Monday, December 16, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
Sure, we all have too many things to do this month, and organizing gives us the shakes at any time of the year. How can I possibly suggest adding this dreaded task to a month full of errands, parties, and temptations?
The short answer? It will put you in a good mood.
Yes, you'll want to cram a dozen snickerdoodles in your mouth and shoot anyone who comes near you while you're organizing--no biggie. When you finish, your soul will lighten. Your brain will find a teeny bit of room for possibilities. It's true!
We have a "scary closet" in our basement. It's full of photo albums, toys, board games, books, and out of season coats. For months I couldn't push my way into this small room. Last weekend I got serious. Pulled everything out. Grabbed trash bags. Forced the kids to decide what stays and what goes. The closet is now organized and even has room for more storage. I can't tell you how delighted I am to know this room isn't bulging anymore!
One of our pantry shelves was an explosion of napkins, paper party plates, and who knows what else. Every time I opened the door, I saw a big mess, which made me think I should clean it up, but I just shut the door. Yesterday, I organized that beast. No more guilt!
I'm also tidying my computer files and organizing my address book (what better time to do this than while filling out Christmas cards?).
Honestly, the pantry situation took about twelve minutes to fix. The computer files? Thirty minutes. My address book? An hour tops. The scary closet took two hours but was worth every second.
Without all of these known clutter areas in my house, my soul feels lighter. And yours will too!
What problem area in your house can you organize before the new year?
The fabulous, Jennifer Hale, hosted me on her blog yesterday! Stop by to read "Busy Mom? Find Peace in Your Day."
Have a terrific weekend!!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
It's not as if I'm skipping conditioner, either. Oh, no. I slather it on and apply leave-in conditioner. I drink tons of water and choke down fish oil supplements. My hair? Still an unruly mess.
Maybe it's my brush. I could buy one that claims to cut static.
Or I could rub my head with dryer sheets.
Do you live in a cold climate and deal with static head? How do you combat it?
Have a terrific Wednesday!!
Monday, December 9, 2013
This week I'm applying that focus to life. It's time to pay extra attention to the details and slow down. Yes, I'll be Christmas shopping, but I will try harder not to get stressed about all the things I still need to do. I'll sing along to the Christmas songs instead of leaving them on as background music. Maybe I'll bake. Maybe I won't. :)
On Saturday I spent a few hours helping out at our church's Christmas for Kids. Since I adore children, it was a win-win! I got to hold a sweet baby, play with a few toddlers, and help preschoolers make simple crafts. My favorite part of the day was simply saying a silent prayer for each of those precious children. I'm so thankful for parents who share God's word.
So today, I'm sending you Monday blessings. I pray you find joy in this Christmas season!
Congratulations to Virginia Winfield!! Virginia won the signed copy of Jody Hedlund's latest book, Rebellious Heart! Thank you to everyone who entered!!
What can you focus on today to bring joy to your life?
Have a wonderful day!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Torn between the life he’s grown used to and guilt over leaving his brother and mother, Pierre’s drawn back into the loyalist fight against the British—and into a relationship with Angelique Labelle, a beautiful local girl who’s been befriended by the British commander's daughter. As tensions mount and the threat of violence increases both Angelique and Pierre must decide where their loyalties rest, how far they will go to find freedom, and how much they will risk to find love.
Set in colonial America, the story follows Susanna Smith and Ben Ross as they work together to help an escaped indentured servant. Both have compelling reasons for marrying into wealth, thus keeping them from marrying each other. I think this was Ms. Hedlund's most romantic book to date!
The fall setting, suspenseful theme, and fascinating historical details all added up to a perfect read for me! I can't wait to read her next one!
**I was given an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own--and I loved it!!**
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
All month we'll be taking one minute vacations on my blog, and that's good enough for me!
A private oasis. Yes, I fantasize about spending a day, week, or month (take your pick!) in a valley with waterfalls and sunshine. I'm partial to snorkeling gear, comfy lounge chairs, plenty of chips and salsa, ice-cold drinks, and hot, gourmet meals. The meals just kind of appear. Isn't that nice?
And if I'm relaxing in the valley, I'm taking my husband with me. And a stack of books. :)
Oooh, look, a rainbow!
Photo by portobaytrade
Hey, I'm less stressed already! Here, have a fruity, frozen beverage.
Photo by alexbrn
Ahh...I feel better already. :)
Do you ever dream about a private oasis? What would you take with you?
