Thursday, June 25, 2009

Changing it Out.

I was impressed with Merrillee’s remodel of her bathroom, and thought I’d share what my husband and I did over Spring Break. I finally convinced him to redo our closet. Well---the way I did it was went out to the Container Store and bought things to remodel it. My husband didn’t want to get rid of the shelves on the wall between the two sides of our closet, but once we knocked out the two hanging rods and shelves above, he said, maybe we should do the entire closet. I didn’t hesitate and immediately went out and finished buying the things we needed to redo the entire closet.

Well, he didn’t think we needed to repaint the walls in the closet. It had not been repainted since we moved into the house 30 years ago. I told him once in 30 years was not overdoing it. (You know how husbands are. If I had put a dent in the car, it would’ve been an entirely different reaction.) We repainted. As you can see, we installed the new shelves and hanging rods. It is a pleasure to walk into that closet. I have a smile on my face each time I walk into it. And I have to give my husband a gold star. He does excellent work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Importance of Mentoring

Today I was thinking about how many aspiring novelists there are out there. I have gotten several reader letters lately from people who express interest in writing. When they ask my advice on how to get started, I easily recall days not so long ago when I was in the place of longing that they are. I hope and pray that my advice to them is as solid and sound as the advice I received.

I started writing while on bedrest with a pregnancy. That's also the season in my life when I stumbled upon the Steeple Hill message boards. I had seen the Web site advertized in one of the Steeple Hill books that I'd read. I was thrilled to find a community of other aspiring authors just like me. AND, when the authors I'd been reading for months or years started extending encouragment and mentoring moments with me, I knew THIS was the publisher I wanted to write for.

Many of those authors who aspired with me, and who I met online, then later at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference, become some of my closest friends. Camy Tang, Cynthia Hawkins, Danica Favorite-McDonald to name a few. Margaret Daley not only befriended and encouraged me, she mentored me for years...and she's still there when I need to brainstorm or when I have questions. Others who helped were my now-good friend Ginny Aiken, Marta Perry, Mae Nunn, Lenora Worth, Debra Clopton, Allie Pleiter, Janet Tronstad, Janet Spaeth (Barbour author), Lena Nelson Dooley (Heartsong and Summerside author) and others I'm SURE I'm forgetting.

These women live the faith you find in their stories.

Today's post is dedicated to thanking them. I hope to be able to help other aspirings' the way these ladies have helped me...often more than they know or realize. But I know that God knows and I've prayed He blesses their writing because of it.

I hope you have women mentoring you in your life and I hope you're mentoring others. Whether it's in your field of work, in your giftings and talents or spiritual mentoring.

I'd love to hear about mentors who've meant the most in your life. Please share!



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"After The Storm" Continuity Series

Victoria Bylin here . . . Instead of blogging today, I thought I'd pass on the link to Valerie Hansen's prequel novella to the "After the Storm" continuity series. The story is set in High Plains, Kansas, a small town devastated by a tornado. The series is comprised of 9 books. The first six are contemporaries, and it starts in July with Val's book, "Healing the Boss's Heart." The last three jump back in time to 1860. I wrote No. 3 in the historical segment. It's the caboose in a long train.

The train is leaving now with Val's prequel . . . Here's the link. I hope you enjoy it!

And a little note . . . I'm blogging Thursday at It's a children's story about a writer named Miss Rabbit. It's light and fun and hope you stop by and say hello!

Wishing you all the best,
Victoria Bylin

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Pleasure to Serve You at the Window

A long time ago, I lived in a town that only had a Chick Fil A in the mall. We actually had to get out of our car and walk into the mall to get that deliciously crunchy chicken sandwich (with buttered bun and exactly two pickles) and perfectly salty waffle fries. When we moved, we moved to an even smaller town without a mall OR a Chick Fil A. Of course it was only a few weeks before we heard they were building one less than a mile from our old house!

I don't live in a huge town now, but it's a beach town and as you can imagine, in the summer our population swells. So we have tons of restaurants, one of which is a free-standing Chick Fil A. I think the kids and I ate there forty-two times the first month we lived here. We're now down to a much more reasonable once a week! Except not on Sunday, because Chick Fil A is closed on Sunday.

So in honor of one of my fave fast food restaurants, here's an ode to Chick Fil A by Christian comedian Tim Hawkins:

(Upon doing some research I just found out those of you in Canada don't have Chick Fil A on Sunday or any other day! I'm so sorry to hear that...but then, you do have Tim Horton's so I'm thinking maybe that's a fair deal :) And if any of you have fast food addictions, feel free to comment and make me feel better about my love for crispy chicken sandwiches!

Stephanie Newton writes for Love Inspired Suspense. She's also a homeschooling mom, soccer mom and pastor's wife. And, well, she's addicted to Burn Notice and Twizzlers. Her upcoming book is Moving Target, on sale August 11!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Replacing old tile and carpet

The photo above is the new tile in one of my bathrooms. I'm glad to replace the old tile, but the process is not convenient. Nearly twenty years ago, we bought a house when we moved from Georgia to Massachusetts. I disliked the tile foyer and had it replaced almost as soon as we moved in. I didn't know how messy replacing tile can be--dust and grime everywhere.

