Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

Hey y'all! Stephanie Newton Camy yesterday, I'm thinking about the New Year. I love new stuff! I especially love getting a fresh, shiny notebook, all those clean pages filled with possibility. The new year is like that--365 blank pages that hold the promise of adventure, creativity, heartbreak, love, and contentment (and more).

I'm excited about turning the page of my--new :)--datebook and beginning 2010. I have some goals for 2010, goals like lose weight and be better at time management. I have a plan to make those more likely to happen...but my biggest goal is not to lose sight of what really matters in the busyness of life. To take the time to laugh with my kids, to enjoy my husband, and to grow deeper in relationship with my Lord. These are the things that really bring me joy.

Best wishes to all of you for a joy-filled 2010!
With love,

Smoke Screen, Stephanie Newton's newest book in the Emerald coast 911 series will be in retail stores January 12. For more information about Stephanie or her other books, check out her website at

New Years Resolutions

Camy here! What are your New Years resolutions?

I was talking to a friend who said that it’s better to have only one resolution. Apparently, having too many makes our minds unfocused and we end up not keeping any of them, but if we have only one, we can focus and are more likely to keep it. That makes sense to me.

I want to go one step further and make my resolution specific and concrete. All the articles on weight loss I’ve read say to make your goals very specific and doable, and then you’ll be more likely to keep them. So I’m going to apply this to my New Years resolution:

30 minutes of exercise every day. It doesn’t have be strenuous—it’s most likely to be a walk with the dog in the afternoon—but I have to do it. I can also break it up into 15 and 15 minutes twice a day if need be.

What’s your New Years resolution?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveaways!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Memories

Hello from Sandra Robbins!

It’s the Monday after Christmas, and I’m trying to figure out where the time went. For weeks I’ve been getting ready for the big day, and all too soon it was over. I have to say, though, that I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed Christmas as much as I did this year.

Christmas morning was hectic with eighteen family members descending on my house for breakfast and exchanging of gifts. The laughter of my loved ones filled my ears, and I was so thankful we could be together.

Of course a big part of Christmas is gift giving, but we always emphasize the true meaning of Christmas before we tear into the packages under the tree. As my family gathered in the living room after breakfast, we followed the tradition that my father started many years ago. We read the story of Jesus birth to remind us all that on that first Christmas God gave us the greatest gift of all—His son.

After a prayer of thanks, it was time to open the brightly colored packages piled underneath the tree. During this time, I like to watch everyone open their gifts, but I couldn’t have guessed how I would react when I opened one of mine.

My oldest daughter gave me a gift this year that I will treasure. This past summer my Yorkshire terrier Belle died. She had been my constant companion for the past fourteen years, and I miss her every day. She followed me everywhere and lay at my feet any time I was writing. To my surprise on Christmas morning my daughter gave me a painting of Belle, and of course I cried. But I’ve decided the only place to hang it is over my desk so that I can glance at her from time to time just as I used to do.

As the day drew to a close, I was filled with a warm glow as I tucked away the events of that day for memories in the future. Now it’s time for a new year and a chance to make new memories. My prayer is that each one of you will have a wonderful 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas, happy recycling and Hilda One

Hi. It's Lenora. We've opened all the presents (and I got a new purse from my daughter!). We've eaten and eaten and eaten until we all had to take long naps by the fire. It snowed just a bit here last night, something rare for our part of the country.

Everyone is content. Couldn't ask for much more for a lovely peaceful Christmas Day. Now it's all over and we'll tuck away the Christmas decorations until next year. That includes saving some of the boxes and bags we had presents in this year to use again. My friends used to tease me about recycling gift bags. But I grew up on a farm and watched my mother tuck bags and boxes away to use again. That was just a way of life for us. But I tell my friends I do it not because I'm cheap or tacky, but because reusing a gift bag saves trees and helps the environment. Now it's become a tradition amongst my friends to see who winds up with one of the best bags next year. We like to see how far a reused, reissued bag can go before we have to throw it away.

The other day, my good friend Elaine pictured above with her mother Hilda Marie, gave me a gift and she said she had to explain about the cute bag she'd used. It was recycled but it still had a gift tag from her brother and his wife to her sweet mother. (From another Christmas.) I told her I didn't mind seeing her mother's name on the bag. You see, her mother passed away earlier this year and seeing that name tag reminded me of how much I loved her. So now I have something that Hilda One smiled over and enjoyed. What a nice gift.

I think we're like recycled bags sometimes. We're tossed around, tucked away, crushed and forgotten and then someone finds us and bring us out, fluffs us up and makes us pretty and useful again. God does that with us all the time. What better time to remember that than at Christmas? Next year, I'll pull out that Hilda One bag and I will pass it on with pride to another person, knowing that an angel in heaven is smiling down on us and clapping her hands in glee. Merry Christmas, Hilda Marie. I love you still.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Greetings!

Carrie Turansky here wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas. We still have several inches on snow on the ground here in New Jersey from a storm last weekend, so we have a white Christmas for the first time in many years. It's beautiful to look outside and see the sparking blanket covering everything.

I wish you could stop in for a cup of Christmas tea. I'd enjoy hearing about your Christmas traditions and memories. One tradition we enjoy is sharing a special breakfast before we open our presents on Christmas morning. This morning we had homemade cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, fresh fruit, and potato cheese casserole. Delicious!

This year we had most of our family here with us, including our son who is in the Marines. Last year he was in Iraq at Christmas time, so it is very special to have him here with us this year.

