Thursday, July 30, 2009

Home Improvement Part II

Merrillee here. The above photo is the mess in our master bathroom. And this looks better than it did ten days weeks ago when there was no tile in the shower at all.

About a month ago, Leann posted photos of her newly remodeled closet with everything neatly in its place--a joy to behold. She posted because a week earlier I had posted a photo of the new tile in our guest bathroom, which was part of a major home improvement that included new tile in all the baths and new carpet throughout the house. Would you believe that six weeks later this project is not done? Yes, my house is still in chaos and looks nothing like Leann's neat, neat closet.

While they were finishing the tile in our master bath, they discovered a leak in the shower stall. We weren't going to replace the tile in there because of the expense, but the leak made it necessary. When we got the estimate, we were right about the expense--twice as much as replacing the tile in two and half baths. But we are thankful that we caught the leak, or it could have been worse. We picked out the tile for the shower stall, then discovered that half of it was back ordered. Since the old tile had been torn out, that left the studs exposed and insulation raining down from the attic.

When our carpet finally arrived, they did install it in the two guest bedrooms, family room and living room. Since we both work from our home, we saved our office until the weekend when my husband wouldn't be working. Our office is the bonus room over the garage, and we have a lot of stuff in it. We had to break down the two computers and attached printers, etc. We had to remove files and books from the bookcases and closet. Believe me, this was a major undertaking. Putting it all back together was a whole day's project. I'm still not through sorting my stuff. I've been discarding things as I sort and taking a vow not to collect so much. We'll see how that goes. I'm a saver, not a thrower. Thankfully, my husband is a thrower, unlike my parents who were both pack rats. I guess I come by it naturally.

Because of the mess, we're waiting until the tile work is done to install the carpet in the master bedroom. After six weeks, we are getting very used to sleeping in one of the guest rooms. We are still on hold because they miscounted the number of tiles and had to order more. Of course, the tile that was supposed to be here on Tuesday or Wednesday was misrouted and wound up in Miami. Murphy's law strikes again.

Maybe by the next time I post, this project will be done. Have you ever had a project or event that didn't go quite as planned? Tell us about it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back from my first conference

Barbara Phinney here.

I've never seen so many women in one place. 2,000, maybe more, all loving romance, all wanting to advance their careers, and advance on the buffet.

I loved it. It was wonderful to meet my Love Inspired sister authors. We were able to talk about such things as our line, and where it's going, but also the Love Inspired Suspense series coming out in January. I really needed to see that these women faced the same challenges I faced with it. Well, maybe not as much as a scatter-brain like me, but you get the drift.

My main complaint was all the desserts I had to eat. (Well, I had to eat them! My parents taught me to clean my plate. And the dessert sitting next to me at the empty seat, too, but that's a moot point!)

I'm not used to such rich food. By Saturday, I had a wee bit of the old heartburn, not to mention ankles swelling like sausages in a pan of water. But I needed to soldier on, to show those conference veterans that I can schmooze and confer with the best of them. I'm proud to say I did just that.

I also discovered that I have a generic face. I look like someone they all have seen before. I got that plenty of times throughout the week, although it was my first conference. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe they'll remember Love Inspired a bit more.

I've returned to not only my son cleaning his room, and hubby making the bed so tight, you could bounce a quarter off it, but also to be told my next suspense story will be coming out in June 2010, a month after my contribution to the new continuity series due out next year.

Good news all round. And I'm glad you stopped by one this lazy summer day to visit. Please leave a comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Storms and other woes

Hi, it's Lenora. (The picture shown here is of some of the Steeple Hill writers and our editors at RWA in Washington DC! We sure had fun.) I'm late blogging today because we had strong storms in the area and my Internet wasn't happy. Tried all morning to connect to no avail. But I'm here now and wondering why I've had such a time this month with blogging. Maybe the good Lord wants me to be to "Be still and Know that I am God." Sometimes we get in such a rush to take care of business, we forget to take care of ourselves, don't you think?