We've owned our current house for ten years, and the carpet is looking worn. So after months of looking and looking, I finally found some carpet I like. But before we put in the new carpet, I wanted to replace the tile in our bathrooms. I've hated it ever since we moved in, even though I was the one who picked it out. I knew the process would be messy, but I had forgotten how messy.

A fine film of dust has settled on almost every surface in my house. We did put sheets over everything in the master bedroom before they tore up the tile in the master bath. The sheets are still there. We'll see whether they did any good once the tile job is complete. The dust even filtered inside the drawers and cabinets. I've been cleaning all day--wiping down walls, dusting, vacuuming and washing. I've hardly made a dent in the mess. Maybe by the time the carpet that we ordered arrives, I'll have the house in order.

Surely the carpet installation won't be as messy. Have you ever done any remodeling and had a big mess? Tell us about it.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Yurting we will go!

Okay, I will admit it. I'm a bit of a prissy girl. Not overly but enough that the very idea of camping, as in a tent and cook stove gives me hives. Thankfully my husband isn't into camping either. And until we had our kids, my husband and my idea of roughing it was not having reservations. But when you have kids, you want to take them to the great outdoors so they can develop an appreciation for nature. My parents did that with me, only we stayed in a trailer so even then we weren't really camping. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have these wonderful things called Yurts. I grew up in California and had never heard of one, but when a friend explained what they were, I was all for it. The futon style beds inside aren't the most comfortable, but they are off the floor. The round, walled structure has a heater, electricity and table and chairs. There are several parks throughout Oregon and Washington that have yurt villages. The yurts are relatively inexpensive and I'll admit it, a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How do you handle stress?

It's me, Lenora. I'm not going to panic. Really, I'm not. I have a heavy deadline due to some revisions and I'm planning a two week trip as I make my way to Washington, DC for a conference. I agreed to host a meeting at my house this weekend, complete with cooking brunch (and I obsess about presentation!!!) But I'm okay, really. My house is a mess and somehow I have to get it clean by Friday. But I'm not sweating it, no ma'am. I have magazine work to complete and edit, but that's okay. I have lots of time. I agreed to help with a meal for about 30 people in mid-July. The night before we leave for said two week trip. But I'll get it done, I know.
I'm helping out with a church supper Wednesday. No problem. I need to remember Father's Day is Sunday. Got gift. Hidden at a friend's house. Memo to self--remember to get gift from friend's house. Did I mention I'm doing revisions??? Did I mention my deadline is fast approaching? Did I mention my house is a mess? But I'm not going to panic. Did I mention that I was about to go to bed and realized I hadn't written this blog? Does anyone have any chocolate????

Am I the only person on earth who feels as if she just can't stop pedaling, pedaling as fast as she can??? Just wondering?? I need something to calm me down, something to center me. I will trust that things will work out and my brunch will be great, that it won't rain Saturday morning and that I won't burn anything. I need to trust that I'll find time to get the house clean and that my presentation of that brunch will be ... stunning. I will not panic. Not me! Now quick, someone talk me through this. Or at least tell me I'm not the only one???

Did this post cheer you up or make you just plain tired???

Lenora :)

"My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hi, there. I’m Renee Ryan and I have a confession to make. I’m a big fan of westerns, and I mean all westerns not just romances. My two favorite movies are Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma. I’m also partial to High Noon with Gary Cooper, but who isn’t?

I’ve been fascinated with the Old West ever since I was a kid growing up in northeast Florida in the sixties, a heyday for all things western. I loved watching Gunsmoke on Sunday nights. Even better, there was this really cool theme park near my hometown called Six Gun Territory. My father took my twin sister and me there at least once a month. The park was set up like an old western town straight out of a 1960s television program. Yeehaw!

Aside from all the usual rides and yummy food, Six Gun Territory staged a mock “shoot-out” every two hours in the deserted streets. Looking back with my adult eyes, I realize those shoot-outs had to be the cheesiest shows ever staged. But to a five-year-old little girl they were pure magic. The good guy always won. Maybe I should write a song, Ode to Six Gun Territory.

Or, maybe not.

For what it’s worth, the Old West has always been good to me. My first published novel was a western romance set in 1879 Denver, Colorado. EXTREME MEASURES came out in July 2002. That was seven years ago. SEVEN years ago! I could write an entire blog about that looooong dry spell. However, I won’t.

