Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hello Again's Wednesday morning and I'm still cracking up that David A sang Sweet Caroline last night. I was just kidding in my post yesterday, but did I call it or what? LOL...

Actually, the contestants sounded pretty good
singing Neil's stuff, I have to say. While voting last night, I got a busy signal for everyone but Jason (yeah, we give everyone at least one vote, just to be nice ;) I'm becoming more and more of a David Cook fan each day, although this year, I really do like them all--much different than in past years when our family of five would shout at the TV and each other over our preferences (family bonding and all).

As for the vote-off? It really should be Jason--I even think he wants to go, don't you? Beautiful face, that one, but oh, those expressions! David C rocked it, David A was just average for me (as Randy would say, "I'm not mad at you."), Brooke's last half of the Monkeys' song was much better than the first--I think it took her time to get comfortable and just rock out, and Syesha looked and sounded terrific, in my opinion. I wonder why Simon gave her the death knell? Think he was trying to stir up votes for her?

Opinions, please? Oh, and what did you think of the show's frenetic pace? Even poor Paula didn't know what was going on...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mom's Day Giveaway & Neil on AI

Did a radio interview this morning at 6:30 am PT for KREJ in Wichita, and let's just hope the latte had kicked in enough for me to make sense--ha! If you were listening, then you know I said I'd be doing another chocolate giveaway, and if you weren't, that's okay because you can enter to win too just by being on my mailing list. The sign-up is over on the right sidebar there, or you can stop by my website.

this Saturday I'll pick two winners who'll each win one copy of Truffles by the Sea and Two 1/2 lb. boxes of truffles (yummo!)--one for you and the other to give to Mom (or a mother figure in your life). You've got to be on the mailing list to be entered in the contest, though. Oh, and I'm so sorry my International friends, but I'm going to limit this one to the US in order to get the gifts to winners by Mother's Day. Next time, I'll make sure I've got more lead time. Promise.

Enough of that...Neil Diamond's on American Idol tonight and I'm just not seeing it. Well, I will see it, but my hopes aren't especially high. But that could actually make for a pleasant viewing experience, especially if they do better than my expectations. (I keep hearing David A singing "Sweet Caroline" in my head and cracking up...)

Maybe I'm a bit cynical today...I did have to get up early, you know, Lol. What do you see happening tonight?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feeling Grateful

We writers often spend our time (okay, way too much time) ruminating on the age-old question, "Do I stink?", often answering in the affirmative, so it's a great relief to our tender psyches when we read something happy about our work.

So-woohoo!--on Sunday morning,
sweet Debbie emailed me the following review of Truffles by the Sea written by Cindy of Ck2s Kwips and Kritiques. It's a stunner and almost made me cry, so I thought I'd share it with you: Cindy's Review

Laurel Wreath, who writes for CWO Magazine, also emailed me via my website recently to let me know how much she loved the book, and then she posted the following terrific review on her site and on Amazon. (Sorry I made you so hungry, Laurel--Not :)) Laurel's Review.

Thanks so much to you ladies and to all who've taken the time to both read my newest release, and to also post a review--many did so back in February, and I so appreciate you all!

Interview and Giveaway

I'm spending the rest of the day over at Author Lena Nelson Dooley's blog. If you haven't had a chance to read Truffles by the Sea, come on by Lena's site and enter a comment--you might just win a free copy. Good luck!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Fodder

For those who missed this yesterday, here's a sheet of bubblewrap for you (Teen Daughter got addicted to this last night :).

I've still got a word count to finish today but it's Friday and the girls are out of school early and one of them has an event to get ready for tonight. Plus the sun's out and my garden's begging for some attention. Hm, choices, choices. I think I'll hang out my new garden flag, watch the hummingbirds siphon their red juice (that's a pic of my new lighthouse bird feeder to your left), then sneak in a few hours of work. After that, the weekend's here -- yippee ;-)

Have a beachy one--wherever you are!

p.s. Read any good books lately? I'm looking for some recommendations (because I've already read my own--Lol...)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So-long, Carly

I wasn't completely surprised by Carly's departure, however, weren't y'all shocked by Syesha's placement in the bottom two? Really, she gave an outstanding performance the night before, so I thought she'd escape the low ranking this time. But, eh. What do I know?

