday morning . . . unless you want to go all the way back to when I began my Jenny Craig program, in which case we'd have to go back to November.

But anyway--you probably know that Jenny Craig is a program where you're supposed to eat THEIR FOOD, which comes to your house mostly in frozen, single-serve packages. I've been on the program (for the second time) since November and am only ten pounds away from my goal.

But after several months on these meals, you begin to get a little queasy every time you look at one of those distinctive packages. I mean, even the foods I LIKED were beginning to taste bland and not-so-good. Plus, once you hit the mid-point, you are officially allowed to begin working in foods of your own choosing, as long as you mind your calorie count and don't go hog wild.

One more thing you should know--this Jenny Craig food isn't cheap--it's about double the price of a lean cuisine on sale.

Okay--so as of last week I had about a month's worth--probably more--Jenny Craig foods in my garage freezer. I had also been filling the freezer with all the cupcakes and cakes I was baking in my latest baking obsession. Stacks of cakes and bag after bag of cupcakes and muffins, all just waiting for the plate in the kitchen to clear so I could set out some different goodies.

But Tuesday afternoon, as I went out to the garage to get a Jenny Craig lunch, I noticed that the box was a little soggy. Hmmm. Went out again and noticed that all the boxes stored in the doors were soft . . . not a good thing for cardboard. I decided that my hubby (who's been eating the JC meals, too), had left the door partially open, as he is wont to do. (What is it with men and drawers/doors? My son leaves things open, too.)

So I closed the door up tight and when whistling on my way. Near dinner time, however, I went out again, and even MORE packages were soggy. Hmmm. The lower shelves were soggy, the upper shelves were still cold and ice-covered. Furthermore, the lower shelves were WET, because the accumulated ice had begun to melt. Uh oh.

So my hubby was off the hook and I decided that the freezer was dying. When one purchases a freezer, one knows that the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Murphy's Law all decree that this freezer will one day die, probably when stuffed full of food. But you buy the freezer anyway, hoping that the appliance will die during someone else's lifetime.

So--what to do? I grabbed all those soggy packages and stuffed them into the kitchen refrigerator--the freezer side, which did not have a lot of room to spare. I kept running back to the garage to check on the items on the top shelf, which included the Christmas Ham we didn't eat, so I was saving it for Easter. With a $35 price tag still on the ham, I wasn't about to let it go bad. Unfortunately, every time I opened the door, what cold air there was promptly spilled into the stifling garage.

Finally, I hit upon a brilliant idea--set a little cup of water in the freezer, close the door, and leave it for a while. If the water froze, the freezer would live and I simply needed to replace everything. If the water didn't freeze, I was in trouble.

In the mean time, I went online to read about what can be safely re-frozen and what can't. Discovered that all those soggy packages probably needed to be pitched, as they contained meat and I had no way of knowing how long they'd been thawed. The cakes and un-iced cupcakes would be okay, as would the English muffins and loaves of bread.

After a couple of hours, I checked my cup of water . . . still very liquid, so I called all the home improvement stores in town and asked who could deliver a new freezer TOMORROW. Only one answered in the affirmative--Lowe's. So I ran down to Lowes, plopped down the charge card, and bought a new freezer.

Rushed home, where the hubster helped me sort through soggy boxes. I thought that our homeowners insurance would cover the ruined food, so I began to toss boxes with a lighter heart. (Later, I discovered that my company doesn't cover food in freezers if the freezer dies a normal death. If someone had come in and STOLEN all my Jenny Craig foods, however, I'd be covered. Ha. )

This morning, while sweeping up water from the defrosting OLD freezer, I picked up a 40 pound bag of dog food to move it away from the puddle . . . and the bottom burst. While I tried to sweep up all those little kibbles, Babe stood by my side, eating for all she was worth. Sigh.

So right now the old freezer is gone, the new one is cooling, and my kitchen fridge is stuffed with foods that MUST BE EATEN ASAP. But I don't know . . . the thought of eating a package that has been gushy leaves me feeling . . . gushy in the stomach.