I hope you have enjoyed time with your family and friends this Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.
It snowed. That may not be unusual where you live, but where I am, it's a miracle.
This is a day of rejoicing. God gave us a wonderful gift, which I marvel at each Christmas. Merry Christmas to your families and friends.


Merrry Christmas

God bless you all on this wonderful day!
Barbara Phinney

Cherishing Those Christmas Dreams

Merry Christmas! Ramona (and Rachel, in her Who socks) here, hoping you are blessed by the love, hope, and joy of this most glorious of times. I'm traveling Christmas Eve and Day, so my time will be one of introspection and prayer for all of my LI sisters and our amazing readers. God bless y'all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blessed Christmas - Valerie Hansen

I had a post written. Honest, I did. But it was just as well that it went into computer-land limbo because I said a lot of the same things that I'd said early in Dec. I find that amazing and very enlightening because it shows me that I have a lot more work to do forgiving the people in my past. Perhaps that's why, no matter how my stories start out, they always end up featuring a facet of forgiveness. God knows exactly what He's doing! And another interesting thing is that I can get letters from readers, citing the same book, and find that they've gotten different impressions from the text. That's all the Lord. Not me.

We who write for Love Inspired are doubly blessed. Once, when we write the books, and again when we hear from readers who have been entertained and brought closer to Jesus while enjoying a good story. It's what we do. And in a way it's who we are. Because we are so different as Christians and human beings, we can reach out to a widely divergent audience and share with them our Christian walk as well as the lessons we've already learned, sometimes the hard way.

And it all started with the birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas,

Valerie Hansen

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas. This is Leann. I wanted to share with you some of the funny memories I have of Christmas. When my children were young, my daughter could not wait for Christmas morning to see the gifts that Santa brought. She would manage to hide a flashlight in her room and once we were asleep, she scope out what gifts were under the tree. Several times she got my son, who is younger, to help her with her scouting missions.

Then she'd show up in mom and dad's bedroom about 5 AM. We could put her off until maybe about 6:30, but that was the latest we could get away with.

She's grown now, but in her teen she found a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. This was something we had to have on Christmas morning. (She's big on tradition.) Now that she'd married, she serves pumpkin pancakes on Christmas morning to her husband. This year pumpkin is in short supply. (Have you tried to find canned pumpkin?) But you can bet, she found pumpkin. The can bug was enough for pancakes and a pie.

Here's wishing you the best Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Reads

Debby Giusti

The days before Christmas are always busy and filled with last minute holiday preparations. In contrast, the week following Christmas is a refreshing pause in the routine of my daily life. I plan to relax in a comfy chair, cup of cappuccino in hand, and read the wonderful Steeple Hill Christmas books out this month.

Margaret Daley and I have a Love Inspired Suspense titled CHRISTMAS PERIL, which features two suspense stories in one book. Margaret’s Merry Mayhem hooked me from the first line. I couldn’t put the book down. Margaret is a delightful writer who has published 66 books, and I know you’ll enjoy her story. Yule Die is the tale I enjoyed telling about two strong-willed characters caught up in a hostage situation that changes their lives forever. Still on sale at your favorite bookstores or wherever you buy books, I hope you’ll consider reading both stories over the holiday.

If you’ve been good, maybe Santa will stuff your stocking with books for your New Year’s reading pleasure!

Wishing you a joyous Christmas!
Debby Giusti


Book 2 in the Protecting the Witnesses

Love Inspired Suspense Continuity Series

February 2010

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Wonderful Christmas Surprise

My name is Victoria Bylin. I write westerns for Love Inspired Historicals. Christmas is just a few days away, so I thought I'd share a special gift the Lord gave me this month.

Some of you know this year has been rough. Among other things, my mom passed away after a long illness. I've spent a lot of time going down memory lane while looking at childhood pictures, etc.. I used to spend hours with my books, especially Walter Farley's Black Stallion series. All of this has been coming back at me big time.

To add to the craziness, my husband and I decided to make a big change. With the kids grown up and on their own, we sold our house in northern Virginia and moved to Lexington, Kentucky, "the Thoroughbred Capital of the World." The Lord gave me an wonderful surprise here in Lexington. The house we bought--a tract home in the suburbs--backs to a farm for retired racehorses. Every few days or so, the horses show up at our fence. This morning my husband and I fed them carrots and peppermint.

If someone had told me a year ago I'd be feeding carrots to racehorses in my backyard, I'd have thought they were nuts. You never know what God's going to do! No matter your circumstances, be encouraged! We worship an awesome God. Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

I Believe

Pamela Tracy here.
Okay, so it's dark outside and I'm sitting in front of my computer after a three day Internet absence. Christmas is sooooo fun.

Friday night we loaded up Grandpa, Grandma, hubby, four-year-old, me, and headed for Williams, Arizona, and the Polar Express. It's great fun. They take the Grand Canyon Railroad train, stick a wreath on the nose of the engine, and make magic for kids. We were on car J.

Our train was supposed to leave at 8:00, but for some reason, there was delay. I overheard one of the elves (train employee dressed up) on his walkie talkie: Clean up on car M. The mom in me thought, "Oh, no. Some kid drank too much hot chocolate." The worrier in me thought, "Oh, no. Someone is hurt." The suspense writer in me thought "There's been a murder!"