While I was traveling I missed one blog because I couldn't get service on a mountain top. Then I posted to another blog on the wrong day, even though I had it written on my calendar. This kind of mix-up upsets me because if I tell someone I will be there, then I'm there. Unless of course the creek does rise! (Which it sure did this morning here in Louisiana.) But my brain cells are a lot like the internet. They don't want to function properly these days. So today, since I finished a very crazy deadline and since I couldn't get online, I actually rested and read. Yes, rested. My bad back thanked me for that by calming down a bit. I fell asleep and woke up to find the Internet back and my brain cells rested. I guess the Lord has a way of making us slow down--the rain was nice even if it did cause havoc on the streets and with the power. But we all know the true power is in God's capable hands. Whenever we have too much on our plate, He does tell us to be still and listen and know He is
there. And really, His approval is the only approval we need. So I hope if you read this, you too will stop and take a rest. Not being able to deliver on a promise or an obligation is truly frustrating. But listening to God's gentle reminders can help us to see things in a different perspective. Oh a good note, my August release "Gift of Wonder" is out in the stores! This Love Inspired book is all about slowing down and finding God's grace. And it's set right here in Louisiana where things move a bit slower anyway. I hope some of you will find a few quiet hours to read it!

Now, I'm starving. Off to find a mid-day snack.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Real or nostalgic in your small towns?

This is Janet Tronstad here. You may know me from my Dry Creek series set in a fictious small town in Montana. I have debated with myself countless times over whether or not to update this fictious town and give it a harder edge.

That's why I was so pleased at the RWA conference in Washington DC to hear Janet Evanovich say her Stephanie Plum series was based on the New Jersey burg she had known growing up and not the community as it is today. I love the Stephanie Plum series where she runs into people she went to high school with and neighbors and all -- apparently, that is no longer 'real' for that location though. I'd love to know how others feel about settings that are more nostalgic than real. How do you like your small towns?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Washington DC

I just returned from a week in our country's capital.

I was there for the annual Romance Writers of America conference where I met with my editor and other fellow Love Inspired authors as well as many romance writers from the newest newbie to the seasoned pro. One of the highlights of every summer.

While in DC I went to two Smithsonian museums. The National American History museum and the National Gallery of Art.

The highlight of the American History museum was the First Ladies exhibition. Seeing the beautiful gowns, trinkets, silverware and invitations that commemorate the first ladies of our country was wonderful. I enjoyed reading the history behind each piece and seeing something that was more than a made up repleica. These were the actual items donated by the first ladies or their families.

The highlight of the Gallery of Art was the Monet's and Renior's. I could have stayed all day just staring at the paintings.

Now I'm home and back to reality. Must sit bottom in chair and fingers on keyboard. Have many projects due. Soon. Yikes!

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Our Characters Would Do?

Pamela Tracy here and I've been giggling about a thought for awhile now. See, last week while I was researching (what jurisdiction one county sheriff would have in a county besides his own) I stumbled upon a website that made me giggle. It was called Celebrity Tippers: Who does? Who doesn't? (I'm pretty sure I had the word tip in my keyword Google search)

The site highlighted the SAINTS: Gov. Lamar Alexander, Marcus Allen, Tim Allen, Andre Agassi, Patricia Arquette, Back Street Boys (As you can see, good tippers A - Z)

And the SCUM: Kathleen Battle, Derrick Brooks (pro football player), Senator Bryant , Jimmy Buffett (No bad tipper people with last name ending in A, how odd).
As I perused the list, I remember thinking "Oh, I wish back when I was a waitress, I'd waited on Johnny Depp (Who is apparently a good tipper) and I remembering being surprised, "What, Jimmy Buffett doesn't know how to tip! (Okay, here's the truth. I think the list is probably skewed. Every diner has a bad day! And, really, sometimes the tip reflects the service.) The end of the list had the stories, (supplied by the waiters and waitresses) which I will someday use for research for a waiter or waitress main character.
In the meantime, I started thinking... Who would be a good tipper from the LI stories? Who would I like to wait on. Here's what I came up with.

At the LI restaurant, the good tipper would be Dr. Devon Knightly from Camy Tang's LIS Deadly Intent.

At the LI restaurant, the customer most in need of a free dessert would be Garrett Bowen from Patricia Davids LIS Speed Trap.

