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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Interview with Leslie Ann Sartor

Exciting news! I will be interviewing Leslie Ann Sartor contracted, award-winning screenwriter on the Seekerville blog on Friday, January 2! You won't want to miss the exciting information Leslie has to share on screenwriting. The Seekers are always gracious hosts with food and fun abounding. Come and kick off the New Year in style : )

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Averting Disaster

Have you ever had one of those days?

My son and I shared one of those days recently. He wanted to play an Internet game with some of his friends, so of course, being the wonderful mom that I am : ), agreed to let him bring his computer up to my office, disconnect the Internet from my computer and power his up.

Piece of cake, Mom. Nothing to worry about.

I believed him. He had a great time that night and in the morning, I reminded him to hook my computer back up. Switching cords back and forth, he pushed his computer away and turned mine on.

Nothing.

Wait Mom, Beeper said this was easy.

Beeper? How in the world can anyone rely on advice from someone named Beeper? Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I turned my mind to laundry and dishes, in hopes that good, honest work would somehow right my world.

Um, Mom? Now before you get mad. . .

Mad? Sick to my stomach was more like it. Three years of stuff lived on the hard drive of that computer. I followed him into my office where he'd reconnected his computer and called up the HP troubleshooting center. He read off the instructions, I watched for the appropriate light to blink. Ooookay, let's try the next fix.

And the next one.

And the next one.

An hour later, we pronounced my old faithful, workhorse of a computer dead.

My son felt sooooo bad about the situation. I, oddly enough, wasn't that upset. You see, about 3 weeks earlier, I had one of those feelings to check the update on my external drive. Hmm, only my files were backed up, not the entire drive. So reset the commands and at precisely noon each day, my entire hard drive was backed up to my external drive.

BTW, I don't write on the computer with the Internet. I write on my little laptop across the room. No Internet, no Mahjong, no Solitaire.

No Disractions. Only books.

This computer melt down was a fluke. My son had pulled the wrong cord at the wrong time. All I lost was my Favorite list on the Internet : )

And, all's well that ends well. I have confiscated his computer until I receive one from a friend of mine who has an extra (God does provide, LOL). My husband is going to route the Internet downstairs so the kids can have that computer to piddle around with all they want.

And I get sole custody of my office.

2009 is looking mighty bright to me : )

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all on the most blessed day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Connealy Crunch Candy

This is a fantastic recipe that's easy to make and requires few ingredients. Fast, fun and tasty, you'll love it!

2 lbs. Almond Bark (melted)

Melt in the microwave 1-1/2 minutes. Stir. Melt 1-1/2 minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn't lose it's shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if it is 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.
Enjoy!!

Holiday Eating Tips

A reader on About.com sent these holiday eating tips, and they appear on other various Internet sites. The best guess is that some variation of this was originally written by Craig Wilson, a columnist for USA Today. For more fun from Craig, see his Final Word Archive.

  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.


  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!


  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.


  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.


  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?


  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.


  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.


  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?


  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.


  10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Reread tips, then start over. But hurry: January is just around the corner.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome, Carol Steward!

Welcome, Carol, and thanks for telling us all about your current series for Love Inspired Suspense. Carol lives in Colorado, keeps a full time job, and writes terrific romantic suspense. Her latest book, Shield of Refuge is a November 2008 release and available through book stores. If you are unable to find Shield of Refuge, or any of her other books, please check with your favorite online store!!



IN THE LINE OF FIRE is a series about three siblings working in different areas of the justice system who find love while struggling to keep peace in their communities and in their family. Drugs, assault, and corruption are all part of the Matthews family’s daily battles. Someone is terrorizing Northern Colorado communities throughout the series; assaulting, kidnaping, and killing female victims and threatening even the heroes’ and heroines’ safety. Will the forces against the Matthews siblings break through their armor of faith (Ephesians 6: 10-17), or will they overcome the enemy, allowing God’s light to shine?


Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

That's a tough question! Intentionally, I don't write anything of myself, but I do write what I know, so that means a lot more of what I believe and respect filter into my writing. Such as my love of God, family and a few of my hobbies and interests. I guess it's impossible to say I don't write myself into my characters, isn't it? As far as the characters personality, that isn't me. I am not nearly as witty and positive in real life. :0(

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. I wish I'd learned to set daily goals earlier in my career.
2. Had more faith in my writing.
3. Found a better way to balance family time and writing time. I always wrote late at night and into the morning when my three children were young. It worked well then, but now that they're grown and gone, I have a tougher time staying up that late.

What should a new writer know about the publishing business.