In real life, the engine broke. Nothing magical like Caribu on the track. After an hour wait (we spent it freezing, getting Mikey's picture taken with Santa, and freezing some more), we got on the train. It's about a fourty minute ride to the North Pole. The waiter and elve serve cookies and hot chocolate, and over the loud speaker they read the book (we brought ours so Mikey had the pictures). Then, it's the North Pole! It's about a block long and Santa is outside on his sleigh waving. The train then heads back to the station and Santa is on board. He gives all the kids a hug and a bell and asks them to believe.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lyn Cote's Christmas Miracle

Wednesday afternoon my daughter passed out at the wheel and totaled our faithful van.

That wasn't the miracle. The miracle was that our van was totaled but our daughter is suffering only sore limbs--not even a scratch or bruise.

In case you're wondering, my daughter wasn't on illegal drugs or alcohol but in the ER, they couldn't find out what had caused her to pass out. The impact into a slender maple tree which stopped the van didn't even wake her. The First Responders had a time rousing her. And she was disoriented and remembered nothing.

We have an appointment with her primary doctor on Tuesday. She can't drive until we figure out what caused this.

She went off the road on a state highway and fortunately stayed on her own side. Not far down from where she went off the road is a lake on both sides of the road. She would have drowned if she had gone off the road there.

Some kind person called 911 from their phone reporting the accident. God bless them even if they couldn't stop.

So as you might expect, we are praising God for this miracle.

God bless all of you and keep you safe.

On Sale Now! The 2nd in the Gabriel Sisters series-Her Patchwork Family

Last year's December Love Inspired Historical, 1st in the Gabriel Sisters series
To purchase either, drop by or for a chance to win one

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Christmas Card

Okay, I admit it. I'm a Christmas story junkie. I love Christmas stories. So when my editor at Steeple Hill asked me to write Yuletide Protector as a Christmas book, I jumped at the chance! Yuletide Protecter is available from Love Inspired Suspense right now on and at So if you're looking for a stocking stuffer sure to give you that warm holiday spirit, why don't you check out Yuletide Protector.
Okay, back to the title of my post. If you like me (a self proclaimed Christmas story junkie) then you probably have your DVR or TIVO set to record every show on the Hallmark Channel. I know I do. And in the few weeks since Thanksgiving, I've watched some wonderful stories. One that I've watched over and over again is The Christmas Card. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do. I'm sure the Hallmark Channel will be repeating some of these great stories. Anyway, the movie is about a woman who sends Christmas cards to "any" soldier before Thanksgiving. The soldier who receives this special card is so moved by the photo and the woman's letter that he seeks her out when he comes stateside. It's a beautiful romance and one that captures the holiday spirit.
I hope you all enjoy your Christmas this year and that it is filled with love and warm memories.
Until next time, many blessings...Lisa Mondello

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Traditions

Okay, I have to confess, I don't like to cook. Do not enjoy it whatsoever! About eight years ago I join a group of ladies from the church were attending in a club called...The Gourmet Dinner Club. Yep. Go figure. I joined for the fellowship and because I love to eat--just not cook. But as part of the club I had to cook. And I actually enjoyed myself. I really enjoyed planning and shopping and decorating more than the actual cooking but since we were in teams of three, it was fun. And I came away from the club with some awesome recipes. One recipe, in fact has become a tradition at Christmas (sometimes Thanksgiving too!)
I wish I could say I made this recipe up but alas, I didn't. But I can share it with you.
This comes from The Pebble Beach Lodge by Gregg Denter, Sous Chef
Italian Sausage Stuffing
1/2 pound butter
1 pound Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp fresh sage
1/4 cup Sherry wine ( I sometimes use Marsala wine)
2 tsps salt
1 tsp pepper
1 loaf bread cubed (really good with sourdough)
2 cups chicken stock
2 eggs
Heat the butter in a saute pan. Add the sausage and brown. Add vegetables, garlic and spices, saute until tender. Add the wine, salt and pepper. Put into a bowl and add cubed bread, chicken stock, and eggs. Mix thoroughly and stuff into a turkey (or cook seperately--which is what I usually do). Cook in oven at 375 degrees until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees (or if cooking seperately, for about 30 mins so its nice and hot and the eggs are cooked)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friends at Christmas

Christmas has been so busy I can't believe December is halfway over. It seems you get together with friends more at Christmas. Last night I went to our bridge group's Christmas party (picture above--I'm in front second from the right in a black sweatshirt and jeans). The food was delicious and the company even better. Next week I will meet with my critique group for our Christmas party we have every year. I also got together with some teachers I taught with for many years last weekend. It was so nice to see them. What are some special parties you've gone to this month?

In the middle of all this madness, I hope you'll have time to stop by tomorrow, December 16th at eHarlequin for the Steeple Hill open house (all day). Check out the authors who will be participating in it from Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines at:

Have a blessed and safe Christmas and New Year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas from Sunny Arizona

Pamela Tracy here, and yes we do get cold in Sunny Arizona, but it's a calm kind of cold. hehehe. Anyhoo, this past Friday I went to a Christmas party and we sang all the old songs. It was great fun. There was one song that was meant just for us. It was called Winter Wonderland - Arizona style. I'm thinking that you non-zonies have been deprived of this tune and I need to make amends. So, here it goes.

Feel free to sing while you read.

Palm trees wave, are you listening'?
In the pool, water's glistenin',
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight
Livin' in a Phoenix Wonderland.

Gone away is the blizzard,
Here to stay is the lizard,
A warm sunny day; we like it that way,
Livin' in a Phoenix wonderland.

