Wednesday, December 29, 2010

snow ...

Heading back to California today, but before we do, the girls are out sledding. Sort of a last hurrah in the snow before we get back to the sandy beach. It's been between 6 and 20 degrees here in PA almost our whole trip, so I'm looking forward to a little warmth. I heard it's been raining most of the time we've been gone, but it's got to be above 20 degrees back I right??!

I'll post a photo or some video lateer. We've been catching a stray signal the whole time we've been in this small town in PA, so thanks to whoever's been providing that :) Hopefully it'll still be available after the sledding fun.

Here's to a beachy week, my friends ~ wherever you are (and a Happy New Year too!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas NY style

Took a nearly spur of the moment trip to NYC yesterday. We've only been once previously so decided to check out The Big Apple at Christmastime. In 8 hours we ate at Europa Cafe, toured The Plaza (looking for Eloise, naturally), and waded through the crowd at Dylan's. The girls also ice skated beneath the 65+ ft. Christmas tree in Rockefeller Ctr. and my college boy ate 3 vendor dogs (aka 'dirty water dogs). We topped it off with dinner at Juniors (yes, we had the cheesecake) and a train ride back to Jersey where we'd left our rental car.

Oh! And Al Roker strolled past us, his hat-topped head down. I wanted to say, "Hey Al, it's just me, Jewel!" But then I realized it was biting cold, so i didn't take it personally ...;)

Have a beachy week, my friends ~ wherever you are ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The kids and I flew to Pennsylvania last week to attend my mother in law, Alice's, funeral. My husband had already been here a week. We arrived to lots and lots of SNOW. Yes, our first white Christmas as a family. Too bad it couldn't have been under happier circumstances.

The second photo is of my niece, Sam, and my son, Matt. In one day they put together a beautiful tribute to Grandma and sang "It is Well" followed by "Heaven Song." I had never heard that second one before, but now I can't get it out of my head :). No doubt Grandma loved it, as we all did.

In the midst of the sadness, God has been so very apparent. My husband has four brothers and they were all here, with their families, supporting Grandpa and hugging on each other. She's left quite a legacy with those boys...and I'm honored to have known her.

More snow is coming in ... I'll try to post some photos (but don't expect me to wear my flip flops ;-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Truffles by the Sea giveaway

Sorry to be so AWOL, my friends. Our family has been riding a coaster of emotions all week due to my mother in law's serious illness. We may be leaving sunny California soon for snowy Pennsylvania. If we do, I'll try to post from there. God is good and we've all been praying for his will in this situation. So glad we can find comfort in Him!

Looking forward to a relaxing dinner tonight after a week of worry and work. Before I go, wanted to let you know about a giveaway happening over at J. Timothy King's blog. Tim picked up a couple of my older chocolaty books at my beach shop ... and he's giving them away. He already held a drawing for Chocolate Beach, and this week he's holding one for Truffles by the Sea. The heroine of the book, Gaby Flores, holds a special place in my heart. I based her on someone I know...and I don't even think she suspects (sshhh...don't tell anyone ;)

If you like truffles and the sea, stop by J. Timothy's Blog and enter.

And here's another secret for you: soon both of these novels will be available for download with bonus material. Stay tuned ... and have a beachy and blessed weekend, my friends ~ wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas Glee

I knew I'd enjoy this week's episode of GLEE when they opened with that song about misfit toys from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. My dad always put the Christmas tree together while we kids watched that and other Christmas classics, so to this day I can sing most of those songs off the top of my noggin. I realize now that he planned it that way, not just for our enjoyment, but also so we couldn't bug him as much while he struggled with our plastic tree. Lol ...

Anyhoo, there wasn't much (okay, nothing) about Jesus in the episode, but in addition to the standard Santa stuff (Brittany still believes in him ~ shocker), there was a sweet spirit to the episode. Especially in regards to that shrew Sue. How fun to see her dressed up like the Grinch and trying to convince Cindy Lu Who (Brittany) that she was trashing her living room so she could replace a burnt out bulb on the Christmas tree ...

Classic stuff. One of the final scenes, when the cast sings to the faculty, was sweet and poignant. It represented the spirit of giving inspired by the best Giver of all. Loved it.

Be Merry, my friends ~ wherever you are ...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Great holiday reading continues!

Last week I picked up Leanna Ellis' newest release, Facelift. Sooo good, my friends! I love the tagline: In life and love, we could all stand a few nips and tucks . . . I know, right? Leanna dedicated this novel To all the women who feel like they don't measure up to the "Proverbs 31 Woman" Guess this means I've finally had a book dedicated to me.

The story's about Kaye Redmond, a "can do" single mom whose aggravating ex-mother-law lands on her doorstep after a botched facelift. Add to that little inconvenience an angry teenager, an ex-husband who's hard to figure, a hairy, sloppy dog to care for ~ and a possible prince charming! As the back of the book asks, How's a woman supposed to find happily-ever-after with all that going on?