Have a wonderful day!
Monday, November 25, 2013
For all my American friends, enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts! May your Black Friday be full of shopping deals or full of relaxation at home. And for everyone who is traveling--be safe!!
Friday, November 22, 2013
When I was younger, I had the freedom to do just that. But kids and life and responsibilities make reading a novel all the way through virtually impossible for me! I have weeks where I don't read fiction, and that makes me sad.
I ordered Karen Witemeyer's Stealing the Preacher a few weeks ago. I've heard tons of great things about her books, and I enjoyed meeting Karen at the ACFW conference this fall. But, again, the kids, the life, the busyness. The book stared at me, taunted me.
I didn't want to pick it up. I was going to love it. I knew it. And how would I put it down? How would I get the rest I desperately need each night? HOW??
I made a decision. I would read it in chunks. No matter how tempted I was to flip those pages until five in the morning, I would be strong.
And you know what? It's working. I was right--I do LOVE the book--but I read five or six chapters a night. I'm only halfway through it, and that's okay, because I have something to look forward to after dinner, and I'm not losing precious sleep.
Reading a novel over a period of time isn't my first choice, but if it will keep fiction in my life, I'm willing to do it!
How do you fit reading into your life?
Have a wonderful weekend!!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Stares blankly at windows. What am I going to write about?
Oh! The next scene has to include her realizing she never told him...wait, what was I doing again? Blog post. Ugh. M&Ms where are you?
This is me in first-draft-land. Yes, I'm writing a new book, and because I'm deep into a manuscript, everything online fades away. I spend hours pouring words into my keyboard. Think of dialogue and scenes and settings at night when my brain is supposed to be resting. And when I pop my head up after an intense session, the last thing I can deal with is the real world!
Blogging? Who can concentrate on blogging? I have nothing left but the problems of my characters, and, frankly, I'm too wrapped up in them. Fascinated. Obsessed.
But an hour later, I've created enough distance between fiction and reality to focus on my blog. I can even scroll through Facebook and Twitter. Maybe think about cooking something for dinner.
Speaking of...I should cut up the meat for the stew. And doesn't one of my children need help with homework? The dog has been let out, right?
I have to write a blog post.
Well, I guess I just wrote it. :)
How do you deal with the real world when you're immersed in a fictional world?
Have a terrific day!
Monday, November 18, 2013
The characters start saying things and doing things I never anticipated. How fun is that??
But, as most fiction writers know, writing isn't always fun and games. I struggle to stay motivated through my draft. It's easier to check Facebook and e-mails than to sit and write. The only explanation I have for this? Writing is intimidating. Really intimidating.
I have a few tricks to work that word count, though, so I figure I'd better share them!
1. Set an almost impossible finish date.
Why? Sometimes a do-able finish date becomes too easy, making me lazy. When I set an almost impossible date, I might miss it, but I always finish well before my original, do-able date.
Plus, I push myself harder when I set big goals. :)
2. Keep track of your word count and the overall word count.
Seeing your word count go up makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
3. Fill out a scene list as you write.
I used to do this before I wrote my draft, but I find it's easier to do after each scene. This keeps me on track as far as pacing and comes in handy when the book is done and I'm revising.
4. Take a few minutes at the end of the session to jot what needs to happen next.
If you're not sure what will happen next, think about the previous scene, whose viewpoint was used, and how far into the book you are. It should trigger something!
5. Limit editing at this point.
I'm terrible about turning off my internal editor. Usually right after I write a scene, I'll realize things I got wrong, forgot, or that need to be added. I want to fix them right away. But, I try hard to type a quick note with my suggestions at the beginning of the scene and move on. Last week I gave in to temptation, spent over an hour fixing the scene I'd written, and came up short on word count by about a thousand words. I can write a thousand words in an hour, so it's obvious I could have made that word count.
We gain confidence in our writing when we finish what we start. Work that word count!!
How do you stay motivated to keep working on a project?
(Happy birthday to my beautiful daughter!!)
Have a fabulous Monday!!
Friday, November 15, 2013
It's cold here! Cold and blowy and November.
I heard my first Christmas song of the season on the radio today. It didn't please me.
Three pair of my jeans have either developed, or are in the process of developing, holes in the knees.
Soon I will be shopping. Not for jeans--heavens no!--not for those! *shuddering* No, I'm making up the Christmas list and circling sale ads. Shopping and I typically don't get along. I am not looking forward to this.
