Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank You

First of all I wanted to let you all know we finally got in with the cardiologist. Little One has some extra beats and a murmur. She wore a halter for 24 hours and did such a good job through the whole process, she was such a trooper. We don't have the results back, but the doctor really felt all would be fine and we'd just monitor her yearly. The doctor and his team were wonderful and I felt all your prayers as the appointment went smoothly for us all. I just want to thank you for being with us through this, your prayers are powerful!

Next I'd like to wish each of you a very blessed holiday season. I can't wait to catch up on everyone's blogs during the holidays. Thank you for being my blogging friends, you are true blessings.

I'd like to share this from Soph....

It's hard to read but the scripture is Luke 2:11-14.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This last week has been entirely too crazy. The weather has gone from ice, to snow, to sun, to hurricane strength gusts of wind. We've lost water, telephone lines, DSL, and some patience along the way. WB has had crisis at work, I've had crisis under the wrapping paper, and my children are anxious for Christmas. When we go out to do anything people are acting just a little insane. You take your life in your hands when you enter the Walmart parking lot for instance. Then there is always the bell ringer and me digging in my purse for change as my toddler tries to run through the open doors with her older sisters rolling their eyes at all the chaos.

But I just finished cleaning my kitchen, which is now ready for the next round of candy making. I've settled Little One down at the table behind me for a paint craft and my older children are upstairs playing quietly. So I realized I've been away from my blog for a week! I hate when that happens, but life goes on. So here I sit happy to have a chance to write, relax and catch up with my blogging friends.

I just turned around and this is what I found:

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to get the paint out."
(she did have a painting apron on, but I guess she didn't need that)

"Hmm, I think you did."

Please tell me I'm not the only one overwhelmed by the goings on during the holiday season! Or if you're not share your secrets!!

Off to clean again:)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Author Fundraising Fun

Okay, if I an ever a best selling author I want to do a fund raiser like this. Susan Albert, author of three different mystery series, is hosting a raffle. This raffle is unique because if you win you actually win a spot in one of her books. Yep, you get to be a character in one of her novels. She'll work with you on developing your character and put it into one of her books! This raffle just happens to be a fundraiser for the Story Circle Conference I mentioned earlier in one of my posts. They have a scholarship fund for women who would like to attend, but because of financial difficulties need some help. A worthy cause in my book.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know so you could buy yourself or a loved one some tickets. Also, I'm filing away all these great ideas just in case someday my career as a writer puts me in a position to help others. Isn't it amazing how many different ways we can touch people with our writing. What a great gift to be given!
I'd love to hear of some other ways authors donate their talent to good causes, do you know of any, or have any ideas for what you might do to help share your gift?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weathering The Storms

There is never a boring moment in my West Texas skies. Take, for instance, this cloud formation that occurred this summer.

Yes folks we have rotation. It was such an amazing sight to see, to watch from a distance and not be afraid. All because I have a clear view of what may be coming.

I can just watch from my front porch and marvel at the force of nature. I like when I can see treacherous weather coming from a distance. I can face it head on. Prepare myself. Unlike the ones that sneak up on you on the darkest of nights. Or those that come hidden in a cloak of forceful wind, rain and hail.

Another good thing about these storms is that not just I can see them coming, but everyone else can too. So even if you neglected to see the gigantic twirling cloud forming right outside, your neighbor hasn't. And being the good neighbor she is, she'll give you a call to make sure you are aware of the potentially dangerous storm lurking in the distance. She'll also volunteer to bring some extra chairs to your storm shelter, so you can ride it out together if need be.
So tell me, how do you weather your writing storms and is there someone there to ride it out with you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Counting Blessings

This week I'd like to share some of the things I am thankful for in honor of Thanksgiving. This was an article I wrote that appeared in the family column that I write for our community newspaper. The explosion I refer to is the one I posted about.

Counting Blessings

In light of all the recent events in our community, as well as those that fill the news each night, I’m feeling very blessed and thankful this holiday season. I know there is plenty out there I could focus on and not feel much gratitude towards, but I’m determined to count my blessings instead. I’m determined not just for myself, but for the sake of my children.

My kids have seen the terrible damage the explosion did to our community. They go to bed at night and question me about what happened and why. They see snippets of the news and realize a man wearing a uniform has killed his comrades, and all in a place where they should be safe. They wake up some mornings complaining of restless nights and bad dreams. They know of young people who are struggling with life-threatening diseases and worry what will happen to them. For as hard as I might try I can not protect them from the happenings of this world. So instead I tell them to count blessings.

The explosion was terrible yes, but what blessings came from it? We can start listing them. The community came together to help one another, brave men and women rushed in to save lives and homes, our family realized how lucky we were to have a roof over our heads, and the list goes on and on. With each situation we concentrate on the good things that happened or came out of it. We count our blessings and we are thankful for all we have been given, the good and even some of the bad.

This Thanksgiving as we sit down to our meal and join hands with our loved ones we will each take a turn to share some of the things we are most thankful for this year. We will call to mind the little things as well as some very big things that have altered our life. We will count our blessings, and set aside our worries, frustrations, and complaints. We will bow our heads and thank God for his many blessings.

Happy Blessed Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding Your Voices

Well, on Monday I wrote about losing our voices and honestly I did not think of the tie in to today's post until I received an e-mail about a conference I am attending in February. I thought about playing if off as a planned weekly post, but those of you who know me know I'm very rarely that organized. So I figured I'd just confess straight out!
One of the places where I first found my writing voice was at a Women's StoryCircle workshop. I was surrounded by these amazing women, all with stories to tell. I was young, not sure of myself as a writer, and had no direction in my writing career. At this conference my voice was a squeaky whisper, but it was out.
Over the years I've attended the conference that is given every two years in Austin. I haven't been able to attend them all due to pregnancies, kids, travel limitations etc, but the ones I have attended have been fantastic. This year I am sitting on a panel titled "Finding Your Voices Online".
I'm so excited about this panel because when I started blogging I had no idea what I was going to write about. Okay, some days I still don't know what I'm going to write about. But through this blogging process I have not only started to find my inner voice, but I have gotten to know so many amazing people. It's truly been a growing experience. Now to think I might inspire some women out there to do the same thing, wow!
I'd like to introduce you to my fellow panelists over the next few weeks. They are a group of women I can't wait to meet after getting to know them on their blogs. First up is our panel moderator, Linda. Go check out her blog, My Own Velvet Room, where she talks about family, writing, and life's overall journey.
What prompted you to start your blog?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Losing Your Voice

The other day in church I once again noticed something that has been bothering me for a few months. Silence standing next to me during all the hymns and songs of praise. My lone voice was cracking loudly without the beautiful voice that normally helps to drown out my off key singing. Glancing down at my 9 year old daughter I watched her, lips held together tightly while staring straight ahead. It wasn't long ago that her little voice sang solos at church and at school. Her voice strong and sweet, causing people to come over to her after mass to tell us how much they enjoyed her singing.

I finally asked her this last Sunday why she doesn't sing anymore. Her reply, "I just don't like to sing this kind of music anymore." My heart sank, but I nodded and didn't press her. Instead I remembered all the times I've lost my voice or let it waver.