When I really think about it, Jason and Brooke, the two being bandied about as probable losers of the night, weren't terrible. Brooke just messed up the intro, and poor Jason chose a song originally sung by a big-voiced female cat (which begs the question: aren't the contestants guided in their song choice?) Anyway, they've both been pretty much consistently good in their performances, and it has obviously paid off for them.

That said, can't wait to see them singing Neil Diamond songs next week (yawn). LOL...

If you're stressed over tonight's results then you must check out the link I found over at author and editor, Karen Ball's site. Make sure to choose manic mode! Go here for way too much fun :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Live...On Stage!

It was Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber night on American Idol, and may I just wax poetic for a moment? See, my dad brought me up to love musicals. Together we saw live, LA productions of Les Miserables, Chorus Line, Cats, and then with Mom and my hubby, Phantom of the Opera. When I was single and went to England with my pal, Aimee, I insisted that she and I attend a matinee performance (all we could afford) of Lloyd Webber's then-newest creation, Aspects of Love. So it bombed? I saw it live...on a London stage! Hubby even took me to see Beauty and the Beast in LA for my birthday one year. (I couldn't believe all the kiddos in the audience until I remembered, oh yeah, it's from a cartoon. Duh.)

I Must Get to the Thea-ter!

Ahem. Okay, about the top 6 contestants:

Syesha--She sang and danced like she meant it--and loved it too! Extra votes for her tonight.
Jason--I love you, but I saw Cats live, and I think this might be your undoing. Oh, but I'll buy your records, I will, I will (especially that version of Somewhere over the Rainbow of a few weeks back.)
David A--Sounded great, as always. But nothing new to add.
Carly--Powered out a song from Jesus Christ Superstar. (On a side note, hubby says this musical was much better than Godspell, which I wrote about a couple of days ago.) Anyway, she's got these fun Cher-like riffs, and like Syesha, played the stage well.
Brooke--Really messed up by forgetting the lyrics, but oh, she started well with a song from Evita. Kind of worried for her.
David C--Hey, if he can sing Music of the Night (from Phantom) that well, he just may win this thing (although a little more emotion would have been nice.)

So what did you think of the show?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits

Anyone here on myspace? (Other than Vader's Mom and Mrs. Sidney :) I've had one for a couple of years, but rarely use it. I do like getting bulletins from my kids' friends, though, so I thought I'd update it. Not sure I like its looks yet, and lots of the words run together, but I'm working on it. You can check it here, and watch my progress. Advice is welcome :))

If you're in the Wichita area, I'll be talking with Kelly Long live on KREJ at 8:30 your time, April 29. Just giving you a heads up. (And give me grace--it'll be 6:30 my time. Ack.)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I recently went up north to do some research for my next set of books. I'm thrilled to be able to write stories that are set along the rocky and majestic central California coast. Think otters and brimming tidepools and moonstones on the beach...ahh! I'll let you know more as I can.

In the meantime
, I'm continuing to love the reader mail I'm getting, and what's especially fun is I'm still hearing from many of you who have recently read my first book, Chocolate Beach. Lots of requests for recipes, so I'm working on a cool .pdf file of brownies, chocolate chili, and other yummy surprises. To receive it, all you need to do is sign up for my mailing list (on sidebar or on my website.) I'll let you know when I'm about to send it out!

Off to do what I love...

Monday, April 21, 2008

the Gospel according to Godspell

One of those mornings. I just realized that Elementary Girl forgot her lunch--grrr. Which means doubling back (15 min. each way
plus time to run into her class), plus a gallon of gas. Grrr..grr. Such is the life of Mom, huh?