On a good note, I've been doing yoga for a few weeks. I love it! I've practiced it off and on for about sixteen years. Never gets old!
What's going on with you?
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
You might be actively working toward your big dream right now. Or you could be covering it up, telling yourself it's not the right time, you're not the right person, that it's not the right dream for you.
I know about big dreams. I also know they require more than we imagine.
Eight years passed between the time I realized I wanted to write and when I actually wrote my first book. The book stunk, and I was overwhelmed by my duties as a stay-at-home mom. I prayed and felt God asking me to set the dream aside for a while. I complied. More years passed and, during them, I joined a writer's group, wrote assignments, and read tons of novels.
Fourteen years after I initially claimed my dream, I began seriously pursuing it. My prayers led me to the green light, but I still had so much to learn.
I naively believed that having a big dream meant it had to come true, and soon! Sacrifice is always rewarded, right? But I underestimated just how competitive this field is, how much additional learning I would need, and how much I needed to grow spiritually.
There have been times I've wanted to quit. It would be easier for me to get "a real job." But after twenty years, this dream won't go away, and I'm convinced it's not just mine, it's God's dream for me. How do I know this? Because I pray. Every day. I ask God to lead me to where I'm supposed to be, what I'm supposed to do. And this is it.
I'd like to share a paragraph of All In:You're One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life by Mark Batterson.
"Going all out for God is not just about getting where God wants you to go. It's about who you become in the process. And it's not about how quickly you get there. It's about how far you go."
Yes. This has been my experience. Every day I work toward my dream, and I've become much more than a writer. I've become someone God can use because my dream became less about me and more about Him.
I've been on top of the world, honored, thrilled, validated, and I've been defeated, rejected, humbled, brought low. The one thing I remain? Committed.
Don't be afraid to go after your big dream! Pray on it. God will give you the strength you need. The road will have turns, but He'll point you in the right direction. Someone else's path might be half a mile. Yours might be six thousand miles. It doesn't matter. Stay committed.
Have you taken steps toward your big dream? Have set-backs made you reconsider? How did you move forward?
Have a lovely Monday!
Friday, November 8, 2013
This week I'm thankful for the grand finale of autumn colors. Leaves are heading to the ground quickly here. I'm not looking forward to gray and brown branches against a gray or white sky. Winter lacks color, so I'll enjoy the gorgeous harvest hues while I can.
I'm also grateful for my own office. The sun streams in through two large corner windows. My L-shaped desk is just the right size for me to spread my notes out. Someday I'll add a comfy chair and ottoman to my space, but for now, it's perfect.
My silly dog adds to my life. She's playing with a toothpaste cap and barking at my daughter's closed door. Sophie loves that room and hates to see it closed.
I started a new book this week! First drafts are always fun! It usually takes me a while to build up my daily word count because my first three chapters are where I'm finding my way. I'm so thankful to be able to pour this story out!
Sometimes I take my health for granted. What a blessing to have a healthy family. Been working out all week and trying to eat better, too. Halloween candy still lurks, though, so you do the math. :)
Most of all, I'm thankful for my family and my faith. Every morning I spend time with God. And every morning He gives me the strength I need. I'll never be perfect, but I'll always be saved.
What are you thankful for this week?
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
First of all, I love her style. Her hair always looks gorgeous, even when she's racing around town in a ponytail. She rarely wears inappropriate clothing, and she manages to look beautiful and feminine without looking skanky or slutty. Too many Hollywood moms think style means showing off eye-popping cleavage.
She's done a good job of managing her public persona, too. I often see pictures of her taking her kids to church. I enjoy reading her interviews because she seems honest and relatable. She's a very wealthy woman, but she's also a wife, mother, and working mom. And did I mention I love her hair?
Are there any stars you admire? Why? Why not?
Have a terrific day!
Monday, November 4, 2013
Everyone should take a few loaf-y days now and then. Hang out in your yoga pants or pj's. Nurse that cup of coffee or hot tea. Flip through a magazine. Open a novel. Watch a trashy daytime television show.
Lose the tension.
Let your brain turn to mush.
Sometimes you need to get off the fast track of life to refuel. I write and revise better when I take some time to putter and be lazy. My imagination needs it too. If we don't take breaks, our creativity dwindles. That's not good!
With the holidays knocking at the door, it's smart to let your mind lie fallow for a bit. The busy season will be here soon, so let's enjoy it.