As a writer everyone is always telling you that one of the most important things about writing is to find your voice. Authors will make comments like "I like your voice" or "You have a strong voice". I struggled with finding my voice and still sometimes wonder about it. People told me category romances were in, so I tried to tailor my writing to that. Then they'd say you need steamer love scenes, so I'd try to write that. I could write it, but I squirmed the entire time and then would die a thousand deaths thinking people I knew might read it! Then I'd be writing one way and people would say "I really think you are a more inspirational type of writer". Uggh, I felt like I was teetering and tottering back and forth trying to please everyone.

Somewhere along the line I just wrote what was in my heart and amazingly my writing took on a voice of it's own. Sometimes I doubt I'll ever be published because I'm not sure how much I'm willing to alter that voice. But at the same time writing is a process and I know that I had to filter through lots of different voices to find my true voice. And I am very open to suggestions and ideas on how to improve my writing, no matter what the voice. So maybe there is hope.

So, I'm praying that my daughter will eventually find her "true voice" again and realize it's okay to like singing in church. It's also okay to like singing Taylor Swift songs too, but she doesn't have to give up one for the other either. It's all about letting your "true voice" ring out!

Was it easy for you to find your "voice" or more of a trial and error process?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Explosive Moments

You may have noticed I have been absent for a few weeks. I've been dodging some explosive moments and putting out a few fires. Excuse me for not being around, I've missed being here. But if there is one thing I have learned, as both a mother and a wife , is when duty calls your family comes first. When God beckons, I better suit up and rush out the door, ready to face whatever fires He is asking me to extinguish.

We thought that on the heels of WB's Great-Grandmother passing away, our own little swine flu epidemic, praying for good health to return so we could travel to the funeral, then back home for the burial, lots of family, many, many little ones underfoot and frayed nerves that we could manage to avoid any other explosive moments. That, however, was not to be the case.

When it seemed the dust was settling, Little One was again tested for the flu and still positive. The doctor also heard a few extra heartbeats. An EKG later we were told that the extra heartbeats did not show up on the EKG, good news. They would send it off the the cardiologist though to be read. We received reassurances that only once did she ever have to refer a patient to the cardiologist and all would be fine. But a week later they called to tell us the pediatric cardiologist did indeed see something on her EKG and we were being referred. Only problem was we'd have to wait until Dec. 10th to see the doctor. With a mother who spent most of her life as a cardiac care nurse and a father with heart problems that started during childhood, I really did not want to wait so long to see the doctor. Everyone offered reassurances that it "will probably be fine to wait" and that it is "most likely not a big deal". Regardless, it felt like someone spraying water on an oil fire. It wasn't helping.

So I pray, asking God if it is patience He is seeking or just a little bit of faith. I lay in bed at night thinking of all the things I'm neglecting. I write stories in my head, because typing them out just isn't going to happen anytime soon. I feel like the fires are lapping at my heels and I'm slowly melting.
Then one night I close my eyes, say my prayers and fall sound asleep. I am awakened by my husband sitting straight up in bed asking me "What was that sound?' I hear nothing. He jumps up telling me it shook the house. I become alarmed as he jumps out of bed and runs downstairs. I still hear nothing. Out our window I see him look to the horizon and quickly turn towards me and motions me outside. As I walk outside I can hear the loud swooshing sound, like a jet engine roaring. I follow the direction of my husbands stare and there on the horizon is a ball of fire.

All I can say is in those moments, when you have no idea what is happening or what is to come, you have nothing but your faith to rely on. Suddenly, everything comes into sharp focus. My thoughts turn towards my three sleeping children and I realize that there are things that are out of my control. The only thing I can do is have faith. Have faith and listen closely for the rumblings of explosive moments. And when they happen turn to God and let Him take control.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James1:2-4

*The explosion was an underground gas pipe exploding 5 miles from our home. God was watching over our little community because the explosion was in a neighborhood and yet no one died. One house is completely gone, 2 more damaged, and three people sent to the hospital. Our normal high winds were non-existent and we had an unusually high dew point that evening to keep the fires from spreading across the plains.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Loving Memory...

Two weeks ago our family suffered a great loss. WB's grandmother passed away. She was 94 years old and up until a few weeks ago in very good health. We are so thankful that in the end she passed peacefully, had her three children with her, and was able to converse with them.

With our sadness comes great joy in knowing this woman, Mary Catherine or Mary C. as she was called by friends. Mom, Grandmommy, and Great-Gram by others. I could tell you she was a wonderful knitter, needlepointer, huge Dallas Cowboy fan, faithful follower of our Lord, wife, mother, sister and the list goes on and on. But I'd like to tell you what she taught me in particular.

I first met Grandmommy over 16 years ago when WB and I stopped by her house before a date. She and her husband lived in the same house they had lived in for over 40 years. As I met them at the door I couldn't help but smile at the very petite woman with the big brown eyes who stood beside her towering husband. Later I would be told she was the tallest of her sisters, hard to believe. But although small in size her heart and personality were enormous.

Being only a couple of hours away from where we went to college, and later just an hour from where we would live, I enjoyed many afternoons and evenings at their house. Grandmommy always had a warm meal and even a warm bed ready for me whenever I needed it. Being so far away from my own family I treasured the home-cooked meals and the afternoons spent watching football with her. She always muted the commercials, "Nonsense", she would say. Instead she preferred to spend the commercials chatting or sitting quietly as she needlepointed in her chair.

I watched as she buried her husband. Family crowding around to offer her support, yet it seemed as if she was really the pillar for everyone else. Her no-nonsense attitude combined with her strong faith saw her through the difficult times. I went into labor with my oldest child while visiting at her house. I felt overwhelmed, but she just nodded and said "Everything will be alright" which showered me with a sense of calmness.

There are so many stories to tell about this neat lady. She and her husband walked the floors of the hospital where they had volunteered for many, many years with a book cart. Granddaddy was 92 with braces on both legs as they both went room to room asking patients if they'd like a book or magazine to read from their cart. She made knitted blankets, caps, and slippers for a local charity every Christmas. She supported her church with whatever Father asked of her. She truly had a giving spirit.

But the one thing I will never forget is the way she taught me to pray. She was often given prayer intentions for it seemed she had a direct line to Heaven. One time when she was asked to pray for a particular thing she chuckled. "Well," she said, "I'm not in the business of telling God what to do, but rather I'll ask him to watch over you and guide you and to give you wisdom." So now whenever I pray I remember that. I don't tell God what to do but rather ask for His strength and guidance and that His will be done. It was a very powerful lesson she taught me that day.

You will be greatly missed Grandmommy, but I have no doubt you are resting in a most beautiful place. Godspeed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Excuse My Absence Please

I'm sorry I've not been around. On Sunday my husband's grandmother passed away and as we were making plans to get to the funeral 3 out of my 5 family members came down with the swine flu. The funeral is this weekend and I hope to be back soon. I just need to take care of my precious ones at the moment and it is taking all I have.

