Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Please vote!

Today is the last day to vote for the priorities you think Obama should have when he gets into office. Go to this site, sign up, confirm your account through the email they send you, and then PLEASE vote for health freedom!!! We need 1200 votes to move into the next round. I just cast vote #512.

The issue of socialization

Dan and I decided long ago our girls would be homeschooled. I'm active on a few parenting boards where a number of other moms homeschool, and I get loads of great ideas and tips from them. Once in a while someone will post a vent about the issue of socialization. We homeschooling moms and dads don't have any concerns about socialization, but it often seems that everyone else in the world gets concerned about it when you tell them you're homeschooling. "But how will your children be socialized if they're not in school?" they ask. Well, someone posted this today and honestly, I wish I could print it on little business cards and hand it out to people who question our children's socialization when we mention homeschooling.

Public School Socialization

"When my wife and I mention we are strongly considering home
schooling our children, we are without fail asked, 'But what about
socialization? ' Fortunately, we found a way our kids can receive
the same socialization that government schools provide.

"On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the
bathroom, give him a wedgie and take his lunch money. On Tuesdays
and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not
being in the 'in' crowd, taking special care to poke fun at any
physical abnormalities. Fridays will be 'Fad and Peer Pressure
Day.' We will all compete to see who has the coolest toys, the most
expensive clothes, and the loudest, fastest, and most dangerous car.

"Every day, my wife and I will adhere to a routine of cursing and
swearing in the hall and mentioning our weekend exploits with
alcohol and immorality. And we have asked (our kids) to report us
to the authorities in the event we mention faith, religion, or try
to bring up morals and values."

From the Kolbe Little Home Journal, Fall 2005

Thursday, December 25, 2008


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas!!!! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More from the portfolio

Found some more great Abby photos on the Photo Booth program today:

For those of you familiar with the series by Beverly Cleary--doesn't she totally look like Ramona Quimby here?

The other day at Target Abby said she wanted to get Penny Jane a teddy bear for Christmas. It took her ten minutes to choose from 5 different types of bears. The poor child has my decision-making ability. Anyway, this was her final choice.

A couple weeks ago Abby wanted to do a little portrait session with PJ and me. She set up the computer on the ottoman next to the couch and would run back and forth, pushing the button to take the picture and then racing back to get in the frame. Here are some of the good ones:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Done and done!

What do you get when you put 112,185 words in just the right order over 236 pages? MY COMPLETED FOURTH NOVEL!

*insert Snoopy dance here*

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Awwwww yeah! Fifty-thousand words completed--I have won my first NaNoWriMo! I told Dan less than 48 hours ago that I was giving up because I only had 41,000 words and didn't think there was any way I'd find the time to get 9,000 more by tonight. But something happens--I haven't yet ruled out divine intervention--and voila, here I am staring at a word count of 50,024. This puts me about 2/3 of the way done with the book and right at the spot where the action really picks up. I can hardly believe it, but I might actually finish this thing by the end of the year as planned.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The plot thickens


Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slinking into the cave

Got my edits today for Reinventing Rachel. Lots to do by Jan 10 when it's due. Lots. And between a 3-day Thanksgiving trip, a 4-day pre-Christmas trip, a newsletter to write, Abby's 3rd b-day to plan and execute, Guilt to finish writing, and the Colorado trip to take on January 6, I'm not entirely sure how it's going to get done. It *will* get done, I know, the way is just not at all clear at the moment. So I'm going to disappear for a while to make sure I get everything done without neglecting my family.

Just realizing I don't think I've mentioned the whole Colorado thing yet, so here's the official announcement: we're moving! Sometime next year, not sure exactly when, but we'll be out there Jan. 6-20 to house hunt and check out the areas we're looking to move to.

So anyway, unless something really amazing happens that simply demands to be blogged about, I'll probably be absent until the New Year at the earliest. Happy holidays to all, and to all lots of stuffing on Thursday and gallons of egg nog until Christmas. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ruby Slippers

I promised Jonalyn a couple months back that I would blog this week about her new book Ruby Slippers--How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home, and then I forgot to set a reminder email for myself. Doh! So I snarfed down the book in four days, and honestly, this is not a four-days book. Well, maybe it is if you read uninterrupted and have plenty of time to digest what you've read, but with two kids, a book to write, and a presentation to prepare, I barely had time to consider where to put the book when I was done for the day so I'd be able to find it again, much less journal through the awesome "soul care" questions at the end of each chapter and discuss what I was reading with Dan. So, a note to those who decide to pick up this selection for their own perusal: don't shortchange yourself by trying to squeeze it in here and there. Make sure you've got some time to really think over what you're reading.