In the desert we will have a picnic,
Cactus, sand, rattlesnakes, and sun.
Christmas dinner is an old tradition,
It's pinto beans and tacos by the ton.

Later on we'll perspire,
Temperatures will rise even higher,
A warm sunny day, we like it that way,
Livin' in a Phoenix Wonderland.

Keep humming those Christmas tunes and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Memories

Merry Christmas from Carrie.

I wanted to share a special Christmas memory with you.

My husband never "officially" proposed to me. Our conversations about getting married just evolved and then one day we went shopping, looked at rings and bought one. I knew I loved him, and I was sure he was the one for me, but I always felt a little disappointed that he didn't plan a romantic proposal, especially when other couples shared their proposal stories. So one Christmas morning, with all the family gathered around the Christmas tree, he knelt in front of me, declared his love, and asked me to be his wife for the rest of my life. He also gave me a beautiful diamond ring to replace my wedding ring since I had lost the diamond out of my original ring a few months earlier. I was so touched and surprised I could hardly speak. Of course, I finally found my voice, said yes, and kissed him to the cheering of our kids who were then ages 15 - 21. So now I have a proposal story to share and a beautiful Christmas memory.

I hope you will have a wonderful Christmas with those you love!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A slightly different Christmas

Barbara here, reporting on her Christmas preparations.

I have this feeling my Christmas will be different this year. First up, my Aussie brother is coming with his daughters, all the way from Sydney, and for their enjoyment, I have been praying for snow.

Word of warning -- Be careful what you pray for.

We got snow, and in order to keep it on the ground, the Good Lord has also provided cold temperatures. Which shoots up the heating bill.

Okay, I'm not complaining. I know our heating bill will be higher with my brother wandering around the house telling me how hot Christmas is in Australia. I'm actually thinking of turning down the thermostat and telling him we're tougher than he is. And as a woman who has reached that special age, cooler climes are feeling rather nice right now.

But this isn't only why this Christmas is feeling special. We have a real tree, our first. Years ago, it was touted to be more environmentally sound to buy a fake tree, so we did. But this year, my visitors deserve a real tree.

Now, remember that snow I prayed for? It arrived hours after we dragged the tree home. (Actually, we shoved it into the back of our SUV and I need to clean the needles out, but haven't yet.)

Well, back to the snow. It piled high on our tree, which needed to be brought in and thawed out before being put up.

I'm not complaining. I even got to wash the kitchen floor after. Lucky me.

But the tree is up! And each ornament is special to us. The tiny Bible, the Baby's first Christmas ones, the special ones the kids made. The fragile glass ones that have survived since I was a child.

And as I sit back, completelyl exhausted, sniffling because I believe I have an allergy to real trees, I am happy this Christmas will be special. Family, friends, even snow to make it all nice. All this besides the joy of the season given to us by God's arrival on earth.

Here's hoping that you each can see the blessings of your own Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Home at Christmas

Merry Christmas from Merrillee. I just noticed that my name is kind of merry. I'm not going to talk about my name, but I had to make that observation. I'm visiting with my daughter and her husband because they have just moved from Chicago to Tucson. I'm here to help them move in and be here for my granddaughter's first birthday.

Moving into a new house at Christmas can be a challenge. We did it once when our kids were in high school. We bought a tree on Christmas eve for very little because they were trying to get rid of them. Organizing a house after a move is a job in itself, but adding the Christmas decorating along with that can make the job even more difficult. We could have skipped the decorating, but what would Christmas be without a tree and at least a few decorations. So today I went shopping with my son-in-law. We bought a tree. It looked like the perfect tree, but when we got it home, I decided that it wasn't as wonderful as it looked at the store. However, once we get it decorated, it will be wonderful. We bought garland for the bannister on their stairway, and we put up some of the decorations that they already owned. We are hanging pictures and finding places for all of their belongings. When I return home in a few days, hopefully, they will be somewhat settled.

I would have included some photos, but they still don't have internet access. That will be installed on Friday--too late for this post. I'm having to use a borrowed computer. I went to the public library to use the computer the other day. I'm so used to having internet access that I'm having to get used to living without it.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.


I used to love Christmas shopping. But as I get older and crankier, I have found it's become harder to get excited about driving two hours to get to the nearest mall then schlep around the mall and end up buying something, anything, just so I wouldn't feel like I wasted the four hour round trip. And this year, when I found myself with too much book to write and not enough month to write it my panic over Christmas shopping grew. I caught myself hyperventilating and worrying and stressing. I know Christmas is not about presents, but at the same time I know that I would feel like Scrooge if Christmas came and there was nothing under the tree. Especially with two granddaughters coming up to Nana and Papa's place for Christmas. But how? And when? And then, as I was sending an e-mail to my sister, laying out my dilemma, the dusty cogs in my brain began turning. Hmm....... Laptop. Internet access. PayPal. It all came together in a moment of clarity. I realized I was thinking too small. Why limit myself to shopping in The City, when I had the entire world, literally in my lap.I had choices, I had options and I had credit cards!Google searches became my friends. Shopping carts, easy to load up and pay for. I could browse at my leisure, discover items I would never have found driving around the city. And, even better, I didn't need to dress up. I could shop in my p.j.'s drinking tea and eating cookies. Does it get any better than that? I could work on my book and when I needed a break, go shopping. I got done my shopping in record time and as long as Canada Post does it's part, I'm set! And, even better, I love Christmas shopping again. Carolyne Aarsen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greetings from Lenora. It's here. Christmas is coming! It snowed in Louisiana last week. Here it was just a pretty scattering of snowflakes but I'd had a bad week. I didn't have much Christmas Spirit. The minute I looked out the window and saw that silent snow falling to the earth, my attitude changed and I begin decorating for the holidays. Our minister talked about not letting anyone steal your Christmas joy. And that's exactly what I'd been doing--allowing others to steal my joy. But not anymore. I will guard my joy with praise and thanks for the reason for this wonderful season. I won't let the stress of trying to find the perfect tree, or trying to prepare the perfect meal steal my joy. After all, I'm not Martha Stewart. I will try to bake sugar cookies and eat too many of them while watching Christmas movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark channel. I won't let deadlines take away my lifeline. I will try to balance work with my joy and tell myself how blessed I am to have the kind of job that allows me to play make-believe all day long and actually get paid for it! What a marvelous, glorious, wonderful time of year it is!

