Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Whistlestop Tour

Later this month I'll be touring SoCal with authors Kathryn (Katie) Cushman, Cathy Marie Hake, and Lauraine Snelling! Here's a quick overview of the seven stops, but you can find more info on my website's events page. If you live in any of the cities listed, I hope you will stop in and say hello!!!

Thursday, February 28, 1 PM, Berean, San Diego
Thursday, February 28, 7 PM, Berean, Temecula
Friday, February 29, 10 AM, Bible House, Orange
Friday February 29, 2 PM, Christian Book and Gift, Buena Park
Friday, February 29, 7 PM, Living Water, Covina
Saturday, March 1, 10:30 AM, Selah Christian Store, Redlands
Saturday, March 1, 1 PM, Long’s Christian Bookstore, Rancho Cucamonga


And my sis-in-law Diane sent this link, for me to share with all my chocoholic friends (that would be you :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Been traveling

Just got in from a funky little beach town up north called Avila. No wireless Internet in the room--can you believe it? Eh, that's the price you pay for wanting to get away from it all, I guess.

Starting this week I'll be runnin' more than usual with a stint as a 4th grade winter camp counselor, my first podcast, other interviews, and a book tour for Truffles by the Sea. Which is why this rather quickly planned weekend away was so very, very welcome ;)

Of course, it wasn't all play. Hubby and I stopped for coffee in San Luis Obispo and just happened to walk by the Parable bookstore when my curiosity peaked and I had to take a look inside. And, yes, Truffles was there--woo-hoo!!! Right next to my pal, Sharon Hinck's, new book--Symphony of Secrets--and on the recommended shelf too. So I signed the copies they had on hand, and dropped off a few bookmarks I found in my wallet, and skipped away with girlish giggles. Yeah, I'm a bit of a goof, but what can I say? I'm eternally grateful for my novelist gig.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Had a little hailstorm here in California tonight, and the kids and I ran around squealing and taking pictures and holding the door open too long so that a bunch came tumbling into the house.

My Pennsylvania-born husband who grew up shoveling the walk as a kid thinks we're such dorks. But how often does ice fall out of the sky near the California coast??? Seriously!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Okay, I've written two posts and even composed a few in my head, but ended up scrapping them all. Just can't decide which tidbits from my life I'd most like to bore entertain you with. So I've decided on excerpts from each one:

--American Idol's been a bit of bore for me thus far. You?

--It's cold and rainy and really cold here in California, and yet lots of people continue to wear flip flops. Reminds me of a certain heroine from Chocolate Beach. Pedicure, anyone?

--Teen Daughter's going to H.S. next year, and I'm hysterical about it. Breathe, breathe...

--Attended an open house tonight for next year's incoming H.S. students and, apparently, there was only one hot guy in the place (this according to the squealy, texting Teen Girls in my midst--love you girls :)

--I'm REALLY happy that Teen Son will be a junior next year and watching out for (whispering here) you. know. who.

--Just received my Book Tour Schedule for Southern California. Four authors, Seven stores, and the motherlode of coffee. I'll be posting that schedule on the website soon.

Feel free to comment on any/all of the above, or better yet, throw in a random nugget about YOU :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Feeding that addiction

It used to be chocolate. Then coffee. Most recently, an afternoon rendezvous with chai tea. But my newest obsession? Checking book rankings. Actually, checking in to see how my next book--which isn't officially released yet has somehow shown up in bookstores and online--is selling.

Now you'd think that a true friend would step in at this point, perhaps arrange a little intervention. But no. Thanks to a pal who shall remain nameless (KC), I've now registered with this organization so I can track both of my novels with one click. Sick, I tell you.

Of course, the site in question monitors only one source--don't even get me started about all the other ranking sites available. What's that old saying about God helping those who help themselves? Okay, so that's really just a made up saying but still. Somehow I need an intervention and I think it's all up to me.

I think I'll start with chocolate...;)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sorry, Dad

So the kids and I watched Music & Lyrics...and now I can't get the main song out of my head. When I first heard about this movie featuring Hugh (Notting Hill!) Grant and Drew Barrymore, I put it on high on my to-rent list. But then a friend who shall remain nameless saw it in the theater (AK :) and pretty much trashed it. Teen Daughter and I rented it anyway, but went in with a sort of skewed eye, a view that said "I dare you to entertain us." In the end we thought it was fun, but forgettable--except for that 80s throwback song, "Pop!" Could not get it out of my head...argh.

