Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old...and in with the Happy New Year!

What a year! Book signings, a coastal book tour, conferences, radio and print interviews, a blour…I’m pooped. As an article writer for nearly 16 years, I was used to sending in my stuff and moving on.

But books are different, and I’ve learned to take time to step out from behind the computer screen occasionally to meet fiction fans. For a nervous nellie like myself, it's been daunting, yet exhilarating too. THANKS SO MUCH to all of you who’ve popped in here to visit, or joined me at signings. I’ve enjoyed getting to know YOU!

So here’s that year-end wrap up I’ve been mulling. One thing I’ve learned is—other than book signings—I don’t get out much, lol. Seriously, I reviewed the list of 2007 films and found that I hadn’t seen many. I’m listing those I liked, plus one I probably would have liked should I have actually paid the 9+ bucks to see it. Feel free to leave a comment with some of your faves.

Okay, Movies of 2007 I liked

Dan in Real Life
(Sooo sweet, plus scenes of coastal Rhode Island, ahhh)
Freedom Writers (Patrick Dempsey plays such a dweeb)
The Ultimate Gift (Lots to chew on here)
Blades of Glory (Kinda sick, but made me laugh)
Hairspray (Great music!)
Amazing Grace (Didn't see it, but it’s on my dvd watching list for 2008)

2007 Books I Read and Liked
(I'm probably forgetting some, but these are standouts.)

A Promise to Remember, Kathryn Cushman (Riveting, a real page-turner, I loved it.)

Surrender Bay, Denise Hunter (Stunning allegory)

The Book of Jane, Dayton & Vanderbilt (fun, smooth reading)

Renovating Becky Miller, Sharon Hinck (Made me want to find myself an old farmhouse, lol...not)

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (Children's classic, but I ate up this story about a lost indian girl on an island not far from where I live. A must read, even tho' it came out way before '07!)

Every Good & Perfect Gift, Sharon K. Souza (I read this for endorsement; it’s not out yet. All I can say is “Wow!" A new author to watch.)

2007 TV Shows

Samantha Who? (I miss Gilmore Girls, but have found this fun new show. Weird premise, crazy characters—wish I’d thought of it.)
American Idol, of course.
House Hunters & House Hunters International (my poor husband...)

YouTube of the Year: Hilarious. I come from a family of sensitive guys, so this makes me laugh every time. If you’ve never watched Scrubs (I wouldn’t blame you since it’s gotten pretty outrageous), these guys are best friends on the show.

And finally, Inspiration of the Year:
I want to be this girl when I grow up. May she inspire us all in 2008 to get out there and serve somebody.

Teen brings school to Cambodia

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Name that Fave

Just popping in to say hey--have an early appointment today. I've been noticing a lot of round ups or wrap ups, whatever you want to call them, appearing on blogs. So I'm going to do one too, but closer to New Years. You know, fave movie of the year, song, TV show, etcetera.... I already have some opinions, but I'm open to bribes your suggestions, so while I'm mulling, fire away.

Have a beachy day ;)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A First Look!

My editors over at Bethany House surprised me on Christmas Eve with a freshly-baked copy of... Truffles by the Sea! Thanks Charlene and Sarah!

I wasn't expecting to see a copy for a couple of weeks, then just after picking up our Christmas Eve tamales, I found the book-sized package waiting for me on my front steps. Woo-hoo!

I wish I'd taken a pic of it for you
, but after smelling its freshness and then letting my family take a peek, I wrapped it in Christmas paper and gave it away--to my mother, 'cuz this one's dedicated to her :)

It should start appearing in stores
in about a month, so be sure to stop in around then. I'll be giving away some on this blog (and on a few others as well--I'll post links so you can find them). And seriously, what's better than a free book?

Speaking of free stuff
, whad'ja get for Christmas this year? Other than extra pounds, that is ;) Anyway, hope it was a beautiful, healthy and happy one for you. Now spill on the gifts.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not too sick to vote...

What do Nyquil, 1000% of vitamin C and Claritin all have in common? They're all coursing through my veins right now.

But I've come out of my haze
to let you know that Truffles by the Sea made it to the second round of voting over at the ACFW book club poll. The club's in the process of choosing the February read, and if you'd like to vote, it's easy to do. Just join the club by sending a blank e-mail to Once you're in, click on 'polls', locate the one for Feb. and vote!

Thanks so much for the support. My book's up against a couple of my faves, so--and I'm totally serious here--it's an honor to be nominated!

p.s. Poll closes December 26 :)

Friday, December 21, 2007


Taking a bit of a break from blogging as I attempt to finish wrapping gifts, make homemade candy, and prep Christmas Eve dinner, all while keeping the house decent with three kids home from school. In other words, the usual. You mamas out there know what I'm talkin' about...

