Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seasons

Yesterday I registered my son for Champion Youth Basketball. One practice a week, one game every Saturday for the next 8 weeks. This is to give him a little boost for when the Homeschool Basketball season begins Nov. 1st.

The thing is, he was gung-ho about playing basketball this summer. Every week he went to a local gym and played with a bunch of homeschool boys, nothing really formal, just getting to know each other and starting the process of learning to play the game. Since James has never played organized sports before, we thought this might be a good way to 'get the ball rolling' if you'll forgive the pun.

This weekend we went to the informational meet and greet for the basketball players and families. We learned when his practices would be and when and where most of the games would be. (It looks like I'm going to be doing a lot of shuttle runs this year.) We learned about the cost of the program, and who the coaches were.

That enthusiasm has gone up and down, high and low, over the summer and now when he's facing his first season of competitive sports, he's a little uncertain about just what he's bitten off and whether he's up to the task.

This has put me in mind of the writing journey. It's easy to have all the enthusiasm in the world, dreaming of how things will be on the other side of the mountain. But then the hard work starts. The practicing, the skills drills, the meetings, the lessons, the defeats. Forming new friendships, getting rejected, and day after day, putting in the work.

We long ago established the family rule that if you express an interest in something and ask to sign up for it, then you have to stick to that thing for one year, so regardless of any ambivalent feelings or ups and downs of the season, James knows he's committed for one year to playing basketball. By this coming spring, he will have an entire season under his belt and may have discovered a love for the sport. Regardless, he will discover a lot of things about himself.

Sticking to the process of writing a novel is much the same. Somedays it's hard to be enthusiastic. There are lots of ups and downs. But if you do stick with it, if you put in the time and effort and actually finish a book, you will learn so much about yourself in the process.

Did you play sports in high school?

Monday, August 30, 2010

An Envelope of Happy

This last week, I received my second batch of reader response sheets from the backs of my Heartsong books, as well as some letters and cards sent to author relations at Barbour.

What encouraging remarks! The comments about how the readers were touched by my stories, how they enjoyed them, how they were eager for the next in the series, lifted me up and made me eager to write some more.

Equally happy, the only things that were mentioned about things I could improve were that one woman thought my stories had TOO MUCH tension, and a couple folks pointed out that I didn't resolve who the "Boss" was in Clara and the Cowboy. They will soon find out that the "Boss" isn't revealed in Lily and the Lawman either. Nope, they'll have to wait until Maggie and the Maverick.

Yesterday a woman gave me a gift to cherish. She said it was 'precious to know someone who writes novels.'

Picture me Grinning Real Big! That made my day! Thank you, Karen!

Have you ever written a note to an author?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is brought to you by the letter E. :)

Four things I like that start with E. & One thing I don't.

1. Esther. The story and the name. My mom's name is Esther.

2. Eagles. Just the sight of a majestic bald eagle makes me a little misty-eyed.

3. Electricity. I'm not much for roughing it. I like the convenience of electricity.

4. Elephants. I love toy elephants, cartoon elephants, Republican elephants, and real ones at the zoo.

5. Eels. Ugh, nasty looking things. And did you know that some people EAT eels??? Gross!

So, what do you like and not like that starts with the letter E?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Recipe


Earlier this week, my daughter mentioned the amazing food they are serving at college. She told me about some candied french toast with pecans. This sounded excellent! But I couldn't find a recipe for it. After searching, I found this recipe for orange pecan french toast that sounded almost as good.

Ingredients


1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/3 cup chopped pecans

12 (3/4 inch thick) slices French bread

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup 2% milk

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg whites

2 eggs

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar for dusting

Directions

1.In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, melted butter, and corn syrup. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish, and spread evenly. Sprinkle pecans over the sugar mixture. Arrange the bread slices in the bottom of the dish so they are in a snug single layer.