But recently my Dad
said how much he liked it, which made me laugh. Maybe even mock his view a little--shame on me. It was all in fun though (right, Dad?) and when my son asked to see it I said, "Sure." (I made him turn away when the barely-dressed Cora 'danced'--sheesh.)

Anyway, I wouldn't call it
great, but after watching M&L with fresh perspective, I found more to like. In addition to some throwback 80s moments (you know, from when I was practically a baby), and a funny scene involving women nearing 40 and their affinity for Hugh's tight pants circa 1988, the song at the center of the film (A Way Back Into Love) has hung around inside my head all evening. It's catchy and sweet, and so much better than that other song that opens the movie (somehow I think this was the point).

So I guess I owe Dad (and Hugh) an apology. Sometimes it takes another look to see the light.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stepping up

Started a new Bible Study this week, Stepping Up: A journey through the Psalms of Ascent (Beth Moore). Let me tell you, you don't realize how dry you are until that first day back to study. At least that's how it was for me.

It's not that I don't regularly pray. I do. (Okay, but not always as I should.) And it's not that I don't believe. I do. (Then again, I'm often like the father crying out to God, "I believe. Help my unbelief!") And it's not that I don't attend church. I do. (Although I'm not sure that I'm all 'there' at the time...know what I mean?)

There's just something so rich
and revealing about in-depth study of the Bible. Beth's three approaches to this particular study are: Say it. Work it. Pray it. When I first read that, it made me giggle because I thought of a long ago aerobics teacher who used to shout out, "Work it! Work it! Work it til you burn it! C'mon! C'mon!" And yes, she (and I) were wearing garish tights at the time.

So anyway, I like this approach.
Like my aerobic teacher's mantra was a workout for the bod, Beth Moore's three part approach is like a workout for the soul. I expect to feel some twinges, maybe some aches, but oh, how worth it all it so will be!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Truffles sighting

My mama found this site already carrying Truffles by the Sea. It's official release date is still a couple of weeks off, but I'm thinking some might have made it to stores. Yippee! If you see one where you shop, would you drop me a note?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Idol recap

Had a mini-party over here to watch the season premiere of AI--pizza, pie, ice cream. Ugh. I'm sick...not really (but kind of).

Anyhoo, we sat around the plasma
much like I suppose the Walton-esqe families of old gathered around the radio. Together we mocked appreciated all that talent out in Philly. Here are a few standouts, according to Teen Daughter and one of her bffs :) :

"The guy who waxed his chest."

"Star Wars girl."

"Crazy stalker guy." (Me here. Why in the world ??? )

"Temptress." (We all felt sad when she cried and the judges surrounded her with a group hug.)

"Boxing/Horse trainer girl." (Terrific voice, spunky personality)

"Never saw an R--rated movie gal." (Sweet! Nice voice. Just hope Hollywood doesn't corrupt her, as it's wont to do.)

I'm not watching much TV these days, especially since due to striking writers, there isn't anything actually on. Thankfully, AI doesn't appear to need writers as there are plenty of folks in our country willing to do just about anything to get on the small screen (that would explain shiny girl, the vet from PA with a mouth that could use some soap.)

Speaking of which, that's one improvement they could make this year: 86 the bleep outs. Seriously. It's a family show, people, and I was not impressed. I know the writers are striking, but surely contestants can come up with a more mature way to express their disappointment. Or at least, the camera guy could point the lens elsewhere, am I right???

Other than that,
it's on with the show...

Changing seasons

So Elementary Girl often leaves homework until the very. last. minute. That'll change, starting today, because yeah, it's American Idol season. If ya know me at all, ya know that the girls and I (and the boys, grudgingly) are addicted to AI. We cried over Will a couple years back, and squealed over Ace and Chris R.--actually, the 'we' would be Teen Daughter--and oh, wasn't Melinda divine and Sanjaya, uh, not? LOL You can read about our adventure to see them LIVE and IN PERSON here.

Anyway, the rule, is that before TV--and especially before the uber-addictive American Idol show--all homework MUST be done. Elem. Girl's not taking any chances, however, and has already cleared away all saved Christmas programs, and over-watched Hannah Montana's, and cheesy Zoey 101s from our DVR, to make room for the first installment tomorrow night--just in case 4th grade math still hangs above her lovely head. (Of course, at hubby's command request, no saved NFL games were harmed in the quest to make way for American Idol...)