In order to do these things with a smile on my face, I'm sucking down drinking a bit more coffee than normal. So it's not unusual that this list of "signs you're drinking too much caffeine" posted over at my local coffeehouse caught my attention. Thought I'd share it with y'all. Maybe you can relate? (Yeah, me too)

Here's to all the plans ahead in the next few days...and staying awake long enough to enjoy them all! Bless you guys!

- You answer the door before people knock.

· Juan Valdez named his donkey after you.

· You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.

· You lick your coffeepot clean.

· You’re the employee of the month at the local coffeehouse and you don’t even work there.

· You chew on other people’s fingernails.

· Your T-shirt says, “Decaffeinated coffee is the devil’s blend.”

· You can type sixty words per minute ... with your feet.

· You can jump-start your car without cables.

· Cocaine is a downer.

· You don’t need a hammer to pound nails.

· You don’t sweat, you percolate.

· You buy ½ & ½ by the barrel.

· You’ve worn out the handle on your favorite mug.

· You go to AA meetings just for the free coffee.

· You walk twenty miles on your treadmill before you realize it’s not plugged in.

· You forget to unwrap candy bars before eating them.

· You’ve built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.

· You’ve worn the finish off your coffee table.

· The Taster’s Choice couple wants to adopt you.

· Instant coffee takes too long.

· When someone says. “How are you?”, you say, “Good to the last drop.”

· You want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity in a coffee can.

· Your birthday is a national holiday in Brazil.

· You’re offended when people use the word “brew” to mean beer.

· You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.

· You can thread a sewing machine, while it’s running.

· You don’t even wait for the water to boil anymore.

· Your nervous twitch registers on the Richter scale.

· You think being called a “drip” is a compliment.

· You don’t tan, you roast.

· You can’t even remember your second cup.

· You help your dog chase its tail.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

mall hopping and poll vaulting

Did some rainy day Christmas shopping in SoCal with my girls today and found some fabulous stuff...for me. LOL No worries, I was a good girl and focused on my list instead. I'm not usually into shopping but seriously my inner-chick showed up today and had a ball. Could almost hear Perry Como singing as I rushed home with my treasures...

In other news, the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club poll is up today and Truffles by the Sea is on it. Yay! The book that 'wins' in the poll will be read and discussed some time in February. Honestly, my newest release is 'competing' against books by some of my favorite people. It's humbling, I tell ya.

If you'd like to vote,
you need to be a member. Anyone can join the book club by sending a blank e-mail to And membership is FREE FREE FREE. (And considering all the shopping I did today, that's an especially great thing ;-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The elephant in the ...

So my son's participating in a white elephant gift exchange this week and guess what he chose to wrap up and give away to some unsuspecting recipient?

Yeah, my novel, Chocolate Beach.

At first I was flattered. Of all the things he could give away, he chose his mama's first book. But that was when I thought it was a simple Christmas gift exchange. Didn't realize it was a white elephant exchange.

For those needing a refresher
, here's one definition of white elephant: a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of.

Well. Need I say that this is not true of my 10-month old booky? I may be readying myself to birth again, but I will always love CB because she is my first (insert dramatic sigh here).

So I'm back to being flattered, and a little impressed, because Teen Son also thought (totally on his own!) to include a postcard for Truffles by the Sea with the gift. And if a guy chooses it? Well, then, I hope his mother enjoys it.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Suzi Lu Who?

I took this quiz right after my latte and this is how it turned out. I may take it again after a day of shopping followed by searching for my car for an hour :]]
How about you?

You Are the Furthest Thing From Grinch

You love and live for the holidays. You even love the Grinch!
You're in the holiday spirit year round... because you're all about celebrating and giving.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Writing is easy...'s the reviews that can be hard ;0

During a recent discussion with other writers, a friend told of a lousy, unmerited review she received. Of course, this got the ball rolling and other writers chimed in with their review sob stories. THIS one got to me, though, and with her permission, I'd like to share. Read on:

"I got mostly really good reviews for Petticoat Ranch. But there was a classic one-star that I copied and did a Find on so I could count the number of times the reviewer used the word 'disgusting'. Well, I put up with it as it appeared, word for word, on CBD, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on and on. Until finally I'd had enough and I wrote to the reviewer and said, "Mom, if you can't say something nice about somebody, you shouldn't say anything at all."


You can visit the author of this "sad, somewhat fictionalized, tale" at

p.s. Truffles by the Sea will be out in about a month. Go easy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Machine Broke

How often does a nearly new, state of the art radiation machine break? Apparently at least once. That's what Kristy was told yesterday when she arrived for her first radiation treatment. Her and hubby Milton's reaction?

They laughed.

And that's what I've come to love about them. They live out the verse in the Bible that says a merry heart makes good medicine. They also gave credit to the thousands out there praying, telling the technician that "all these prayers overpowered your machine."