Probably wouldn't be so tired if I hadn't stayed up so late watching Godspell. As y'all know, I love watching movies over the weekend. Anyway, my friend gave us a copy to watch, and out of curiosity, I did. Adapted from Broadway, it's a groovy, psychedelic, musical take on the Gospel of Matthew. Sort of. I remember a troupe performing it at my Catholic school when I was in about third grade. To this day I can sing one of its hit songs, Day by Day, and all the echoes, by heart. Think that's because we sang it in church a lot. And I also chimed in when in the movie all the flower children disciples sang the melodious Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.

And check out this picture of Victor Garber (Titanic, Alias) as Jesus.

Unfortunately, I was So Sad that the resurrection was left out. My hubby was sure that the song Oh Happy Day (we heard this live by Chris Tomlin last year) was in the movie, which it surely could have been since it was released in its modern form (it was originally a hymn) in 1967. As it was, the movie ended with the flower children carrying the crucified Jesus through the crowded streets of Manhattan.

But how much more powerful
would it have been if they'd included the whole Gospel? After he rose from the dead, they could've all gathered around and sung Oh Happy Day ("When Jesus Died...He Washed my Sins Away...He Died and Rose Again.") Too bad nobody asked me for my opinion, eh? My friend's daughter is in a stage version, and I'll have to ask if it carries the storyline

Ah well.
I realize that this is old news for some, but since I'd never seen the movie version, it's fresh in my mind. As is the heavy responsibility that we authors have to get it right when we include the spiritual lives of our characters.

I'm signing off to write, because my mom just called and offered to take Elementary Girl her lunch! (Oh, Happy Day :) Feel free to offer your opinion of this movie or play, if you've seen it. Oh, and this song is stuck in my head. Tell me if you know it (and love it!), too.

Oh, Dear Lord, Three things I pray~

See thee more clearly
Love Thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly

Day by Day

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What was that?

So the other day, my agent calls to give me some good news about a project I'd proposed, and instead of being in my cluttered office with its view of my spring-has-sprung garden, I'm at the mall. Actually, in the dressing room of a store in the mall. And not just any store, but one with laughably loud music blaring at dangerous levels (this is probably a tactic meant to keep older clientele like myself away, but who am I to follow protocol?)

Anyway, you may recall a post I wrote about a previous visit to this same store, where I stood up for helicopter parents everywhere. Unfortunately, I longed for the soft-cottons they sell, so I had dashed in for a quick try-on, with hopes that my eardrums wouldn't burst (nor my morals be offended).

I'd just pulled on a pair of clearance sweats, when I saw my phone light up--you know, because I couldn't actually hear it--and grabbed for it. I couldn't easily leave the dressing room because I wasn't wearing my own clothing, so I just stood there in my barefeet, one finger in my ear as I shouted a few ya-hoos to my agent, Steve. Believe me, it's so loud in that store--even in the dressing rooms--that I could have been talking about a crime I'd committed (if I had a criminal mind, that is) and no one would have heard a thing. I barely heard a thing.

After explaining where I was,
including my lament over trying on clothes made for anoxeric teens, Steve told me this was probably the oddest deal discussion he'd ever had. Lol...yeah, well, I like to make an impression.


Happy Friday, my friends! What a difference a week makes. Last weekend, we Californians experienced record temps in the 80s and 90s. Already today, not so much.

Ah, well--whether it's sunny or not, have a beachy weekend--wherever you are!


The Dodgers beat the Pirates 8 to 1 last night. Not that I'm rubbing anyone's nose in My poor hubby, a diehard Pittsburgh fan, wanted to leave in the second inning when his beloved team made the first of many errors to come, but God bless him, he stuck it out to the bitter end. Hm. I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere.

All in all though twas a good night hanging out with my brother Danny and his girlfriend (and future bride, I hope. No pressure coming from this end, haha), Darcy, who force-fed me too much cotton candy ;)

Moving on
...Hub and I already knew that Kristy Lee was out, but we still stayed up until nearly 1 am watching the AI results show. It's a sickness, really, it is. Mariah's song was somewhat depressing, but sweet Elliott charmed us with his silky vocal cords and kind words about his mother, who passed away just a couple of weeks ago. What a precious soul that man is.