And I'm just getting started, people. C'mon, tell me what you love about Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Can Be An Unsettling Time

Hi, Janet Tronstad here, just back from church. I thought I'd share a thought from the sermon I heard on how Advent can be an unsettling time for people. And think of the first Advent -- the wise men didn't know really where they were going, they were following a star, but they didn't know how long it would take or where they would end up; Mary and Joseph were being asked to take a trip when they probably wondered why God wasn't allowing them to stay home for the birth of the child; when Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem they couldn't even get a room -- they would be justified in wondering if God had forgotten all about them. I was reminded recently how the Advent season can make people feel something is wrong because they are experiencing the kind of unsettled feeling Mary and Joseph might have felt. What reminded me was a letter from a reader thanking me for including one character in my 'Silent Night in Dry Creek,' who didn't have a lot of happy Christmas memories and who felt leftout rather than included in the Advent season. I must admit I've had some Advent seasons when I felt leftout for one reason or another and it has made me more sensitive to others who feel that way. How about you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Fabulous Barrymores

Hi. I’m Renee Ryan. Like most writers of historical romance, I love researching the past. I adore getting lost in former days and learning what life was like “back then.” I am consistently amazed at the unusual tidbits I come across, things I never learned in my high school or college history classes. It’s these small factoids and glimpses into times-gone-by that make the past come alive for me.

Having said that, while in the early plotting stages of HANNAH’S BEAU, the second book in my CHARITY HOUSE series, I knew I wanted to focus on characters with unique backgrounds. In other words, I didn’t want to focus on the typical outlaw or cowboy or even rancher. I wanted something different. Thankfully, I fell across an article on the Golden Age of Theater and the ideas quickly burst forth.

During my research I became fascinated with the premiere acting family of the American Theater: The Barrymores. You’ve probably heard of Drew Barrymore, an accomplished actor in her own right who has garnered a lot of popularity and success, despite a few setbacks in her youth.

Maybe you’ve even heard of Drew’s famous grandfather and his equally talented siblings: Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore. There is no question that these three Barrymores dominated early American cinema. But, contrary to what I had thought prior to my research, Lionel, Ethel and John weren’t the first to “tread the boards” in their family. They literally grew up in the theater. Their parents, Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew (AKA Georgie Drew Barrymore), were famous stage actors during the Golden Era of American Theater – 1880-1920.

The patriarch of the family, Maurice Barrymore, was born Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe in India. His father was a surveyor for the British East India Company. Young Herbert was sent back to England for his education. He attended Harrow School and then went on to study law at Oxford University. Much to his father’s chagrin, Herbert fell in with a group of actors and never became a barrister. In order to spare his father the shame of his chosen profession, Herbert changed his name to Maurice Barrymore.

After some success on the British stage, Maurice left for America in 1874. He made his Broadway debut in December 1875 in the play Pique. In the cast was a young actress, Georgiana Drew. After a short courtship the two married and proceeded to have three children, the above mentioned, Lionel, Ethel and John.

Maurice eventually started his own theater company and toured to cities in Arkansas, Louisiana and even Texas. He was a true pioneer of the stage.

So you see. There's nothing quite like discovering new stories behind the story. I will never look at Drew Barrymore the same. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Hi there! Dana Corbit here. In our family, the day after Thanksgiving is the signal for the Christmas season to begin. That means no decorations will be brought out, no Christmas music will be played and no wish lists will be slipped into my possession until that Friday morning. But on that day, we leap into the season with both feet.

Usually my husband and daughters begin by wrestling together the pieces of our reluctant artificial Christmas tree. When that and the ordeal of the lights is over, we play holiday music - mostly Elvis and Amy Grant, sip eggnog and hang pieces from my precious collection of handmade, dated and inherited ornaments.

So what did I do this year instead of following all of our fun traditions?
I painted the family room.

Why, you ask, did I want to mess up the house just before Christmas? They seemed like good reasons at the time. I'd just finished a book, so I had a little time. Also, if we didn't start this job on the "To-Do List" before we decorated, then it would be on the list yet another month.

I figured I would paint the walls this buttery tan "Lair de Lune" color, and we would have the decorations up by Sunday night.

A few days and a case of the flu later and here I sit on Tuesday, literally in the middle of the family room where the furniture remains, since the walls still need a second coat. This will teach me for messing with holiday traditions.

How important are Christmas traditions in your family? In my December book, His Christmas Bride, the second title in the Wedding Bell Blessings trilogy, Jenna Scott and Dylan Warren join their families as they attempt to form joint holiday traditions, but they find true Christmas blessings only when they try to make the season brighter for someone else.