I think that's why I choose to write stories that have an element of humor (you do think I'm funny, right? lol...) As I've continued to brainstorm new ideas (Sorry for that awful pun. Something tells me Kristy would laugh at that, though), many have serious overtones, yet a sort of organic humor often pours from the situations. My mother tells me that when I had my own tumor, I did crazy, funny things. (Some might have thought it was the meds talking, but my mother knows me too well ;) Seriously, I think God gave us laughter to help us combat the things we just cannot control.

Like machine's that break. It's absurd that Kristy would have to emotionally gear up for treatment only to be told the machine is broken. But I like her's and Milton's style because they laughed. As they've said, "God is at work, and we choose to trust him." And they're not kidding.

For more on Kristy, read her blog here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

pass the chocolate...

OhAmanda's giving away a basket of chocolaty-beachy-goodness over at her blog (including a copy of Chocolate Beach--natch). Find out how to enter her oh-so-fun contest on her site.


Still have much Christmas shopping to do, do, do! How about you? If I could just plow through without all those coffee and sweet stops, maybe I could get-her done. LOL


Thanks for praying for Kristy (see post below if you haven't already). I'll give you an update when I can.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Prayers for Kristy

You can make a difference in Kristy Dykes' life! Kristy's a writer who recently learned she had a brain tumor. She's already had surgery to remove much of it, but she's in need of a miracle. You can read about it on her blog, which her hubby Milton faithfully keeps up to date for her.

THIS Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, at 3:30 pm EST, thousands of people will be praying for Kristy at the time of her first radiation treatment.

Would you join us? Although my own was benign, I too had a brain tumor years ago. Kristy's story has so touched me and I'd be so honored if you would join me in prayer for her (and others you know with cancer--I have a close friend going in for surgery this very week, so she's in my prayers as well!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Looky, looky!

Just got in some bookmarks for Truffles by the Sea. That's both sides over to the left. Aren't they pretty? If you want one, send a snail address to me via my website.

Also, I still have lots of Bethany House bookplates left. If you're giving the gift of Chocolate Beach this Christmas, I'd be happy to sign one and send it your way.


Off to the yearly Christmas program at our daughters' school. Pray none of the donkeys get loose or any angels fly off the stage. Haha...kidding. That couldn't happen. Right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I've been nice. Really, I have.

Saw this on Cara Putman's blog. She swiped borrowed it from Tina Forkner's blog.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Monster waves have been slamming the shore over the last 24 hours and words is they'll continue until Friday. Police have set up electronic signs all over the place warning people not to go to the beach, but surfers never read those :) Seriously, just this afternoon Teen Daughter and I saw a bunch of surf dudes carrying their boards northward, presumably after taking the ride of their lives.

So anyway, something tells me Hawaii's seen surf much more "kickin'" than this, but still. For those of us who can hear the earth being pummeled by waves taller than my living room ceiling, it's da bomb, I tell ya.

Sunscreen, anyone?

Monday, December 03, 2007

We believe

I've wanted one of these statues for years, and finally found one in a nearby nursery. It's sitting on my mantle now, right next to the row of brass stocking hangers that spell out the word PEACE.

Isn't this the coolest?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Free Autographed Bookplate

Buying Chocolate Beach for someone special this Christmas? I'd like to send you a signed publisher's bookplate that you can include with your gift. (As William said to Anna Scott in Notting Hill: "Very useful for lighting fires, wrapping fish, that sort of thing.")

Anyway, just email me your snail address and the name of the recipient by mid-December, so I can get it to you in time! (If you live outside of the USA, delivery may take a bit longer.)

Here are some of the online (and discounted! :) outlets where you can buy Chocolate Beach:,

Silly me, I forgot to say that you can e-me through my website :*)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Lucy!

One of my writing buddies just launched True Christmas cards. You can order cards and a portion of the proceeds will benefit your church or other non-profit (check with them on the details on that). Anyway, I just took a peek, and the cards are pr-et-tay!

So I was curled up on the couch last night watching A Charlie Brown Christmas when I had to hit the pause button and holler for hubby to come on out to the living room.

"Watch this," I said.

Lucy was whining to Charlie B. that all she ever gets for Christmas are dumb toys and clothes, and what she really wants is....REAL ESTATE!

LOL, that's just so me it's not even funny. Hubby just laughed, shook his head, and walked out. Poor guy. I think I'd better take another look at those Christmas cards and think about the true meaning of the holiday...

And besides, there's always my birthday, right hon? Hee-hee!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deja who?