I loved the twists and turns in this story, and the way Leanna wove faith into the characters' lives. I even had to fight tears during some all-too real poignant scenes. In Facelift , Leanna Ellis has written an entertaining read with lots of heart.

Learn more about my southern friend Leanna at her website. Have a beachy week, my friends ~ wherever you are :-)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A day in a garden

Mom and I spent yesterday wandering the gardens and sipping champagne at The Huntington in San Marino. Lovely dah-ling, just lovely.

When we took my girls last time, we all fell in love with the subtropical gardens where ducks followed us around like we were loaves of bread. Today my favorite spot was the Japanese Garden. Truly bucolic (without the shepherds). We wandered around bends, across bridges, through a bamboo forest, and alongside an authentic Japanese home. The Huntington is usually closed on Tuesdays, but they opened for a special members-only Christmas bash with lush gardens, concerts, fancy wares for sale, and free champagne. Very grey-poupon ;) Good thing Mom's a member or I'd never get in, Lol

Here's to playing hooky. May your holidays be filled with oodles of down time, my friends ~ wherever you are.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's on your list?

We were supposed to be in Yosemite over Thanksgiving, but that trip fell through. I'm glad. We ended up walking to the beach several times over the holiday, having family over for a yummy dinner (if I do say so myself ;), and driving down the coast yesterday to hang with family in Venice. Did I mention we got the tree up too, and lights laced around the house?

Good times.

Now I suppose I should set my sights on Christmas shopping, something I'll probably do from the comfort of my own desk chair. I know...such a Scrooge am I! The "mall shopping gene" hopscotched over me and right into my daughters. Seriously, my 12 year old was up at 5 AM Friday to hit the mall. Crazy!!!

On the flip side, I have been Christmas selling (via my shop and ebay), and I like that very much. Ha ha! Biggest items so far are the beach signs (as always!), and even several copies of my chocolate beach reads have gone out the door.

How about you? What's big on your list ~ or your family's list this year? Saw a Twitter post that 85% of women are asking for electronics this year. Not me! Give me a nice Voluspa candle and Jan Karon's latest novel and I'm a happy girl!

So, what is on your list, my seaside loving friends?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Signed with Love

All around me people are in a tizzy over Black Friday (dun-dun-dun-dunnn). I'm just hoping not to burn the turkey on Thursday ;D

For those who'll be facing the madness on Friday ~ or even if you shop online ~ I wanted to offer you a signed bookplate. If you pick up one of my novels for a reader on your gift-giving list, I'd be happy to send you a personalized sticker to put inside the book. My Otter Bay novels (Sweet Waters, A Shore Thing) can be found at many Barnes & Nobles and Christian bookstores, or you can order them online at Amazon,, etc.

If you're interested in my earlier novels, Chocolate Beach and/or Truffles by the Sea, I've discounted them in the beach shop. And shipping is included. I'd be happy to personalize those for you as well. Just email me the name of the recipient after placing an order either by Paypal or Google checkout: Sound good?

In the meantime, have a wonderful, meaningful, and fulfilling Thanksgiving week, my friends ~ wherever you are! (gobble, gobble :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big Sur, I heart you

Took this photo from the library of the Ventana Inn Big Sur. Hubby and I honeymooned there twenty years ago, so on our way down the coast last month, we had to stop. We're sitting in rocking chairs, listening to the quiet as we look out over that serene pacific ocean. I could've stayed there all day.

As it happened, we left there and became thrust into an adventure when two frantic hikers asked if we'd seen their dog. We told them we'd keep a lookout, and sure enough, about ten minutes later the cutest, silliest dog rounded the corner as we walked along a wooded path. Hubby used his belt for a leash and we brought the thirsty pup back to his grateful family. An ahhhh moment from beginning to end :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My friend Ginny Yttrup is getting ready to see her first novel, Words, release in early 2011. This is the trailer our publisher, B&H, created to give readers a glimpse into the storyline. Compelling, don't you think? Gives me chills. Ginny's website.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday week continues with Sherry Kyle

I met author Sherry Kyle earlier this year at the Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference. She's a California girl, super sweet, and a graduate of BIOLA University (my son's school), so how could we not hit it off? :) Since then, Sherry and I have run into each other at two more writing events, and at the last one, I picked up a copy of her new book, The Christian Girls Guide to Style. I'm excited(!!!) to have Sherry here on my cyber-beach blanket today to tell you about this unique and F-U-N book for girls.

Sherry, why did you write The Christian Girls Guide to Style?

The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style is one of a series of books from Legacy Press. I had purchased a couple of the other Girl’s Guide books for my daughters and they loved them. All the books have fun quizzes, crafts, and stories that point 8-12 year old girls toward who they are in Christ. As a writer and mom, I wanted to write a book about a topic that I not only enjoyed talking about, but also saw a need in the children’s market—learning how to be stylish inside and out! In today’s culture, girls are bombarded with what the world sees as important in the area of fashion and beauty from secular magazines, television and movies. The world teaches them that their outward appearance is all that matters. YIKES! What a wrong message. Considering ways to offer girls a strong, positive message, I searched my Bible and came across Colossians 3: 12-17. I used these verses as the foundation for the book.