At the LI restaurant, the person I most want cooking in the kitchen would be Dinah Hopkin's from Allie Pleiter's LI Bluegrass Blessings.

So, from the books you've read, can you add to the LI restaurant's list of needs and doers?

Pamela Tracy's next LIS Fugitive Family features Greg Bond (who is too busy running from the law to be worried about good tipping
or not
) and Lisa Jacoby (who not only would be a great tipper, but who would not leave a mess on the table and would invite the server to church!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Exercise Infomercials

My name is Renee Ryan and I am an infomercial junkie. There, I said it. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not hooked on all infomercials. That would just be silly. I’m only a sucker for the exercise infomercials. And I have a large collection of equipment and DVDs to prove it. I even use most of the programs and equipment that I purchase. No, really. I do.

I consider Billy Blanks a personal friend. I know the girls from the Firm by their first names. I’ve trained with famous faces from Dancing with the Stars. I own every size dumbbell, mat and band imaginable. I have three sets of steps for step-aerobics. Best of all, I own the cute outfits that go along with all of the above.

Okay, so not all of my purchases have resulted in weight-loss success. In fact, many of the so-called claims to instant skinniness were downright lies. So after years of hits and misses, I consider myself an expert on what will and what won’t work. In other words, I’m jaded.

Which is why I got the shock of my life with my most recent purchase. There I was, channel surfacing on Saturday morning when I came across Mitch Gaylord and his glorious, gold-medal, Olympic-gymnast self. The man hasn’t aged since he earned that perfect ten all those years ago. He claimed his great physique was due to his revolutionary new fitness workout: Gold Medal Fitness. For the low cost of three easy payments of nineteen dollars each (or something like that) I could get into Gold Medal shape as well.

Right, heard that before.

But wait, there was more (you knew that was coming). As the half hour continued to tick away, Mitch slashed the price down to a mere fourteen dollars plus shipping. If I called right then, I could be a member of his elite GMF team.

I was skeptical, but I signed up anyway. Two weeks later, the package arrived. Still feeling more than a little cynical, I unwrapped the G-ball (GMFs secret weapon) and got straight to work. Here’s when the shock came. I made it through ten minutes before I was sucking air like an out-of-shape eighty-year-old woman who’d spent her life eating bon-bons. And I was doing the bronze-medal variations. Long story short, I will not be defeated by a fitness program. I plan to keep at it until I am in Gold-medal shape! Or pass-out trying. Thanks, Mitch. I owe you for actually creating an exercise regime that brought this skeptic to her knees (literally).

What about you? Anyone have an exercises testimonial you want to share?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On vacation

As this blog posts, I will be in Washington D. C. doing a little sight seeing before the RWA national conference gets underway. I've been to Washington once, many years ago and I had the worst chest cold so I didn't see much of the city. Since I'm going with two fellow authors, I think we'll have a great time. Don't you love vacations. I'm frantically cleaning house. My husband is watching me suspiciously. I never clean house. But somehow, before you leave on a trip, you just have to do it. Why is that?
My favorite vacation was a cruise to Alaska that I took several years ago. Once, in an interview, I was asked what was the one place I wanted to see before I died? I said, I've been to Alaska and ridden in a dogsled, so I'm good.
What was your favorite vacation and why?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Allie Pleiter here, with my first blog for It’s exciting to be here!

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about how life imitates art and vice versa. Or, as my friend likes to put it, “you write the book you need to read.” God has a good time with me on that one, especially with my latest Bluegrass Blessings.

Did I somehow know I’d be confined to orthotic shoes this year, and therefore write Dinah Hopkins and her 30-odd pair of flip flops as my heroine? Did I know my daughter would focus her professional interests to baking and pastry, and therefore write a baker heroine? Dinah’s role as Middleburg’s baker was set long before my daughter began watching Ace of Cakes, so how could that be?

When God first led to me Midway, KY as I was looking for an inspiration on a setting for my series, did He know there’d be five books when I’d only envisioned three? Did He know those secondary characters were longing for stories of their own when I wrote them into the background of what I thought were main characters? Did I become so fond of Kentucky by writing the books, or did writing the books make me so fond of Kentucky?