Can't wait to catch up with everyone soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Strom Clouds Are Brewing

I love the wide open Texas skies that surround my house. At any given time I can view miles and miles of sky in any direction. Even when I am in town I can see a storm front on the horizon, one that might not even arrive here until evening.
At night I can watch the spectacular lightening show of an impeding storm. No sign of its presence for hours except for the jagged streams of light that dance across the sky on the horizon. Sometimes I can walk outside and just wait for the signs that the storm is almost upon me. I can sit unseen, darkness my cloak, as I listen for the distant sounds of thunder. Slowly, the wind begins to whirl around me with sounds of rumbling growing louder overhead giving me plenty of warning before the first drops of rain splatter against my upturned face.
No storm has ever snuck up on me while living in the Texas Panhandle. Some move quicker than others, but you know they are coming. That is why as a writer it unnerves me to read someones description of the Texas skies, whether it be the present or one hundred years ago, as some sort of silent stalker. It's difficult to stalk across hundreds of miles of open sky without someone noticing. Even if that storm builds right over you there is no missing it with no trees or tall buildings barring the view.
It kind of reminds me of those Hollywood movies where the setting is supposed to be Montana, yet when the actor drives along the highway you see Palm trees dotting the road. This drives me crazy. Who are they fooling?
Which brings me to my point. Whether you write historical or in the present what are some things you do to research your setting to make sure it come across as authentic? I myself tend to stick to writing about places I've been, but maybe not everyone does. Is there ways to get around that or will your reader not be fooled and know right away you've never walked along a crest in the Scotland Highlands?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Way To Promote Your Book...

I've told you all about my mother-in-law Pat and how she self-published a book a while back. It was about her childhood and growing up in the Texas Panhandle. One thing many people worry about when self-publishing is how are they going to promote their writing. Getting it out there. Actually, there are no guarantees even if you get published with a big publishing house that they will spend a lot of time or money on promoting your book. Much of the responsibility will fall on your shoulders either way you go.

My mother-in-law has done a great job of getting her work out there. She's given copies to local libraries, museums, and even where the hair salon where I get my hair done. It just happens to be in the same small town that many of her stories are about. Even though all of these books were given away they helped to spread the word about her book. Eventually, this form of networking will pay off.

One such way it has paid off for her is NPR (National Public Radio) called her and asked if she would agree to an on-air interview and reading an excerpt from her book, Growing Up In The Texas Panhandle. She agreed and came up one week to tape her segment. My oldest daughter decided to go with her to check out the workings of a radio station. Lucky for her because she ended up being interviewed too. What fun she had!

It pays to get yourself out there and spread the word about your book. You never know where it might lead.

What are your ideas about self-promoting your works?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My bouncing signal bounced over the canyon 7 days ago and never came back. I kept running to my computer to read blogs, check e-mails, order invitations, do research, etc. I would get halfway to the office and realize, "Oh, I don't have an Internet connection." But I would always double check, thinking maybe my dear lost signal had found it's way home. It never did.

This morning I am happy to report my new service is up and running. I'm a little giddy from the excitement. I can't wait to catch up with everyone. I also can't wait to catch up on posts for all my blogs. They've been dancing around in my head for days, now to just find the time to write them all down!

To leave you with a little chuckle here is a little something my oldest daughter said while the family watched Star Wars Return of the Jedi the other night. My husband recorded it on his Facebook page.

Last night I found my daughters enthralled with "Return of the Jedi." They seemed to have a hard time keeping the characters straight, and I was constantly being bombarded with questions. I did my best to answer.
During one scene, the Emperor wants to demonstrate to Luke the futility of resisting the dark side of the force. In an ominous voice, the Emperor issues an order to the Death Star to destroy the rebel starship fleet:
"Commander, fire at will!"
Em pipes up, "Who is Will?"

Do you remember that scene? We really got a good laugh out of Em's question, what fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Writing Recipe

Making A Writer

1 full cup of perseverance

a full dose of faith

a dash of courage

a snippet of creativity

a pinch of humor (mostly at oneself)

And all the Time you can find.

Mix together and let stew for as long as it takes.

Serve generous helpings to anyone that is willing.

What would you add to your recipe?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing and Reading, Reading and Writing

I just reread one of Jodi Thoma's novels. I do that a lot with my favorite authors. My husband keeps trying to get me to clean out the bookshelves and I just can't do it. Here's a snippet of the conversation that is ongoing:

WB: Do you need all of these books?
Me: Yes.
WB: Haven't you read them?
Me: Yes, at least a couple of times.
WB: Then why are we keeping them?
Me: Because I need them.

About this time he usually shakes his head and leaves the room. When we were first married he would continue to harass me about my books. Now after one of these discussions he might even return with an ad for some bookshelves at World Market that are on sale. Just another reason I love that man.

But seriously, I like to keep my books not only for enjoyment, but for reference. I like to see how an author transitions from chapter to chapter. How they use dialogue and how much. Do they switch points of view within a chapter or just stay in one characters point of view for an entire chapter.

Reading was my first love, the writing came after. So I love to have an excuse to curl up and just read. But now when I do read I'm also analyzing and taking notes. It's a great way to learn from your favorite authors, even if you've never met them!

Are there particular things you look for in another person's writing to help you with your own?

My give away of 2 24X24 wall graphics ends tonight. Click on the Home and Garden and Home Grown Kids button to enter!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 11th, I Remember

I know exactly where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. I was holding my sweet baby, my first daughter, in the kitchen of my parents home in Houston. My Dad had just left for work and my mom was already at the hospital working. My husband was over ten hours away working. I turned on the television and the picture showed a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I frantically turned up the sound to hear, the news people themselves didn't know how to explain it. Minutes later another plane and then the chaos began.

I called my Dad to tell him what was happening and he told me to stay where I was he was coming home. I called my husband, as my daughter clung to me, and he got on his computer at work to try to find the news. My mother checked in with us and later my sister would call and let us know they were evacuating her office building in downtown Houston. Everyone was in a panic. We were frightened, scared of the unknown. Of what might happen next.

I would like to think all those who lost their lives on that day, in their last moments felt a peace like no other. That suddenly they knew what was going to happen next and they were ready. Ready to meet their Heavenly Maker.

My Dad sent this e-mail to me this morning. With tears running down my face, I pray for all those that were lost. The families they left behind. But most of all I pray they felt His arms around them in their last moments and that they welcomed His presence. And that those of us still here know His love.

' You say you will never forget where you were when You heard the news On September 11, 2001. Neither will I. I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room With a man who called his wife to say 'Good-Bye.' I Held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the Peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it Is OK..I am ready to go.'
I was with his wife when he called as she fed Breakfast to their children. I held her up as she Tried to understand his words and as she realized He wasn't coming home that night.
I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a Woman cried out to Me for help. 'I have been Knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said. 'Of course I will show you the way home - only Believe in Me now.'
I was at the base of the building with the Priest Ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He Heard my voice and answered.
I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, With every prayer. I was with the crew as they Were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the Believers there, comforting and assuring them that their Faith has saved them.
I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan . I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?
I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew Every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me For the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the Smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... This way... Take My hand.' Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.
I did not place you in the Tower that day. You May not know why, but I do. However, if you were There in that explosive moment in time, would you have Reached for Me?
Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey For you . But someday your journey will end. And I Will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may Be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are 'ready to go.' I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Header and Blog Links

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about my blog makeover. Thanks to sweet Maddie at My Favorite Things. She is the oldest daughter of Mrs. Smockity over at Smockity Frocks, who at one time lived across the street from us before we all moved away. Anyway, she did my make-over and was very patient with me and never told me once that my ideas were crazy or impossible! She could have and I wouldn't have blamed her, but she didn't. Then she told me how much it would all cost and I almost fell off my chair. I asked, "Are you sure that is ALL?" All I can say folks is she is not only very polite, helpful, and intelligent but she also is very reasonable. So if you're thinking of a make-over be sure to check her out!