Sat around last night watching Samantha Who?, a series about a gal with amnesia, and felt like I'd fallen into a world of deja vu myself. Teen Daughter and I giggled nearly every time a new character walked into a scene because we knew them so well from other shows, like Gilmore Girls, Related (two characters from that one!), 7th Heaven, Designing Women (okay, TG's too young to remember that one, but still). The heroine of the show (that would be Samantha) grew up on a show I wasn't allowed to watch ;0, so we won't mention it here...

So anyway, I'm wondering if my pal Gilmore Girls Fanatic also feels a bit melancholy when seeing one of our beloved GG cast members in a new role...sigh. (Yeah, obsession runs deep.) First there's our Sookie playing a ditz on the aforementioned show, then afterward another show popped on and there was Kirk with a very odd haircut, and of course, our Lorelai playing Noah's wife...

Me thinks it's time to crack open a new book.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Spent Thanksgiving up in the Yosemite National Park this year. In case you're wondering, we rented a cabin...I'm just not a camping girl. Besides, it was c-o-l-d up there--brrr. Thankfully, I had my Dan there to keep me warm...

Anyway, there's something so poetic
about 'making do' when you're out on the road, especially during a holiday. We spent our days there with some family friends who also have three kiddos in the same age range. Before dinner, our youngest girls collected fallen pine cones to make a centerpiece, then they decorated store-bought cookies with M&Ms and candy corn. When my friend Deb and I realized we'd forgotten to bring mixins for stuffing, we combined our resources and ended up with a version that was oh-so delicioso (the garlic essence lasted for days, but that's another story...:)

Even though we were far away from the conveniences of home, including a large market, like most Americans we ate way too much and had more than enough (hence the foil-wrapped leftovers we brought back with us to the beach), and for that I am truly grateful.

How about you?
How was your Thanksgiving this year?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bring on the ala mode

Big plans for Thanksgiving this year, so in honor of all the eating I'll be doing that I'm thankful for, I give you this quiz. Let me know how you fare, and have a HAPPY holiday! Quiz on:

You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional. You prefer things the way you've always known them. You'll admit that you're old fashioned, and you don't see anything wrong with that. Your tastes and preferences are classic. And classic never goes out of style.

Those who like you crave security. People can rely on you to be true to yourself - and true to them. You're loyal, trustworthy, and comfortable in your own skin.
And because of these qualities, you've definitely earned a lot of respect.

Monday, November 19, 2007

will write for ...

Went to a little Thanksgiving chapel at my daughters' school, and Elem. Girl's class gave a presentation set to music. During the song, each kiddo climbed up onto a box and held a large poster board over their head, proclaiming what they were thankful for. Elem. Girl hadn't told me what she'd written; she wanted me to be surprised, and yeah, I was when she held up a sign to much applause:


We're not obsessed or anything...;0

Then on Saturday, we helped my mom put on a little baby shower for my sissie-in-law, and what was one of the highlights, you ask? Hint: it's over there on the left.

Don't you just wanna dip yourself in it? LOL I think the management would have frowned on that, so we 'settled' for dipping strawberries and rice krispy treats and melon and oh-my-goodness marshmallows in it.

I've got an inkling of where Elementary Girls gets her obsession...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How writers dine

So when I met up with Katie Cushman for lunch last week, I brought along all kinds of stuff. There were the books I wanted her to sign (I made her sign them right there at the table, giggling at the sidelong glances from various wait staff). And the magazine from my recent vacation that had an ad in it featuring one of the models from the cover of Katie's book--seriously, it was her, only this time, instead of looking downcast over the tragic events of her life, she was curling a bicep under the weight of a small barbell (yeah--it was a gym ad).

Then while Katie waited for her corn chowder to arrive, I flopped open the pages of another mag.

"Look at this," I said.


"I want to write a book about this," I continued, pointing at one small paragraph in an article I'd found in my favorite magazine. I waited as she read the nugget that had caught my attention.

"I like it!"

And just like that, an idea received a bit of nourishment as we talked about what kind of book this might one day become.

Brainstorming while eating is nothing new to me. Come to think of it, my mom and I have had storyboarding breakfasts for years. And hubby often listens to me drone carry on during dinner about some idea I've been cooking up. Hm. So while it's all about the food or the wine or the service for some, for writerly folks it's more about the story--pass the 'what ifs', por favor?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Chocolate Series

So last summer I put out the call for good chick flicks that Teen Daughter and I could watch together (that's an all-time fave of mine over there on the left). Your responses coupled with the ones I received through a forum over at the ACFW supplied us with a list long enough to cause Teen Son and Hubby to run screaming out of the living room on several occasions. Even when the movies were duds, that in itself made them worth it ;')

We've gotten restless again, TD and I, and we're back to spending weekends mocking watching films again. Like the other night when we watched a perplexing and occasionally witty movie called Elizabethtown. I'm still not sure what that was all about, but we plowed our way through two plates of nachos in a quest to find out.