Who is your audience?

The Christian Girl's Guide to Style is geared for girls ages 8-12.

Your book has been out a short time. What kind of feedback have you been getting so far?

I'm thrilled at the response I've received so far. Here are some of them from e-mails and customer reviews on Amazon from moms, aunts, and grandmas:

"My granddaughter is reading your book out loud to us and loving it."

"My daughter is loving reading it - she can't put it down!"

"In a world where so many girls struggle with being the person they were created to be, "The Christian Girl's Guide to Style" emphasizes creativity, confidence and character."

"This is a well written book for girls. There are a lot of fun activities, great advice, and a cute coin purse attached to it. I enjoyed reading a wholesome interesting book that will build girls up. I am buying one for each of my nieces. I think they'll love it!

That's GREAT feedback, Sherry. Okay, here's a totally unrelated question (maybe I'm hungry?): What's your favorite dessert?

Hmm. Favorite dessert. Anything with chocolate! Seriously, I need a bite of chocolate every day, however, each year for my birthday I have to have a slice of carrot cake. BTW, Erik's Deli makes the best carrot cake!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sherry. Such a great gift for girls this season...thanks so much for writing it!

And thanks, too, bloggity friends, for stopping by. Have a beachy day, wherever you are...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday reading

After a crazy bo-bazy week complete with a handful of doctor's appointments and a couple of parent-teacher conferences, not to mention proposal writing and, you know, life, I settled in this weekend for some couch time and a collection of Christmas novellas. I'm beginning to feel Christmas-y already! (Although I've yet to buy next week's turkey, but it's on the list).

My friends Cynthia Ruchti and Rachael Phillips wrote two of the four novellas (and I've been introduced to the other two writers Eileen Key and Becky Melba via FB). Each story stands on its own, but they're tied together by a Christmas cactus given to each heroine by local Door County innkeeper and matchmaker, Lola Peterson. Lola guarantees that the plant ~ and romance ~ will bloom by Christmas. I've read two of the stories ... and so far the plant's been a bloomin' :) Read more about Door County Christmas here.

All week I'll be highlighting books by pals that would make great gifts, such as this novella. Tomorrow, please stop by for a look at a terrific new book for girls ages 8-12. Fun!

And if you pick up any of my titles for gifts, I'd be happy to send you a signed bookplate personalized for your recipient. Just drop me a note via my website contact page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like ...

Activity at the beach shop crawled along this summer, but suddenly it's picked up. Christmas shopping? A sign that the economy is beginning to awaken? Or both? Hmmmm.

Wanted to mention that my first two books, Chocolate Beach and Truffles by the Sea, are deeply discounted and now include shipping. If you'd like to pick one up for a gift, I'd be happy to sign it for the recipient. Just drop us an email after placing an order.

Pre-teen girl's out of school early today, so I'm off to drive the taxi (I'll be the one sipping a coffee frap and looking longingly toward the west). And my sweet husband will be home after a jaunt to San Antonio. Can't wait!

Here's to a beachy weekend, my friends ~ wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moms, this one's for you

This is a repeat of a post from September, 2007. This story continues to get a fascinating number of hits some three+ years later, so for fun, thought I'd rerun it for you today:

I read an article in the latest issue of TCW called The Rise of Raunch. In it, author Suzie Eller talks about a recent trip to a lingerie store where she encountered a 15-ish aged girl accompanied by three teen boys. When the boys tossed skimpy outfits into the girl's arms and then nudged her toward the dressing room, Suzie was appalled. She appealed to a sales clerk, who looked away. She then appealed to a manager, who also looked away. In the end, Suzie stood toe-to-toe with the boys and made them leave the store.

And that inspired me.

So last Saturday, I shopped with my girls and our pre-teen friend. When Teen Daughter went to try on shorts in the coed dressing room--and what's up with that, by the way?--I followed along. No way was she trying on clothes so close to guys without mama in tow. So anyway, in the lobby of the dressing area, highlighted in all its raw glory as if it had attained the stature of a work created by Michelangelo himself, we see a nearly naked male mannequin with his pants slouched down to there. Yes, 'there.' The display left little to the imagination, and trust me, this was no work of art.

So out loud I say, that's inappropriate!, and set out to make a change. The younger girls blushed and giggled as I wrestled with the mannequins slouchy jeans, pulling them up to a more appropriate level. Unfortunately, they slipped right back down and we were back to seeing this anatomically correct mannequin's almost-privates.

By now, Teen Girl's out of the dressing room, and gaping at me. "Mom, what are you doing?"

"His pants are ridiculous," I'm saying while tugging up his jeans. Sigh. Undeterred by the scene I'm making, I decide to unbuckle its belt and then I yank, yank, YANK until I can get it tight enough to KEEP THOSE PANTS UP!

And it worked. Yay for me. Yay for mothers and daughters everywhere. But must it come to this?