And so that's the latest domestic diva report. I console myself with this thought: someday this will make a great chapter in a book. :-)


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Story Jar

As Mother's Day approaches, I'd love to tell you about a re-release of a favorite book:

A lovely novel of three women, their stories threaded together through the concept of

The Story Jar…

The jar itself is most unusual—not utilized in the ordinary way for canning or storing food, but as a collection point for memories. Some mementos in the jar—hair ribbons, a ring, a medallion--are sorrowful, others tender, some bittersweet. But all those memories eventually bring their owners to a place of hope and redemption in spite of circumstances that seemingly have no solution.

Fresh, insightful, yet courageous in the face of difficult life issues, this collaboration by two talented writers first profiles a pastor’s wife with two young daughters who faces cancer just as her own mother did before her; and then a remarried mother working through a difficult relationship with a rebellious runaway daughter. The third woman, alone with two teenaged boys who no longer pay much attention to her and seem headed for trouble, discovers the long-lost “story jar” and its significance. She comes to realize she can bring her own sorrows and frustrations to the feet of the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Healer of the brokenhearted. She too will have memories for her own story jar.

“…It captures with surprising sensitivity…communion with God, and some excruciatingly exquisite moments of parental love…” Publishers Weekly

Included in the book are heart-warming tributes on motherhood from novelists such as Jerry Jenkins, Francine, Rivers, Karen Ball, and Debbie Macomber.



Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the kitten who currently terrorizes the household.

When Deborah Bedford isn't writing, she spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.


by Robin Lee Hatcher

In September 1998, I received a story jar as a thank you gift after speaking at a writers’ conference in Nebraska. The small mason jar, the lid covered with a pretty handkerchief, was filled with many odds and ends – a Gerber baby spoon, an empty thread spindle, a colorful pen, several buttons, a tiny American flag, an earring, and more.

The idea behind this gift was a simple one. When a writer can’t think of anything to write, she stares at one of the objects in the jar and lets her imagination play. Who did that belong to? How hold was he? What sort of person was he? What does the object represent in his life?

Writers love to play the “what if” game. It’s how most stories come into being. Something piques their interest, they start asking questions, and a book is born.

A week after receiving my story jar, I attended a retreat with several writer friends of mine, Deborah Bedford included. On the flight home, I told Deborah about the jar. The next thing you know (after all, what better thing is there for writers to do on a plane than play “what if”?), we began brainstorming what would ultimately become The Story Jar. We decided very quickly that we wanted this to be a book that celebrates motherhood, that encourages mothers, that recognizes how much they should be loved and honored.

The Story Jar was first published by Multnomah in 2000, but eventually went out of print. Thus Deborah and I are delighted that Hendrickson wanted to bring it out in a new, revised version because we believe these stories can inspire others, just as it did this reader back in 2001:

"I am an avid book reader and have read thousands of books––maybe more––since the age of 5. I can honestly say that [The Story Jar] has touched me more than any other I have read. I cried, I laughed, and I relearned things that I had forgotten long ago as well as realizing things I never knew. Thank you for sharing your stories with your readers. They are truly inspiring. I plan on giving it to all the ‘mothers’ in my life for Mother's Day."

You don’t have to be a writer to want a story jar. It can be a family’s way of preserving memories. Consider having a family get-together where everybody brings an item to go into the jar, and as it drops in, they tell what it means to them, what it symbolizes. We can learn something new about our loved ones when we hear their memories in their own words. Or do what my church did a number of years ago to create a memory for a retiring pastor. Inspired by The Story Jar, members of the congregation brought items to the retirement dinner to put into a story jar or they simply wrote their memories on a piece of paper to go into the jar. It was our way of saying thanks to a man and wife for all of the years they’d given in God’s service.

A story jar can be a tool for remembering all the wonderful things God has done in our own lives. As Mrs. Halley said, not all of God’s miracles are in the Bible. He is still performing them today in countless ways today, changing lives, healing hearts.

In the grip of His grace,
Robin Lee Hatcher