So by the buttons at the top of the page you can see I have three new blogs. I just feel more organized now. I should emphasize now, because in a week I may be feeling a little crazy posting to more than one blog. But I have a solution to that. I'm not going to be the only one posting on those other blogs. I will have lots of guests like WB, my girls, my mother the creative one and my sister the nutritionist/chef/triathlete. I might even rope my mother-in-law into coming over from her blog and helping out. Who know who else I can beg to help out.

Go check out my Home Grown Kids site (about homeschooling) and my Home and Garden site because they each have a give-away going on right now to celebrate all this excitement. You can just click on the button at the top of the page, thanks to Maddie and it will take you right to it!

And soon I'll have my new Internet service and blogging life will be so sweet:)

If you could add or change anything on your blog what would it be?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Winner is...

It's Wednesday. My computer still slugs along making posting difficult, but hopefully soon my new service will be up and running better than ever:)

But the good news I have to share is that I've picked two winners for my business card give-away.....


Congratulations! You are both very deserving ladies and I hope you enjoy your new cards.

If you didn't win, never fear. I have another give-away for tomorrow. So stop by it enter.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Business Card Give-Away

I remember in my first writing class I was told to have business cards when I went to conferences. Really, why? Because I was thinking what could I possibly put on one. I had nothing published, no website, no fax. Why would I really need them? I soon found out it didn't matter what was on it as long as there was some sort of contact information and maybe a mention of the type of stories you wrote. They were great to not only hand out to editors, agents etc, but also to hand out to other writers. I collected a great deal of cards from the first local conference I went to and have used them to maintain contacts.

As a mother I could use some business cards. I might come up with some fancy title for myself to put under my name like Artistic Director in Charge of Shaping Young Minds or maybe Queen of Multi-Tasking. But I really could use them because I could have my cell number and home number on them and hand them out to the parents of my kids friends or to the random lady I met in the Walgreens who wanted to come paint my house and put hay on my walls. Whatever the reason, I could use some mommy business cards.

Which is why I am so excited to announce another give away by

2 ,yes you read right, 2 of my readers will win:

500 Business Cards
Choose business card size: 2x3.5”, 2x3”, 2x2";
Choose paper: 14pt cardstock (matte or gloss coating) & 13 pt cardstock uncoated
Choose Color: (4/4) Color both sides; (4/1) Color 1 side , B/W backside; (4/0) Color 1 side, black backside
Shipping must be paid by Winner. Offer Valid for UNITED STATES SHIPPING ONLY.

Go over to and check out their die cut business cards. Then leave a comment on this post as to what you might use your business cards for if you were to win. You don't have to have a blog, just leave me a way to contact you.

I will pick the 2 winners on Wednesday, Sept. 9th. Good luck!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Business of Writing

The first step I took years ago in making my writing become more than just a hobby was to attend a writing workshop in Austin put on by Women's Story Circle. It was led by Susan Witting Albert, author of the China Bayles series and most recently The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series. Even though the workshop was about writing your own life story I learned a lot about writing in general, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Not to mention I met many wonderful people and made some important contacts.

Through this group I became a member of an online writing group. I've been a part of this group for over ten years now. I can't say that I'm always the most active member, but I've made many friendships across the country in which we share the same passion for writing. We support, critique, and cheer each other on.

Through this group I've had stories published in The Story Circle Journal. It was the first time I saw something I wrote published in a real, honest to goodness publication. I must say it was a very exciting moment for me. They also hold contests, publish anthologies with member's stories , and a conference every two years.

My mother-in-law ended up sitting on their board for a number of years, directing their OWL group (Older Women's Legacy) and has numerous stories published in their anthologies. It has been a fun endeaver for us both to share.

So I must say I was thrilled when they mentioned my blog in their national e-letter. I am thankful for the recognition and exposure. After all one of the most valuable tools for many writers is networking. The more people you know in the business the better. And I feel extremly lucky to be a part of this amazing group of women.

Thank you Story Circle Network!

Is there a group you belong to or credit with getting you out there and into the writing world?

Monday, August 24, 2009

His Promise

School starts in fifteen minutes. I'm sitting in my pajamas in front of the computer and all three girls are sound asleep in their beds. Our friends are walking the corriders of the elementary school. Parents are taking pictures and students are getting settled in their new classrooms. Moms and Dads are hugging their little ones and not so little ones good-bye and wishing them a wonderful first day. It's the first time in five years I'm not walking down the hall glancing over my shoulder as I watch one of my children settle into their desk as they wait for the teacher to begin. I'm not waving to my friends as they walk past with their children. Smiling at all the excitement that fills the little building.

But I'll tell you what else I'm not doing. I'm not getting into my car with an empty feeling as I pull out of the school parking lot and leave my children behind. I'm not keeping myself busy all day trying not to miss my kids and praying all goes well. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer. Happy all three of my children are in the next room. A little anxious about the upcoming school year, but at peace with our decision.

I never dreamt that 12 years ago as I was completing my teaching certification that someday God would call me to teach my own children. Whether this journey lasts a year or ten I can not say. All I know is that God has a plan. Has from the beginning. I'm on a path and He is the light I am following. He promised us that if we believed in Him, He would see us safely through the roughest storms. This morning I'm remembering that promise. There is great peace in that.

May God bless you and your children wherever they may be this morning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bouncing Signals

My Internet access has been spotty. I've been told I have a bouncing signal. The Internet connection out here in no man's land is actually coming from a satellite signal that is bouncing off one of the canyon walls around my house. I'm really outside of the service area. They've upgraded their modem and somehow that makes my connection worse. I'm not really sure how to explain that, but that is how it is. They will be out in 1 months time to see what can be done if anything.

It would be so easy to get irritated by this whole situation, except for one thing. I moved out to the country for a more relaxed life. I wanted to be near civilization, but far enough away to not have it breathing down my neck. To take in the fresh air, not worry about my kids riding their bikes in the street, and give my entire family plenty of room to explore.

Nature inspires me. Stories seem to come easier when my mind is not cluttered with the next door neighbors eclectic collection of "yard art" staring me in the face as I gaze out the window. We don't get many unexpected visitors so I'm free to daydream and write at leisure when time permits.

And honestly, bouncing signals seems to be a way of life for me. Ideas bounce around in my head on a daily basis from lesson plans for my home school adventure to fixing up the house to plot ideas for books. Never holding still, just bouncing. So how can I complain about a little old thing like a satellite signal doing the same thing? I can't really. Maybe this is just my chance to drift a little further from civilization as I go about my daily activities. Who knows I might even get something done.

So I'll be here whenever the signal bounces in my favor. If you don't hear from me for awhile you can just imagine my signal bouncing freely in the wind, just like I'm tempted to do time from time!

What do you do when you find yourself stuck without your connection to civilization?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Memorable Beach Moments

I love the beach. Walking barefoot along the sand while letting the cool water squish between my toes. Scanning the shoreline for pretty shells as the seagulls call overhead. My children love the beach too and are so lucky to have grandparents that have a place by the ocean where we can escape to.