2.In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites, and eggs. Pour this mixture over the bread, pressing on the bread slices to help absorb the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

3.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C ). Remove the cover from the baking dish, and let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature.

4.Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

College Days

My daughter is officially a Northwestern Eagle now. Today marks her first day of classes.

I have to say, I love emails and instant messenger and cell phones even more now. We've exchanged several emails, talked on IM a couple times, and had a nice, long phone call.

When I went to college, back in the dark ages, we had this thing called paper, and we used a pen or pencil to write down words, stuck them in an envelope, licked a stamp, and sent it home to let the parents know how we're doing. And once a week or so, a quick phone call home to check in.

Why is it that we only realize what we put our own parents through when we become parents ourselves? Every step of the way on this parenting journey, I've learned first-hand what my parents went through raising and launching us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lunch with Rachel

This weekend I met my content editor, Rachel Overton, face to face.

What did I learn?

That she's every bit as great in person as she is via email. :)

Rachel's daughter Caitlin sang at our church. Wow! The music was beautiful, and Caitlin was so poised and professional. She blew us away.

We all went out to lunch and talked and talked and talked.

One of the great blessings of writing for Heartsong is the wonderful people I've met and who have befriended me along the way. My agent, editors, artwork folks, promotions and publicity folks, Heartsong readers and writers.

Thank you to Rachel for making Rochester a stop on their family vacation, and for all the editing. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Signing!


This weekend was a big one for our family. Highlights included taking our daughter to college and a book signing at my local Christian bookstore. Pictured above are some of the wonderful folks who came to the book signing.

Some stories from the signing:

The woman I blogged about Here stopped by. She made me cry with her kind words about how my stories had touched her life. She said each of her children were reading them as well. So very uplifting and encouraging!

Also, pictured above are a friend from a writing group I used to belong to, and a mother and daughter who were just wonderful too. The mom had bought my books in the bookstore earlier in the week. The bookstore staff had told her about the book signing, and she and her daughter returned to get the books signed. And she'd read them all! Extra precious was that she asked me to sign them to both her and her daughter. The little one got bookmarks for all the books and was just too adorable for words.

My church lent their support, showing up in great numbers, encouraging and buying books for themselves and to give away as gifts. One friend even brought a red rose for me. It's in a vase high up where my insane cat can't get to it.

Mary Connealy was there signing books, and she is just beyond great. I'll blog more about her later next week. :)

Another cool thing: My fifth title, Lily and the Lawman, was supposed to have arrived at the bookstore by the 21st, but it didn't make it. I had, as a last minute thing, brought my author copies-as well as author copies of my other titles, and we were able to substitute those. We sold out of several of the titles, and I had to bring in the back ups.

I got to meet the Barbour Sales Representative for the Mid-West, Paul Heath, who couldn't have been nicer. That's him in the picture above with Mary Connealy and me.

The bookstore had everything set up beautifully, and they had advertized on the radio and television and in print. Things couldn't have gone better.

I'm so very blessed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Friday Five

D is for D-Day, the day we take our daughter to college.

4 Things I like that start with D, and 1 thing I don't like. :)

1. Dear Daughter. Love that kid, so excited for her to go to college, for all the opportunities and friendships and things to learn.

2. Ducks. My nickname in my family is Ducky, and I've always liked Ducks.

3. Donuts. Bavarian creme filled chocolate coated Bismarks.

4. The Duke. Love John Wayne movies. We have a zillion of them, but Rio Bravo and El Dorado are the ones I watch the most. Then there's The Quiet Man, Hatari, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, McClintock, Big Jake...and on and on and on....

5. Dilated Pupils. I went to the eye doctor last week and had my eyes dilated. I HATE that. Good thing the daughter can drive, because I was squinting something terrible. One odd thing, with my puils dilated, my eyes were brown. I have green/brown eyes, green in the middle and brown around the outside. With my pupils dilated, you couldn't see any of the green at all. Was like looking at a stranger...with really big pupils.