So anyway, last night we watched Hidden Places, a film based on the Christy award winning novel by Lynn Austin. And it's a Hallmark too. Sweet, charming, predictable, but it was a school night so we weren't looking for anything too taxing. I especially liked seeing Shirley Jones wearing a depression-era wig and spectacles, although I occasionally caught myself humming, "C'mon get happy!"

Which brings me to a new thought. Stay with me here. How about Chocolate Beach & Truffles by the Sea made into chick flicks. Better yet a mini-chick-flick-series. (And whatever happened to the mini series anyway?)

Seriously, can't you see it? It could be during February, a sort of week long Valentine's Day celebration. Just think. Girls and mamas everywhere bonding over chocolate-laced chick flicks, with faith in the mix. What's not to love?

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's in the air...

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for a bit of swooning. Have y'all heard about the guy from NY who fell for a gal he saw on a subway train in NY...lost sight of her...then started a website to find her? He did. Find her that is, and to prove it, they went on GMA together (If I'd written their story, I probably would have given them a more romantic place to rendezvous, but that's just me.)

Anyway, wish I'd thought of it, but something tells me they'll write their own book. ..

video of GMA interview of nygirlofmydreams guy & gal

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Veteran's Day everybody!

For you fiction readers, my pal Tricia Goyer has written several awesome novels set during WWII and other time periods that you might want to check out this weekend.

As for me, I'll be reading, relaxing, attending church and praying for our troops (you know, in between all the mothering stuff like providing taxi service and feeding three squares a day ;). I'll also be bundling up and doing some beachcombing with my Mr. So Perfect, and looky-looing into Open Houses we come across (right, honey?)

Whatever you do, have a beachy weekend...and remember to fly your flag!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

KK & me

Decided to come out of hiding and actually intro myself to novelist Karen Kingsbury. So glad I did, because she was warm and helpful to this newbie writer. After I gushed a little, she patiently answered my probing questions and signed a fresh-off-the-press copy of Between Sundays. And before that, she entertained the crowd with stories about her writing life, her family, and the recent Hannah Montana concert she and her son, Tyler, attended. LOL, my maternal respect o'meter shot up at that point.

Before the event, my hub, Dan, Teen Daughter, Elementary Girl and I stopped by Casa Cushman for pizza and cookies, then followed Katie & her youngest over to Border's. I think I can safely say that Katie (as in Kathryn Cushman) gushed at least as much as I did, only she did it in an elegant sort-of way :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Off to spy on see Karen Kingsbury tonight. Hoping some of her bestseller status will rub off on me. I'll be the one taking copious notes, and wearing dark shades with a cap pulled down low. Will report on what I uncover tomorrow...;)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

workin' 9 to 5

The Galley is in! So to celebrate I've curled up with a novel and plan to stay this way all the livelong day. LOL--not. But, oh, how nice that would be (she said, wistfully).

Actually, the dryer broke, and I paid a repair guy 50 bucks to come out here and tell me it's dead. So today I'm on the hunt for a bargain. And I need to restock the empty fridge with food, and to clean dustbunnies that have multiplied throughout my neglected house, and to pay the bills. Sigh. My work is never done...;)

Can you relate or what?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Makes my heart want to sing...

just thinking about the Chris Tomlin concert I attended with hubby, Teen Son & TS' friend on Friday night. Here's a camera phone pic that doesn't do the night justice, but there you go.

The concert was held under a cool blanket of fog at the Santa Barbara Bowl, yet as Chris led us in worship under the heavens that fog blew out and we saw stars. Big, bright stars. If you've never had a chance to hang with 4,000 plus worshippers under a clear night sky, I passionately recommend it. I'm still glowing from the experience (can you tell?)

On the way in
we ran into all kinds of friends old and new; lots of hugging going on. Funny trivia: my pal, Katie Cushman was there too, with hubby Lee and Teen Daughter--in the same row! What a coinky-dink, huh? And the couple seated next to us were from a town just east of here called Ojai. Turns out they knew friends of ours from church. It's a small world when believers get together :)

Special shout out to Becca Dowling,
writing buddy, who graced me with the tickets. I needed this night and probably would not have pursued it on my own. So thanks, girlfriend. Also there that night was writer/speaker Lou Giglio who riveted us with stirring words of God's greatness. If you've never heard Giglio speak then You. Must. I just picked up Chris Tomlin's CD See the Morning and it has a bonus DVD with it which includes several music videos from the tour along with an appearance by Giglio. Woo-hoo. Hey, listen, if you can stop a concert mid way and take command of an audience with a 40 minute speech, then you have been gifted by God. All I'm sayin'.