What a life. We didn't even get our first VCR until I was in high school (and I walked to school up hill, both ways!) Seriously, you miss a show, and that's it! Too bad for you! Ah well. One way or another, Elementary Girl will get her chance to see the show, proving that times really have changed.

Now, if only Simon would be nice this year. That would be a change!

Monday, January 14, 2008

y3h d!g??

So Teen Son and I saw Dan in Real Life again the other night. We were bored, and it was at the cheapy theater, so why not? Man, I wish I'd written it. Every once in awhile I find a movie that I have to have in my collection, the kind that I'll watch on rainy days or when I'm in a funk or on those rare eves when no one needs a chauffeur. LOL

Part of the attraction
for me, I think, is the ensemble cast. While it may not be a true ensemble in that the characters don't share screen time equally, the supporting players are integral to the story. It's like that in Pride & Prejudice (that poor mum trying to marry off all of her daughters before their father, who's not even sick, dies), While You Were Sleeping (that quirky family of coma guy and his super cute brother), Notting Hill (who doesn't love those longtime friends of William's as they compete for the last brownie with stories of why they are the saddest sack in the bunch?)

Is any of this making sense?
This is one reason why I can watch Dan in Real Life over and over again. Yeah, Steve Carrell's amazing, and Juliette Binoche enchanting, but the people they're surrounded by and in conflict with (a week with his entire family in a Rhode Island beach house) add a richness to their story.

As for books, I think this is why I read every one of the Mitford series, cover to cover (Seriously, what would Father Tim have done without Uncle Billy's jokes to break up the monotony of daily life? Or Emma's gossip, for that matter? What would I have done???)

Anybody else like these kinds of movies and books? Speak on!

p.s. Teen Daughter made the title, 'cuz this is how 'we' talk. Whoever 'we' are....;0

Saturday, January 12, 2008

in a daze

The rains came down last weekend, but weren't nearly as drastic as predicted. Sunshine is back, and I'm headed down to the beach to enjoy it before the next storm--kinda like that bird in picture #2.

A beachy (or mountainy or deserty--whatever you like best) weekend to you!

Friday, January 11, 2008


So my pal, Katie Cushman tagged me for a meme (pronounced 'meem'), and I would have posted it sooner, but our phone line/dsl line had been down all day. Not having Internet access is much like going without my daily skinny latte: it's possible, but a total bummer. Waa!

Anyway, I'm baaacckk! So here are the rules: Post three writing tips that you've learned along the way, and then nominate 5 more bloggers to take up the meme.

Here goes:

1. If you write fiction, join the ACFW. For $40 a year you have access to oodles of advice and tools to help you sharpen up your skills.

2. When it comes to critiques of your work, don't get tossed to and fro', as the Bible says in Ephesians. Okay, so that verse refers to doctrine, but it can be applied here too. Point is, it's good to let trusted readers and/or writers review your work before sending it out for possible publication, but before you weep and gouge your eyes out worry over every morsel of criticism, look for consistency. Are all your readers saying basically the same thing? Then that's a pretty good sign that a particular area needs work. But if only one out of a whole group points something out, and you don't necessarily agree? Well, then, eh--follow your instinct.

3. Katie says, publication is often "right time, right place." So true! And you can't be in the the right place or time if you're not writing and submitting, writing and submitting, wri....etc. So if that's your goal, hop to it :)

For a few more tips, see the 'for writers' page of my website.

If you're a writer, or want to be a writer, or want to pretend you are a writer, then I tag YOU! If you post your own three tips, be sure to stop by and leave your blog address in the comments section so others can find ya. Gracias!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Something about a new year makes me want to clean out the dark corners, reorganize the stuff, sail away to a secluded island...okay, that one's not going to happen. But just yesterday, my super-duper creative web designer Kelli updated my website and then changed the font on this blog. Could you tell? Tell me it's not my age, but the letters always seemed itty bitty to me. LOL Anyway, the type's a bit larger, can I get an "Amen!"

So for book club members,
we've added discussion questions for my upcoming release, Truffles by the Sea. There's also an updated blurb about the book, as well as info about obtaining a signed bookplate (free-free-free).

On another note, I'm always amazed (happily) at how often the "your age in chocolate quiz" is taken on my books page. The quiz has little (okay, nothing, actually) to do with chocolate but many of us have bonded over it, so what can I say? It shares at least one attribute with our favorite sweet morsel, am I right?