What do you like and not like that starts with D?

Don't forget, if you're in the Rochester area, to stop by Christian Book and Gift tomorrow where I'll be signing books from 12-2. I'd love to see you there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Recipe

Strawberry Italian Ice

Ingredients

1 cup sugar (Or Splenda :) )


3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel

2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel

1-1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel

1/3 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries





Directions

1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and peels. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Strain and discard peels. Stir in orange, lemon, and lime juices.
 
2. In a blender container or food processor bowl combine half of the juice mixture and half of the strawberries. Cover and blend or process with several on/off turns or until nearly smooth (leave some small chunks of strawberries). Transfer to a 2-quart freezer container. Repeat with remaining juice mixture and strawberries. Cover and freeze 6 hours or overnight, stirring once after freezing for 3 hours.
 
3. To serve, scrape across frozen mixture with a large spoon and place into individual serving dishes (if mixture is too firm, let stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes). Makes 8 servings.
 
 
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Quiet Wordless Wednesday

This picture comes courtesy of my buddy Elizabeth Sorensen who recently took a trip to Washington D.C.

While there, she saw this pair of signs at one of the government buildings.

Hmmm....Fail!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rivers and Oceans

 This past weekend, my daughter said something that really struck me. Not an isolated incidence, since she's a pretty deep thinker. :)

We were lying on our stomachs on her bed looking out the window at the rain. A gully washer. A toad-strangler. Raining stair rods and pitchforks rain.

Our ditch was full and the water rushed to the culvert. The girl turned to me and said, "Rivers flow into the ocean, but the ocean is never full."

I had to stop and think about that for awhile. An obvious truth, but one I hadn't really considered before. I love it when this happens. I grab onto a new thought and turn it over in my mind like a kid with a Rubik's cube. Twist, twist, turn, turn, examine from lots of angles.

One of those twists and turns brought me to the conclusion that the river/ocean idea is so very like our relationship with God. God's mercy flows towards us, but we are never over our need for God's mercy. God's forgiveness flows towards us, into us, but we always need more forgiveness. God's love, tenderness, care, sustaining power, all of it. GOD pours Himself into us, but we are never without the need for more.

Another comforting thought is that those rivers of God's blessing and mercy never dry up, never run out, never become exhausted. They always run toward us, always replenish, wash, renew us. Always faithful, always available.

Pretty cool!

So, have your kids said anything lately that made you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is the week!

This is a HUGE week for our family.

This is the week we take the girl to college. I can't believe how quickly this has come up. Wasn't it just yesterday that she was three years old, head of golden curls, beautiful blue eyes and sweet little voice, hugging her stuffed animals and singing all the songs from Beauty and the Beast?

Also this week, epic, but not so life-changing as taking your first child to college, I'm attending a book signing at Christian Book and Gift in Rochester, MN. I'll be there with my good friend Mary Connealy, whom I LOVE and ADORE. She's so great. Such a great writer, but an even better friend, and that's saying something!

I'm also anticipating meeting my content editor, Rachel O. who will be here in Rochester this weekend. Her daughter, Caitlin, is singing at our church Sunday morning.

There's a baby shower, a trip to the orthodontist, and learning to use my new cell phone thrown in there too.

Add to that trying to polish three chapters for a proposal I'm pitching at ACFW, starting edits on the next novel, and trying not to lose sleep over getting back content edits on Before the Dawn...and I'm pretty busy. :)

At least if I'm busy, I'm not brooding about my girl going away...at least not brooding much.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Friday Five (This title's for you, Kevin)

Four things I like and one thing I Don't that start with the letter C!

1. C is for COOKIE!!!! Chocolate Chip.

2. Chocolate. Nuff Said.

3. Cat - my cat, my fluffy, noisy, loving, goofy, shedding menace of a cat.

4. Caribou Coffee - Where I do a lot of my writing these days. I love the smell, the atmosphere, the baristas, the Black Thai Tea Latte....