And here's a bit of trivia
that even I hadn't remembered until Friday night. When I began to write Truffles by the Sea I typed out the refrain from one of CT's songs called Indescribable. Know it? Anyway, I used the words to inspire me to write about a woman who in the midst of various disasters finds beauty all around her. She even mentions the song in one of the last chapters. When the book was complete, I'd erased the refrain from that first page, and sent it to my publisher.

I'd forgotten about that
when at the concert CT launched into that song. And as he sang, I fought the tears so I wouldn't ruin another pair of contacts, lol. The galleys for this book are due in just a couple of days, and as I struggle at times to make sure that all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted, I'm assured that God's not perplexed. He inspired me at the beginning, and He will carry me all the way through.

Friday, November 02, 2007

writing wrap up

Becky Miller wrote in to ask if I'd blogged about teaching at the Santa Barbara Christian Writer's Conference. I hadn't, but I think that's because I'd just capped off a month-long time of busy family and writing events, beginning with the trek out to Dallas in September. In other words, I was pooped.

So rewinding just a bit, yes, I did teach article writing at the SBC conference on the beautiful Westmont College campus, the day after the Bell/Cushman/Carobini chat at Borders. See, although I've written and sold a couple of novels, it all began with articles for me. I wrote for my college newspaper, then Sunday School papers and my local paper a bit, then on to magazines both online and in print. So while Jim spoke on the writing life, and Katie mentored fiction students, I worked mainly with those interested in writing articles.

So anyhoo, I had a class of eager students all with very different ideas of what they wanted to write next. So cool. I taught the Train of Thought Method, which is not a new idea, of course, but one that's finally been put into book form by my friend, Kathi Macias. (You can use it to write fiction too!) This is how I learned to write readable magazine articles. (In other words, apologies all around to college students forced to read my stories before I'd learned much about writing. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.)

So there you have it.
I taught, ate too much, and enjoyed the camaraderie of new and seasoned writers. For you locals, I'll be sure to post info for next year's conference when it becomes available.

On another note, there's romance in the air. Do you feel it? I'm off to finish reviewing the galleys for Truffles by the Sea, and in case you hadn't heard, it's heavier on the romance than my first book. Even when re-reading I find myself, I think I've found my calling :) Anyway, it'll be out in late January, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Have a Beachy weekend, friends!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hungover today

No, not that kind. The kind from eating all of this!

Say what you want about October 31, but you gotta admit, there's at least one benefit...;]]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things I've discovered...

Every day is an unopened clam waiting for its tightly-clenched shell to be pried open by life's razor-sharp peculiarities. Now there's a cheesy line if I ever wrote one! Seriously, though, I've had my ups and downs lately--and don't we all at times?--and I long to shake them off. Writing is one sure way to help me out of a funk. That and much prayer. How about you? What do you do to swat away the swirl of fleas that stinky times can produce?

Like when:
--you find out that your camera was stolen from your car
--you are criticized
--you lost something important
--your waistband's beginning to tighten ;)

Thankfully it's not all bad. My friend and fellow ACFW member, Becca, just sent me some tickets to a Chris Tomlin concert. Woo-hoo, good timing, Becca!

And then there's the dark chocolate Altoids I just discovered at the checkout stand. Hey, sometimes it's the little things that help so much, you know? (Unfortunately my girls also discovered the curiously strong mints' medicinal qualities and now I have to go buy more. Not fair.)

Phew. I'm feeling better already. How about you?

Monday, October 29, 2007

And the winner is...

Stormi from Missouri has won a copy of Katie Cushman's "A Promise to Remember."
Congrats, Stormi!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for Friday's chat.

Silly boys, trikes are for kids

There's still time to enter the drawing for A Promise to Remember by Katie Cushman. Just leave a comment on last Friday's post. I'll pop in sometime tonight with the name of the winner!


Spent Saturday afternoon over at the Ventura Harbor watching adults wearing weird costumes (these pics don't show much of that aspect so you'll have to trust me on this) drive strange contraptions through water, sand, mud, and of course, on asphalt. Ka-razy. It's a charitable fundraiser called the Kinetic Sculpture Race that drives engineers to do these things--and crowds, like us, to watch. Could give you a play by play but thought the pics might just say it all ;) Wish I'd remembered to whip out the camera earlier but was just too mesmerized by the spectacle. So anyway, for your Monday viewing pleasure:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Meet Katie, and win a book (maybe)

Kathryn (Katie) Cushman is no stranger to this blog. If you've been around you've heard about our recent trip to Dallas, our brave (yeah, right ;) participation in a public speaking class, and that cake that wowed us at the Borders' signing.

Katie's first book, A Promise to Remember, just released a few weeks ago--and I've got an extra copy to give away. Woo-hoo! Leave a comment at the end of this interview and I'll put your name into my lone winter hat. Elementary Girl will randomly choose a name sometime Monday afternoon, so be sure to check back. It could be you!