The roar of the ocean must hum through all our veins. I used to visit my grandparents every winter when they travelled to south Florida with all the other "snowbirds". They'd close their business down for the winter months (not much concrete to pour during the Kentucky winters) and head for the sunshine state for some R&R. I have precious memories from the beach and now my children will too.
Our vacation to Galveston was so much fun. It was the first time in a long time I got to play along with my girls. Seems like any trips to the beach during the last 9 years involved me tending to a baby and keeping them from getting too much sun. Not this trip! I got to build sandcastles, hunt for hermit crabs, and even lay by the pool.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

We had a wonderful two weeks away, but now I'm trying not to be overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done here on the home front. I've got research to be completed, lesson plans to make, a schoolroom to put together, a house to clean etc., etc. Not to mention catching up with all my blogging friends. Yesterday I faced the mess around me with endless energy, today after being awakened by my 2 year old at 4:45 I'm feeling quite sluggish. The rain outside does not help my mood. Is it nap time yet?

Tomorrow I will upload pictures from our trip and share stories of beach, sand, and hermit crabs. Today I am just trying to slowly get back to the blogging world. My sluggishness is showing.

But I do have something exciting to share. We attended a huge homeschool conference in Houston and got some curriculum and direction. WB and I are excited to start this new adventure in our lives. As always we love sharing our goings on with everyone so to celebrate the start of our homeschool journey I will be starting another blog. I thought of just adding on here, but I want the kids and WB feel like their blog is unique to them, not just an extension of mine. I'll let you know when it is up and running. Of course that requires that I get my act together and get my list of chores done. My goal is to have it up by next week.

It is hard to believe the summer is quickly leaving us. Do you have any plans for the upcoming school year or end of summer?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Winner of Poster Print

The winner of my poster print is Warren at Family Fountain! Thanks to everyone who entered and I'll be back to Houston today so I can download some pictures from the beach and share some stories!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Beach Time and Still Time For Give Away

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still on vacation. We are currently at the beach and I am enjoying some fun with the family! Don't forget to sign up for my give away if you haven't already! I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!

Enjoy the day:)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anniversary Give Away

I can't believe it has been two years. Where does the time go? I believe my first blog was written on July 18, 2007. My little one was only 4 months old, Soph just turned 5, and Em was 7. It seems impossible that was just 2 years ago, but it was. I've written about daily life, shared funny stories, complained, celebrated, and grieved. Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and been my friend. It truly means the world to me.

In celebration of my two years of blogging Digital Room is offering a give away I'd like to pass on to you.

They are offering one free 18X24 poster print to one of my readers! If you need any poster printing or a custom print poster they are the ones to go to.

I'm thinking I'd like to have this picture that appeared on our Christmas card last year:

To enter the drawing just leave a comment telling me what picture you'd like to have enlarged. If you'd like to mention it in your blog post or twitter it or facebook it come back and tell me so I can enter you for more chances.

Thanks again for all your support with my blog!

**Whoops, I forgot to say that it ends on August 5th!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Am A Writer

Every time I go to the doctors office or sign one of my kids up for an activity I always pause at the space for occupation. I stare at the blank and try to think of what nifty little title I could give myself.

Here are a few I like to play with:
-Servant of God
-Teacher to Three
-Wife and Mother, not to mention Daughter, Sister, and Friend.
-Slayer of under the bed monsters and all things that go bump in the night
-Bedtime story reader
-Arts and Crafts Director
-Social Coordinator
-Keeper of all things important
-Housekeeper ( I use this term lightly)
And on and on I go. Never, ever, has it even crossed my mind to say writer.


Maybe because I don't get paid to write. But looking at this list I don't get paid for any of those things either. Not monetarily anyway.

Which leads me to the question of what makes someone a writer? The words that come to mind are these:


Hmm, no mention of money there. No mention of published either. So maybe making money and getting published are the accolades of writing. Maybe just the act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard makes us writers.

Now I have one more title to add to my list of occupations.

What are some things you think makes a person a writer?

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Award and An Anniversary

My friend Jill over at the Jill Kemerer Blog gave me this award. Thank you Jill, I am honored. You need to check out her blog, especially if you are a writer. She helps to keep me motivated and inspired.

The rules of the Honest Scrap Award are to reveal 8 honest things about yourself.

1. I was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but will fiercely declare myself a southerner since my parents only lived there long enough to have me and let me romp around in the snow for a bit!

2. I have to have a coke, real coke, every day. It's my treat and if I can have it with a salty bag of chips I'm in heaven.

3. My husband still makes me weak in the knees and I'm happiest when he is around (unless I'm shopping).

4. I went to a Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer concert when in college...Ice, Ice, Baby.

5. My wedding cake was Italian creme. It wasn't until our 1 year anniversary that I realized it had coconut in it, I hate coconut.

6. I'm not a fan of yippee dogs, dogs that wear clothes, or get their nails painted. It just seems wrong on so many levels. Kind of like putting a monkey in diapers and thinking it's not a wild animal that might eat you one day. (If you dress up your dog, please know I still love you)

7. Sometimes I get carried away. Number 6, case in point.

8. I have no tattoos or body piercings, except for 1 hole in each ear which I didn't get until I was 16. After spending a summer at the pool I realize that I'm not the norm. Hmm, maybe I could start a trend:)

Okay whenever I pass on awards if you do not wish to participate that is a okay with me. But I am going to mention you right here, right now, on my blog just because I want to!

Aimee at Aimee's Land
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Sasha at Cherished Moments
Warren at Family Fountain
Pat at Pat's Place

Okay, there are many more blogs I could mention, but I'll save them for the next time.
I'm off for a little trip, but I'll be checking in. Oh, and I missed my 2 year blogging anniversary last week so to make up for it I will be hosting a give-away next week!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Chirstmas Card Letter

It's early to be thinking about Christmas, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to some cooler weather. Along with cooler weather comes the holidays and the dreaded Christmas card. I was raised to always write a personal note in each of my cards. I remember my mother opening cards from friends she hadn't talked to in ages only to find a Hallmark greeting inside with a signed name. Sometimes there was a typed note inside. Not really a note, but a bragging list of all that family had accomplished over the year. If during the holidays you don't have time to reach out and send a personal note or thought to your loved ones, than maybe your missing the whole point of the holiday altogether was my thinking.

But now I'm grown and I realize that there are a lot of people on your list you want to wish a Merry Christmas to. People that you don't get to talk to on a regular basis, but would love to catch up with. I began to see the Christmas letter not so much as evil, but as a form of desperate communication. I still cringe when I read a bragging list of accomplishments, etc., etc. So it has became a challenge for me to write creative Christmas cards. Cards that let people know what we are up to, what we have done, but didn't ooze "look at how great I am". Honestly, I just have a lot of fun whenever I get to write and this is just another excuse.

I just found our card from a couple of years ago. I used the format of The Christmas Carol, with Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future. I've written poems, used scripture to tell our story, even interviews of the family. I love to write like this because not only am I getting my creative juices flowing, I'm writing a living history of sorts. One that won't ever be published, but one that will be read and cherished by my family and friends.

Which leads me to a question. Do you put your writing skills to use outside of the project you are working on? And I have to know, what are your thoughts on the Holiday Letter?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

You Can Always TRI

Okay, so I write a lot about WB. This post will be no different. I need to take a quick trip down memory lane.