5. Cancer - horrible, invidious, heartless, cruel disease.


Today I'm at the eye-doctor...probably need a new prescription, and I haven't decided if I will get new frames or not. I loathe change....Hey, there's one too...I don't like Change!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Recipe

In honor of the upcoming book signing with Mary Connealy on August 21st, I'm passing along the YUMMIEST Recipe ever from Mary Connealy.

It's appropriately called Connealy Crunch, and we typically make it during the holidays, though just the other day my daughter and her friend Elizabeth were wishing they had some.

Connealy Crunch



Connealy Crunch


2 pound package white Almond Bark (melted)

Melt in microwave 1 ½ minutes. Stir. Melt 1 ½ minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose its shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if its enough. Add:

3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal

3 C. miniature marshmallows

3 C. Rice Krispies

3 C. mixed nuts

Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into bite sized pieces.





Here in the middle of a summer heatwave, do you have a favorite holiday recipe?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tangible Progress

Last Friday, I finished the first draft of my WIP, formerly titled Light to my Path, but I'm thinking the title of Give and Take fits the story better. I had something in mind when I started this novel, but the story changed into something new.




I love it when that happens, because it means the story has come alive for me, that it grew beyond the synopsis/outline into something vital. The characters had a story to tell.



I know I will have quite a bit of work to do on rewrites, clarifying this vision, but I'm looking forward to it. (Remind me I said that when I'm deep in edits and wondering if ANY of it can be salvaged.)



At the moment, I'm letting this story rest while I work on a proposal for another project that I'm really excited about.



Conference fever is hotting up. Only about 5.5 weeks.



Before that we have to get the eldest to college and I have a book signing coming up. Throw in a few baby showers, meals to new mommies, starting school with the boy, and things are busy!!!!



How about you? What are you working on, letting lie fallow, looking forward to, or otherwise keeping yourself busy with?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Introducing Elliot

I'd like to introduce you to Elliot, my new laptop. Elliot is an HP Pavilion laptop.

An HP.

I know. I have had a Dell computer for such a long time. My previous laptop (now headed to Northwestern College to get a degree in Early Childhood Education) was a Dell, and I LOVED it.

I always have mixed feelings when I get a new computer. It takes me about a week to get accustomed to the new keyboard, the new operating system, and especially to get all 'my stuff' loaded on.

Paranoid creature that I am, I backed up the old laptop files to an external hard drive, my jump drive, and I emailed copies of my novels and WIP's to myself just in case something happened while moving files.

One thing I love about this laptop is the fingerprint identification. Instead of typing in lots of user names and passwords, I can just slide my finger across the reader and Bing! I'm logged in. How very cool.

Makes me think of the 6 Million Dollar Man and the IBM commercial Steve Austin/Lee Majors did a few years ago when this technology first became available.

Nanananananananana...Did you watch the 6MDM? I was a little young to watch it, but I did enjoy the Bionic Woman a few years later.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Winner and Wildness


First, the winner of a copy of Lily and the Lawman for telling us her favorite cowboy is:

Jo-Ann

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the story.

Second, Happy Birthday to my Mom. She celebrated her birthday yesterday.


Third, If Blogger wasn't being such a pill, I could post the rest of the pictures that go with the one above. Coming home from our date Friday night, my husband and I happened up on this scene. A huge hot air balloon was spinning, rotating in the air, and coming down.

Firetrucks, police, traffic stopped everywhere. The balloon had a gap open along the side that was catching the slight breeze and making it spin, and making it unable to hold enough hot air to keep it aloft.

Controlling the balloon as best he could, the pilot navigated trees, buildings, and electrical lines, setting the basket down in the median of HWY 14. As it was coming down, we whipped into the parking lot of our bank and took pictures.