Okay, here's a peek at the back cover of A Promise to Remember:

Andie Phelps is the envy of Santa Barbara. A devoted mother with a loving son and a successful husband, her greatest joy comes from reaching out to others...

Melanie Johnston
is the envy of no one. A single mom who works long hours to pay the bills, her greatest joys relate to her teen daughter and son.

Then the accident that changes everything. When opposite worlds collide, the impact reaches far beyond these mothers' personal losses.

Two wounded women...two families seeking hope...a community torn apart... How far will they go to fulfill: A Promise to Remember

* * *

Crystal Johnson, says
"...once you start reading there is no way you won't be affected in some way .... Kathryn Cushman is bestseller material!"

* * *

Since Katie writes serious, thought-provoking stories, I decided to ask her like-minded questions (not). Okay, here goes:

You used to be a pharmacist. How is a novelist different?

Ha! Fun question. It is different in almost every way.
Pharmacist-- feet ache from standing all day
Novelist-- backside aches from sitting all day

Pharmacist-- work long shifts, lucky to sneak in a bite of food occasionally
Novelist-- Spend the entire day eating cookies to "spark creativity" while working

Pharmacist-- might spend half an hour verifying an unclear order, or notifying a doctor's office about a serious drug interaction, then spend the next 10 minutes being berated by that patient for the long wait
Novelist-- spend half an hour writing a scene that treats a character abominably, then get an email from a reader saying how much it meant to them

LOL--I think you made a great career switch. Okay, next question, who and/or what inspires your writing choices? Most of my ideas have come from some little tidbit of real life-- something I've seen on the news or heard about somewhere. It usually involves a question I don't know how to answer, so I invent some characters who I hope will figure it out for me!

Think you'll ever delve into other genres? If yes, which one(s)?

When I first started writing, I wrote romantic suspense. In fact, I finished two romantic suspense manuscripts. But... when I started writing A Promise to Remember it was sort of that "Aha!" moment for me, when I finally realized I was writing exactly what I wanted to write. So, until I feel called in another direction, it's going to be rather serious women's fiction for me.

What's your favorite ice cream?

Baskin Robbins' German Chocolate Cake. My mouth waters just typing those words-- gee, I wish there was a Baskin Robbins near me!!!!!

That's okay since there's one near me. C'mon down, and I'll buy :) Here's another question, this one dear to my heart! If you were chocolate, which kind would you be? Why?
I'm milk chocolate-- a Hershey bar, actually. Nothing glitzy or glamorous like the imported or dark chocolates. Dependable, predictable-- but still lovable :-).

Yes, you are! One last thing, finish this: A good writing day is like ...

For me a good writing day is the day the dam bursts, and the ideas that have been blocked come pouring out so fast my fingers can't keep up. I love the tap, tap, tap of the keyboard moving at warp speed.

Me too, Katie! Thanks for stopping in--you're always welcome.

Thanks Jul!

If you'd like a copy of Katie's novel, please remember to comment--and to check back next week. Beachy weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Something to talk about

With a topsy turvy schedule, residual smoke in the air, a house full of kids, my mind is like that vacuum over there. It's like I just suck things in and forget about them. Like blogging. I'll get a great idea that I must run to the computer and post right away and then bam--I forget. Can you relate? Or is it just me?

Had my car broken into the other day. Did I mention that already? (Can't remember.) Actually they didn't 'break' in, because I'd apparently left the door unlocked. When Teen Son got into the car and told me it was a mess, I didn't give it a second thought. I think I just rolled my eyes. Mess, yeah that's new. But when I got in, I saw what he meant. Someone had rifled through all my papers and glove box and thrown them every which way--even tore apart my dayplanner. That. was. not. nice.

They didn't get anything
because I just don't leave large wads of cash unattended in my car (if I had large wads of cash, that is). But the whole experience felt yucky just the same, like I wanted to spray the insides of my car with oust or something.

So anyway, it's a new day with a nice empty bag inside my head waiting to be filled. Let's just hope I'll catch something worth talkin' about ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the thick of it

Came back yesterday from a relaxing anniversary trip up north only to find skies filled with ash and smoke. The fires in So. California have sent their plumes northward and I can only imagine how terrible it is for those in the midst of them. We talked with one neighbor's daughter who had been evacuated. She said that she had to come all the way home to her parents' house because her friends had all been evacuated as well--and that the first 8 miles of her trip took 2.5 hours. Send some prayers heavenward when you think of it, okay? Firefighters and residents need help and comfort.


All three of my kids are on fall break this week which means I'm cowering in my bedroom...haha, kidding. Actually, it's after 9 and they're still sleeping, and isn't that the way breaks should be? Especially with skies so unhealthy from the fires, I think I'll just let them be...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Woo-hoo, it's Friday

Happy Friday Friends! I'm working up a new newsletter for fall (I know, finally :) So if you haven't signed up yet, please do so on my sidebar to your rrrrright! Rumor has it I'm in the mood to give away chocolate...

