Monday, December 31, 2007

Circle of LIfe

Dan's brother Andrew called this morning to announce the arrival of baby Gavin. He's a week and a couple days early, but he gave his mom an easy time getting here, and he's very very cute. And then, a few minutes ago, Dan's mom called to announce the passing of his grandmother. We knew it was coming, but it still sucks, though as Dan said to his mom, there's comfort in knowing these things aren't arbitrary. Our days are all numbered, but not by cosmic chaos--by a God who holds all our days in his hands and brings us home when our work is done.

Welcome, Gavin. You've got cool parents, and your brother's gonna love you.
Goodbye, Estelle. See you later.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not long now

In 6 weeks it will pretty much be determined who the GOP presidential candidate is going to be. Never in my life have I cared. Heck--never in my life did I know what the caucuses were for! Now I not only know what they're for but I'm pleading with folks in the caucus states to look into Ron Paul, especially if, like me, they've always found themselves choosing a candidate based on who they were voting against rather than for. That's how I've always voted. But not this year!

Today I'm adding a new sidebar item: the Ron Paul Fact of the Day. Seeing as I only find time to blog every now and then, chances are it won't be changed daily, but I am going to make an effort to change it as often as I can. When I talk to people about Dr. Paul it always comes out that they barely know who the guy is and know virtually nothing about his platform. I think more people would support him if they had a clue what he stands for. The Fact of the Day is my little way of trying to spread the word.

If you're a registered Republican and aren't sure yet who to vote for in your state's primary, please check out Ron Paul's issues page on his website.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Today she is two.

Wow. Two years old. I have a two-year-old. This is weird.

Two years ago this very minute I was facing a c-section and so tired and anxious to meet my baby that I just didn't care. It feels like it was much more recent than that, though the scar has faded nearly completely and I'm finally okay with the fact that nothing went the way I wanted it to.

We came up to Ventura to celebrate Abby's birthday with Dan's parents since we couldn't come up for Christmas. "Greena" (Grandma) bought her a lovely (and yummy!) cake and a big 2 candle which she lit with what looked to me like a torch. Daddy helped Abby blow out the candle, and then we sang, which was a mistake. Apparently we sounded just awful, because Abby burst into tears, and that was all she wrote. We ate cake while she sobbed on my lap. Eventually she pulled herself together and said, "Want some!" We gave her her own piece; she dipped the fork in the frosting, tasted it, and said, "All done." Ahhh, that's my girl. I was much relieved.

She really cleaned up in the gift department. Yesterday we went to Adventures for Kids, an awesome children's bookstore here in Ventura, and bought her a shelf-ful of books. Then today she got her very own set of Lynx golf clubs. Pink. Full-on backpack bag with built in stand, a driver, a 7 iron, and a putter. She's shockingly good at putting. She actually grips the club right and everything. We got some wiffle golf balls--pink, of course--for her to practice with. And when we get home we're getting her a play kitchen. I really can't wait to see her play with that; I foresee lots of time spent with that. She loves her play food and play set of pots and pans.

The one shadow over the day is the news that Grandma Estelle, Dan's paternal grandmother, is not long for this world. Hospice started today and Dan's parents are going up to Visalia tomorrow to be with her for a while before she passes. Now comes the awkward and anxious days where every time the phone rings your stomach drops. Her Christmas present still sits on my kitchen counter; the photos for my Christmas cards are en route, and I was waiting until I could send a card with it before I sent it. Regrets, regrets.

So say a prayer for us in these coming days--for the funeral, for a peaceful passing, and for the patience and wisdom that is required when parenting a two-year-old.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Me and my girl (and guy)

My computer has this great little camera on it and a program called "Photo Booth." Abby accidentally launched it today, and boy did she have fun!

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the night before Christmas...

...and all through the house was the scent of Crispex mix and the strains of the "Hallelujah Chorus." Once upon a time I sang first soprano on that song. It's hard for me to sing now, not just because I can't hit half the notes anymore, but because it reminds me that I'm getting older.

We put the presents under the tree after Abby went to bed tonight. I don't like being on this side of Christmas morning magic. Through it's been many, many years since I knew the truth about how those shiny boxes got under the tree, it's a whole 'nother reality to be the one to actually put them there. No clue if Abby will be all that wowed--after all, she saw me wrapping them--so I guess next year will be the start of the true shock and awe of an empty space being suddenly chock-full of goodies--not that we'll fill it with too much chock.

It's been a funky holiday season. Maui was fab, but it really threw off the season for me--for everyone, really; we've all been talking about it. The last few days since we've been home have been non-stop. I even had to brave the mall this morning to finish up on my gift-buying. We had all sorts of plans to walk the fun decked-out neighborhoods with Abby, our resident Christmas light glutton, but only managed to make it to one. I haven't watched "It's a Wonderful Life" yet, which is my most favorite holiday movie ever, and while I can watch it any time I want to, it's certainly not the same after the holiday is over. Sigh.

And for the first time since 1996, I didn't go to church on Christmas Eve. Church is just so darn hard with a toddler.

But now the rush is over. The presents are all wrapped and in bags to take to my parents' or Dan's parents' places, or else under the tree for Abby's first Christmas morning surprise. The kitchen is pretty much cleaned, my clothes and Abby's chosen for the morning, and NBC is showing my movie. My focus can finally come off the preparations and decorations and expectations and remember why it is December 25 is such a big deal.

A nervous father, a teen-aged mother, and a squalling baby feeling the weight of humanity on his tiny frame for the first time.

Happy birthday, Jesus.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Magical Maui

Dan posted a great post about our trip to Maui. He did a much better job of conveying how wonderful the trip was--and included some pictures, too! Check it out!

Congratulations, Maaike!

Maaike and I met back in 1996 when we were both exchange students in Glasgow, Scotland. We became good friends and kept in touch over the years, even met up in Scotland twice to hang out (which is a much easier trip for her, as she lives in Amsterdam!), the second time being back in 2004 when she came with her sweet (and cute!) boyfriend, Jurgen. We both miscarried back in 2005, and both became unexpectedly pregnant soon afterwards--and had our babies within 2 days of each other! (Christmas Eve is Matthijs' 2nd birthday--happy birthday, buddy!) Then, we got to trade exciting news again earlier this year-we were both expecting #2! Our coordination was a bit off this time, though: Carlijn was born on December 6 and is ADORABLE! Congratulations, Maaike!! Check out the precious pics at Carlijn's website--I use Babelfish to translate the entries in the "dagboek;" though it isn't the most reliable translation at times, it gets the main point across at least!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Getting political

Frequent visitors may notice the new banner on the page. I've never been into politics, but the last year has really affected my views of government and my role in the system as a citizen. It's the first time I've paid any attention whatsoever to the presidential process before the parties had chosen their candidates. And wow. I really, really love this Ron Paul guy. I don't agree with him on every point, but he's pro-life, recognizes that the government has way too much power in the lives of private citizens, is a huge supporter of homechoolers and wants to restore parents' authority in their children's education, and he is a proponent of health freedom, which no other candidate even discusses. Those are the biggest points to me right now. So I did it. I signed up. I have officially joined a political campaign.

If you haven't done a lot of research yet into the candidates, I encourage you to start with Ron Paul. Like the Constitution? Like your freedom? Check him out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


We got home last night from the best vacation we've ever had. Thank you so much for all of you who offered up prayers for our travels. My dad managed to get out of Oklahoma (I was wrong about it being Texas) before things locked up, and in fact got home a whole day earlier than anticipated, so he had plenty of time to get rested up and packed for our trip.