We met at Tech and he still had the cross country runners body he had in high school plus the token college pounds. Then came grad school, long hours working on his thesis and finally graduation. He found himself working a new job, spending less time exercising and with more money for food! The pounds slowly crept on.

This was us on our wedding day. I have to say my body has changed shapes over the years as well!

Anyway, back to my story. After a few years of my cooking and living a busy and at times stressful life the pounds continued to add on. With a new baby in the house there was even less time to exercise and it was easy to grab a quick and not so healthy meal.

After our second child was born the doctor told him he would have to go on medication for high cholesterol. He tried to alter his diet somewhat in hopes his cholesterol would go down. It didn't. The doctor said he would probably just have to take the meds for the rest of his life.
Several things happened soon after. He got laid off from the job that was making him miserable (he wouldn't say that because he doesn't complain so much, but it was), he had some blood work in which his liver function was off (the doctor said it was probably just the meds and switched them), and we lived through some of the darkest moments of our lives. I believe he began to see the light at the end of the tunnel with God's roaring voice giving him a few suggestions along the way.

He started making little changes at first. There were set backs and frustrations of course. Eventually, he completely changed what he ate and began exercising again. It was a lifestyle change. It didn't happen overnight, but within a few years he lost 40+ pounds and his cholesterol is now normal without the medication.

I see in him today, what I saw in him 15 years ago, the man God wants him to be. And I'm just so proud of him. Which is why I will now post these pictures from the second triathlon he has completed in a year, despite a long recovery from a knee surgery. He continues to push himself and do the unexpected.
The girls and WB waiting for the start. The finish line!
WB with his fan club.

He's an inspiration to those who know him, especially his family. God has blessed us tremendously. So I write not only to once again tell everyone how much I love my WB, but to share a little bit of our story in hopes it might benefit someone else. After all God works in mysterious ways!

Posted with WB's grunt of approval!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obstacles or Blessings?

I've been trying to post now for a week, and one obstacle after another has gotten into my way.

First the upstairs AC is out, which makes the 105 degree temperatures outside for the last week feel cool compared to my upstairs office. My laptops Internet card broke, which means I can't sit downstairs and work. Then there has been club volleyball for the oldest. Practices and games take up three evenings a week, swim lessons for Soph, and grumpiness from the 2 year old who just got her shots fill the rest of my days. Next up was the meeting my husband had at our house for the homeowners association. I did a much needed scrubbing of the downstairs and in between running my kids around made banana pudding from scratch for the guests. Not to mention WB is still working long hours and I can't seem to get him home for two weekends in a row. That means I get to mow Cotton-Top Hills on my own. Herding has become my latest occupation. The big, brown momma cow from the ranch behind us likes to hang out in our garden. The same garden that is drying up and about to blow away. Momma cow managed to eat all the corn that was still alive though, bless her heart.

I long to sit at my computer, as a cool breeze blows past my face, and write. Write my blog, write my articles, write my stories. I want to read what everyone in the blogging world has been up to. Darn the obstacles that keep me from it.

But the other night as I lay sweltering in my bed, unable to sleep, I heard a voice telling me these weren't obstacles. I began to think about the last week and all the times I've spent with my kids. I hear their laughter, see their smiling faces, and feel little hands grabbing onto mine as we walk across the yard. The very things that were keeping me from what I wanted to do were actually blessings. Lots of little blessings wrapped up in the daily routines of life.

Someday my house will be empty for hours at a time. The pattering of feet, the girly giggles, and the cry for "Momma" will be gone. I suspect that in their absence I will have plenty of time to write. My writing will spill forth full of life. Full of the life I lived not counting obstacles, but counting blessings.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why WB?

My mom made this for WB, the name is sticking.

I joined facebook awhile back and many of my friends asked why I call my husband WB. Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time have read my Love Story and already know why I call him WB. For those of you just visiting I'm not going to tell you in this post why I call him WB, so you'll have to click on these two words Love Story to go back and read how he got this name. I feel an evil laugh coming on, sorry couldn't help myself.

Truth be told before I began calling him WB he was called Scooter by certain members of my family. That name didn't really fit him for I've never seen him scoot anywhere, but for whatever reason it stuck for a little while. When I started writing this blog it seemed like a certain amount of anonymity was needed for my family. Most of you know our real names, many of you who didn't have figured it out, but still it makes things a little more interesting around here if I get to give people fictitious names. That is the writer in me coming out.

Let me go on the say that WB cringes whenever I tell him I wrote about him on my blog. In fact, when I just did a WB search on all my posts I realized he's mentioned in about 3/4 of them. Poor guy, for someone who likes to fly under the radar most of the time, I sure do put a target on him. I think he has stopped reading my blog. He doesn't mention my posts anymore or comment so I figure he's missing in action. Probably easier to just not know what his crazy wife is saying about him today.

And now I'm going to go post this on Facebook for all of my dear friends who were just dying to know where WB came from. Oh, you can at least pretend you are fascinated:)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For The Love Of Words

I would love to have an Oxford Dictionary vocabulary. If I could just absorb all the words and definitions on those pages surely my writing and speaking skills would be such that people would be in awe of me. Or maybe they'd just look at me and wonder what language I was speaking half of the time, sort of like I do when my husband speaks to me. Oh, just kidding WB. I greatly admire your knowledge of words and their origins.

Seriously though, words can be fascinating. One word has the ability to describe or evoke emotions better than five words put together. It's finding that one word that can be tricky. I've been on a quest for expanding my vocabulary. Not just to know a new word, but to be able to use them correctly, spell them, and understand their history. For instance in yesterday's post I told you about the banister we had made for our stairs. Several of you commented on it, thank you, but you spelled banister with two n's...bannister. I was in a frenzy. Did I spell the word wrong in my post? Why didn't spell check catch it? I am relieved to know that banister and bannister are both correct spellings of the word. Disaster diverted.

My father-in-law, Big Daddy or Dr. Dad as I like to call him, sends us e-mails each day about words. He subscribes to wordsmiths and graciously passes them on to us. My husband and I share this particular e-mail address so I know it was really intended for his son. And if the truth be told I ignored the first fifty word a day e-mails. Then one day, for kicks, I decided to read one. It is very interesting. For example the word portmanteau means: A word coined by blending two or more parts or A case opening in two parts, used to carry clothes while traveling.
It goes on to tell you it comes from the french word porter (to carry) and manteau(mantel). Then it might give you some history. Originally a portmanteau was a court official who carried the robes of the king.

Interesting stuff. I must admit it is hard for me to remember all these words, but even if just one or two stick I find myself enjoying my new word. WB and Big Daddy on the other hand can remember them all and then have in depth discussions about them. I probably won't ever do that, but that is okay. I'm happy with a little bit of new knowledge each day.

Do you do anything to expand your vocabulary? Do you have a favorite word with an interesting origin or history? Please share, I need help!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Memorable Moment Monday

What a wonderful holiday weekend we celebrated here at Cotton-Top Hills. We were all excited that WB was home for three days in a row, yippee. Our banister was installed and my new paint job that was destroyed was patched up quite nicely. Not perfect, but so much better than what it looked like when they first tried to install the banister.