Whew! It's been quite the month of writing-related stuff (in addition to, you know, living). Just the other night Dan and I had dinner with my fabulously fun agent--and got kicked out of the place. LOL Actually, they needed our table and invited us to vacate to the bar (we declined). Restaurant dramatics aside, the timing of our meeting was perfect, a God-thing really, and I'm looking forward to announcing stuff when I can.

Okay, enough of that. It's the weekend, well, it's almost the weekend so I wish you a good one. The weather's still beautiful around here, with temps in the high 70s. If I could, I'd head out on the outrigger again :), except this time just for kicks instead of competition. Know what I'm saying?

Have a beachy weekend! Find something special to do this weekend and I'll see ya back here on Monday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Catching up on the rest of the weekend. It's only Thursday, after all.

Here's another close up of that magnificent cake made for last week's book signing. As Katie, Jim and I waited in the back, in an area we affectionately dubbed "the green room", we could hear announcements made in Borders to let folks know we were about to start. Something like "Welcome Readers to our author signing and chat, Promises, Chocolate and ... Murder!" That last word was always said with a sort of DU-DU-DUUUU tone. Such a crack up.

So when I saw this picture with that serrated knife there on the left, I laughed. Then I got creeped out. Then I laughed again.

Okay, moving on...

Took a tour on Sunday of a green house (not to be confused with the green room mentioned above). And not one with plants in it, either, but one built with sustainable materials, like bamboo and crushed glass and, um, hemp (okay, so I'm not sure about that last one, but I have seen some cool purses made of it). So anyway, I joined my mother, brother and his ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE girlfriend to tour the house, our $20 entrance fee going to charity. Not sure exactly why I wanted to see it. There's a lot of controversy these days with going 'green' because, unfortunately, the idea of using our God-given resources wisely has become a political issue. Yuk. I'm so not into that aspect.

But anyway, the house is in Venice near those lovely canals, so what do I care about politics? I just wanted to see it. And my first faux-paux? I wore a suede jacket and leather shoes. LOL Uh, hello, the place was crawling with people wearing clothes made of wheat. Okay, maybe only some of them. Did I mention I stood in a room with Jackson Browne, admiring the stylish use of fluorescents? (Jeans and a cotton tee, just in case you were wondering.)

I'm actually pretty amazed by what a clever builder can do with fly ash. And the windows on the toured house are gigantic and beautiful, really bringing the inside out (or is it outside in?) But one thing does bother me. We later found a few open houses and, basically, the houses all looked the same. Kind of like a stack of rectangles made of metal, glass and wood (or at least it looked like wood). Nice ideas but so modern, and so not me.

My question, then, is can I get a builder to make me a house using God's resources wisely but that looks like something I'd actually want to live in? I'm thinking maybe a shingled cottage by the sea...

Really, is this too much to ask?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Books and readers and writers ... oh my

Tried to post some captions, but blogger's not cooperating. Eh. Anyway, here are some pics from the weekend. There's Jim wowing the crowd, and Katie doing the same. There's the crowd (Becca Dowling from the ACFW is sitting among them, in lavender. And Carrie Padgett, Genesis Winner, is standing in the back. Hi Becca! Hi Carrie!). Then there's me, making a rather odd face. Oh, and there's Katie and Jim, riveted by my ablity to stand in front of the crowd without fainting. LOL--fun stuff. Thanks to all who made it out on such a rainy night in California :)



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sweet Stuff

Last night's book signing in 'Katie Cushman Country', as Jim Bell put it, was a blast. Kate Schwab over at Border's in Goleta made this ordered this completely edible, totally delicious cover cake for us--can you believe it?

Petrifying as it was to stand up in front of more than 100 Katie Cushman fans :), I felt honored to be included.

Today it was back up to Santa Barbara with Katie and Jim to teach at a writer's conference. More on that, and the signing, later this week (after a looong nap....!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What I won't be doing at Friday night's signing

An oldie but goodie. Cracks me up every time.

So. Katie? Jim? Either of you up for it? (I'll bring the camera-ha!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Locally Inspired: promises, chocolate ... & murder

That's the event title that our contest winners, Becca and Janneke, came up with a month or so back. (We morphed their entries into what you see up there.)

If you're in the Santa Barbara area
this Friday night, October 12, stop on by Borders in Goleta at 7 pm (7000 Marketplace Drive, Goleta, CA 93117). I'll be there answering questions and signing books with my pal, Kathryn (Katie) Cushman, debut author of A Promise to Remember, and bestselling suspense author, James Scott Bell!