And David Archuleta
plunking himself down on the stage, refusing to choose sides, was too cute. Do you think it was scripted? Never know, but he's got such an expressive face that I doubt it--I think we'd all be able to tell with him.

AI seems to be settling
in as it should.

p.s. No April's Fool joke this time--I was just offered a new series contract yesterday. Woo-hoo! More on that--and where I was when I received that word--soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dodgers vs. Kristy Lee

I'm late in posting about AI, but I had a dilly of a headache last night, and as Syesha might say, "O, lo!" (Whatever that means ;)

Anybody's world rocked
over last night's show? It was kind of flat for me, or maybe that was the burgeoning headache talking. Let's see. David A sounded good, but maybe a bit breathless; Syesha's voice is amazing, but she's always going to have trouble with the judges and comparisons; I thought Kristy Lee sounded good, but probably not enough to keep her another week; Poor Brooke was shaking like a leaf during her performance--it must be exhausting to compete week after week (kind of like authors watching their sales numbers-bu-dum-bump!); Carly looked fabulous, didn't she?; There was some drama in our house during David C's performance so I had to watch it again to see what the judges were talking about; and Jason got a much better critique than I thought he would (phew).

I really, really think that Kristy Lee will go tonight, but I'll be at the Dodger game, so I'll have to find out via cell phone. It's Dodgers vs. the Pitts. Pirates tonight, and seeing as how my hubby's from Pennsylvania, there's going to be a competition of another kind going on. He'll be the one in yellow, and of course, I'll be the one in blue!

Let me know your opinions about the show and who you think'll go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Top 7 tonight

Thanks everyone for the kind comments yesterday--and for playing :) Using the random number generator--love that tool!--Christine was chosen to win Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon Souza. Congrats, Christine! Please email me your snail mail address and I'll get that out to you.

As for today, it's American Idol night again, and word is that Mariah Carey's mentoring the top 7. I suppose they'll be singing one of her songs? Hm. If so, that should be interesting for people like Kristy and Jason. Any guesses on what they'll sing? And now that the writer's strike is over, and sitcoms are back, are you still planning to watch?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Every Good & Perfect Gift

I'm giving away a copy of a beautifully written book by author Sharon K. Souza. I had the chance to read and endorse this book before it was published, and it took my breath away. If I were to give it a rating, I'd say "Five Hankies", because yes, it's a tear jerker.

Here's the back cover blurb. If you'd like a chance to win this book, leave me a comment. I'll randomly pick a winner sometime tomorrow. Best to you!:

True Friendship is Invaluable, but for Gabby Whitaker the Cost could be Too Much.

"I'm not the strong one. I've never been the strong one."

So believes Gabby Whitaker in her friendship with DeeDee McAllister. They've been best friends since sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband, DeeDee changes the plan. Nearing forty, she wants a baby--now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally result in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

Click here for more info about Sharon's book.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Bird-day ;)

I really had to mess with this picture so I could show you the amazing bird we saw from our car window. Last night, the girls and I returned from our trip up to the central coast, and while we were tooling around we saw this giant egret. At least I think that's what it was. The picture doesn't do its greatness justice, but I was blocking the road, and another car was coming so I took the picture fast. (The birdie had been closer but I think all my oohing and aahing scared it away too :)

Squint into the brightness, and you'll see its beautifully curved neck. I swear the bird must have been more than 3 feet tall. I know, I know--I'm obsessed. But if you've read any of my books, you're probably not surprised. My first heroine, Bri, loved dolphins, and my second, Gaby, chatted almost daily with a sea lion. What can I say? I've always believed that sea-living creatures give me yet another glimpse into God's amazing creativity, so how can I not love them? (Except sharks. Not wild about them, and that'll be one question I'll have when I get to heaven.)