Saturday we celebrated not only the fourth of July, but the birth of my second child Soph. She is 7 this year, hard to believe. She loves having cook-outs on her birthday. WB fired up the fire pit and we cooked hot dogs and roasted corn.
This year she wanted an apple pie for her birthday cake. It was store bought and I'm a little appalled by that. We were at Sam's and as I chased Little One throughout the store, WB and the girls were tasting all the samples. They tried the apple pie and decided it was good enough for Soph's party. I'm okay with that, I think, but I still cringe a little when I think about it. She's having a party with some friends later this summer and I will make up for it with a made from scratch cake!

WB purchased a new, used car. Bless his heart, he was so excited to have a car made in this century. So much so that he got busy cleaning out the garage that has needed some purging for quite awhile now. Now two cars can actually fit into it. Folks, for us this is a momentous occasion. Next is our little barn and when that happens the curse of the pack rats will be broken. Well, for a little while at least.

And I started cleaning out our room off the kitchen for our homeschooling room. We now have a suburban full of things to give away, between the room and the garage. I must say it feels very nice to be rid of so many THINGS.

Which leads me to ask the question what do you do with the things you no longer need?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Winner is...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and telling me some of your favorite foods to take to parties. I might have to get some of your recipes, they all sounded delicious.

I had ten entries and I put them into the Random Generator and came up with the number 6! Congratulations Cathy you are the winner, and if my hunch is right you live close by. I'll e-mail you tonight!

I can't wait to catch up with everyone after the holiday weekend. We've had a wonderful one filled with lots of celebrating. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow and I"ll post some pictures.

Thanks again to all who entered.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Peach Cobbler Recipe And A Give-Away!

Over at We Are That Family it's a special edition of Works For Me Wednesday. We are supposed to share one of our favorite recipes. I'm going to share Jan Karon's Peach Cobbler recipe. First let me say I love Jan Karon. Her Mitford Series was wonderful. Father Tim and his sayings have become a part of my vocabulary. And so when she came out with the Mitford Cookbook, I just had to buy it because it had all the mouthwatering recipes that she wrote about in her books. Which brings me to my give-away. I will give someone a copy of Jan Karon's Hardcover Mitford Cookbook!!

First the peach cobbler. I took this to a neighborhood gathering and everyone loved it. I felt lots of love that night. Later several people called and had to have the recipe and our annual neighborhood gathering was changed from the normal ice cream social to you guessed it a peach cobbler social just so they could have it again. Yes, it is that good. But let me warn you, if you use canned peaches I will hunt you down and well, no I won't do that. Please though, don't use canned peaches, it's summer splurge a little:)

1 Double pie crust or Pillsbury pie crust if you are in a hurry. (Jan's pie crust recipe is to die for but you'll have to get the book for that's only fair!)

10 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, more for sprinkling on top
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

And if you have ancestors that settled Kentucky than you add a splash or two of bourbon. That's my addition by the way.

In a large bowl combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Let the fruit sit for 20 minutes (this is when I splashed the bourbon) In a small bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 2 cups of the sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, butter, and vanilla. Add to the peaches and mix well.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 12X8 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Roll half of the pastry into another 1/8 inch thick large rectangle. Spoon half the fruit mixture into the prepared dish. Cut the pastry into 2 inch squares and place on top of peaches. Bake the first layer for 10 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for 5 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, lower the temp back down to 400F and spoon the remaining fruit on top. Roll the remaining pastry into another 1/8 inch rectangle and cut into 1 inch strips. Arrange the strips in a lattice design over the peaches (I was lazy and just did squares again). Sprinkle with sugar and bake another 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

I promise people will love you if you make them this. People probably already love you, but they'll love you more after taking a bite of this. Everything I have made out of here has been a hit. Not all recipe books do that for me.

For the give-away tell me what your favorite thing to bring to a gathering is in the comment section. If you blog about this give-away on your blog come back and tell me for another entry. I will post the winner to this give-away on Sunday!

Happy Eating.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's Talk About It

Yesterday at the athletic club, as I was sitting outside the pool area waiting for Soph to finish up with her swim lesson, an elderly man came in and sat at the table beside us with a cup of coffee. Pretty soon he was joined by about 6 elderly ladies, some in swimsuit cover-ups. Apparently, several of them were waiting for a lane to open up in the pool so they could go swim. I must say I was glad they came in because they were very entertaining.

In twenty minutes they talked about Ethel, who apparently slipped on the locker room floor. She was fine, assured the grey haired lady in the know, but very embarrassed. That led to the discussion of the slippery floors in the club. Many chimed in with their opinion of where the floor was the worst.

The ringleader, I call her that because she seemed to start and finish each topic of conversation, then asked about one of the woman's husband. The lady told the group her husband was still grumpy, nothing has changed. Chuckles and nodding.

Slowly, the topic changed to Michael Jackson. The ringleader would throw out questions like, "Do you think they'll find drugs in his system?" to "Have you seen his children? They are really cute without their masks." Usually, a few ladies would chime in their comments. All would nod and then they'd move on.

It was fascinating really, the dialogue between this group of women and one man. The elderly gentlemen didn't say much. Not sure if it was because he'd turned down his hearing aide or maybe it was because he didn't have anything to add. Whatever the reason, they all sat there for 20 minutes talked and then all got up to leave. It seemed like a ritual they went through on a daily basis.

This got me to thinking about the dialogue in our stories. First, the dialogue helps us to get to know the characters. I didn't know any of these women, but after 20 minutes I had learned their opinions on several topics. Second, I thought about the topics these 70 plus individuals discussed. Some of the topics I might discuss with my friends, but the answers came with a point of view of someone who has seen much more than I have seen in my lifetime.

I guess it just really made me more aware of how individuals in my book talk. How important it is to find the voice of each character and make sure it rings true to their background, age, and experience. What are some things you do to make sure your character has an authentic voice?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Photo Contest

U-Printing is sponsoring a summer photo contest. So of course I had to get out the camera and submit a photo. I'm not the photographer in the family, but I can capture some fun moments.

Forget Sugar and Spice, frogs are for girls!

I know it's summer when my girls start hunting for frogs and toads. At any given time they may have 8 or 9 floating around in their little pool that they have captured and are watching. They save them from the dogs in the backyard and run through the house yelling "Toad, I've got one!" as they make their way to the front door. This year Little One joins in the fun without any hesitation. She's known to have one in each hand as she walks around the yard. This one she named Croaky. They spent the better half of the afternoon together.

I've titled it "Forget Sugar and Spice, frogs are for girls!". What would you name this picture?

Head over to U-Printing for your printing needs. is a leading online provider for business cards and enlarging photos.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Long Weekend

I'm going to leave my computer behind for a few days. Instead I'm going to concentrate on finally having some relaxation time with WB and the girls. Plus, we are celebrating the new ordination of one of our dear friends with some of our old friends from college. And I get to see one of my buddies from high school. I'm expecting to have a glorious weekend.

If you are needing some interesting reading check out my friend's post over at Smockity Frocks. She has links to a totally, unbelievable and very disturbing story about a young woman and her scams. Very, very sad really.

I'll be back Monday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

They Put The Security Tags In The Darnest Places...

Today I went shopping while Em was at a pottery camp. Soph, Little One and I headed over to the very swank and upscale boutique of TJ Maxx. Anyplace where you can pile clothing into a plastic, squeaky cart seems to be my kind of place these days. Now, before anyone accuses me of being sarcastic, which I never am by the way, let me say I'm serious. A cart is a very nice thing to have when you are tired of chasing a two year old around the store and telling her to "look please, not touch" no less than twelve dozen times. Put child in cart with a book or whatever she just pulled off the shelf along with the heavy tote bag you carry as a purse. The purse is hot pink with green dots by the way. Just another accessory that screams, "I'm a Mom with a child in diapers!".