Jonalyn's goal with Ruby Slippers is to examine what true femininity is, beyond the roles we shove ourselves into like Cindarella's step-sisters trying to cram their feet into a shoe that wasn't meant for them. Does it always require pastels and makeup, a husband and children, domestic skills and a penchant for scrapbooking? Can a woman be fully feminine if she prefers mountain biking to a manicure? And if God is male, then are women really made in his image?

I've never been much concerned with discussions on femininity and spirituality as they relate to each other. But reading this book gave me some really interesting things to think about, things I'd never considered about what it means to be a Christian woman. I am impressed as well with her credentials--you don't see many female apologists out there.

I'm going to read this book again, and actually do the questions at the end this time. :) I hope you'll check it out, whether you're male or female, and leave a comment about what you think. If nothing else, this book is sure to generate some very interesting conversations!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Abby's portfolio

My Mac laptop has a program called Photo Booth. It's a photo program for the integrated webcam, and it allows you to add all these fun (and sometimes creepy) effects to your photos. Abby loves it, and somehow, in the last couple months, she has learned how to locate it in the dock, launch it, take photos AND add the effects. Keep in mind I not only NEVER showed her how to do ANY of this, but I never even showed her how you use the track pad or select button. Is this stuff programmed into the next generation's DNA or something? Anyway, she hops up to my computer all the time to take pictures, but it's always when I'm putting Penny Jane down for her nap. I've never looked through the photos she's taken until tonight, and I was cracking up and thinking, "I've GOT to post these." So, for your enjoyment, here are just a few self-portraits from Miss Abigail.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Just hit fifty thousand words on the manuscript! No clue how long it's going to be once it's done, but I'd guess that's just under halfway. NaNoWriMo is my new best friend.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Say it real quick and it's a fun nonsense word, but break it down and it's short for National Novel Writing Month. Though now, in its tenth year, it's an international event, so it really should be InNoWriMo. Though it's not nearly as fun to say.

So what the heck is it? It's an opportunity for all those folks who've ever said, "I've always wanted to write a novel" to actually get off their patooties and DO it already by setting a one-month goal of 50,000 words. You pledge solidarity with thousands of other writers all over the world and say, "Yes! I will sit my butt down and write at least 1,667 words every single day in November!" (Yes, I know there's some contradiction there between getting off one's behind then sitting it down again to write. Work with me, alright?) Then you sign up at, join a home region so you can contribute to your area's word count, and start writing. After you've procrastinated a little bit by setting up your profile and checking out the forums, that is. I'm such a sucker for forums. Then you can grab a fun little widget like the one on the right that will broadcast to the entire world just how well you're doing on your novel.

I had about 30,000 words when I first read about NaNoWriMo. How I've been a writer this long and never heard of this phenomenon, I don't know. But I read about it on someone's blog on November 1 and thought, "Now that is a cool idea! And if I did that, I'd have my novel nearly done!" And it dawned on me that this would be a great accountability took to keep me from becoming completely depressed over how far behind I was on my writing. And let me tell you, counting words is SO MUCH LESS STRESSFUL than counting scenes. I'm so glad I found this out now and not at the end of the book when I was comatose from panic.

So today marked the end of the first week of this year's NaNoWriMo, but if you want to jump in I don't think anyone would mind. If nothing else, keep it in mind for next year and start working on your outline now. Heck, if you spent eleven months on your snowflake, you'd have the Next Great American (or wherever you are) Novel all ready to go by next November!

And to those who are participating this year, I'm alisonstrobel over at me a writing buddy if you want. Good luck on your novels!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Deep breath.

This is my Father's world
Oh let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet

This is my Father's world
The battle is not done
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And earth and heav'n be one

--My Father's World, Maltbie Babcock, 1901

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You put your right brain in, you take your right brain out, you put your right brain in, and you shake it all about

I feel like I have scrambled eggs for brains these days. There is SO MUCH GOING ON. And one of the things that gets neglected is my blog. So, sorry the posts are so few and far between. Maybe when things slow down (which would be....when?) I'll be better about posting more regularly.