Publishing and writing has a lot of highs and lows. Just because one story doesn't work doesn't mean you shouldn't work on the next book. I think that's one thing I've seen pay off the most with this group. Perseverance is critical. It's important to not take anything for granted and always keep writing.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I guess that depends on who you ask. My sisters think writing is pretty quirky. My children think I'm pretty quirky all the time, but especially when my husband and I go crazy and have a "trading spaces" weekend and redecorate a room in our house. We love bringing something back to it's original beauty or transforming and bringing new life to an old space.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

When I was writing my first book, I asked God to take away the desire to write. He clearly said, "No, keep writing." I never dreamed that I would sell so quickly when I said "Okay, show me the way, Lord." Suddenly, I found writers groups and critique groups, and conferences. It wasn't easy to let go of my lucrative cake business for something I had not even gone public with yet. Not only am I thankful that God showed me the way in writing, but how to let Him guide me in life and with my family. It gets pretty chaotic at times, and I could not do it alone.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Letting go of the need to revise constantly. With the first book, I was just learning, and I had time to revise, and revise, and revise. Once it sold, and I was selling on partials and trying to finish a book in 6 months or less, that was no longer an option. I had to keep moving through the book and learn to edit differently, after the story is told. It was really tough to do this with my last contract because I was working full time and writing four books, with 5 months per book and no time to regroup in between. I had several hurdles to jump with them, but figuring out where the story had to go and quickly letting go of things that didn't work was all I could do. I know that they could have been better books if I'd had more time, but I also suspect I would have wasted a lot more time second-guessing myself, too. I think the writing process is full of these kind of hurdles – and what's worse, is just when I learn to handle one challenge, another challenge comes up. I've learned how it's not only important to keep trying different techniques and styles, but that my writing can even get better through the challenges. I'm not afraid to let go when something doesn't work. Sometimes I think writers need to just write the full story, then go back and layer in the character development, the red herrings, and analyze how to improve the story. A lot of times, if you stop spinning your wheels on one scene, a scene or two later you will probably figure out what went wrong in the problem scene. But again, don't stop and let the wheels spin again in the new place, take notes and keep moving.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I loved writing about Amber Scott and Garrett Matthews, and all of the characters in the In the Line of Fire series, actually. Amber had a lot of self-appointed expectations for herself and like Garrett, had a strong determination to succeed, no matter the cost. They're a lot like each of us, we don't know how much we can do until we run into a roadblock. It's then we find out how deep our faith really is.

What themes exist in Shield of Refuge that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I try to work with themes, but it's hard for me to start with one in mind. Even when I do, it often changes. I let that develop as the story does, but for "Shield" I think forgiveness. It's so easy for bitterness and resentment to poison our lives. Both Amber and Garrett wear a shield to keep distractions away. Neither one wants to jeopardize their goals. It was that much more rewarding when they were able to let God take over the job of shielding them and guiding them toward one another.

I've found that each book has taught me something as I wrote it. What did you take away from writing this book?

Like He did Amber & Garrett as life hit them in the gut I was reminded that God can sustain me through everything life throws at me. And like them, I don't learn much about myself, or life, or faith when life is going smoothly. The more I need to rely on God, the more I'm learning, about myself and God's plan for my life.


How do you balance family life with writing?

I don't. I'm compulsive with everything. I work long hours. I developed terrible sleep habits as a teen, and have always worked more than one job, no matter what it might be. It's catching up with me now and I'm trying to learn how to reprioritize to take better care of myself.

I sold this series when my house was empty. My kids were all living out of town. I have a day job that I really love. I was going to fill the quiet evenings with writing again. By the time it sold, one family had moved to from Arizona back to Colorado. Then both of my sons and their families moved back into town. One moved in with us for the remainder of my deadline. My granddaughter was 1 ½ when they moved in with us, and when I finished my last book, she looked at me after dinner and told me to go to the basement (where my office is.) I've found how absolutely inspiring it is to have children around and how much I took that for granted. It was a huge blessing to have them close enough that I could share even the few minutes a day that I had with her. They've moved back to Phoenix because of the economy, and I miss them terribly, and realize how precious the time we had together was. Now I have a little more time to spend with my two grandsons and treasure quality time with them. That is, until the next book series consumes me…

I don't recommend my "balance" with others aspiring to write. Learn to say no to what isn't important in your daily life. Let go of what you can give up, and let God help you focus on what He has planned. I cook huge meals and eat leftovers, multitask too much, and put off the housework until company is coming.

What are a couple of your all-time favorite books?

That's an impossible question to answer! Absolutely impossible.

Do you have a day job, too?

I work at the University of Northern Colorado Graduate School with masters and doctoral students as they finish up their theses and dissertations. I love helping others reach their goals and see that gleam in their eye when they finish it. And I think having someone who struggles with deadlines helps us make a great team to get to the end of their degree.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite has to be telling stories that encourage the readers, that may help them forget their problems for a while and take a little while to relax and laugh a little.

My least favorite part is that there's just not enough hours in my day to get it all done. When an idea hits, I'm usually in the middle of something else that I can't put off.


Plot, seat of pants or combination?
I'm mostly a plotter. I do a lot of planning at the beginning, but then the story takes over and it ends up a little different than I planned.

Key advice for other writers?

Be grateful for each day and enjoy it fully. Life is just too short to spend so much time doing something you don't love.