As the four of us walked away from the dressing room, the teenaged boy manning the area leans toward me and says--and I'm so not making this up--"Thanks. That was bugging me too."

As Suzanne said, "Together we can stand up for our girls and ourselves." And that includes insisting that dummies everywhere pull up their pants.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lights, Camera ... Fade2Blue

B&H has released another entertaining trailer, this one for my 2011 summer release, Fade to Blue. My book trailers always have these catchy tunes that stick with me all day long. Seriously, I can hear the beat in my head even as I type this :) Thanks to Greg Pope for putting this together ~ especially love the peeks into Hearst Castle. For more info about this novel, please pop over to my updated Books Page.

Enjoy the *show*, and have a beachy Monday, my friends ... wherever you are!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Shore Friday

I took this photo at a viewing spot along the central coast. This is a bit north of the area that inspired the Otter Bay Novels, but oh, so similar. Breathtaking landscape with dramatic peaks, rocky tidepools,and azure waters all mark this stretch of the coast. This is one reason why Callie Duflay from A Shore Thing fought so hard to keep the town's beloved piece of oceanfront property from being developed! Who knew the architect on the job would be so charming ... ? :)

It's Friday, time to think about how you'll spend the weekend ahead. I'd love to go back to the spot in this picture, but since I have a date with my daughter's choir performance at an amusement park, I'll have to settle for gazing at this photo's loveliness instead. What are you doing this fine upcoming weekend?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Take a ride

This goes with my earlier post about taking a ride on the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz. Watch the tracks and ... have fun! :))

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


The co-authors of Bliss invited me to their cool, new blog Mind Chocolate.

Hop on over to learn the name of my favorite chocolate and to enter to win a signed copy of A Shore Thing for you or a friend. Ends Monday, November 15, 2010.


Down by the sea ...

On Saturday afternoon, Dan and I strolled along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, bought two tickets, and rode THIS. This is the Giant Dipper, built in 1924, and the site of many childhood memories for me. During the summers, my family spent two weeks in a cabin in nearby Scotts Valley, and a highlight was always our visit to the boardwalk. That and our multiple screaming plunges down that big ol' roller coaster. It's red, white and made out of wood...a roller coaster purist's dream :)

Soon after our ride, our college kid called my cell.

"So, you and dad rode the Giant Dipper?"
"By yourselves?"

After the boardwalk, we headed over to Steamer's Lane to check out the lighthouse/surfing museum, and watch surfers from a nearby cliff. The water looked crazy deep but the waves ran long and smooth, and one surfer in particular was quick enough to catch several (seemingly) unending rides. Best free entertainment of the day, I tell you!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Ode to Monterey ...

I spent the past week on Cannery Row in Monterey Bay with my agent Janet Grant and the Books & Such Literary Agency. Unbelievably beautiful area! If you ever get the chance to visit, stay at the Monterey Hotel and Spa. Expensive, so save up, because it's worth it! My room overlooked the bay and I heard waves crashing and sea lions barking all night long. (I miss it!)

This is the view from the fitness center one early morning. Look at that pink sky! Don't give me any credit--I just sat on a recumbent bike and pedaled rather slowly, trying to wake up. Loved watching otters frolic and the day awaken.

The agents of Books & Such did a marvelous job getting us going each morning with a devotional, some learnin' sessions, then free time in the afternoons. On Wednesday, I joined a group of writers to tour the Steinbeck Museum in nearby Salinas.

This is a photo of Linda Kozar, co-author of Babes with a Beatitude (with Danielle Woody), and me at lunch on our hotel's bay front patio. Linda also toured Steinbeck country. Often tours like ours are rushed, but not this one. Loved soaking it all in. Felt quite writerly :) After the museum, we stopped by the house where Steinbeck was born, and Dale Cramer also gave us a narrated tour of Cannery Row ~ the inspiration behind the famous book. Haven't read it yet (but it's on my list) ... have you?

My husband Dan drove up on Thursday and we stayed in the area through the weekend, a belated 20th anniversary trip. Stop by again this week for more on what we saw on the beautiful central coast! Cheers ~ Julie

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fade to Blue ... uncovered

I'm so excited to show you the cover of my May, 2011 release, Fade to Blue. Isn't it beautiful? Huge thanks to B&H publishing!

I'll be heading up the coast tomorrow to Monterey for a writing retreat hosted by the Books & Such Agency. Lots of writerly folks will be there, so I'll try to post about the goings-on. In the meantime, please stop in with your comments. I love hearing from you!

And have a beachy week, my friends ~ wherever you are...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goin' to the chapel and we're ...

Dan and I were married 20 years ago at the Little Chapel on the Hill, Pepperdine University, Malibu.

Forget the cliche ~ we all knew it would last ;) Love this man so!

Happy Anniversary, Danny boy ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paradise found ...

Had lunch today in Paradise Cove near Malibu. I've passed by the turn off for this beach cafe for years, but never stopped until today. Because of the drizzle ~ actually a downpour when we got there ~ the place was fairly quiet. We were seated right away at a place by the window and the rain ceased ... don't you just love this view?