Do you take mini-breaks? What's your definition of the perfect lazy day?
Have a terrific Monday!!
Friday, November 1, 2013
Candy Binge? November 2013's Two Minute Resolution!
Do you love candy too? What's your favorite snack?
Have a terrific weekend!!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Yeah, I'm not excited about it either.
I know from experience if I don't take steps now to get back to my happy-weight, I will continue to gain. And that means grouchiness, unpleasantness, and a list of other yucky moods I tend to indulge in when I'm "fluffy."
Diets and I don't get along, so I don't do them. But when I make an effort to watch my calories, eat higher quality foods, and *gulp* exercise regularly with intensity, I always get back to my goal weight, and I usually can maintain it.
I have one rule. Don't mess with my coffee!
To kick start my motivation, I stopped at the library and checked out their Health section. Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salad by Christine Avanti, CN, sounded fun, so I headed home and cracked it open. Sometimes books like this can be too dry and boring, but Skinny Chicks sucked me right in. The testimonials and easy-to-understand biology lesson convinced me to try her method.
Christine discusses how carbohydrates convert to sugar in our bloodstream, so she recommends always eating a combination of carbs and protein to slow the insulin train down. I've read many, many books and articles about diets, and this one makes sense to me. You're not eliminating food groups or starving yourself. You're just eating a meal that contains protein, carbohydrates, and a small amount of fat, and you're eating every four hours.
My one resistance to any diet is the effect it has on my coffee habits. Skinny Chicks allows you to drink coffee, but I have to watch my carbohydrate/calorie additions. This means balancing my coffee with protein (like eating a yogurt or an egg), which isn't a biggie, but when I read the label on my favorite flavored creamer, I about choked. The carbohydrate level is way too high (considering I double the serving size with each cup I drink!), and the ingredients contain bad fats.
Logic gets me every time. I will try--try, mind you--to healthify my coffee for one week, but if it's hurting my day in any way, I'm going right back to my favorite creamer. Right back.
How do you maintain your weight? Do you have one rule about health plans?
Have a fantastic day!
Monday, October 28, 2013
As I'm writing this post, she's staring at me from the floor. I bend to pick her up, but she scurries to the side. I resume typing. She "begs." I'm like, "what?" She puts her front paws on the edge of my chair. I roll my eyes and grab her, setting her on my lap.
Heaven forbid she sit anywhere without a blanket over her. No, that wouldn't do. So I have an old blanket on my chair that she can snuggle into. She'll curl up and sleep for hours...unless I print something. Then it's a bark-a-thon. The printer clearly contains evil.
Another quirk of our wiener dog? She has issues with ceiling fans. One whirl and she's jumping at it and barking because, again, the fan is a threat. Will it kill our entire family if she doesn't alert us to the madness?
Dinner time brings out an interesting habit. Sophie tippity-taps her paws over to her dish, proceeds to take one piece of kibble out, moves it three feet away, and then eats it. Why? We will probably never know.
Sophie can be a lot of fun. If my son and I play catch, Sophie joins us, and yes, she'll trot through the yard with a baseball in her mouth! She's faster than all of us, too. She likes soccer, football, and any other sport that involves running and a ball.
Our dog might be a dingbat, but I still love her!
Do you have a pet? What weird things does it do?
Have a terrific Monday!!
Friday, October 25, 2013
The online version of Success brims with helpful articles, too. "Tiny Habits" by Jennifer Chang (article is linked) made me pause in a good way. In it, Jennifer shares how she was unsuccessful at one simple goal--flossing her teeth--until she tried the Tiny Habits method.
Maybe you're great at flossing. But what about drinking eight glasses of water a day? Or jogging for thirty minutes? Or writing five hundred words? Sure, these goals sound simple, but for most people, actually sticking to these tasks is complex, difficult.
If we've tried and failed at a goal in the past, how can we make it a habit now? Enter Tiny Habits.
Based on the research of Professor BJ Fogg, Ph.D., Tiny Habits involves starting small, finding an anchor to act as a trigger for your new behavior, and celebrating immediately.
For example, if you want to drink more water throughout the day, your small start might be to fill a glass of water. The anchor to trigger it? Filling the glass whenever you get up to use the restroom. If your glass is still full when you get up, you'll be reminded to drink the water. Pat yourself on the back each time you fill that glass!
Since I'm on a mini-health kick, I'd like to add small strength moves to my day. I'm going to add a 15-second plank to my routine before I check my e-mails.