Thank you Carol for your time and insight!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Writing kids into our manuscripts

Take a peek over at Seekerville for Ruth Logan Herne's opinion on writing children into your manuscript. She has a wonderful, earthy way about telling writers that if you don't know kids, don't write them.

And if that's not enough Ruthy for you, visit Hearthside Kennels where you'll see the most adorable puppies in the world. Get a Golden Doodle while they last : )

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Maybe January 31st, 2009

As Martin Luther King once said, "I have a dream. . ."

Or rather in the words of Audra Harders, "I had a dream."

My original goal was to complete the rough draft of my current wip by Dec 31st. Well, progress is going well, just not quickly.

People write in different ways and at different paces. I thought I could whip out a rough draft in a month and then work on the details. The problem is my new approach of getting into my character's head is at strong odds with spit-it-out-and-clean-up-later.

I've been spending quite a bit of time in Diana's and Gabe's heads lately. They're really quite complex people. Each evening as I sit down to write, I think about just getting from point A to point B, but find that all the good stuff inbetween can't be glossed over.

And there you have it. You can send an old dog to school, but you can't make them rough-draft like they'd like to : )

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas 2008


The Twelve Days of Christmas

Prices of items in the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," according to PNC Wealth Management:
http://climate.weather.com/articles/slideshows/12xmas2008.html?page=1&scheme=image-horiz-plain.css


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
1 Partridge = $ 20 ($15 last year)
1 Pear Tree = $ 200 ($150 last year)

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
2 Turtle Doves = $ 55 ($40 last year)

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
3 French Hens = $ 30 ($45 last year)

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
4 Calling birds = $ 60 ($60 last year)

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
5 Golden Rings = $ 350 ($395 last year)

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
6 Geese A-Laying = $ 240 ($360 last year)

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
7 Swans A-Swimming = $ 5,600 ($4,200 last year)

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
8 Maids A-Milking = $ 52 ($47 last year)

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
9 Ladies Dancing = $ 4,759 ($4,759 last year)

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
10 Lords A-Leaping = $ 4,414 ($4,285 last year)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
11 Pipers Piping = $ 2,285 ($2,398 last year)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
12 Drummers Drumming = $ 2,475 ($2,398 last year)

Total cost of 12 Days of Christmas in 2008 -- $86,609
(Up 10.9% from last year’s cost of -- $78,100)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holiday Cheer



Happy Holidays, woo-woo. . .





I love the Christmas holidays. All the food, joy, decorations, food, snow (Colorado), family,. . . hey, did I mention food?? Although an avid non-cooker, baker, candy-stick maker myself, I have lots of talented friends that feed my holiday weakness.


Yes, there is Weight Watchers after Christmas sale -- I've put a membership on my list, LOL!

Okay, back to this season of joy specifically. So many families have been touched by the uncertain economics of our day. Our family is right up there with them. It hurts my heart when I can't send my daughter in college more little surprise gift cards for all her favorite haunts, or offer to fill up my son's gas tank when I see the needle is pointing south. A humble heart gives God the best kind of clay to work with.

The only ones not suffering in the household are KD and Hank, that's only because with the colder weather, they have to spend more time inside. If I want the interior of my house to survive before the holidays, there better be lots of chew bones around to keep them happy : )


But this season of less is actually offering my family more. My husband never asks for anything for Christmas which makes him the most difficult to buy for. This year he is cooperating and his list contains things my kids are happy to search for in the Walmart scratch and dent section -- and both will still give dad the obligatory shotgun shells to tide him over goose season.

Both kids have dutifully turned in Christmas lists containing items even the most moth ridden piggy bank and afford.

Me? Did I mention my love for the holiday food?????? Kids can bake and hubby can cook with the skill of a bachelor : )

The holidays will be relaxed for us. Popcorn and movies, apple cider and board games. I'm looking forward to it. Family, friends and food. Can't get any better than that.

May God bless you richly this holiday season. Take time to listen and hear the angels sing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

From Our Pets' Perspective. . .

I know this has been posted tons of times, but I still think it's a hoot! Sorry I don't know how to give credit where credit is due, I'm certainly not the creator. So, whoever originally thought this up, thanks for the laughs!!





From a Dog's Diary ...






8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!





From a Cat's
Diary...






Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am.

Losers.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.

For now.............

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Different Christmas Poem

This holiday season, may we remember all the blessings in our lives and pray for those who can't spend these precious days with their own family and friends.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep. In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow. My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear, "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here! Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!" For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me. My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December," Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers." My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ', And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile. Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red, white, and blue... an American flag. I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat. I can carry the weight of killing another, Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.. Who stand at the front against any and all, To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright, Your family is waiting and I'll be all right." "But isn't there something I can do, at the least, "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast? It seems all too little for all that you've done, For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us, and never forget. To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone, To stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, To know you remember we fought and we bled. Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC,
USN 30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC,
Logistics Cell One Al Taqqadum,
Iraq