The police and sheriff's department stopped traffic, an ambulance and fire equipment stood by, and the Rochester Hot Air Balloon club members with their chase vehicle pulled up and men hopped out. They swarmed the balloon, grabbing onto the basket and trail ropes and horsed it to the ground. In a matter of a couple of minutes, they had it on its side and deflating. Crisis averted, but what a sight to see!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Today's Friday Five is a continuation of the Alphabet Game.

Four Things I Like that Start with the Letter B and One Thing I Don't.

1. Butterfinger candy bars.

2. Bubbles.

3. BOOKS!!!

4. Big Valley TV Show. (Nick Barkley is my favorite.)

5. Bugs. NOT!

So, what do you like and not like that starts with B?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thursday Recipe

It's still HOT! I'm looking for nice cool recipes to get us through teh summer.

This week is for a yummy fruit salad:

You will need:

2 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced


1 medium red apple, chopped

1 cup halved seedless red grapes

1 medium ripe mango or additional peach, peeled and sliced

1 medium firm banana, sliced

1 1/2 cups apple pie filling

Directions

1.In a large bowl, combine the fruit. Add pie filling and toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving.

 
 
Question of the Day: Coconut...yes or no?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

One Thousand!!!!

This is post number ONE THOUSAND here at On The Write Path! I'm so amazed! I never thought I would reach such a milestone.

In honor of this momentus occasion, I'm giving away signed copies of all FIVE of my novels to one commentor.

I gave each commentor from last week's 1000th post announcement a number, then put the span into random.org's calculator. The winning number belongs to....



CJ! 


Who said she loved the post about Cannibal Soup. :)





Thank you to each person who commented, and for everyone who follows the blog, encourages through comments and friendship. I hope you all feel welcome here, and that from time to time, you find something that encourages, entertains, or enlightens you on your journey.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

It doesn't get old...



This past weekend, I stopped in at my local Christian bookstore, where I will be signing books with the fabulous Mary Connealy later this month. Imagine my surprise and delight to see copies of my books, face out, on the featured titles shelves.






My husband spied this just before we left. My debut novel, The Bartered Bride, is #4 on the Fiction best-sellers for the store. (Does this mean I can call myself a best-selling author? Just kidding!)




This is a shot of the front table where they are displaying books that will be available for signing at the bookstore during the Grand ReOpening Celebration August 19-21. They are having a local author reception on August 19th, and Mary Connealy, Cheryl Ricker and I will be signing books on the 21st from 12-2. If you're in the area, please, we'd love to see you.

Here's the poster by the front door. I hope I never get over the thrill of seeing my books in bookstores.

Question, do you attend author signings? Do you like having signed copies? Do you have a signed copy you're particularly attached to? I have a signed first British edition of To The Hilt by Dick Francis that I treasure.

Monday, August 02, 2010

SQUEEE!!! - And a Giveaway

Author copies of Lily and the Lawman have arrived!

They are BEAUTIFUL!!! I'm sooo....sigh...I don't know how to express my feelings.

Ten months ago, I had no published books out. Lily and the Lawman is my fifth published novel.

God has blessed me, filled up, pressed down, and running over!

Here's an excerpt from Lily and the Lawman:

“Lily, we have to get married. It’s the right thing to do.”


Not that she was going to agree to this, but he didn’t have to look like he’d just licked a toad. “Thank you, but I decline your noble gesture.”

“I’m not asking. I’m telling. Either marry me, or you go home in the morning. I should’ve thought it through before bringing you, what you coming along would do to your reputation.”

The fires of rebellion lit in her middle. “Trace McConnell, are you deaf? I’m not marrying you. I am going to Garnett in search of my niece. I don’t need your permission, nor do I need your help. I certainly don’t need you to marry me, regardless of what you think.”

In honor of the arrival of Lily and the Lawman, I'm giving away a copy to a commentor today. Leave a comment telling me who your favorite TV or Movie cowboy is..not the actor, but the character. i.e. not John Wayne but Rooster Cogburn.

US addresses only, please.