Suffice it to say, lots of things have happened in my life since that first novel hit the shelves. Most importantly, I’ve switched from writing secular romances to inspirational romances. My second Inspirational novel for Love Inspired Historical novel, HANNAH'S BEAU, is a July release and available now at

Maybe, just maybe, you might find a few remnants of Six Gun Territory in there.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Girls' Night

One of the best things about being a romance author is romance author friends! Yup, I'm really blessed. My best friend is a romance author (Hi Cathy McDavid!) My sister-in-law is a romance author (Hi Patti Osback!). My father-in-law's girlfriend is a romance author (Hi Sandra Lagesse). Well, need I go on. A few weeks ago, I went to see the musical Girls Night with a few friends. There were four romance authors and one mom. I'm not going to tell you about the musical, but I'm going to tell you what romance authors do to musicals... we analyze them. We did this one a little different. We focused on characterization. There were four heroines and one angel.
Heroine number one: Married, a bit bipolar, prescription drug addict,
one child, a husband who loves her and she knows it.
Heroine number two: three times divorced, no children, loud and cheeky,
doesn't feel loved. She blew her big romance.
Heroine number three: Married, chubby, three children and one on the way,
doesn't feel loved but should.
Heroine number four: Married, schoolteacher, two children, klutzy, doesn't
feel loved but should.

After the show, we all tried to identify with one heroine. Of my friends, none of us picked heroine number one. None of us picked heroine number two. It was a 50/50 split. Two of us were chubby girl. Two of us were klutzy girl.

So often, when we write, our heroines are, well, somewhat us. I've written six books for Harlequin. I'm a teacher - yup, I've written a teacher. I have one son - yup, I've written a heroine with one son. I've stayed in a cabin in the middle of nowhere - yup, I have a heroine who spent much of her time in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

Okay, look at the heroines. Which one are you? And/Or, do you write about or try to find books that are, well, somewhat you?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meet Me in Magnolia, Georgia!

Missy Tippens, here. And I’m excited to announce my new Love Inspired book, His Forever Love, is on the shelves now! Here’s a little bit about it…

In Magnolia, Georgia, local legend says that a couple who holds hands around the “forever” tree will have an unending love. Even so, Bill Wellington held Lindsay Jones’s hands around that tree years ago...and then left her behind. He chose the big city, and now he wants to bring his grandmother there. But to his amazement, he finds that Granny has a boyfriend—and a vibrant life. A life that includes Lindsay, Granny’s caregiver. Bill never thought he’d want to come home, yet Magnolia clearly has its charms. As does Lindsay, who makes him long for a second chance at forever love.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit my fictional town of Magnolia, Georgia, and meet some folks I’ve gotten attached to (yes, we get to know our characters and kind of hate to see them leave when the book is over!). :)

I thought I’d share a couple of photos of beautiful magnolia trees with you. They were blooming in May when I chaperoned a group of 8th graders on a 3-day trip to Savannah, Georgia. I hope you can see the blooms. Enjoy!

And now, I'd love to hear about your town. Do you live in a small town like Magnolia? Or are you in a city?


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Reunions. There are many kinds. Class reunions. Family reunions. Unexpected reunions with friends.

I moved three times in high school, so I was invited to three different class reunions. I never went though because I had made more friends at a nearby rival school than at my own school. LOL!

I love family reunions where family convene from all over the United States to spend time together. There seems to always be that one person in a family who is like the glue that holds everyone together. That person normally plans the reunion. On my side of the family, my cousin Cheryl organized a massive family reunion last year in West Virginia. Had it not been for her hard work, I'm not sure our family would have had that wonderful, memorable time together.

I also recently had a wonderful surprise of having my best friend from childhood contact me. I've also reunited with old friends (girls...not guys! LOL) on Facebook that I'd lost contact with. Was really nice to catch up with them. So the social network sites can be a great way to keep in contact with friends.

Our family has a page/network on My Family. That is also a wonderful way to keep up with what's going on with family in other states. We share pictures and stories and someone even does a devotion. That someone is often the same Cheryl who planned the reunion. I'm so thankful for her and don't tell her near enough.

My June Love Inspired (A Soldier's Reunion) is IN STORES NOW. It is a story of reunion of high school sweet hearts. It is also a story of reunion between the heroine and God. I've received many, many letters from readers saying that they felt romanced by God through the book, or that they had been far from God and were brought near by the book. There's no higher compliment that a reader could pay than that. I'm so thankful to be able to write stories that honor Him...our God who has a heart for reunion.

I'd love to hear of your most memorable reunion. Leave a comment if you'd like. I'd love to hear from you now.

Thanks for coming by!


Cheryl Wyatt

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My summer fun

I know some of you out there are great at being a gardener. Well, I'm not for several reasons. I still remember having to help my mother in the garden as a child. Let's just say I didn't inherit her green thumb. She was great at growing things. I'm not. I didn't like gardening as a child, and I haven't changed my mind in all those years. And while we on the subject of the outdoors, I don't camp out either. My idea of roughing it is a two star hotel.

Well, anyway I decided to help my husband these past few weeks with our yard work and gardens since I'm retired now. In the two times I worked outside with him, we found two snakes and I think every mosquito in the neighborhood feasted on me. I'm now over the urge to help my husband with the garden. He's on his own.