To unexpected blessings, my friends :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanks for the recipes (sing it!)

I've said it before but I'm a bit of a reluctant cook. Still need to find time to make some of the recipes sent my way ~ thank you all (and keep them coming)!

Tonight it's Never Ending Night with local churches (food & fun with 200 kids, running from 5:30 pm until 6:30 am), and I'm one of the drivers. I know. What was I thinking? Fortunately I'm splitting the night with the hubs, so I'll actually get some sleep ...

Tomorrow's a full day that includes a wedding shower and an out of town soccer game. Yet another day to avoid cooking (score!).

But stay tuned! I hope to have some oh-so-delicioso recipes to share with you soon. In the meantime, in honor of the rain that's coming down here at the beach, here's a link to a recipe for Tortellini Soup via Sherry Kyle's blog.

Have a beachy weekend, my friends ~ wherever you are :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Garden Party

When my first book released about five years ago (Chocolate Beach), one of my college-aged readers thanked me for writing a character that didn't garden. LOL That cracked me up then, and has stayed with me. There's something so cliche about a heroine who gardens, apparently.

But what about a writer?

When my kids were little and I wrote magazine articles while also trying to sell a novel, I turned to tilling the soil for an outlet. Hubby borrowed the neighbor's truck and bought a load of mushroom compost for 5 bucks, enough to make our huge backyard one fertile place for veggies on one end and an English garden on the other. Loved it. I remember thinking that I should give up writing and go work for the local garden center instead.

But then we moved closer to the beach where the soil is sandy, the weather is foggy, and my writing career became full time. In other words, little time for gardening. Until recently...when I've managed to make some.

A couple of months ago we put the broken down trampoline on craigslist and gave it away to an artist who wanted to weld it into something amazing. Or weird. I'm not sure which. The grass beneath it was dead, so hubby and I took turns tearing out more of the lawn and I sketched out plans for a lawn-less backyard garden. I have plans for an undulating crushed-stone path, a birdbath, sitting area, and lots and lots of perennials.

Truthfully, we've still got about 1/3 of a lawn in there, but the fountain's back in use, we've pulled out some unhappy plants, and cleaned up some others. Still a long way to go, but by springtime, this writer girl's going to get her garden back.

Just don't expect me to write a book about it ... ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sea Beauty

This mermaid was placed in memory of our friend, Andrea, who passed away from cancer. It's gorgeous. (The photo doesn't do it justice, trust me. I'll try for a better shot next time.) I heard that her father acquired the statue from a local collector who'd bought it in Russia. It welcomes ships into the harbor from the overlook at Marina Park.

Andrea was a world traveler who loved the sea, so I think it's fitting to honor her in this way. I love the way it always makes me think of her, and her fun ways. She loved God, her family, and her friends ... and never missed an opportunity to make fun of my grungy flip flops when we ran into each other on the beach after church :)

To friends we hold dear ~ and who share our passions! Have a beachy week, my friends ~ wherever you are.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Help me feed my family

So the other day I decided to throw culinary caution to the wind and make a recipe I saw in a magazine. The photos looked so yummy and my husband loves capers so I made the crab sliders...and almost everyone in the house hated them. For his part, hubby put on a brave face and ate seconds (says he liked them, but he loves me and wants me to keep cooking so it's suspect ...). My daughter's friend Eva gave me a sad little smile and said, "You tried."


Thankfully, I had some backup pizza in the freezer (I always have backup pizza in the freezer ...) So all was not lost.

Here's where I need your help. Recipes. I need beachy seafood recipes that a cook with two left thumbs (that would be me) could make and that her sea-loving family would love. Any ideas? Send them to me via the contact page of my website or a FB message. If I pick yours (and the fam actually finishes the meal) ~ I'd be happy to send you my two current Otter Bay releases: Sweet Waters & A Shore Thing.

Ready? Set? GO!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oh the places we go ...

I learned today that Fade to Blue is being typeset as we speak! If you read A Shore Thing, I want you to know that my next novel tells the story of Suz, Gage's sister in Shore. I get all warm and fuzzy thinking about it :-)

My books aren't only about the summer. I'm thinking of creating a bumper sticker similar to that fishing one ... A bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work! LOL Yesterday I walked Charlie the Dog in the cold drizzle, but today the sun's shining again. I'll take the sea in whatever season I can get it. It's fall, but I just sold another beach sign to someone in the mid-west. A kindred spirit, for sure!

Pretty soon I'll be heading north to do some research for a new story. The area I'll be visiting is known for its coastal fog and monster swells. Can't wait (and yes, I'll be bringing a jacket!)

Question for you:
We all live in different areas: country, city, coast, mountains, desert, etc. Where do you go for a breather that's not too far from home?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

We're living in a Justin Bieber world ...

So my youngest daughter turned 12 last week ~ at camp. Last year she was away, too. Sigh. I sent a "party in a box" both years but still! Mama needs to give her kid a hug. Just sayin' :) So when she got home, I couldn't wait to give her the rest of her gifts, which included a baseball cap. Not just any old baseball cap, but a NY Yankees cap ~ the same kind that Justin Bieber aka "JB" wears.