Moving on. My birthday was yesterday, and I rec'd an inbox full of fun email messages including two singing divas, a note from a long-lost friend who now lives in England, and greetings from a former boss. How groovy to be 29, yet again! :)

Have a beachy weekend--wherever you are!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mikey J

Oh boy, I really didn't expect to have to say goodbye to Michael John just yet. As Amy said in yesterday's comments, Elem. Girl is smart ;), oh but Michael looked so sad...


Did y'all see the second rendition of Shout to the Lord on the show tonight? Anyone know why they sang it again? Was it because the lyrics were changed in the first rendition? Or was it heavily requested? Or?

Just wondering. I'm going to download it once we get home from our brief trip to the central coast. In addition to lolling around with my girls for a couple of days, this has also been a bit of a research trip since I'm working on a series of books set in this area. SUCH FUN!

More on that later...for now, I'd love to get your reaction to anything Idol. Oh, and next week, I'll be giving away a brand new copy of an incredible book by Sharon Souza. See you soon!

Giving back

Just popping it to say hello from the central coast of California! My mom, daughters and I played hooky from reality yesterday and headed north. We managed to watch most of Idol Gives Back last night. Lots of sad stories, huh. I started a long post last night, but never actually posted it. Anyway, I loved, loved, loved the final song, but thought the subsequent scene with Ben Stiller was in bad taste. Any comments on the overall show? I'll have to watch it more closely on the dvr when we return.

Tonight, Elem. Girl thinks Michael J will go home, Teen Girl thinks it'll be Kristy, and I think it'll be ... hm, Carly. What do you think?

We're off to watch the waves (the girls are off school this week)...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Somewhere over that rainbow

My thumbs are tired from all this AI voting!

LOVED Jason tonight! When he said he'd be singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I shouted at the plasma--shouted!--Nooooo! But then he sang that fun little arrangement and I got goosebumps. He's so quirky. And unique. My hub didn't get it, but he's a huge fan of Judy G's version, and anyway my enthusisasm trounced his criticism. So I win-ha.

Michael J always looks and sounds good, but his version of some Aerosmith song was awkward for me (especially those high notes). Kristy Lee C. gave a gutsy "do it anyway" performance. She's got spunk. David C--sang well, but the white "straight" jacket he wore threw me. Syesha always kicks it, although why does she keep picking ones from powerhouses? I'm nervous for her. Brooke! Who did your hair, my friend? (No worries, we've all been there.) Thankfully, her voice was better than the 'do! Carly has such a beautiful voice, I just wish her songs weren't always so angry. And David A.--talent, talent, talent--and a bazillion, teen-aged, screaming fans too!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Test your American Idol I.Q.

Found some random tidbits about this year's contestants. Match the trivia with the right person, and let me know how well you do :) Tonight, the Final 8 performs.

Okay, here goes:

A. This person's toughest obstacle in life is overcoming a house fire when they were in high school.

B. This person's spouse isn't going to cut their hair until he/she gets eliminated from American Idol.

C. The person this contestant would most like to meet is Keira Knightley.

D. One of this person's nicknames is "Lettuce Boy."

E. He likes chick-flicks.

F. This contestant's rituals before performing are to warm up, don't talk too much and to suck on a boiled piece of candy.

G. Before performing, this person always prays.

H. The person this contestant would most like to meet is him/herself in 20 years.

Carly Smithson
Syesha Mercado
Michael Johns
Kristy Lee Cook
Jason Castro
David Cook
David Archuleta
Brooke White

Answers here. No peeking ;-]

Monday Randomness

Teen Son just returned from a week with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) San Francisco where he and other teens spent days packing over a ton of pinto beans into 1 lb. sacks, and bringing food, hot drinks and prayer to some of the many homeless in the area. After hearing his stories, it's tough to complain about much of anything...