So we wheeled the squeaking cart across the store to the dresses, but before we could shop Soph decided we needed a bathroom break. Then Little One decided to try, with no success. Don't ask her though because she will always respond to the question "Did you go?" with "Just a little bit". I never argue even though it is obvious she didn't go even just a little bit, it's the trying that counts right?

Back over to the dresses. I pick one up, like the colors, like the price even better and turn to put it in the cart. Soph looks at the dress and then at me and asks, "What's that shirt doing in the dress section?" Quickly I hold very cute dress up in front of me and realize it hits 4 inches above my knee. I glance up at the sign over the rack and it says JUNIORS. Ahhh, that explains it. I take this time to explain to Soph that it is really not very modest to wear such a short skirt, no matter what the age. I'm hoping she'll skip those teen years all together actually.

Creaking over to the Misses dress section I'm relieved to find dresses of a more appropriate length. Soph picks out a very pretty one and guess what, the skirt of the dress goes to my ankles. See she took my little chat about modesty to heart, bless that child. So we throw a few more things into the cart and race across the store to the dressing room. The cart is now full of clothes to try on, but is minus a toddler. She is skipping across the store yelling "Pretty, pretty" as she points to everything she passes.

I am a little upset that the largest dressing room is occupied. I hear the voices of two young women commenting on colors and hemlines behind the dressing room doors. I listen to them giggling as they twirl about in that spacious room as I cram myself, Soph, and Little One into a stall about 2 feet wide. But it's okay because I can try on clothes in record time. I've learned this from having three children and a husband who highly dislikes shopping. I try on Soph's dress and because of the lack of zippers or buttons it's a little bit of a struggle getting it on, but once it's on it fits very nice. The cut is sexy enough for my husband and modest enough for my children. Folks, I don't know about the rest of you women, but for me that right there is a winner. Almost enough that I wouldn't care what it costs, almost. The problem comes when I try to take off the dress. It has these twisted crisscross straps in the back and right smack in the center of the straps they have the security tag. You know, the big ugly plastic thing that is filled with ink. The one you shouldn't let your very curious 6 year old play Macgyver with.

So there I am in the snug little stall pulling and tugging, trying to get the dress off. Every time I wiggled the tag dug itself into my back. When I shimmied it pulled tight onto the straps so I couldn't slip my arms out. I thought of asking the dour faced woman at the entrance to the dressing room to take it off, but the fact that she counted my items twice before going in and then eyed my purse-bag suspiciously I was hesitant. She'd probably think it was some sort of evil plan to thwart their security system.

Taking a deep breath I try again and whack my elbow on the wall behind me. Ouch. I dare to glance over at Soph. One look and we both burst into laughter. Little One, not wanting to feel left out, stops trying to peek under the next stall and begins to laugh. Her laugh is the throw your head back, scrunch up your eyes and nose, deep belly laugh. This of course makes Soph and I laugh even harder. Somewhere in this hilarity I am actually able to slip the dress down and off my body. Thank you, I'm free.

But all this makes me wonder who is the person that puts these security tags into place. They always end up in the very worst places. I won't tell you what happened when I tried on a swimsuit with one of those things attached. Well, it just wasn't pretty. And sometime it's really hard to imagine the outfit without the tag when its sitting dead center on your chest.

If you are a security tag pinner I'm just asking if you'll please think of us before you shoot that tag onto a garment. Please.

Oh, and by the way, I splurged and bought myself a purse. A real, honest to goodness purse. There is nothing bag or tote about it. No pink, no dots, no pull out diaper changer. I can't wait until the day I get to use it.

And if you have any shopping horror stories, I'd love to hear all about it!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cadillac Ranch

Copyright Scott Flathouse
There is a man here in Amarillo, who is, well eccentric. He does some neat and crazy things around town like street signs with quirky sayings that pop up in people's yards. Or a giant statue of a leg made to look like an artifact out in the middle of nowhere. WB took a picture of this and they published it in Texas Highways. His place of residence is called Toad Hall.

Anyway, one day he decided to collect some old Cadillacs and stick them in the ground. Yes, stick them in the ground so that they are pointing upwards towards the vast Texas sky. It's out in a field that sometimes has cows grazing about. There is a cattle guard and visitors are welcome to walk out and look and they can even spray paint the cars. I can only imagine the thousands of layers of spray paint each car is covered in.
copyright Scott Flathouse
I take this tourist attraction for granted sometimes because we pass in every day when we go back and forth into town. But there are always cars stopped and visitors walking the trail to explore the cars. In fact, it is a game with my daughters to try to catch the place with no visitors. I think we have counted a handful of times that there have been no people there. It doesn't matter if the wind is blowing dirt or the temperature is 110, people have to stop and look.

Copyright Scott Flathouse
WB went out to take some pictures the other night when he thought the sky and light were just right. Remember what I said about photographers and their light? Well, it's true.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Character Interview

Sometimes a daunting task when writing is getting to know your characters. Making them come alive, instead of just being a cardboard figure. I constantly study people when I'm out. I watch their facial expressions, body language, and speech patterns. Part of this comes from my psychology background and part of this comes from the fact that I am just naturally curious about what makes a person tick.

When I sit down to write a story I need to really know my characters beforehand. If I don't, I risk giving my readers a cardboard cut-out of my character or worse an unbelievable character. In a class I took titled "Writing The Great American Novel", which was taught by Dee Burks, I was given this form for interviewing my characters:

Character Role:
Birth Place/Year:

Hair color:
Eye color:
Style of Dress:

Characters Background:
Internal conflicts:
External conflicts:
Biggest Fear:
Worst experience:
Mis. Notes:

Doing this with each main character really helps me to get to know my character before I sit down to write.

How do you get to know your characters? Any tips on building that 3-D character as opposed to the cardboard cut-out?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Organizing Your Story

I've been thinking lately about organizing my drawers, closets, garage, and maybe even my desk. I've even got two magnetic dry erase chore charts all filled out on the fridge for my oldest girls. I know, I'm getting a little giddy from this sudden burst of organization. Which got me to thinking about my writing. I've been dusting off all my old papers and books that have been sitting on my shelf for the last two years. I'm still getting back into the swing of things after my little sabbatical/pregnancy leave.

I found a neat outline in my notes, that helps you to organize your writing. I was always hesitant to fill it out because my plot sometimes took unexpected turns. But my writing friends said, "Just fill it out. Write it in pencil and you can always go back and change things". So I have. It is a great way to get your thoughts and ideas organized. This outline basically gives an overview of your plot and characters. On Thursday I'll share how I get to know my characters.

Story Element********** *Hero *******************Heroine


Goal: what does the
character want?

Internal Conflict (emotional
baggage; the basis of the character

Why do they have these goals?
Or why do they have these
internal conflicts?

External Conflict?
What is the plot?

Inciting Incident

1st turning point


3rd turning point




This little form helps me to get started on my story and really ask myself the questions that need to be answered in the book.

So what about you, do you have a favorite way to organize your story? I'd love to hear how everyone goes about planning their plots.