We were nervous about flying with Abby, and the fact that she still hadn't woken up when we had 15 minutes left before leaving for the airport made me even more nervous--she doesn't do well when she's woken up early. But we managed to get her up and in the car, fed her on the way there, and by the time we got to the airport she was chipper and ready to go.

Until we got on the plane.

Turns out the poor thing was a bit claustophobic. We got on the plane and she immediately started whimpering "Out! Out!" The whimpers escalated to wails, and I, being totally paranoid and freaked about making all the other passengers angry, could swear every ounce of negative energy in the universe was focused on us at that second.

But then she seemed to get a grip. Dan and I started singing to her--the Veggie Tales theme, which is one of her new favorites--and then we were in the air and she was fine! For the next five and a half hours she pranced back and forth between us and my parents, looking at the pics of her on my mom's phone, watching videos on Dan's iPod, and playing with a last-minute toy purchase I made in the terminal: a magnetic Noah's Ark play set. (Side note: Abby was the poster child for the "kids don't need a lot of toys" philosophy. She played with nothing but that game for virtually the entire vacation, and was perfectly happy.) No motion sickness (for either of us, hallelujah) no ear problems (though she did stick her fingers in her ears with an odd expression on her face a couple times during landing), and we disembarked with a bubbly happy girl who didn't fall asleep until we were a whopping 15 minutes from the condo where we were staying. The flight home was even better--no crying at all, and she slept for half the flight!

And the days in between those two flights? Incredible. Beautiful views, the comfiest condo with a great bed, awesome food, and great bonding time with the family. Abby was even able to look Kyle in the eyes by the time we left! I can't even choose which memories to record here because there are just so many. Once I get all the pictures off the camera I'll post a few. Until then, I'm off to relive the days in the sun as I throw in the laundry...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Prayers please

Dad's in Texas and ice storms are moving in. He's got a flight lined up at 5:15 CST (was supposed to be 4:30 but it's delayed--not a good sign), so please pray the flight is able to take off. Otherwise he's most likely not going to make it home before we all fly to Hawaii on Wednesday, and would have to just meet us out there when the weather lifts. :(

Please also pray for the two You With A Mission staff members who were shot at their Denver facility last night. One of them is the nephew of a woman on my homebirthing yahoo group--she said he's in stable condition and will have surgery on Tuesday to repair the injury to his neck. Sadly, one of the two workers killed was his girlfriend. :( Please also pray that they catch the shooter; he's still at large and they don't have much in the way of leads.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”



Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.

The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril
* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Houston, we have a two-year-old.

Well, for all intents and purposes, anyway--we may still be a few weeks from her birthday, but the signs are all there. I try really hard not to assign negative labels to behaviors that are merely part of normal developmental stages, but I have to say I already understand quite well why they call it the Terrible Twos.

It seems like the last week or two she's become extremely opinionated on things like who cleans her face or picks her up out of the high chair or who makes her food. Woe unto s/he who tries to reason with her ("Honey, Daddy is upstairs, he can't make you a hot dog right now."), for s/he shall hear the wrath of the screaming Abby. S/he shall be smote with her little fists and feet, and drenched in her snot and tears. Verily, I say unto you, gird thyself with grubby clothes and many tissues, and stuff thy ears with cotton against her wailing. And choose thy battles wisely.

Of course, her fits are balanced with some of the most adorable displays of affection, and wow does she love Christmas decorations! When we're driving at night we try to stop in front of houses with cool displays, and she just keeps saying, "More! More!" as if we can snap our fingers and light up the next house for her. Tonight when I was putting her to bed she started naming all the things we'd seen: "Christmas tree lights! Santa1 Big Snowman! (She loves those inflatable lawn ones!) Mickey Mouse! Pooh!" Looks like we'll be adding some to our own lawn, as Dan promised her he'd take her out tomorrow to get something for our house. he said she wants a Santa. We'll see what she says tomorrow.

And along with the fits and the love comes these amazing cognitive leaps. Out of nowhere she started counting straight from one to fourteen, and she can usually tell you correctly the first time how many objects you hand her, as long as you keep it under three. She's recognizing more letters by sight, and starting to sing along with a lot of the Veggie Tales and Jana Alayra songs. (Bless her heart, she can't carry a tune in a bucket...maybe that will change?) She's even quoting dialogue along with some Blue's Clues episodes that we've watched a million times, as well as the Curious George movie.

It's going to be quite a ride, these next twelve months. Though from what I've read on my favorite parenting forum, age three is no walk in the park either; in fact a lot of moms on there say it's worse than two. But oh well. That too shall pass, and one day I'll be sniffling about how she's fifteen...

Saturday, December 01, 2007


On Thursday we cleaned out the garage. It was a dire situation. There was so much crap you couldn't walk from one end to the other at all, period. Just chock-full. We didn't get to every single box, but what we didn't deal with was all nicely stacked from the last time we cleaned. We filled a Dumpster to the top and put together a huge pile of garage sale stuff, which we (well, my stellar sister-in-law Kelli and I) did today. Our profit was measly, but we sold at least half the stuff, and I was a lot more interested in getting rid of things than I was in making money. After the sale we packed up the car and took the rest to Goodwill, so we'll get a nice tax write-off from that. And now the garage is clean! Hallelujah!

Among the things we unearthed:

- 2 bags of garbage (nothing perishable thank heavens, but why they were there is beyond me, since we don't even go through the garage to get to our trash cans)

- a graduation cap with a 1998 tassel on it--which is of since neither Dan nor I graduated in '98.

- a diaper bag full of newborn diapers (which were so cute because they're SO TINY! I'd forgotten how small they are!)

We seem to do these big garage cleans every time I'm pregnant; hopefully we'll be able to stay on top of it and skip the next kid or two. My back was screaming by the time we were done. It's a good thing I have the best chiro in the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Auralia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
Noor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson

I have to admit that the covers of these books really rub me the wrong way (yes, I'm a cover snob) and I never would have read one if it weren't for the fact that they seem to sell like cold Coke on a hot day. So I tried one out one time and, whaddya know, they're really good!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Try Dying by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

Your #1 fear?

I know that, at some point in time, public speaking ranked as the #1 fear among the general public. If that describes you and you're faced with having to speak in public (or if you *want* to speak in public but don't have much experience or confidence), then check out the Butterworth Communicators Institute. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the Hyatt in Irvine along with 9 other BCI students, and it was incredible. SUCH a great experience. Bill Butterworth not only taught public speaking at the university level for a number of years, he's made his living as a speaker at corporate functions, sport teams, churches, retreats, you name it, for over 20 years. And besides being very knowledgeable and a fantastic instructor, he's beyond hilarious. We spent a LOT of time laughing. And the critique from him and the other BCI students was invaluable, as well as very encouraging. Anyway, definitely check it out, it's worth every penny.

In Abby news...she counts! All the way to 14! Though she starts at 7. Sometimes 5. Occasionally from 1, but she skips 2-4 if she does. I don't know what he problem is with those three numbers (especially since she says, "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1!" all the time, so she at least knows the 1-2 combo), but whatever. I was way more impressed with the fact that she knew anything past 10 when that's all we normally count to.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue...