Small goal? 15-second plank.
The trigger? The "Mail" button will remind me of my goal.
Celebrate? A wink, fist-pump, big smile? I don't know! I guess I'll find out!
For more information on incorporating Tiny Habits, read Jennifer Chang's article, "5 Tips for Turning Your Tiny Habits Into Big Results," and check out the website of Professor BJ Hoff, Ph.D.
What simple goal has been eluding you? Is there a Tiny Habit you could start?
Have a lovely weekend!
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Whenever I pursue an idea and develop it into a book, I go through a process of brainstorming until I'm ready to write. One important detail? The story timeline.
Sometimes the timeline will determine the story. For instance, if I wanted to write a Christmas book, I probably wouldn't set much, if any, of the book in the summer--I would focus on autumn and early winter to give it that Christmas feeling throughout.
For most of my books, though, I figure out the characters and their goals before thinking about a timeline. Their goals typically determine when the book will start and how much time will pass.
It's important to consider genre when thinking about timeline.
If you write suspense, there's bound to be a "ticking time bomb" element. As you consider what has to happen from point A (the beginning) to point Z (the end), think carefully about a realistic time frame. If the book unfurls over a course of twenty-four hours, break each hour down and make sure the plot can really fit. If the book spans a month, try not to devote twelve chapters to day one.
Maybe you're writing historical fiction--a sweeping saga. The book could chronicle more than a year. You couldn't possibly write every day of the journey. Think about what details deserve page time and if there are weeks or months you can skip and wrap up in a short summary. Do this before you get to page 265 and realize only one month has passed.
If you're writing a romance novel, please honor your audience. Most romance readers simply will not find it believable if your hero and heroine meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles, and get their happily-ever-after in a few days time. I won't give you a hard-and-fast rule, but use your judgment and respect your readers.
The book I'm currently plotting features two characters with goals that require a four to six month commitment. The goals are seasonal, which narrows when my book can start and end. By coming up with clear character goals before I start writing, I'm able to plan the ideal setting and timeline.
Questions to help you determine your timeline:
- What genre are you writing?
- How sweeping or compact is the story?
- Do the characters' goals impact the timeline? Example: A woman wants to purchase and renovate an old building. The timeline would need to be anywhere from four months to over a year.
- Are their seasonal limitations? Does any of the plot hinge on the weather?
- If you are working with a long timeline, how will you keep the pace tight? What action can happen "off-screen" and summarized?
- Is this timeline realistic?
Do you have anything to add? I'd love to hear your tips!
What pet peeves do you have about fiction timelines?
(No surprise here, but mine is the romance where the hero and heroine fall in love and get married after a week's time. Ugh.)
Have a terrific Wednesday!!
Monday, October 21, 2013
Over the years, we've moved to different areas, and once routine woolly bear sightings became rare. Imagine my delight when I saw five of these caterpillars this weekend.
I posted the following picture on Facebook Saturday. This was one of the caterpillars I came across.
A few friends of mine discussed the winter ramifications of the stripes. A narrow brown band supposedly means a harsh winter while a wide brown band signifies a mild winter. One problem? This one had a black band rather than a brown band. The colors had flip-flopped! The other woolly bears I saw had the traditional black bands with a wide brown stripe.
Here are a few links to learn more about the cute woolly bear caterpillars.
Do you remember any special insect from your childhood? How do you predict a mild or severe winter?
Have a lovely Monday!!
Friday, October 18, 2013
1. Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker
2. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough
3. God's Story Your Story: When His Becomes Yours by Max Lucado
I've been reading Kate Walker's book for two weeks, and I'm about halfway through it. Why so much time for one slim book? Easy! I'm studying it chapter-by-chapter, taking notes, and fitting it in during my less busy days.
Max Lucado's book jumped out at me from the library. I couldn't NOT start reading it. I'm almost to the mid-point and anticipate finishing it this weekend. Very uplifting.
David McCullough's book isn't to be rushed through. It's one to savor. Full of fascinating historical and personal details of Americans who spent time in Paris between 1830 and 1900, The Greater Journey appeals to my love of history and minutiae.
I will be adding a fourth book to this mix soon, too. I came across this goodie by Stephanie Laurens, The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh, and it's been a long time since I've read one of her books.