Well, it's back to painting. Maybe I'll have that wreath above the mantel by New Year's.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A New Home Town

Anyone who is familiar with the Nashville area knows that Robertson and Sumner counties slam up against each other like long lost sisters at a dinner-on-the-grounds reunion. In my new series, however, which starts with December’s Field of Danger, I’ve squeezed the fictional Bell County between them. It’s a tiny place, with only three small towns—White Hills, Bell’s Springs, and the crossroads community of Caralinda.

Caralinda, while my own fictional creation, is based on the quite real town of Orlinda, Tennessee. And my heroine’s cottage homeplace is based on the home of friend (and my daughter’s caregiver/nurse) Phyllis. In fact, if you look in the upper right corner of the field road photo, you can see Phyllis' house.

While I’d always enjoyed going to Orlinda, writing Field made me fall in love with it. My family is from an equally tiny town in Alabama, so it brought back some grand memories of my childhood and buoyant reunions, including a few dinners-on-the-grounds at the home churches.

I’m often envious of the relationships that Phyllis has with her neighbors. They support and encourage her in a way that’s not often waiting for me in town. She has a home in an amazingly lovely location, complete with an oak tree in the front, a huge willow in the back - and a dog that waits for her return (that's her pup Sarah).

All of that may be one of the reasons I usually write about small towns. While I’m now a city girl, I hope I never forget the joy and beauty of living in a community where everyone knows your name.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photograph Your Novel Settings

Thanksgiving blessings from Gail Gaymer Martin. A holiday is a strange day for me to blog, but I was assigned the date so I thought I would share one of my ideas with you. One thing that I love to do is write about real places. My seven book Loving Series was set in a fictitious town of Loving, Michigan but it was close to the real town of Grand Haven on Lake Michigan and the characters from those books often went into Grand Haven for a variety of reasons.. Since I enjoy the area so much, I spent a few days there researching for the Loving Series, and while there, I took photos. When the books were so popular, I decided to make the photos available on my website so readers could see the real places that my characters worked and visited during the seven novels.

Recently I had the pleasure of doing the same thing for a three book series set in the Monterey area of California on the central coast. The three titles were And Baby Makes Five, Garlic and Roses, and Butterfly Trees. Now Barbour Publishing has put these three novels into an anthology titled, Monterey Memories and it’s presently in stores now.

Since my nieces live in Salinas, I had visited this area many times, and while visiting there, I was inspired to write this series. But after I had written the three novels, I decided to visit again with the intention of taking photographs to put on my website for readers to enjoy the real places the characters live and visit. I had a great time putting these photos up with a sketch of the stories. Though you may not have this anthology, you might enjoy seeing the photos and hearing a little about the locations in the anthology. The link to the photos are found on my website at or you can go directly to the photo page by clicking this link:

When your favorite authors use real life settings, let them know you’d love to see photographs of the real locations. Maybe you’ll see some of your favorite novels come to life in photographs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Coffee - French press or coffee maker?

Camy here! My husband loooooooooves his coffee, and this weekend he did an experiment.

He normally uses his espresso maker to make himself lattes, but sometimes in the afternoon, he doesn’t want to fire up the machine and instead, he’s been using a French press to make plain coffee.

However, he’s been unhappy with how his coffee tastes. He’s not using the same beans he uses for his espresso—he actually roasts his own espresso beans, believe it or not. Apparently, coffee beans are different than espresso beans, so instead of using his espresso beans to make coffee, he bought some coffee beans.

He wondered if it was the way he was making his coffee, so he brought out his single cup coffee maker from Brookstone and made a cup side by side with a cup of coffee in his French press.

Verdict: the coffee actually did taste different, but they both didn’t taste very good. He says it’s because the beans are old, and I had to argue for a few minutes to convince him that life is too short to waste on bad coffee!

He finally threw out the beans, thanks to some proactive nagging on my part.

About the French press versus coffee maker—even though it was the beans’ fault, he also thinks that the coffee maker does not produce as good a cup as the French press. Mostly because he can control how long he steeps the grains in a French press, whereas he can’t control that in the coffee maker.

He also read that when the hot water hits the coffee grains in a coffee maker, it’s actually a few degrees lower temperature than ideal. The water is supposed to be 208 or 205, but in a coffee maker, it’s often at about 200 instead. Which supposedly contributes to an “inferior” cup.

Me? I can’t tell the difference.

How about you? Do you care about a French press cup or one from a coffee maker?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

Hi! I'm Victoria Bylin. I write westerns for Love Inspired Historicals. My next book is "Kansas Courtship" in March 2010. It's #3 in the historical part of the "After the Storm" series.

Speaking of storms . . .

My husband and I adopted a puppy about 18 months ago. Hartley is a Jack Russell beagle mix aka a “JackaBee.” He’s a rescue dog. After we brought him home, we discovered that “Rescue Dog” is code for “As is.” He’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever had, but he’s also just plain strange.

For one thing, he’s terrified of little girls. No problem with little boys, but little girls send him trembling to the end of the leash. I’m sure he had a bad experience at an adoption. Also, for the first month or so we had him, he ran under the couch whenever someone came by the house. I’m guessing he thought he’d be taken away.

Poor Hartley was scared all the time.

Sound familiar to anyone? I think we all have moments where we’re in over our heads, where we want to hide under the couch until the scary stuff goes away. Like Hartley, we eventually come out because we know we’re loved, and we muster the faith to believe in Someone greater than ourselves.