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I do love my Illini. Usually being an Illini fan is similar to being a Cubbies fan, at least where football is concerned: you're a diehard who knows you will pretty much never win.

But WOW. We are having a total kick-butt season, and mere seconds ago we kicked #1-ranked Ohio State U into next week. This was, if I remember correctly, the second or third time Illinois has won in a total upset. (Well, whenever we win it's an upset, we're usually THAT bad.) We've won more games this year than we have in the last three seasons combined.

I'm reveling in the victory, my friends. Looking online for some cute Illini wear for my little girl and Mystery Baby. I may even break down and buy one of those flags to hang off the garage. Flaunt it while I can, y'know? We'll be in a bowl for sure--I can't wait to see that game.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Crap. And lots of it.

I went up to the county offices today to pick up a birth certificate for Abby. I was dreading it because I didn't know how long the wait would be, if Abby would be bored, if we'd run out of snacks if the wait was long, all that kind of thing. Turns out getting the certificate was the easiest part of the morning.

When I took Abby out of her carseat, I felt that her pants were wet. Oh great,I thought. I don't think we have any extra clothes in the car. Well, I'll change her and she won't feel the wet pants through the new diaper. I set her down to pick up the diaper changer off the floor, then glanced to her carseat.

Poop. In the seat. All over the seat, in fact.

I glance down at Abby, who is dancing next to the car.

Poop. Up her back. Oozing out of her pants.

Oh dear.

It took half a pack of wipes to clean her up. By the time I got her stripped down, it was all over her--arms, legs, feet, hair. And where am I changing her, you ask? In the trunk, which is actually pretty easy because the back row folds flat. But the surface is far too low, so I ended up retriggering my screwed up sciatic nerve issue in my back from bending over for so long. And of course it's windy today, so her poor little naked body is covered with goosebumps and she's shivering and crying.

There's a 12 month jacket--the only piece of Abby clothing in the car--so I zip that on her, line her carseat with a towel, and buckle her back in. Now she's crying because she wants to play--apparently the Civic Center looks like a park to her, despite the lack of grass and equipment. I called my dad and had him look up Target to find the nearest store, which turns out to be less than 2 miles away. I pull out and pay the only dollar I have on me to the parking attendant--2 more minutes and I would have owed two dollars, and I literally did not have another dollar, even in change. Thank you Lord!

Once we're at Target I swaddled Abby's naked legs in my jacket and carted her through the store, my back screaming the whole way, to find some clothes. Forgot to bring her shoes in, though, so even after I have her dressed in the bathroom I have to keep carrying her, which she doesn't like because she wants to walk, so she's squirming and fussing about walking and I'm explaining for the zillionth time that no shoes means no walking. Back into the car--she's mad again that she can't play--and back to the Civic Center. I park right in front of the building, all excited with the space I'd found, only to find that the Clerk-Recorder's office is in the other wing of the building, a five minute walk away when you're waiting on Abby, who keeps stopping and asking you for "Uppies" which you can't do because your back is threatening to go on strike just from the walking and heaven only knows what might happen if you tried carrying her.

Once we got in there things were completely uneventful, thankfully, other than the clerk's computer being totally laggy and taking 10 minutes to process our request. The clerk was nice though, and didn't seem to notice the disgusting scent of poop that was clinging to me and the kid. We got our stuff, got out, and got home without incident.

We capped off the morning with Abby chucking handfuls of peas onto the floor during lunch and burning my finger with burning squirting hot dog juice.

Good times.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Answering the call

Today was my first day officially back in the writing saddle. I wrote for nearly three hours. Turns out I had about 2 pages of my old chapter 6, so I worked on those and then jumped into writing from scratch, which I've been really avoiding and just plain fearing for a few weeks now. I kept feeling like I'd been away from the story for so long that I wouldn't be able to get back into it, or that I just wouldn't be excited about it anymore. But God sent me in a new direction and gave me some new material that I really liked, and I ended up finishing the chapter right at 4 PM, which is what I'd told Dan I'd write to.

When I went downstairs at 4, I felt like a new woman. It was unbelievable. I had so much more patience with Abby, I was in a great mood, I had all this energy--and I realized that I always feel like that when I've gotten in a good block of writing time. I was trying to pin it down and explain it to Dan--was it because I felt like my time had been productive? Or because I was being creative? Or because I had three hour all to myself? And in the end I realized that it was because I was doing what God has called me to do. God made me a writer. He gave me this passion and gives me these stories and characters, and regardless of how frustrating or difficult or slow-going the writing may be on any given day, I always feel renewed when I'm done.

And that's not to say God didn't call me to motherhood. I think parenting is a whole 'nuther kind of call, though. Plus, the results are a LONG time in coming; at least at the end of the day I can see how much I've written. It will be years before I'm able to see all the ways I invested in my kids and how they benefited from their time with me.

Anyway, I feel like I'm "back", you know? Good thing, seeing as I have that contract. :)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sort of an angel

Well, we couldn't manage to talk her into wearing the halo or the wings. Still, most
people could tell what she was supposed to be--perhaps it's her angelic face. :)

Her favorite part of the outfit was the shoes, which were half a size too small. Actually, the only way I could get her to even keep the dress on was to promise she could wear the shoes. I swear, the kid is Emelda Marcos (sp?) all over again. When we went to my parents' place, she walked in pointing to her feet so no one would miss them!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Three Cheers for Martin Luther!

Okay, so, it doesn't give you an excuse to dress up like a pirate or go door to door begging for mind-altering substances (or "candy" as many choose to call it), but it's still good to remember and mark the day, at least if you're some stripe of Protestant: Today is the 490th anniversary of the day Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the local church and, unbeknownst to him, altered the course of the Christian church. Celebrate by reading your Bible in your own language (he was the first to translate it to a language the common man could read, assuming, of course, the common man was German) and watching Luthur, the really great movie about Luther's experiences that led him to post the theses (featuring hottie Joseph Feinnes as Luther, who isn't quite as hot as a monk, I'll admit, but an excellent actor for the role).

Weird how I grew up in the church and NEVER ONCE heard this guy's name. Had no clue who Martin Luther King Jr. was named after. Had no idea there had been a time when the Catholic Church was the only game in town. Sad.

Dan's got a link to a great site with lots of cool reformation stuff; check it out!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Honest-to-goodness writing news

Shocker! I actually have something to blog about that is related to writing! Savor it; who knows when another will come along.

So I'm all excited because a great publishing house offered me a three book contract. I'm over the moon--and was a little freaked until I came up with some great second and third books ideas. Chip the Super Agent is starting negotiations today. Woohoo! I'm pumped about my other ideas, too. Haven't pitched them to the house yet because I'm still working on the ideas and want to wait until the contract is a sure deal, but I think they'll be great for this house.

It's nice to be wanted. :) And the best part is that they don't need the manuscript until next autumn! A whole year! Score!

More Abby-isms

I'm trying, really I am, to make this blog more about writing and less about my kid. But what can I do when she's so stinkin' cute?

- Three days in a row, after I finished singing "Silent Night" (one of her bedtime lullabies) she thrust her fist in the air and whispered, "Yesssss!"

- Conversation between her and Dan:
Dan: Do you taste like cookies?

Abby: Noooo.

Dan: Do you taste like chocolate?

Abby: Noooo.

Dan: Well, what do you taste like?

Abby: Toast!

- Conversation between me and Abby:

Me: Can I kiss you forever?

Abby: Nooo.