Oh the squealing, the joy, the covering of one's beautiful brunette hair 24/7! We also gave her a couple of JB's CDs ~ and listened to them on the way to and from a soccer game out in the desert yesterday.

Some moms judge me, but whatev! At her age, I was in *love* with Donny Osmond. Practically had my bags packed, intent on moving to Utah when my parents weren't looking. I had purple socks, and a room covered in Donny pictures torn out of Tiger Beat and the like. My family would tell you that I was obsessed, but I turned out okay.

Right? (Right?!)

Friday, October 01, 2010

3 Birthdays in a Row. Groovy.

Yesterday was my youngest's birthday ~ only she's been at camp all week and I didn't get to hug her. Fortunately I rec'd a call (apparently the line at the payphone was extraordinarily long...thanks camp hosts. Not.). First one of the week! I get to see her today, so ya-hoo :)

Today's my son's 19th birthday! Pretty tough to fathom. Nineteen years ago I thought I had another couple of weeks to get ready. I worked my last day at the Y, came home with visions of prepping for baby when ~ voila! ~ my water broke and there he was. Hadn't even washed one baby tee-shirt yet! He's off at college and it just so happens that tonight is GYRAD. Translation: Get Your Roommate A Date. I want to keep my hopes up for him, I really do, but those roommates of his are CRAZY. Good luck tonight, kiddo :)

is that man o' mine's birthday. Yes, that's right: 3 birthdays in a row. Every. Year. Still have to think up something amazing so my hunk o' burning love doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Might just have to whisk Mr. Right-On away from it all ... :)

Have a beachy weekend, my friends ~ wherever you are!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hee-hee ... almost done

So my editor and I keep trading these fun emails about my next book, which I'm so excited about by the way. See, we're in the final stretch of getting this baby out of the bathtub and into something sweet smelling like typeset pages and a cover. Not the final, final, but the advanced reader copy (aka ARC). This is the book that's sent off to reviewers everywhere along with a lot of prayer that they'll LOVE it and say so in time for the book's release next May.

So the other day, one of her comments in the margin used the phrase "for charity's sake." As in, "For charity's sake, why don't you do this?" LOL I made the change she suggested, laughing all the way. As it turned out, she didn't mean it the way I read it and left my original verbiage intact.

See why it's so good to have a sense of humor, people? Writers have the worst self-esteem at times (take it from one who knows), but sometimes we just have to shrug our shoulders and laugh. And then hope that somebody out there somewhere laughs back.

p.s. Happy Birthday to my sweet pre-teen daughter! Age twelve today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

train daze

Taking a little excursion today to celebrate my mom's birthday. She's loved trains forever ~ my grandfather worked for the railroad ~ so we're hopping aboard for some scenery and treasure hunting. We took a longer excursion for a milestone birthday last that here. This will be a quicker trip, but lotsa fun too!

Here's to hoping my editor's not reading that I'm playing hooky today ...;-) Have a beachy day, my friends ~ wherever you are!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take a hike

So I had this crazy idea that life would slow a bit after I returned from Indy. That I'd sit out by the beach and watch the waves crash while thinking up fresh ideas to write about. Ha ha ha ... not. Anyone else do that? You think "After so and so, I'll have time to do so and so..."?


The good news is that I'm busy with good stuff (except for the laundry. That's bad. Very bad!) Writing and editing and working with the super cool 8th grade girls at youth group. I'm making plans with friends for coffees and lunches, and today I even managed to get to the BEACH with Charlie the Dog (woot!). And, yes, the stirrings of a new story idea piqued my interest as we walked along on this sunny day.

The moral of the story: get out of the office! Even if just for a bit. Never know what fresh new ideas will come your way. Know what I mean?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ACFW conference thoughts (part 2)

I took a class at ACFW called Six Stage Plot Structure. Loved it. Michael Hauge taught it, and although the class is meant for screenplays, the points he made work in the book world too (with some tweaks). I love the idea of creating a story with cinematic quality ~ probably because I'm such a visual thinker. How about you? When you're reading a book, is your mind watching the film? Do you 'see' the characters walking, talking, tripping, smooching (for all you romance readers ;-)? Michael used Shrek, Hitch, & Lars and the Real Girl to demonstrate his points. So, yeah, the classroom with all the laughter coming from it ... that was ours ;)

Also took a class from Jenny B. Jones on writing humor in fiction. Good stuff in there. (And she won not one, but two Carol Awards during the banquet!!!) Jenny pointed out that humor isn't just the slapstick kind in comedies. It's also used to diffuse dark moments in drama. Case in point: Steel Magnolias. I've got a love/hate relationship with that movie. So painful to watch. But the clip Jenny showed was spot on. Sally Field is railing and weeping over the death of her daughter, and just when you feel like your heart can't handle another word, one of the other characters steps in with desperate humor, a startling moment that diffuses one of the darkest scenes of the movie. Excellent class.