Today my husband and I are smack in the middle of a move that’s taken an awkward turn. The builder is on the brink of missing the closing deadline for the third time. This is on top of me having had Lyme disease over the summer, my mom’s death in July, a massive job change for my husband, and a son living overseas in a country that regularly makes headlines on CNN.

I’m ready to dive under the couch, but I also worship a God who is greater than all of the headaches, the delays and the worries. My husband and I won Hartley over with Mighty Dog and patience. We just kept loving him and accepting him “as is,” and now he’s pretty much a normal dog. Still odd, but in a good way.

I’m glad God loves us the same understanding. There are good things in store, I'm sure of it. Like Hartley, my husband and I will trust and wait for Someone greater than ourselves to meet our needs. No thanks to the Mighty Dog, though. I’m looking forward to a Thanksgiving turkey!

Monday, November 23, 2009

This year Fall came to Tennessee with an explosion of color. Unusual, since our autumns tend to sneak in, turn the leaves slowly, and vanish with the first whisper of a winter wind. But this has been an extremely wet season for us, which made for great color but a short season.

The bright colors, however, brought the usual reminder of harvest and gratitude, and this year I’ve been more than blessed, even though it may not appear to some who look at my world from the outside.

In April, I lost my job, so finances are tight. But the time has allowed me to write more and investigate every possible way God can use my talent. The doors that have opened have been startling and glorious.

My daughter has been ill, but has stabilized. Sometimes folks forget that Rachel wasn’t supposed to be with us past 5 or 6 years old. She’s 22. EVERY day is a blessing, even the rough ones.

I’ve had a rough time writing my latest book due to depression. Yes, but every moment at the keyboard reminds me of the talent God gave me. The contract kept me going when I might have taken to my bed and not emerged.

Writing may be tough sometimes, but God never lets me forget that I’m on His journey. He never promised me this path would be easy; just right.

Next month, my latest book debuts, and one of my reviewers pointed out how much she liked the cover because the picture is innocent and peaceful . . . until you add the title on top of it.

Sometimes my life is exactly like that: the picture is not complete, not clear, until God adds His layer to it. Only then can we truly understand each day.

I hope each and every one of you has a blessed Thanksgiving, full of family, fun, and all the layers of the Lord.

Friday, November 20, 2009

All Good Gifts

As we approach Thanksgiving, I can't help by reflect on the multitude of blessings the Lord has given to me and my family. We have good health, our home, love, a great church family with lots of outreach to the community and world, wonderful music activities which our family loves, and we have God's gift of love and Salvation. Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on the blessings in our lives even though we sometimes face difficulties and disappointments. But in between the bads and the goods, we can find some wonderful gifts that deserve remembering.

One of my blessings the the Steeple Hill Love Inspired editors who continue to contract my novels. This past year I've enjoyed writing the Man's Best Friend Series, and I'm grateful that my editors loved the series as well. The first book, DAD IN TRAINING, was released in September (actually hit the stores in mid-August. The series imcludes three novels about three woman who are involved with a dog shelter. The first book is Molly's story as she reaches her dream of owning a dog shelter and running her Teacher's Pet program. This program is a real middle-school program in Waterford Michigan, and Molly is a fictionalized version of a young woman named Amy Johnson. I've enjoyed the reader mail and emails telling me how much they enjoyed the first book. Each book is complete but the characters reappear in the other novels so readers can follow what's happening in their lives.

The second book in the series, GROOM IN TRAINING relesed in February 2010 but available in stores in mid-January, is Steph and her dog Fred's stories. Steph is Molly's best friend and runs a doggie day care in Molly's building that houses the shelter - Time for Paws.

I completed book three, BRIDE IN TRAINING, and it will be released in July, 2010, available in mid-June. This story is Emily's, a part-time employee at Time for Paws, and the hero will be a surprise for those who are reading the series.

I hope you enjoy this series, dedicated to our daughter who died three years ago from ovarian cancer. She taught obedience training and fostered dogs, as well as owning two border collies who were involved with agility and flyball. Brenda loved animals and I wanted to honor her with these books.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Overwhelmed with thankfulness and gratitude

Cheryl Wyatt here,

I heard a recent message on thankfulness and the teacher mentioned that there is a slight difference in gratitude and thankfulness. I don't think I ever caught what that was because I had to get up and leave the room for something important, but anyway, I woke up pondering that today.

Maybe one has more to do with choosing to be joyful despite circumstance. Maybe one has more to do with trusting God over circumstance. Gratitude might be a state of being. Thankfulness might be a minute by minute, day by day, event by event choice.

Maybe they both just have to do with remembering.

I'm not sure. I'd love to hear your take on it, whether you think there is a difference in gratitude and thankfulness...and if so, what that might be.

In the meantime, here's what I'm most thankful for today:

In God's promises
God's protection
God's provision
God's guidance
People around me who pray
My family
My home
A dog who is potty trained
I'm mostly free and clear of pain for the first time in 7 years thanks to a tissue donor.
I'm thankful for the person's choice to donate their organs and tissue
I'm thankful to remember to pray for that person's family and wonder if they know how their loved one's donated bone turned my life around.
I'm thankful for God making doctors smart enough for that kind of medical breakthrough.
I'm thankful that I have enough of everything I need and even what I want.
I'm glad that God knows what I need even more than I do.
I'm glad that God is in control.
I'm glad that I still have my mom and dad and my grandmothers.
I'm glad to be able to write for Steeple Hill and for the advice of my sister authors.
I'm glad that God is trustworthy and that he hears our prayers and know what we need even before we ask.
I'm glad that he does things for us that we don't even know we need.