Me: Can I hug you forever?

Abby: Nooo.

Me: Well what can I do with you forever?

Abby: Watch "Clues"! (AKA Blue's Clues, her favorite tv show ever, and thankfully a really cute one that I don't mind watching eight million times in a row.)

- She turned her first somersault today! Not on purpose, of course--she was staring at me between her legs and moving her feet a bit and suddenly went over. She looked stunned and wasn't clear why I was clapping and all excited.

- She makes up little songs all time time. You can't usually tell what it is she's singing, but often she'll just sing "I like ____" (well, yike) and just list things over and over. This morning it was, "I like Blue. I like Joe. I like paci. I like grapes."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A newcomer to the blogosphere

So Dan has decided to jump into the cyber-fray. Welcome baby! You can find the random contents of his brain here. Go welcome him!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Help Stomp Out XP!

On November 10 I will be participating in Walk by the Light of the
Moon, a fundraiser to help raise money for the fight against XP. XP
(short for Xeroderma Pigmentosum) is a genetic disease. XP sufferers
are born with DNA that cannot repair cell damage that occurs from
everyday exposure to ultraviolet radiation coming from sunlight,
daylight (including shade), and fluorescent and halogen lighting. Even
a few moments of exposure to daylight can cause severe 2nd degree
burns that eventually become skin cancer. Patients with XP rarely live
to adulthood. Currently, there is no cure for XP. The DNA damage is
cumulative and irreversible.

The reason I am participating in this walk is because I recently met a
woman whose beautiful 7-year-old daughter Riley has this disease.
While most children spend their days playing outdoors, splashing in
the pool, and taking trips to the store with their parents, Riley must
stay indoors with the curtains closed. She is not allowed to see the
light of day or even just experience some of the everyday things that
we take for granted—a walk outside during the daylight, recess and
lunch outside with her friends, and trips to the park and pool before

As you can imagine, XP is a very lonely and isolating disease. As
Riley gets older, she is not only made more aware of what she is
missing, but she is faced with the knowledge that she will most likely
not live to do so many of the things little girls dream of--going on
dates, getting married, even just having a job and living her own
life. And for Riley's parents, the anguish of knowing they will lose
their daugher to this disease is a weight that gets heavier every day.

Their one ray of hope is that doctors believe a cure for XP could be
found in the near future if funds were available for research. Very
little money is granted towards research for an XP cure because the
disease is so rare--only 150 people in the country have it. And THAT
is why I am walking on November 10.

Would you be willing to donate to this cause? Our goal is to raise $200,000, all of which will go to research, and your entire donation is tax deductible. If you would like to help, please send your donation in the form of a check made out to XP Family Support Group to:

Alison Strobel
23052-H Alicia Parkway #366
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

This walk will take place in Ladera Ranch, so if you're local and
you'd like to volunteer that night or even join in the walk yourself,
please let me know and I can send you the necessary information.

Whether you are able to donate or not, I would ask that you please
pray that we would be able to reach our goal and that God would lead
researchers to a cure for this disease!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe

Hey, I kinda know this guy! He produced the newest album for Plumb, which used to be one of my favorite bands back in college. Their song "Worlds Collide" was part of the inspiration for my first novel, and their leader Tiffany Arbuckle wrote an endorsement for it. I can't remember how this guy and I got connected, but I sent him a signed copy of "Worlds Collide" for her and in return he sent me a signed copy of her new CD. Cool! Anyway, here's the lowdown on him and his book, Illuminated:


Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The fire down the street from us (Santiago Canyon/Modjeska Canyon/Silverado Canyon/Foothill Ranch/Portola Hills depending on which section of it they're talking about) is getting worse and worse. You can see flames from the end of our neighborhood--not that the fire is AT the end of our neighborhood, but it's still extremely disconcerting to realize how close it is. Just heard that one of our favorite restaurants is being threatened--in fact, the area it's in is probably my favorite part of the county. There's a road at the end of town that goes down into the canyon, all twisty-turny, and when you get down there it's like being in a storybook--all giant trees growing over the road and horse farms and camp grounds and spooky-looking properties that look like they have at least a couple resident ghosts. There's even a Buddhist monastery. I can't imagine it all burned out. Not to mention, of course, all the people that live down there.

And to think someone started this fire on purpose. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The world is on fire...

The fires out here are unbelievable. Yesterday I was all, "Wow, that sucks, I feel bad for all those people up in LA and down in SD..." only to wake up this morning and learn that arsonists set fires in three places about 10 minutes from our house. Since our windows were open all night and the whole house fan was on, there's ash everywhere and our throats are starting to really feel it. Embers are starting to fly and a house about 5 minutes away just caught; they're evacuating the next town over. I'd like to think we're safe here but I'm sure the folks in Foothill Ranch thought they were, too. Very scary. What ind of sick, sick idiot sets a fire? Especially when all the local engines are trekking up north to help with the fires there. I hope they find whoever did it; that's the second arson fire in our area in the last month.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It boggles the mind.

I've been wanting to blog about the school in Maine giving out the birth control pill to middler schoolers since the story broke, but I just haven't been able to see straight enough to even type about it. Truly, the mind boggles at the very thought. I'm just now reading an article on it where a parent (a PARENT!!!!) is quoted as saying, "I think it's a great idea. Someone is finally advocating for these students to take care of themselves."


Would she be in favor of providing clean needles to the ones who want to shoot up heroin? Because those can be hard to get ahold of, too, you know? And we'd hate for those kids to not be safe while engaging in completely inappropriate behavior.

*boggle boggle boggle*

Wouldn't you say, "Hm, time for some serious abstinence ed" if this happened in your neighborhood? Wouldn't you say, "Hm, time to make sure there's more for these kids to do around here than have sex before they're old enough to even drive"? Wouldn't you say, "Hm, time to reconsider the music and TV and movies I let my kids listen to and watch and start getting a little more involved in their lives"?

Yeah, you know, parents have so much on their plates these days, no one can really expect them to, you know, instill their kids with values and morals. Or teach their daughters that their bodies are sacred and beautiful and their virginity is a precious gift that protects their hearts as well as their health. Or teach their boys that a real man learns to control his impulses and protects the women in his life instead of using them as entertainment or to satisfy his selfish desires.

But yeah, that takes a lot of time and perseverance and all that, you know, being-a-parent-and-not-just-your-kid's-friend stuff. So gosh darn time-consuming. It's way, way easier to just turn your kid over to the state and let the government decide what's appropriate and what's not. And then, when your daughter gets pregnant anyway because no one told her that the pill can actually fail (and since she has a hard time remembering her homework, who can expect her to remember to take that pill every single day at the exact same time?), you can let the state usher her into an abortion without ever telling her about the years of mental anguish she'll experience because of it--or else just let her have the baby and put her on the path to being even MORE dependent on the state since chances of her getting a job and supporting herself out of high school (if she finishes high school) are awfully low. Or if she manages not to get pregnant, you can just blame the state when she lands in the hospital from a stroke or blood clot in her twenties, or blame the state when she's ready to start a family and her fertility is so screwed up she can't conceive, or blame the state when she comes home and tells you she got raped because someone found out she was one of those girls on birth control. Of course it's not your fault, Mom and Dad. You did your job--you let her live her life the way she wanted to and express herself sexually however she wanted to since, at 12, she obviously was old enough to understand the implications. Heaven forbid you squash her self-exploration.