The photo is of Jim "Rooms" Rubart and me at the ACFW banquet. (That's CS Lakin looking thoughtful and scholarly in the background ...;) Jim's a B&H author too, and I enjoyed getting to know him better. We talked about our kids, writing, and the wisdom of ordering fish at a restaurant in a landlocked state. Lol

I arrived home and haven't stopped once. In addition to all the fun stuff of mothering (taxi driving, lunch making, homework shepherding, yada yada), I've been tearing through the edits of my next book with my editor, Julee Schwarzburg. On a tight deadline, so we're working fast! Hope to write more soon!

Have a beachy day, my friends ~ wherever you are!

Monday, September 20, 2010

ACFW conference thoughts (part 1)

Just returned home from the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. Whew! Whirlwind, for sure. Three days, non-stop classes, appointments, meeting people I've only known via FB or Twitter, Divine appointments, snippets conversations in the goes on and on. Sweet Waters was a finalist for the Carol Award. Didn't win, but such a huge honor to final in the contest. Rene Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay won for Never the Bride ~ kudos to them. I've never read Cheryl before, but Rene's one of my faves :) This photo is of B&H Author Pam Ewen and me at the Awards Night Banquet. Think Emmy Awards for writers. Everybody dolled it up and was on best behavior :)

The night before Julie Gwinn of B&H (my publisher) hosted a delish dinner at Harry & Izzy's in Indianapolis. Burned our mouths on their spicy, TV-worthy shrimp cocktail. No, really ... we were told it was featured on the Food Network's, Best Thing I Ever Ate. Forget sinus medication ... this thing was chock-full of enough horseradish to cure whatever you've got.

So many highlights and so much fatigue (11 hours of travel each way). I plan to write more in the days ahead. If you're interested, come on back. I hope you will! Until then ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'll be heading to Indianapolis in the morning to hang out with a bunch of crazy amazing writers for one long weekend at the ACFW conference. I'll try to post photos here and there as I can. Have phone will shoot pictures! :)

Also wanted to make sure you knew about Blogmania going on over at through tomorrow only. Lots and lots of fun prizes in two categories: Beach Reads and Life's a Beach. Included in the prize round up is A Shore Thing and a sign from julie's beach shop. Stop on by, leave a comment, and you might win something fabulous. Tell Vicki I sent you :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Enchanted Hill

Turned in the edits of my next book, Fade to Blue, then supervised pre-teen girl as she finished up a monster science project. Phew! Next I turn to packing for my trip to Indy on Thursday. So many details ~ no idea how/if it'll all get done, so if you happen to see me at the ACFW conference wearing mismatched shoes...don't ask.

Anyway, hubby took this photo last time we toured the Hearst Castle. My next book is about a gal who restores art for the castle, so naturally, I had to pay La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) a visit. It rained that day, hence the old hat :-) We didn't care. The surrounding area is pristine, people, pristine! After sifting through the manuscript, and reading about tidepools teaming with glowing anemones, and art-filled rooms, and casual dinners at the Red Abalone Grill, the local (but fictional :) hangout, I can't wait to head up north to "Otter Bay" for a respite of my own.

Here's to enchanted getaways ... !

Monday, September 13, 2010

Friendship, friendship ...

Did a mini-tour of Borders stores last Saturday with writing pal, Kathryn 'Katie' Cushman. Signed books, ate hamburgers, and yakked for several hours. We're both up for the ACFW Carol Award next Sunday ~ and in the same category. "That's why we're not talking," she quipped during our Q&A time at Borders Goleta. Lol.

Not a chance. Love her and her books. I'll be in Indianapolis for the banquet, and sadly, she won't. But if she wins, I'll do a little dance in her honor (if my feet don't have blisters after a busy, 3-day conference that is :)

It's Monday and the edits of my next book are due ... today! And my daughter's daunting 7th grade 'leaf project' is due in the morning. Sigh. Gonna be a long day ... have a beachy week, my friends (wherever you are :)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Visiting a friend today

I'm over at Sherry's Blog today. Come by for a brief interview and you'll learn a bit about the inspiration behind A Shore Thing. I met Sherry Kyle (that's her in the photo) at the Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference. Not only is she a writer, but she's a sweetheart too ~ and a former Biola Betty. LOL ... apparently that's a term of endearment for the female students at Biola (my son's school). Sherry met her Biola Bob in college...and the rest is history.

Hmm... wonder if they still call the students that? I'll have to ask my kiddo. Gives me an excuse to call, you know? ... :-)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cruizin' the beach

Saw another cool beach buggy down at the, well, at the beach yesterday. Pretty, huh? You can read my previous posts about beach ride obsessions here and here.

Hubby was with me at the time. Whenever I yarn on about beachy rides, he just nods and utters a contemplative, "Hmmm...." Like the other day when a guy in a VW Thing drove by and I swooned a little. So anyway, our youngest can't understand the obsession. She was with us when we walked by this red Country Squire and I just had to have a photo.