I think God’s showing me how far and wide He sees. How His view expands beyond time, visibility, and my meager concept of what “ought to be.” I always seem to write characters who teach me things, even when I think I’m in control. It’s one of the great blessings of this work for me. I hope it’s one of the great blessings for you as readers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Questions from Readers

I had the nicest email from a girl (about 12 years old) who is reading my book. And I think she's a budding author, because she had the best questions for me. Things like: How do you come up with your characters? How do you think of your story ideas? Do you ever get writer's block? What was your favorite book to write and why? Do you ever get nervous to see how your book will turn out? What made you want to write and why?
So I thought I'd share some of my answers to her, in case anyone else is curious or thinking of writing.
What was your favorite book to write and why? I love each of them and wouldn't be able to pick one! To me, there's something special about each one.
Do you ever get writer's block? I don't get true writers block to where I can't write at all. But I do have trouble thinking of ideas sometimes. It helps if I get away from the computer and spend some time thinking.
Do you ever get nervous to see how a book you just wrote will turn out? I do get nervous! The last one I worked on was very difficult to write. And I worried that it wouldn't be as good as the others. But the editor helped me make it better so that I really like the way it turned out! :)
How do you come up with ideas for your stories? I write down ideas all the time and keep them in a file on my computer. I get ideas from TV shows, the newspaper, and watching people out in public.
I love to hear from readers, so if you ever have any questions or comments for me, please contact me through my website, or by email missytippens [at]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Traveling Abroad by Marta Perry

Hi, Friends,

By the time you read this post, I'll actually be somewhere over the Atlantic, on the way back from two weeks in Norway. So I'm writing it before I leave, anticipating a delightful time.

My husband and I are going with our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren to visit with our son-in-law's family in Holmestrand, Norway, for two weeks. We've been there before and simply love it, but it's especially nice to travel with the family. Bjoern, 9, and Greta, 7, are shown here with me on a train trip. They're really old enough to appreciate what they're seeing this time, although they will probably enjoy playing with their five Norwegian cousins more than sightseeing! We been able to get to know them well through our visits back and forth, so it's a real joy to be getting together again.
We'll be doing some traveling around, visiting the family's summer cottage on an island in the fjord. I know from past experience that the hearty Norwegians will all take a dip in the icy fjord water, while we wimpy Americans will sit on a rock and watch!
We're also taking a short side trip to Sweden to visit my husband's second or third cousins. (Or second cousins once removed; I'm never sure how that works.) We haven't seen them since a trip we made twenty years ago, so the kids who were teenagers then are married with families of their own now.
So, thank you for indulging me in reminiscing about a trip I'm leaving on tomorrow! Next time around, I'll have some photos from Norway to share. I hope you have something planned for this summer that brings you joy.
Marta Perry

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Making of a Hero

Ramona here, and I had the most amazing 4th of July this year. I took my daughter, who loves fireworks, to Franklin, Kentucky, to watch their celebration on Friday. Then, on Saturday, I found myself in a position to watch a lot of the Nashville fireworks in the midst of a raging thunderstorm. I’d picked up the simulcast of the symphony, and I assure you there are few spectacles that can rival Sousa blended with lightning and skyrockets.

Yet the most memorable moment of the weekend came on Sunday morning. After our service of patriotic music and inspiring sermon, the invitational hymn brought forth not a new believer but an old one.

Dick Bradley has been our “amen corner” for as long as I can remember. His faith is unwavering, and he and his wife, Lady, have guided at least three generations of the church’s kids through superior example and wise advice. You may not always agree with Dick, but no one doubts his passion for his family or his faith.

Or his country.

Sunday, Dick got up and simply repeated three names:

Jack Williams
Ed Nelson
Howard Sweeney

He then explained that in August 1942, the four of them had been just four young men from Donelson, Tennessee. Friends, who forever bonded during the six months that followed the first landings of what became one of the most pivotal battles of World War II.


Dick is now the sole survivor of the four. Ed is buried on Guadalcanal. Dick simply wanted to remind us of that which lies behind the fireworks and patriotic music.