And when you get a phone call from some girl's parents saying your son is responsible for getting his daughter pregnant, you can...well, I don't know what you can do. This whole thing is so freaking insane to me I can't even begin to imagine what your reasoning is like if you think all this is a brilliant idea.

Just another reason why I'm homeschooling my kid. I may not live in Maine, but if it can happen there, there's no reason why people can't be that stupid here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

a couch, a tissue, and Cold Tangerines

Have you ever run into someone from your childhood who you weren't really friends with, but suddenly as adults you find you have a ton in common and totally click and you start thinking, "Gosh, to think I missed out on all those years with this person!"? Well, that sort of happened to me, though I'm going on the assumption that she's as cool in person as she is in her writing, and she's a writer to boot.

So Shauna Niequist and I were pastors' kids together, if by together you mean that we were pastors' kids at the same time and in the same place. We never actually did anything together--connections like that aren't always made when your church is ten thousand people in it. I remember being asked once if we were best friends, and if our families hung out all the time. Um, no. I can count on one hand the conversations she and I had, and I don't think I actually talked to her father until eight years ago when the church did a big send-off for my dad when my parents moved to California. But you know, it's a shame, really, because I think we both experienced a lot of the same trauma from living in a fishbowl and having fathers who were so...not just well-known, but revered. That puts a lot of pressure on a kid.

Anyway, fast-forward to a month or two ago when I get an email from Shauna asking if I'd like to review her new book. Y'all know me, I'll read anything, so of course I said yes and a week later the FedEx guy dropped Cold Tangerines on my front step. I wasn't in the middle of reading anything else, so I plunked myself on the couch when Abby went down for her nap and started in.


Okay, first of all, it's not fiction, and that's a huge step for me. But it IS story--personal story, life story, think a really, really good blog in book form--and the fact that Shauna can write so honestly about the pain she's experienced and the struggles she's had just blows me away. It's like when I read Claudia's blog; I just marvel at her willingness to strip emotionally and spiritually naked for the whole world to see. Shauna's the same way: no pretense, no vague, teasing phrasing to make you wonder if she's talking about what you think she's talking about--just honesty conveyed in beautiful but completely accessible prose that makes it darn near impossible to put down the book.

Oh, and I didn't put it down, by the way. Dan had Abby duty the rest of the day while I turned pages on the sofa and cried my eyes out.

I'm not sure about the whole crying thing, either. I don't know, maybe it was just pregnancy hormones, but I think it may have had something to do with how Shauna said things I've always wanted to say but was afraid to admit. And how I was starting to realize that I had her figured all wrong when we were kids, and it put me in mourning a little bit for the friendship that we might have had if things had been different. And it might have had something to do with how perfectly she captures the emotions of motherhood and marriage and grieving and celebration.

It didn't take long--though it did take half a box of tissues--for me to finish the book and send it off straightaway to a friend I thought could use it. She's emerging from a dark period in her life and needs to see the world through fresh eyes. She needs to celebrate her arrival into a life she never thought she'd have, and at its heart Cold Tangerines is about celebration--about late nights on porches with good wine and good friends and good conversation, about new lives through marriage and new lives of babies, about finding your voice and your passion and your purpose after too much time buried under a job that doesn't fit.

Oh, and you should read the descriptions of the meals this woman cooks. Why oh why does she live in Michigan and not here???

So the next time you need a good read, or know someone else who does (it's hardbound so it makes a really beautiful gift), please pop over to your favorite book-buying joint and pick up Cold Tangerines. And since you're already on the Internet, you might as well pop over to her brand new blog and tell her a quick hello and drool over the photo of her adorable son.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins

This week's CFBA review is for the new Brandilyn Collins thriller, Crimson Eve!

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.


Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
– Library Journal, starred review

“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oh wait--you mean I'm NOT just a mom?

I know this blog has turned into Abby central lately, but that's what happens when I'm not writing. Actually, it's not that I'm not writing, it's that I'm not writing my book. I've been doing some freelance work for the first time, and man is it hard! It's so much more stressful than just writing the story you want to write--instead you have to try to read someone else's mind and get down not only what you want to say but what you think they want you to say. I used to think being a writer for hire would be cool, but now I'm definitely rethinking that. I mean, it would be better than, say, not making any money whatsoever, but if I had to choose between that and battling it out with my own manuscript, I'd take my own over freelance anyday.

I've also been doing a little bit of critique work--nothing at all official, just helping a fellow writer with some character development--and it's making me a little nervous about the whole editing business thing. I mean, I know my stuff when it comes to language and such, but do I really have what it takes to give someone the quality critique they deserve? (I probably shouldn't be voicing my concerns about my abilities where potential clients might see, but hey, honesty is a good thing, right?)

Dan's still battling this killer cycle of cluster headaches. Today was the eighth day in a row that he's had at least one, and today's was the worst so far of this cycle. I just ache for him and how frustrated and discouraged he is. Plus he goes back to school the 24th, which is going to be really difficult if he's still in cycle (especially if it continues to be an every day thing). Please pray that the cycle would end NOW so he has time to recover and prepare for school.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Abbyisms amended

Forgot a couple:

--File this under the Little Dictator: She'll bring her coloring book and crayons or Doodle Pad to you, drop them at your feet, then point and say, "Draw!" And she means you. And when we're in the car and she's watching a DVD ("DD" as she calls them) and a song comes on, she'll say, "Dada!" and Dan has to bob his head along and sing. She'll just keep saying, "Dada! Dada!" until he responds, so it's not like feigning deafness helps.

--She also brings her doll to us and says, "Dance!" (though it's usually accompanied by a little boogie of her own, which is adorable, of course), and she wants you to make the doll dance and then, inevitably, wants it to chase her. Now, that to me is just asking for years of nightmares and therapy, but for some reason she loves it. It freaks me out, I don't even like to do it, but she'll beg and beg and what can you do? I suppose this means she'll be one of those kids that likes haunted houses and scary movies, too. Great.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Some random Abby stuff to post for safekeeping:

-She has a little ditty she chants sometimes, and we have no idea where she picked it up from: "Wow, wow, dit-dit. Wow, wow, dit-dit." Sometimes the "dits" are "doots." Don't ask me why.

-I can't remember if I posted this or if I just meant to, so I'll post it again. The other day she was pointing and grunting for something, and I said, "Abby, I don't know what "uh" means, I need words." So she pulled out her paci, fixed her eyes on me in a no-nonsense way, and enunciated very clearly, "Uh."

-She's really into the things she hears lately. She'll put her finger up to her ear and say, "A sund!" ("A sound.") Then you spend the next five minutes trying to figure out what sound it is she's talking about.

-She's turned into quite the little dictator. When she wants you to move, or go somewhere specific, she'll point very sharply and command, "Go!" This happens more frequently than we'd like, but I'm sure we're not helping in that every time she does it we laugh.

-She's also really big on "helping" these days, which sometimes means helping you with something (like moving the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer) but sometimes it also means just doing something herself that you're trying to do for her, like brushing her teeth.

-Speaking of brushing her teeth, I sing the Alphabet Song while we brush, once for the top and once for the bottom, and she's starting to be able to sing along (when the brush isn't in her mouth, that is). It's really cute--the other day she was playing with these big foam letters we have, and she handed me the N and said M (which in and of itself was impressive since we don't really "work" with her on letters--and yes, I know she wasn't right, but she was close!!), so I said, "No, that's Nnnnnnn. Like L, M, N." To which she replied, "O, P!"