This brings up the question of the day: Is it wrong to read three books at once? Should a person finish one before starting another? I don't know! I've been this way as long as I can remember. However, I will say that I rarely have two novels open. I tend to only read one work of fiction at a time.
Care to share your reading habits? Do you have more than one book open? Or do you finish one before starting another?
Have a fabulous weekend!!
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
My beloved Detroit Tigers are pushing through the ALCS series with mixed results. It's frustrating to watch games that should be in the bag get lost in the final innings. Yes, I'm a little bitter this morning. :)
On a higher note, my somewhat beloved Detroit Lions are 4-2! They look more disciplined this year, and I am very happy with the addition of Reggie Bush. I still watch with one eye open and one eye shut, but it feels good to win some games.
Unfortunately, my beloved University of Michigan Wolverines have struggled all football season, and Saturday broke their winning streak. *sigh* Unless the offensive line gets better, I don't see us winning key games.
Autumn is my favorite time for sports. This year both my kids are involved in fall sports too, and they had a great weekend. We've been blessed with incredible weather this year. No sitting out in pouring rain for this mom. :)
Right after Halloween my brain switches to all things Thanksgiving and Christmas, so for now, I'll embrace baseball and football. And who knows? Maybe this year will the be year one of my teams wins the big championship!
Do you watch fall sports? Who is your favorite team?
Have a fabulous Monday!
Friday, October 11, 2013
Golden fields of corn ready to harvest and the brilliant blue sky worsened my mood further. How could it look so perfect and my spirit be in such disarray?
It won't be like this in heaven. The outside will match my insides. It will be perfect. There won't be any more of these hard seasons.
I've never really longed for heaven. I like living on earth! But it hit me that my entire life I truly have been waiting for heaven--the place of perfection where we no longer experience the worries, pain, and fears of this world. I've been longing for that way of being pretty much every day of my life.
Think about it.
- Sticking my foot in my mouth
- Head colds
- Worries about my children
- Tears over lost friendships
- Regrets about things I could have done better
- Disharmony with my loved ones
- Mosquito bites
(Had to throw the last one in there.)
Anxiety is normal--no, I'm not recommending it! But someday all the pain we deal with will disappear, leaving us in the state we're meant to be in. With God. Forever.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NIV)
" 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
(From The Bible Gateway--this is a wonderful resource to look up passages or terms in different translations. www.biblegateway.com)
Do you get weighed down by the anxieties of life? Keep praying!
Have a terrific weekend!!
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Melissa, thanks for being here today! Let's get to it!
I don’t think I can choose! Ooh, how about this: Whichever one goes the Pinnochio route and becomes “a real boy!” first…that’s the one I choose.
1. The busyness of it all. People said this would be a busy season. But I think in the back of my head I was all, “Yeah, yeah, cool, I can handle it.” Um, now I’m a little less confident of my ability to juggle. Haha!
Made to Last
When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda’s every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth–and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she’s built come crashing down just as she’s found a love to last?
Melissa Tagg ~
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. Her debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013, with a follow-up slated for summer 2014. In addition to her nonprofit day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers founded by award-winning author Susan May Warren.
During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once found herself face to face with a buffalo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She's passionate about humor, grace and happy endings.
Wow! *fanning myself* Melissa Tagg blew me away with her debut novel! This is the kind of romance I love--terrific writing, lovable characters, gorgeous setting details, humor, a little sizzle, and a very satisfying happily-ever-after! I loved this book!!
From page one I sympathized with Miranda (Randi) Woodruff. She's in a predicament, feels very guilty about it, and has strong reasons for staying in it. Enter two men new to her life: Blaze and Matthew. I'll admit it--I loved Blaze. Praying he gets his own story. Yum! But Matthew is the hero in THIS book, and he's fabulous.
I laughed out loud so many times, I lost count. I can't wait to read more from this talented author!!
(I received an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own--I loved this book!!)
Thanks so much, Melissa, for being my guest!
Do you watch home-improvement shows? Which one is your favorite?
Have a wonderful day!
Monday, October 7, 2013
I've also attempted to make homemade caramel.
For some reason, my caramel apples always end up with a wad of goo on the bottom and a too-thin layer on the remainder of the apple.
What am I doing wrong??
For all you caramel apple gurus out there, I'm begging for your help. I love these treats. I want a recipe that will ensure an even coating of caramel.
The pre-made apple wraps aren't bad, but I feel like I've contaminated every square inch with my fingerprints by the time I get them to stick. Plus, they get expensive!