So what are y'all doing different or new this year? (Notice my careful avoidance of the "R" word...) Other than web changes, I'm planning to pray more, sit around less, and keep it to one or two (three, max!) nuggets of chocolate per hour day. Anybody with me???



Monday, January 07, 2008

It's a boy!

Today we are pooped! But happy...

My nephew (first on my side of the fam) was born last night in LA after 10 pm! His mama was in labor all day so we piled ourselves into the suv and headed south thinking we'd get to see him in the evening and then have plenty of time to get home and get the kids to bed. Today was their first day back at school after Christmas break and sleep is usually important for such days

But no.
Baby boy just didn't want to leave the comfort of the womb, so finally, mama had a c-section to coax out her 9lb. 4 oz. son.

Our family members
--15 in all--took over the waiting area of the hospital until way past visiting hours. The girls played cards, took random pics of each other and shared ipod headphones. Teen son wandered around aimlessly looking for food, while other fam members just paced and chatted and anticipated this new life. Early on I felt myself fading (sympathy fatigue perhaps?), but rallied when baby boy finally showed up. By the time we all jostled for a looksie, then headed home, it was after midnight.

Many parents probably would've been more practical. They would've left earlier, gotten their kids to bed on time, and perhaps visited the baby some time in the days following his birth. Our kids were tired this morning, that's for sure. But I also noticed how content they were, and when this year has past, what will they remember more? Getting plenty of rest the day before the new start of school? Or seeing their baby cousin with his shock of dark chocolate hair, just minutes after birth?

Ahh well. Made a great memory last night, and tonight? Lights out early...:)

p.s. Nothing personal, but my new baby nephew is so much cuter than the kiddo on this post, LOL...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rain, rain, that's okay...

So what's a little rain at the beach?

I so wanted to join these folks instead of running errands. Seriously, beach cruisers at the beach, in the rain. What a life!

Friday, January 04, 2008

A new year, a new review

Had dinner last night with our Thanksgiving pals--the ones we spent the holiday with up in the Yosemite mountains. It was a teppan dinner, where the 10 of us sat around a hibachi grill, ducking and shirking from flying spatulas and sudden volcanic flames. Think Benihanas (but better). After all our holiday feasting, it's a miracle we could consume all we did at this meal. (While I write this, hubby who's unaware of my topic, leans into the room and says, "This night officially ends my season of overeating.") But still, what better way to welcome 2008 than with good food and great friends?

Speaking of welcoming new things, I found the first posted review of Truffles by the Sea over at trashionista--and it's a good one :)) You can read it here.

News like this kinda makes me want to grab a handful of truffles. Hmmm. Maybe I have a little room left after all...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

First New Year's Goal: Check!

Didn't wait even a day of 2008 to watch Amazing Grace on DVD. After our traditional New Year's pork and sauerkraut dinner with my parents (something my hub brought into the relationship, since I'm more of a tamales and rice gal ;), we switched on a copy of the movie and...I loved it.

It's the powerful story
of William Wilberforce and his battle to abolish slavery in Britain during the late 1700s. In addition to his own moral grounding and connection to God, it's clergyman John Newton and his repentant song, Amazing Grace, that serve as continual inspiration as Wilberforce faces pompous and frustrating jerks opposition.

BTW, a few months back we saw Chris Tomlin
at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I talked about that here. Anyway, Tomlin recorded Amazing Grace for the movie soundtrack and included Newton's 'lost' verse. It's stuck with me from the very first time I heard it, and I often find myself singing it when I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (a kiddy book ref., couldn't resist).

Here are those breathtaking words. Be free, my friends:

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Saviour, Has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending Love, Amazing Grace

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


So last night, Teen Son and Teen Daughter went to separate sleepovers. I dropped one off with nothing but the clothes on their back. I dropped the other off at their party with a fully-stuffed suitcase. One guess which was the boy and which the girl. LOL

As for hub, Elementary Girl and me, we stayed home, along with one of EG's little friends and watched the ball drop on NY time. Afterward, we all scarfed a wedge of brie while watching our many-times-viewed copy of Sleepless in Seattle. Hub and I have a history with this movie. No kidding. We can recite the lines. So it was particularly fun to watch it with a young girl who had never seen it. We saw new things and laughed our pants off ourselves silly.

All in all, a great NY Eve. How about you?