-She and Dan will strap on Guitar Hero guitars (a game for the XBox) and "play" the game together. It's so cute how far down the guitar hangs on her, and she loves to watch Dan play. I'll try to post a photo; I have some on my phone but of course my phone isn't Mac compatible so I have to have Dan get all the pics off for me one of these days.


Not a swell day in the Morrow house.

Abby's had a cold since Tuesday, and while it's certainly not keeping her down, her nose is running like a faucet and last night she started coughing on top of it. Not a horrible hacking cough or anything, but she had three or four coughing spells that of course woke me as well as her. She'd go right back to sleep--me, not so much.

Then this morning I nearly fainted. That was interesting. Vision fuzzy at the edges, arms tingly and heavy, stomach sick, hands shaking--not good when trying to cut an apple since the whole reason you're about to pass out is because your blood sugar's taken a dive. And even though I've been eating on and off ever since, I just feel completely wiped out.

Dan got through the night without a headache, only to get slammed with one when he woke up this morning. So it was back to bed for him for another two hours or so to try to recover. Thankfully he feels pretty decent right now, medicated but no lingering headache like he sometimes gets.

Definitely one of those days that makes you want to crawl back into bed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobody by Creston Mapes

This week's CFBA book is Nobody.


Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.


Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

“Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

“Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure

Saturday, October 06, 2007

In case you needed a pick-me-up

Dan came across this the other day, and oh my heavens, it's just beyond precious. Bookmark this link for days when you just need to see something sweet. I was all melty until the end of it, when I started crying, because I saw the little girl's name and for some reason that just set off my little hormonal self. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

So sad

I'm not keen on vaccinations in the first place, but talk about having one more reason to stay the heck away from the new HPV vaccine!! This was printed in a Canadian newspaper:

"In just little over a year, the HPV vaccine has been associated with at
least five deaths, not to mention thousands of reports of adverse effects,
hundreds deemed serious, and many that required hospitalization.

Judicial Watch, a U.S. government watchdog, became concerned while noting
large donations to key politicians originating from Merck. A freedom of
information request from the group in May of this year discovered that
during the period from June 8, 2006 - when the vaccines received approval
from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - to May 2007 there were
1,637 reports of adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine reported to the FDA.

Three deaths were related to the vaccine, including one of a 12-year-old.
One physician's assistant reported that a female patient "died of a blood
clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine." Two other reports, on
girls 12 and 19, reported deaths relating to heart problems and/or blood

As of May 11, 2007, the 1,637 adverse vaccination reactions reported to the
FDA via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) included 371
serious reactions. Of the 42 women who received the vaccine while pregnant,
18 experienced side effects ranging from spontaneous abortion to fetal

Yes, this is the vaccination we're being told all our girls should be given, and that many have tried to make mandatory. How about we teach our girls that their bodies are precious and not to be shared around? That sex is a sacred bond between a man and a woman who have pledged their lives to each other? Because, oh yeah, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, though it's being referred to as a "virus" as though our daughters will catch it at the pool or the drinking fountain. Funny how they don't mention that part much in the vax ads.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck


Avon Inspire (September 4, 2007)
Kristin Billerbeck


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.
Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.

A great way to support a great cause

Two women I know are waiting to hear if they have breast cancer. Talk about scary. It seems like everywhere you turn right now, everyday objects are being reissued in pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while I was rolling my eyes a little bit at it before, now I am so grateful that so many companies are rallying behind the search for a cure. One of those companies is 1-800-FREE-411. You know how annoying it is to have to pay, like, two bucks or whatever just to get a phone number? Well, FREE 411 gives you that number in exchange for you listening to a short advertisement, and during October they're donating a dollar to breast cancer research for every new person who uses their service. I use this service all the time and love it (though they don't connect you automatically, so make sure you've got a pen when you call). Please remember 1-800-FREE-411 the next time you need a number, and try to use it this month!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Remembered by Tamera Alexander

I don't often read the books that we review for CFBA anymore, just because there are so many of them and I don't want to commit to it and then not be able to follow through. But Tamara won the Rita in my category this year, and actually had two of her books nominated--two in my category, and one in the "Best First Novel" category. Yes, she is a brand new novelist, and already rakin' in the accolades and awards. Go Tammy! Anyway, when I saw her third book on our review list, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. And WOW! Now I know! :)

I don't usually go in for historical fiction, but Remembered was quite believable. I don't usually go in for straightfoward romance novels, either, but I have to say that this is one of the best, if not THE best, romances I've ever read. It's also tremendously unique in that--gasp--there was no misunderstandings, contrived obstacles, "he likes her but she doesn't like him and then vice versa" type stuff. Instead, the romance blooms like one would hope a romance would bloom, with an ever-deepening understanding of each other leading to fondness and eventually love. It was SO nice to NOT read one of those scenes where a half-heard conversation leads to misunderstanding that never gets cleared up because the characters are too prideful/embarrassed/whatever to just come out and say "Hey, what the heck?!"

Bottom line: I highly recommend this book! And here to give you an idea of what the book is actually about is the official CFBA description:

Tamera Alexander


Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Alexander’s books have won multiple awards, including Romance Writers of America’s 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006.

Her books have received acclaim from Library Journal, True West Magazine and Historical Novels Review, and Rekindled debuted on the CBA fiction bestseller list. She has a professional background in business management and conference coordination. A leader of women's ministries for over twelve years, she is currently active in music ministry, facilitating small groups, and mentoring other women. A graduate of Harding University, Tamera lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Greeley, Colorado.

Her other two books in the Fountain Creek Chronicles are Rekindled (Book 1) and Revealed (Book 2)

To celebrate the release of Remembered, as well as the 3-volume boxed set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered), Tamera is currently giving away boxed sets in a contest on her website. Check out the contest at .

From a Distance, the first book in Tamera’s next historical series (Timber Ridge Reflections) releases in spring 2008.

Though loss is often marked
in a single moment,
letting go of someone you love
can take a lifetime...

The threat of war--and a final request--send Véronique Girard from France to a distant and uninviting country. In the Colorado Territory, she searches for the man who has held her heart since childhood--her father. Pierre Girard left Paris for the Americas to seek his fortune in fur trading, vowing to send for his wife and daughter. But twenty-five years have passed and his vow remains unfulfilled. Sifting through shards of broken promises, Véronique embarks on a dangerous search for a man she scarcely remembers.

His grief finally healed, Jack Brennan is moving on with life. After years of guiding families west, he is now working as a freighter to the mining towns surrounding Willow Springs. What he doesn't count on is an unexpected traveling companion on his trips up into the mountains, and how one woman's search will cause havoc with his plans... and his life.

"Alexander again delivers a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people. Though there are French words sprinkled throughout the story, they enhance the emotions rather than distract the reader." --Romantic Times

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre." --Library Journal

"Alexander has done it again with Remembered, third in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES. She's fashioned characters that are as rich and deep as the mountains and valleys they explore throughout the pages, coloring the story as adeptly as the heroine does her canvas. I was drawn immediately into the ages-old heartaches of both of the main characters, understanding at once Veronique's reticence to make a place for herself in the unknown wilds of America and Jack's uncompromising love for this land that he’s cut a swath through time and again. They both have a series of mountains to overcome in the search for Veronique’s father, but I enjoyed watching their faith and appreciation grow with each turn of the page. And woven adeptly through it all is the encompassing truth of the Lord's sovereignty—that sometimes He takes away, and sometimes He gives us what we need, not what we're looking for.