"I'd die if you ever picked me up from school in that thing, Mom. I'd die!"

"Not only would I," I told her. "But I'd strap a surfboard up top before heading out to your school!"

I might have even said 'pink' surfboard. LOL

Monday, September 06, 2010

emails that go bump in the night ...

Just keeps getting eerier ... So last week I told you that the hero of another writer's novel called my house. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Then last Friday evening, I opened up my email and received this (in part):

I'm just curious where you got the inspiration for your Gage Mitchell character because it keeps coming up in my Google Alerts and he sounds a lot like me actually... from what I've read. Strange coincidence, I know.

My name is Gage Mitchell and I own a small sustainable design studio. I think your character is an architect, but I'm a graphic designer. Both creative design fields, both eco-professionals, both with a cool name. ;)


After 'tweeting' about this latest email from 'a character' of a book ~ my book, this time ~ a Facebook friend also asked how I came up with Gage's name (Hero of A Shore Thing). So for the record, here's a glimpse into the strange mind of this writer:

...My hero's name must sound strong. I tend to favor one syllable (so far there's been Doug, Jake, Josh, Gage, and coming up, Seth). And Gage looks like (wink, wink) the actor, Simon Baker ~ so of course, ...the name had to fit. Also, I look at what the name means. Gage means measurer (which works for an architect, don't you think?) and Mitchell indicates faith ~ it is a name that stands for the question Who is like God? Finally, it has to sound good to the ear. Yes, I practiced saying it a few times in the privacy of my tiny office closet :)

So there you have it Real Gage Mitchell (with the real strong name :) and Readers ~ the rather involved steps I take in choosing character names. (Would be so much easier to open up the phone book and choose at random, now that I'm thinking about it ...;)

Have a beachy day, my friends ... wherever you are!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'll be signing books with my pal, Kathryn Cushman, at TWO Borders stores next Saturday, September 11, 2010. If you're in SoCal, stop on by for some early Christmas shopping! (Seriously, we'd be happy to inscribe Feliz Navidad, Happy Christmas, or whatever you'd like :)

(This photo's from 2007, when Katie, Jim Bell and I held our Promises, Chocolate and ... Murder event.)

I'll be signing A SHORE THING, an Otter Bay Novel. In this story, a fiery young woman's fight against a beachfront development gets personal when she begins to fall for the architect assigned to the job.

Katie will be signing ANGEL SONG, her fourth book and one she co-wrote with Sheila Walsh. In this story, angels eagerly watch over Annie Fletcher's every move. She just doesn't know it yet.

If you're in the 'hood, we'd love to see you:

11 am to 1 pm
BORDERS ~ Oxnard
241 West Esplanade Drive
Oxnard, CA
(805) 988-6886.

3 pm to 5 pm
BORDERS ~ Goleta
7000 Marketplace Drive
Goleta, CA
(805) 968-1370

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tweet of the Week

My DVR is set to record all episodes of House Hunters International because my nightcap of choice is to 'travel' to some beautiful seaside place before heading off to dreamland :). So the other night I was watching the episode when a gal travels to Malta to buy a vacation place. Although I didn't agree on the place she chose--LOL, when do I ever?--I enjoyed touring the area with her.

This particular night I tweeted : "House Hunters International, I heart you." The next day HGTV contacted me to ask if they could include my note in their 'Tweet of the Week.' Um, let me think...YES!

They then sent me some legal stuff, and I signed it, so my words may (finally!) make it to the (little) screen. LOL ... Let me know if and when you see it, alrighty? Have a beachy week, my friends!

Friday, August 27, 2010

calls that go bump in the night ...

So a character from a book called my home last night. Seriously. The phone rang at 8:20 pm, and Call Waiting read: Asher Price. No one was on the other end (even creepier), but I just stared at the name, trying to remember where I'd seen it before.

"What's wrong?" my daughter asked.

Omg! I ran down the hall. She followed. I grabbed the book from my shelf, turned it over, and pointed at the text on the back cover. "Asher Price just called!"

We both screamed, laughing.

"It's like that movie, Mom. Stranger than Fiction. A character is talking to you!"

"Yeah," I said. "but it's not one of my characters!"

Methinks it's time to take a break from all this writing. I'm going to the beach. And not answering the phone ...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Charlie and me

That's Charlie the Dog in the photo. I was on deadline awhile back, ignoring him, so he decided to slip into something more comfortable ... and wait until I noticed.

Instead of a writing deadline, I'm on an editing one at the moment. But it all looks the same to Charlie, i.e., I AM IGNORING HIM. He gallops into the office and slaps his paws on the floor next to me, looking for a playmate. I want to say, Hey, I just sent one off to college! I want to be free! He doesn't care.

I get asked all the time what kind of doggy he is. We adopted Charlie from a shelter, so the best guess we have is some kind of beagle mix. I modeled Moondoggy from A Shore Thing after him. The pooch on the cover has a longer snout, but don't they kind of look alike? One thing is certain, they both have minds of their own and will do whatever it takes to get some attention. Lol...