My girls are off school another week (I know, it's an odd schedule...), which means more mall runs, giggles and all around insanity joy in the house ;)

The hub and I watched Doctor Zhivago the other night. Actually, it took us two nights--Friday and Saturday--to get through the. longest. movie. ever. Okay, so I don't know if that's really true, but it felt like it. While the "classic" film had its moments, I found it depressing and violent. So unlike Alvin and the Chipmunks, another movie we rented this past weekend. You just haven't lived until you've heard A Bad Day sung by the chipmunks. LOL...

I'm working on a little American Idol trivia quiz to post for y'all (is it ya'll or y'all?) tomorrow. I hope you'll stop by and test your Idol I.Q.!!!

Until then, have another latte and a Happy Monday ;-]

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Little House by the Sea

Elementary Girl's playing the piano, I'm reading a novel, and hubby's curled up in the recliner with some sort of sports book. It's official. We are Ma and Pa Ingalls (you know, from Little House on the Prairie?).

Teen Son is on a weeklong mission's trip with YWAM, Teen Girl's hangin' with a friend tonight, and hubby and I just looked at each other, realizing that in a few years, this is how it'll be. The older two will be off at college, and we'll be here with the youngest, wondering where all the chaos went.

Somebody pass me the Kleenex!

Have a beachy weekend :-] I hope it's a warm and wonderful one for you, wherever you are!

UPDATED Friday morning: Yeah, I was waxing poetic last night, but I'm back. The truth is, most nights (especially weekends), the house is overrun with teens and hubby and I eat dinner in the bedroom. How absurd is that?!

Ramiele and Jesus

See you on the tour, Ramiele.

Loved Jesus week by the way :) Seriously, I'm sitting here re-watching Tuesday night's show and both David A. and Jason sang songs that referenced Jesus in a big way. Then on Wednesday night's show, guest band The Clarks (I think that's their name) Country-Rocked This Little Light of Mine (who even knew that was possible???) and then Dolly Parton knocked out Jesus and Gravity (with a full-on Gospel choir in the background). Whew and Halleulia--love this show :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hair and outfits and velvet voices!

First off, I had a gazillion hits yesterday, but only about 9 comments, which makes me wonder if some of you thought I was serious about the Amish-Lit thing, haha! It was April Fool's, you know, so before you go off and try to reserve your copy, well, don't! (Now watch, someone else'll propose it and make a zillion bucks!)

On to AI.
I'm so glad David Cook got a haircut--he's got a nice face under there! Although at times his facial expressions reminded me of Jason's...heehee. As for Jason, I believe Simon was wrong. Started a bit slow, but he really got into the song mid-way, and even belted the ending, so go-Jason! Anybody else cringe when Syesha chose a Whitney song? I know Dolly wrote it, but the judges are usually hard on those who try to take on Whitney, as both Randy & Simon were this time around. Despite that, Syesha is immensely talented.

When Kristy Lee Cook
was singing, I learned over to my hubby and said, "Paula's going to tell her she looks fabulous," and I was right. Ha! One of the first things Paula said was, "Kristy you look stunning!" And Carly sounded better than Simon said she did, but I can't exactly disagree with what he said about her clothes (only on how he said it). As for David "We Love You!!!!" A., he's still a cutie with a smokey man voice in a teenaged body. Whatever happens, he'll have a long career.

Oh, and Michael Johns! Not always my favorite, but he smashed it this time. Smashed. It. G'day! Mate!

The hub and I think Ramiele will be voted off. And you?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Celebrate with me!

I'm so pleased to tell you all that I've just been signed to write a trilogy! Ya-hoo! It's the coolest story ever about a young Amish girl, Trixie, who decides to follow her passion and open a chocolate store only to be banned from her old order church for daring to use an electric mixer in her work, rather than beat the cocoa by hand.

Further conflict arises when Amish women facing PMS sneak into her store, and are later caught with suspicious smudges on their usually impeccable garb.

Will Trixie be able to make a living off her forbidden fudge? Or will she be forced to pack up her troublesome treats and move to Belgium?

More about my new Amish-Lit series here.