Over the past week, I’ve been holding a contest on my blog to “cast” the hero of my next book. As writers, we deal in the business of heroes. But, to tell the truth, no matter how impressive our fictional heroes, no matter what feats they achieve or triumphs they have, they never really measure up to the real thing.

So here’s my love and thanks to the real heroes among us.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meeting friends this Indpendence Weekend...

A big shout out from me, Lisa Mondello, to wish you all a Happy Independence Day weekend. Okay, it's Monday and most of you celebrated your holiday on Saturday. But this year me and my family made it a weekend affair.

We started out going to one of our favorite spots to visit with the family, Bigelow Hollow State Park. There's a great pond there, barbeque pits and great swimming and rafting. A few families met there and we had a great time taking turns exploring the lake on the raft, cooking and just having great conversation. My beagle, Nike, even sat in my lap and enjoyed a good trek around the lake with me and my husband. The next night we went for ice cream with my kids and a few other friends and watched the fireworks.

The weekend wasn't all fun though. I'm still working on the final read through of my December 12/09 release for Love Inspired Suspense, Yuletide Protector. I've seen the cover and I have to say it is beautiful! As soon as I can post it, I will.

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend filled with happiness with friends and family. Many blessings to you, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Fear Factor

BHP, Vitamin D,

Swine flu, sunlight, salt,

The disease of the week, It’s making me weak,

This nervous breakdown’s not my fault

Crazy mad cow, Asian flu


Killer bees and Lymes disease

And trans fat in our ice cream.

The markets are down, Unemployment is up

And General Motors is broke,

Housing has tanked and savings are lost

It’s enough to make me smoke.

If you’re like me and you’re sick of fear

And the news just makes you tired

I’ve got just the thing, to make you relax

And it goes by Love Inspired.

The people are real, their problems are too,

But they trust in God’s providing,

And when it’s over, and the last page is turned

You’ll know it’s a happy ending.

Now you know why I stick to fiction and have stayed away from poetry. However, I feel the sentiments of the poem are real. We live on a continent that gives us tremendous freedom and the best lifestyle of anyone on earth and we are constantly looking over our shoulder to see what is going to come and take all this away from us. And I’m a bit tired of the fear that newspapers seem to gleefully generate.

Yesterday we celebrated Canada Day, on Saturday Americans will celebrate Fourth of July. Both holidays remind us of what we are blessed with. I pray that we can learn to see the good things we have instead of being so afraid of what we are going to read next in the newspapers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Second Chance Family

My fourth book in the Fostered by Love series is out in July (on the shelves now) called Second Chance Family. It is Whitney Maxwell's story (Noah Maxwell's sister from book three). Below I have an interview with Whitney who meets Dr. Shane McCoy in the book. Dr. McCoy works with troubled children and has often worked with children at Stone's Refuge. Both Whitney and Shane are wounded souls who are trying to deal with their pasts. When Shane's son, Jason, who has autism, brings these two people together, their world changes. Will they have a second chance at love? Will Whitney get the family she's always yearned for?

Interview with the heroine from Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley:

1. Whitney Maxwell, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

Since my brother, Noah, found me in Dallas last year, I have hope that I can make my life count for something. I’m studying to be a teacher and have discovered how much I love working with children.

2. What do you do for fun?

I love to ride horses. I go out to Stone’s Refuge to ride with the foster care children there.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Cleaning my apartment—you clean and not a couple of days later it is dirty again.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Last year I would have said nothing. Now I’m beginning to think never having something like Noah and Cara do. Seeing how much my brother and sister-in-law love each other makes me wish I could have that—but I don’t see that really in my life.

5. What do you want out of life?

To help others—especially children in need. I’ve been there. I don’t want others to go through what I did as a child.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

Being needed, accepted totally no matter what I’ve done.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

Right now I’m reading a lot of textbooks because I’m going to school to become a teacher.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My past—it’s something I’m not proud of. I made some bad choices. I was angry and didn’t have much hope my situation would change.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

Callie, a cat. She is a great listener.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

To when I was a child. I wish I could do over my life with what I know now.