Do you have some tips on making the perfect caramel apple? Please share!!
Have a fabulous weekend!
Friday, October 4, 2013
October 2103: 2 Minute Resolution
Not Becoming a Recluse
Do you ever get reclusive tendencies? How do you combat them?
Have a terrific weekend!!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Earlier this year we chatted, and she mentioned her idea of releasing this off-the-wall novella. I read it. Was BLOWN AWAY. My goodness, this woman can write! Wendy graciously agreed to answer some of my questions, so let's get to it!
1. The Disappearing Key has a twisty concept. What sparked the idea?
2. You took a break from writing full length women's fiction to write this novella. What did you like about writing shorter fiction?
3. What surprised you the most about preparing this piece for publication? Did you have a favorite moment? (I love your cover!!)
The Disappearing Key
Gabrielle Bivane never expected parenting a teenager would be this hard, but she never expected stillborn Oriana to live to see fourteen, either. The night of Oriana's birth, Gabrielle and her husband Roy fused their genetic and engineering geniuses to bring back all that was lost to them—at a cost.
The secret must be kept.
Oriana Bivane senses she’s not like the other girls her age, but the time has come for her to change all that. She’s tired of secrets, but does she confide in the wrong person?
The life-giving key, suddenly missing, must be found.
Wendy is a native New Englander who feels most alive when she's laughing, reading, writing or taking risks. She's authored nine novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy lives with her husband and their three girls in a home bursting with imagination and hilarity.
She's represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.
My Review (5 Stars!!!)
The Disappearing Key may be a novella, but it packs the punch of a full length book. Wendy Paine Miller explores ethical choices about life, stillbirths, and the secrets we keep. Told from three very different viewpoints, the story of Oriana's mysterious birth and ongoing "treatments" unfolds with breathtaking intensity and will have you questioning until the very end.
Ms. Miller excels at lyrical storytelling with an honesty prized in modern fiction. Her word choices remind me of music, but her control over the tension impressed me the most. This story just does not let up! No spoilers, but be prepared to turn pages way past your bedtime!
A remarkable debut. I can't wait to read more by this talented author!
Thanks again, Wendy, for being my guest. Congratulations!!!
The Disappearing Key is available now at Amazon (click to purchase!!) and other online retailers!
Do you have a question for Wendy? Chime in!
Have a lovely Wednesday!
Monday, September 30, 2013
Romance novels have been my favorite genre to read since I was a teenager. Naturally, I write romance novels, too! But I went overboard on the advice when I started writing, and my books suffered for it. Here are three "rules" to be cautious about when writing romance.
Have you ever started reading a romance novel and been turned off at the hostility between the hero and heroine? I know. It's confusing. You've bought the book with the hopes of reading a love story only to be flung into a war--one you don't want to continue reading. What's romantic about that?
Romance novels need a compelling romantic conflict--a reason the hero and heroine can't fall in love and live happily-ever-after. The book would be B.O.R.I.N.G without it. But writers can go overboard on the conflict, creating unlikable characters whom the reader can't root for or extreme circumstances no couple can realistically recover from.
If you have a hero and heroine at war with each other, show us the backstory. Let us in on why they are at each other's throats. Don't make them mean just to make a point. And give them downtime where they call a truce and begin to understand each other. Whatever your romantic conflict, make sure neither character is coming across as petty, immature, or spiteful. I can't fall in love with those traits, and most other romance readers can't either.
2. Character Growth
Another rule romance writers can take to the extreme is character growth. Character growth doesn't mean giving characters terrible personality traits to overcome. Readers will toss the book or Kindle across the room rather than continue reading about a spoiled, jerky, or mean main character. Character growth should be about making a character stronger in some way.
Romance is character-based. We want to feel what the heroine is feeling. We need to understand why the hero reacts the way he does. And more than anything, we want to experience the rush of falling in love.
Mainstream fiction rules talk about action, pacing, and dialogue, and they typically say to minimize introspection. Obviously, all writers need to strike a balance. But romance writers shouldn't skimp on introspection or deep point-of-view. Remember, romance readers crave an emotional read. If your characters are running from one crisis to another without any time to reflect, the romance gets lost.
What is your favorite genre to read? Any pet-peeves when reading it?
Friday, September 27, 2013
So what did I do differently? Nothing much, but it made all the difference.
Here are three things you can do to take charge of your day.
1. Get centered.
For me, getting centered means inviting the Lord into my life.