Anyone's who's read the other Fountain Creek books won't want to miss this one, but it easily stands alone. The characters will take you by the hand and lead you heart-first into their stories, and by the time they release you at the end, you'll feel as though you've taken up residence just across the Creek from them, as surely as they have in your heart." --Roseanna White,

"Remembered, the third book in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES, takes us back to Willow Creek and revisits beloved characters from the previous two books in the series, Rekindled and Revealed. Tamera Alexander has the remarkable ability to create places, and characters who endear themselves to us, even those just briefly mentioned. If I had lived in the late 1800s, I would love to have met these people and would surely have been inspired by the way they lived out their faith.
Remembered is a delightful read, well-researched and well-written. I expect to see great things from this author in the future." --Lindsey Freitas,

"Remembered is an absolutely wonderful continuation of the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES." --Amanda Schafer,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Moving on

The decision has been made. I'm foregoing any more attempts to save data off my old drive and have actually started rewriting my ENTIRE manuscript, not just the lost half. I knew I'd have to do some fairly heavy editing of what I already had anyway, so I figured I might as well just start it all now rather than wait until I'd finished the whole thing and have to go back.

So far it's not nearly as painful as I thought it would be. In fact, I was inspired to add a prologue that set a whole new tone for the book and introduced a character I hadn't met yet, so that was kind of interesting. I'm also currently reading "Writing the Breakout Novel," and I'm already thinking of ways I'd like to tweak this story based on the suggestions in the book (which, by the way, is awesome), so I'm starting to think this whole experience can be chalked up to God knowing it would take basically destroying my old WIP for me to go back and make the changes I really needed to make.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"I happy."

Dan, my mom, Abby and I went to breakfast at Ruby's Sunday morning. Abby was content in the backseat, holding "Gigi's" hand the whole way to the mall, and when Dan got her out of the carseat she said, "I happy." Wanting to make sure he'd heard right, he asked her what she'd said, and she said it again, then gave one of her precious shy smiles and laid her head on his shoulder.

Does that make a mama's day or what?

Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote


Avon Inspire (October 1, 2007)


Lyn Cote


Lyn Cote's journey to becoming a published author was a long one - she started her first book when her daughter was 13 months old and her first novel was published when her daughter was about to enter high school. But Lyn was writing for a market that hadn't taken shape yet - the inspirational fiction market.

In 1996, Lyn Cote's first inspirational historical manuscript was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Contest. This became her first historical novel, Whispers Of Love, in her BLESSED ASSURANCE series.

Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn's "Women of Ivy Manor" historical series was a 2006 RWA Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational, as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National REaders Choice Contest.

Lyn also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in the lovely northwoods of Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. Aside from writing, she also likes to knit, crochet, read, and do lunch with friends.


Now available for the first time in one edition--All three novels from Lyn Cote's beloved Blessed Assurance series

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

"A beautiful tale of love, forgiveness, and acceptance."
~CBA Marketplace

Friday, September 21, 2007

And so it goes.

Mark, a good friend of my dad's, emailed me the other day to say he'd heard about my computer woes and to give me the name of a friend of his who used to work as a Man Genius at the Apple Genius Bar. He's apparently one of those guys who knows computers inside and out, macs especially, and managed to recover a ton of info off Mark's computer when it crashed a while back. I called him today and we did some long-distance troubleshooting--he's in Tennessee--and sadly, the final assessment is that we're looking at the worst case scenario: a bad drive. His professional opinion? "Kiss everything on there goodbye."

Well, I'm just about ready to do that, but I'm going to call some data recovery places just in case. I called the Apple store to see if they recommend anyone, and one of the places they suggested isn't that far from here, so I've contacted them and am waiting for a response. The other place they suggested is for "high end recovery", whatever that means--I'm guessing not me, but if this local place can't do it I'll probably contact them next.

Though I'm starting to wonder if maybe this is God saying, "That book wasn't the right one for right now." My mind keeps sneaking over to plotting the book I'd planned on writing after the current one--maybe this is a sign to go ahead with that one instead? I don't know. I honestly can't imagine trying to piece back together what I'd added to the manuscript; it's hard enough for me to rewrite an email I've accidentally deleted, never mind nearly 50 pages!

So anyway, I'm in limbo for a little while longer while I wait to see what happens with data recovery. In the meantime, maybe I'll start research on that other book...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Such is life.

Dan has loaned me his Dell laptop while I wait for mine to get sorted out. It's so cold and utilitarian. Using Windows always makes me feel like I'm in a technical Siberia. But beggars can't be choosers and heaven knows I like it more than working on a hulking desktop. Thank you, baby!!!

Abby and I are sick. Poor baby can barely breathe at night, but I prayed hard God would give her a great night (since she'd already woken up 3 times in her first hour and a half of sleeping and I knew this was not headed for a good night for either of us) and He did. She's slept surprisingly well, only really woke once after I went to bed. I, on the other hand, did not do so well, and finally gave up around 6 to just get up. I kind of like this early rising thing, though. Got my contacts in, my teeth brushed, and my clothes on without the grab-grabbing of little hands and the begging of "Uppy?!?!?!?!" And now that I'm vertical the pressure in my head is not quite so bad, and with almost all of my first-thing-in-the-morning 16 oz. of water downed I'm feeling much less dry.

And speaking of being less dry, it rained out! The streets are still wet and says the high is only going to be 70. Beautiful. We were so loving the temperature in Ventura; it's always so lovely there. But it looks like we've finally turned a corner and can start hoping for some more autumn-like weather. Yay! Now I can finally start taking Abby to the park again; it's been so roasting hot that I haven't dared.

So I found a new obsession to keep me busy since I'm not nearly as overrun with activities as an OC mom ought to be. It's called Heritage Makers, and basically it's digital scrapbooking. A friend of a friend invited me to a party she was doing for it (it's a direct sales thing) and I got so excited! I mean, don't get me wrong, I looooove scrapbooking, but let's be honest; I've been doing it for three years and have yet to finish an album. This does not bode well for me. And given the fact that I only do it about 4 times a year because I can't bear to drag the stuff out unless I have half a day to devote to it, chances are I'll never finish anything. But I made 5 pages on Heritage Makers in less than 2 hours, and that was the first time I'd worked with it, so part of that time was me trying to figure out the program. Hello!?!?!? Five pages!! That would be at least 3 or 4 hours of work and half a metric ton of paper scraps on the floor when doing regular scrapbooking, at least for me. I've actually decided this is how I'll scrap, for the most part, from now on.I'm going to hand-scrap 3 books for each kid--the book of their pregnancy, their first year book, and a personalized alphabet book--and then just do yearly family albums for all the rest of the stuff on Heritage Makers. I'm also going to use HM to do biographies of all the grandparents and great-grandparents so my kids know those people. I still get a little weepy to think that this new baby won't know my grandparents. Abby still says, "Nana!" when she sees her picture, but honestly, how much of her will she really remember? And HM was actually started for the purpose of telling family stories, though you can do anything you want on there. So that's how I'm keeping busy while I wait for my poor laptop to be resurrected. I went ahead and became a consultant just for kicks, so if you want more info let me know. :)

Woohoo, Abby is STILL sleeping and it's 7 AM! I think I'm going to get to have breakfast without her trying to steal food off my plate. What a morning!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


It's not like I'm new to the whole computing thing. I've been doing it for a long, long time, actually. I know the risks. I know you're supposed to back up, and often. But do I? Did I?