I'm just glad. I could list a million things I'm thankful for and that would just be today.

For now, I'd love to hear your take on thankfulness and gratitude.

Blessings this thanksgiving season.

Cheryl Wyatt

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Black Friday

Hi there, Laura Scott here again, and since we’re on a holiday theme here, I thought I’d talk about something I’m not very thrilled about.
Yes, you heard me. I don’t like to shop. Actually, I should say I don’t mind shopping if I know exactly what I need and that what I need is right there on the shelf waiting for me. Nothing worse in my mind than wandering around stores, trying to come up with a great gift for some difficult to buy for family member.
The focus should be on Thanksgiving and being thankful for what we have, and I’m the first to say that’s what’s really important. But I am hearing lots of discussions on the radio and news-stations about Black Friday. You know, the day after Thanksgiving which is the official start of the shopping season.
Normally I don’t really care much about what happens on Black Friday, but this year, much like last year, the day after Thanksgiving is being used as an indication of how the economy is doing. And that subject I do care about.
My dear Mother-In-Law has already given more than her fair share contribution to the economy this past weekend. She went to a huge Boston Store sale and made five trips, yes five separate trips out to her car because she couldn’t carry everything. Whew. Now she’s a dedicated shopper.
For the first time in years, I’m actually tempted to venture out on Black Friday to do some Christmas shopping if for no other reason but to help stabilize the economy. Do you think I’m crazy? Maybe. J
So what about you? Are you a dedicated shopper like my MIL? Are you one of those who wakes up at 5 am to be the first one in the store? Or are you going to sit back, drink a cup of coffee and shop on line? Or put off shopping until Christmas Eve?
Drop in and share your thoughts. And if you are in the stores and are looking for a book to read, my Love Inspired Suspense The Thanksgiving Target is out now.
Yours in faith, Laura Scott

Monday, November 16, 2009

A New Book from Marta Perry

From Marta Perry:

I'm so delighted to announce the release this month of LEAH'S CHOICE, the first book in my Pleasant Valley Amish series, which is being published by Berkley Books. I'll still be writing my Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense stories, but it's exciting to venture into a new field, as well. The books for Berkley are being published in trade size, and they are longer stories then the ones I write for Love Inspired.

Here's a little about Leah's Choice:

All of Pleasant Valley seems to think the newcomer from Lancaster County would make a perfect husband for teacher Leah. After all, so few new families come to their seaparate Amish community, and few still unmarried men. Daniel Glick is a widower with three young children--clearly he's in need of a wife.

Daniel's past haunts him. Though he cannot miss the beauty in Leah's bright eyes and patient ways, he also see a reminder of his pain-filled marriage. Leah Beiler, too, has a burden to bear. Years ago, she was engaged to be married to Johnny Kile, and she was heartbroken when he decided to leave the Amish community. Since then she has immmersed herself in teaching, forgetting any hope of having her own family. When Johnny returns, seeking reconciliation, Leah must decide between two paths and rely on her faith to show the way.

Please visit me at and And if you'd like to receive a signed bookmark and my free brochure of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, just e-mail me at

Talking Turkey

Hello! Stephanie Newton here. It's almost time for turkey. I don't know about you, but I have 22 people coming to my house for Thanksgiving. And...I really don't even know how to cook a turkey. This would be me:

Then I got to thinking about my favorite Thanksgiving memories over the years. It's not the turkey I remember. It's not even the sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows--not pecan topping) or even the cranberry sauce. It's the memory of looking around the table at each face and family and knowing that I am blessed. We're not always lucky enough to be able to spend Thanksgiving with family, but the truth is still the same. While the food is great, it's not the turkey that makes Thanksgiving my favorite holiday. It's a heart filled with thankfulness.

Stephanie Newton lives in Northwest Florida with her pastor husband and two teenagers. She gains lots of inspiration from the sugar-white sand and blue-green water of the Gulf of Mexico and the many, many strange things you see when you live at the beach. She's going to order her Thanksgiving turkey this year.

Stephanie's next book in her Emerald Coast 911 series, Smoke Screen, will hit retail shelves January 12, or will be available for order for eHarlequin on December 1.

Friday, November 13, 2009

That music in your head...

Allie Pleiter here. Ever get one of these?

earworm(EER.wurm) n. A song or tune that repeats over and over inside a person's head. Also: ear-worm, ear worm.

You know, that song you can’t get out of your head? I’ve also heard it called a “sticky tune” or a “cognitive itch”--both are highly descriptive, don’t you think?

My heroine Mary Thorpe, is an earworm maestro. She’s created all kinds of stick-to-your-eardrums songs in her advertising career. She made a nice career out of jingle-wrangling, but the relentless marketing of Christmas started to chafe at her spirit once she came to faith. Like her masterpieces, however, Mary can’t seem to escape her musical past, even if she loves her new job as the Middleburg Community Church drama director. Her Christmas drama, combined with the kind of high-stakes drama Middleburg specializes in creating, makes for a most imperfect Christmas.

What earworms can you identify? Here, I’ll get you started...

The theme from Gilligan’s Island

The Macarena song

"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"

“I am stuck on Bandaids, cause Bandaid’s stuck on me...”

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea...?”

“America” from West Side Story

Chime in and besige our ears...because it’s been proven that the best way to purge an with another earworm!