After my family heads out the door, I read two chapters of the Bible (one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament) followed by a prayer session. God wants us to come to Him. He loves it when we pray, when we rely on Him, when we study His word. This practice is vital to me. It sets the tone and keeps needless anxieties from taking over.
2. Write down one to three tasks that will move you closer to your goal.
I'm a writer. My goals usually revolve around my books. A sample of tasks I've tackled in the last six months includes:
Write two scenes.
Revise chapter thirteen.
Read chapters six through ten out loud.
Create two pages for mobile website.
Write Friday's blog post.
Email so-and-so about guest post.
Brainstorm possible turning points for upcoming book.
You might only be able to cross one of these tasks off your list. That's okay. Just move the other tasks to tomorrow's calendar. The important thing is creating movement in your project.
3. Set limits on your time wasters.
My time wasters are all Internet related. Facebook, in particular, can suck me in for way too long! All week I've been diligent about logging off in 10-15 minutes. Mission accomplished. I'm getting more done and feeling better about it!
These three steps give me a sense of control over my day. I feel better overall because I've placed my time into God's hands. I feel better at night because I made progress toward my goals. And I feel better about myself because I'm not turning to the Internet to fill a void in my life.
**For fun, head to Scott Belsky's website and check out his Clever Tip Jar Collection. I love the idea of clever tips--cash or ideas!**
What's your best tip for managing your day?
Have a terrific weekend!!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
1. Go smaller: As we’ve already learned, bigger isn’t always better…especially when it comes to our purses. Think small after all.
2. Clean your clutch: Often and all the time. Rid yourself of old receipts, used tissues (ew!), and the likes. Make it sparkle!
3. Stock it: Stock your purse with only the essentials you’ll need. We’re talking a wallet, cell phone, a feminine hygiene item or two, some antibacterial goo, and that’s it. No more, no less.
4. Pick pocket: Designate specific areas in your purse for holding important items. For example, always place your wallet, cell phone, and keys in their assigned areas. Major sanity-saver here, girls!
5. Go new: If your purse has been to war and has the battle scars to prove it, it may be time to invest in a new one. Or, if your current handbag just isn’t doing the job, looks like it’s time to go shopping. Remember friends--finding a purse that will work for you and your needs is of utmost importance. Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money in this area. You’ll be happy you did.
The breezy style and solid advice in this self-help book for Christian moms had me laughing, nodding, and taking notes. Ms. Sulpizio shares her struggles, her hard-earned wisdom, and all of her tricks in this lovely book. Moms of small children will appreciate the chapters on finding time for themselves, and moms of all ages can pick up tips about taking care of ourselves, organizing, and saving money.
I appreciated the resources included--websites to help us figure out our body shape, lists of must-haves in the car, etc...
Prayer is a major theme--just as it is in my life. We can't be perfect, but we can take our struggles to God.
Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe is a must-read for Christian moms!
(I received an advanced reader copy with no obligation to review this book. All opinions are my own.)
Alright, so let’s have some fun. Tell me the first three items you find after reaching into your handbag right now (include your email address) and get entered to win a copy of “Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe.” Ready? Go!
**Must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be randomly selected from qualifying entries.**
Thank you, Jenny, for being such a fun guest!
Have a terrific day!!
Monday, September 23, 2013
The unusually warm weather has not stopped me from dreaming of autumn. Colorful leaves, crisp air, apple orchards, hot cocoa, curling up with a good book and a blanket--I anticipate them all. Yes, I love fall!
Tons of swoon-worthy reading spots have popped up in Pinterest lately. Cozy, overstuffed chairs next to a fireplace get me every time. Or the table settings with pumpkins and lit candles--yes, I'll take one of those. Pie recipes, chili recipes, and biscuit recipes have me drooling.
Magazine covers beg me to buy them. Halloween candy beckons at the supermarket. Let's not forget about harvest festivals and trick-or-treating. Football is in full swing, and I make a lot (A LOT) of nachos in October and November. Why not?
The only thing I get a bit sad about is the waning sunlight. Our days grow really short around here. Gone are my long walks outdoors. Hello, moon, at 6pm!
This morning Sophie, my mini-dachshund, trotted into the living room with a brown leaf in her mouth. Then she proceeded to shred it to bits. Even she loves fall! And I have a feeling the cooler weather is right around the corner...
What do you love about autumn? What don't you love?
Have a terrific day!