I'll bet you know the answer.

Yesterday, my procrastination and lack of discipline came back to bite me in the butt. My brand-new laptop was working just fine one minute, and then...a bizarre clicking sound coming from the hard drive and the Blinking Folder of Death on a gray screen. Dead. Totally and utterly dead.

Since it's so new, I haven't added much to it. I haven't downloaded any photos yet--though, if I had, I also would have uploaded them to Snapfish, thus having a backup. No, the only thing that's on there that is of any worth at all is my manuscript. And how much of it do I have backed up? Only whatever I had written when I got the new computer; whatever I had at that point is still on the old computer. If memory serves, I've added somewhere between four and six chapters since then.

We're in Ventura until Wednesday, and wouldn't you know it, the closest Apple store is closed for renovation until Thursday. So I won't know until then what the extent of the damage is. I'm praying it's just the hard drive reader and not the drive itself. If it is the drive, then hopefully a data recovery service will be able to get it back for me for cheap. I'm trying not to stress, but man.

Take it from me, boys and girls. Go now and back up your files. Thumb drives are cheap, Google files and Snapfish are free--heck, open a Gmail email account and email your important stuff to yourself; it'll all be saved in your inbox or archives or wherever you choose to put it. And then you won't be a sad little girl like me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sushi for One

Hey all! I TOLD you I'd be back with more info on this great book by the awesome Camy Tang. I'm today's stop on the blog tour, so for those of you popping in for the first time, welcome! Please leave a comment and introduce yourself, and be sure to come back now and then to check things out. :)

Camy and I did a little email interview a couple weeks ago. Those of you who come here often know I LOVE to hear how other writers tick. I'm always looking for a new way to approach my writing, brainstorming, whatever--and I have that tiny little voyeuristic streak that all writers have because we're just so darn nosy. ( least I think all writers have it...)

ALISON: Tell us about your path to publication. When did you start writing, what led you to this genre, and how did you come up with the premise for "Sushi for One"?

I originally wrote ethnically neutral characters, because that's what
I was reading--ethnically neutral romances. I still love them, but I
felt God telling me to go a different direction. To write what WASN'T
being published--romances with Asian American characters.

Then at an American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, author
Brandilyn Collins prayed over me. I had told her to pray as the Spirit
led her, and the first thing--the FIRST thing--she said was she felt
God telling me to "write your heritage."

I hadn't told Brandilyn about my writing dilemma--to be a risktaker
and write Asian American romances or continue writing ethnically
neutral romances--and so this word from God hit me like an earthquake.
Doesn't get any clearer than that, does it?

So I trashed my premise for my manuscript and rewrote it from an Asian
American woman's perspective. And I discovered that suddenly, the
woman's extended family just wouldn't shut up! They kept nagging her
about marrying and having children before her parents die, and all
kinds of faintly threatening, rather morbid predictions. In fact, it
sounded a lot like my friends' parents/aunties/grandmas.

That's how the Sushi Series was born. I started with four cousins,
each with very different personalities, and wondered how each of them
would respond to the pressures of being 30, single, and Asian American
in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A: Wow, don't you just love it when God speaks that clearly? :) Okay, so, the first thing that pops into my head when I read your description of the book is Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club." I'm guessing I'm not the first to tell you that--are you sick yet of that comparison? :) Having read Tan's book on writing, I know that her own family dynamics played heavily into her writing. Is the same true for you? Beyond just the ethnicity of the characters, does "Sushi for One" reflect your own upbringing and life experience?

C: Not necessarily. My family (especially my grandma) is certainly not as dysfunctional as Lex's! However, Asian American culture is very family oriented, so it's impossible for me to write about Asian Americans without having some family influence in their lives.

I think a lot of ethnicities can relate to this. Think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The heroine's family pestered her about EVERYTHING. My Italian American friend says she can relate to the whole family thing, too.

While I like Amy Tan, my one goal in writing Sushi for One was to write something not as serious and more romancy. So the family issues are looked at with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, because really, if you can't laugh at yourself, there's no hope for you. :)

A: *lol* Well, I must have plenty of hope then. ;) Okay, so, tell us what other books you have in the pipeline. Are you already contracted for another?

C: The second book in the series, Only Uni, releases February 2008.
That's Trish's story. The third book in the series, Venus's story, is
Single Sashimi, and that releases in the fall of 2008.

I'm also working on a Young Adult Asian chick lit proposal, so let's
hope that gets accepted!

A: Oh good, I love knowing there's another book to go to (or at least to wait for). So describe your writing process. Your books are releasing so close together--are you that fast a writer, or did you have them all written? Are you an outliner or a "seat of your pants" type writer? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

C: I had the general storylines for all of them figured out, but the
other two manuscripts weren't written. However, I'd written my last
couple books in 6 months, so I was reasonably sure I could finish the
other books on contract.

I'm definitely an outliner, I'm incredibly anal about it. I like using
Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method:
I also use 45 MASTER CHARACTER by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, and WRITING

My typical writing day varies depending on what I have to do. Usually,
I spend about 2 or 3 hours on email and internet marketing, and then
the rest of the time on writing, freelance editing, the ACFW Genesis
contest, or any other writing-related business.

A: Oooh--I just discovered the snowflake method, too, and it's been awesome! I'll have to check out the other two books you mentioned; I think I have "Writing the Breakout Novel" but I didn't know it had a workbook, too.

So let's talk a little more specifically about "Sushi for One." Give us a quick summary of the story and tell us a little about the main character.

C: Here's a bonus just for you, Alison! This is the original blurb for
the book that I used for my proposal:

Sports-crazy Lex Sakai isn't too worried about "winning" the
unofficial family title "Oldest Single Female Cousin" when her cousin
Mariko marries in a few months. Her control-freak grandma is easy to
ignore, until Grandma issues an ultimatum—if Lex can't find a date for
Mariko's wedding, her ruthless Grandma will cut off funding to the
girls' volleyball team that Lex coaches.

Lex isn't about to look desperate by dating every player in the
dugout. She comes up with a stringent list of requirements from her
Ephesians Bible study in her search for The Perfect Man. She always
wins in volleyball—if she ups her game, she's sure to succeed.

Then her brother introduces her to non-Christian,
non-volleyball-playing, no-immediate-physical-appeal Aiden.

Aiden's on the rebound from a girl named Trish, who dumped him because
he wasn't Christian. Then he discovers that Lex is 1) not attracted to
him at all, 2) Christian, and 3) Trish's cousin. No way is he hooking
up with anyone from that crazy family, much less another hypocritical
Christian chick. He's certainly not masochistic.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can't
find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden
everywhere. If only the List would stop getting longer and longer...

Camy here: Lex is the volleyball player I wish I was! I'm only so-so,
unfortunately. She's also stronger and braver than I could ever be,
which made her fun to write! She and I also share the same penchant
for Wonderbras.

* * * * *

So hey, if that hasn't grabbed your interest, then maybe this will: Camy is holding a huge website contest right now where she's giving away baskets of Christian fiction and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible, though, so join today:

Like I said when I first posted about Sushi for One?, it's a great book, and I stayed up two hours past my bedtime just to finish it. I highly recommend it and can't wait for the next installment. Buy it today!