Updates in a nutshell:
- Finished chapter 8 today. Started rereading a phenomenal writing book that I'd forgotten all about and ended up completely revamping my main character and rewriting all her scenes. I'll be talking more about that book, and offering a copy for free, in my next newsletter in December. If you don't yet receive my newsletter, please sign up in the box on the right.

- I have a fan page now on Facebook. There are some discussions there that I'd love to see more comments on. Swing by and check it out!

- I was the literature/poetry judge for a local school's "Reflections" contest last week. Talka bout full-circle: I remember entering the Reflections contest when *I* was in elementary school. This year's theme was "Wow." That's it, just "Wow." Talk about open to interpretation. There were 30 entries altogether, the majority from a 6th grade class whose teacher made it mandatory. I was actually quite impressed by some of the poetry. But sitting on the living room floor trying to keep a very mobile Penny Jane from harm and a very active Abby occupied while I "graded" papers made me SO GLAD I'm not teaching anymore. I had flashbacks to my teaching days and they scared me.

-Funny Abby story: My sister-in-law Amber played "I Spy" with her when she was here last week, and Abby asked me to play it with her the other day. When it was my turn to guess she said "I spy with my eye something brown with pink." So I'm looking all over the place thinking, "Wow, she really has a good eye, she's found something in this room that has brown and pink?!" And as I'm looking, trying to find something to guess, she holds up a toy and says, "Is it this?" I say no, then she picks up something else and says, "Is it this?" And I asked, "Abby, do you know what has brown with pink on it in this room?" She says, "No." "Well, what object were you trying to make me guess?" *blank stare like I'm speaking Turkish* "Um, Abby, you need to pick an object in the room and tell me one of the colors on it." (Keep in mind she had guessed three time before it was my turn, so it's not like she'd never played.) Abby says, "Okay!" then looks around for a moment and says, "I spy with my eye a picture on the wall with Greena and Par on it." Of which there is only one. Needless to say I figured out that round pretty quickly.

Oh yeah, one more funny Abby, mostly to remind me in twenty years: We were packing up one of her toys with lots of little pieces, and when we were done I handed her the case and said, "Go put this in the drawer." She said, "No, I don't want to." I reminded her that part of playing with our toys is putting them away when we're done, and if we don't clean them up properly then we can't play with them anymore. To which she huffs, stands up, grabs the case, and says, "Mama, you're frustrating" before stomping off to the drawers. I didn't even bother trying to hide my laughter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shauna Niequist in San Diego this Friday!

For all you locals--Shauna Niequist, author of Cold Tangerines, is going to be doing a luncheon signing at the Berean Bookstore in San Diego this Friday at 12:30. I'm so mad I can't go! :( But if you can, you definitely should--Shauna's a wonderful woman, and I loved Cold Tangerines!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Strike Two

iContact is really irritating me. According to the tracking of my October newsletter, half the recipients haven't opened their newsletter. Now, there's always a chunk of people that don't, and I figured out why, but I find it hard to believe that ALL the 20 people that signed up since August decided not to open it. And none of the letters bounced back, so I don't know what else could have happened besides going into spam folders, but...*shrug* Sounds fishy, eh? Anyway, if you know you receive the newsletter, or you signed up over the last couple months, and you didn't get my October newsletter last weekend, then please check your spam, and if it's not there, please leave me a comment. I want to figure out what's going on. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I should have known better.

Note to self: when you see that your book has ONE LOUSY STAR, whatever you do, don't read the review. Instead, beg people who liked it to go to and review it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

For those who love to write...

...or read about writers, there's a new book out called Grit for the Oyster and it's all tips and ideas and stuff like that from authors to help writers keep plugging away at what they're doing. The author, Suzanne Woods Fisher, wrote the book and is posting interviews with contributing authors on her blog. She just put up my interview, so head over to the book's blog or to her personal blog (just an excerpt there, though) to read it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things here

Health hasn't been so great here the last few days. I had my first official fibromyalgia flair-up--at least, that's what I'm assuming was the reason behind my neck, shoulders, back (both middle and lower), hips, and hands all aching in a bizarre way I've never really experienced before. It would also explain that buzz that was so loud in my ear I was walking around to every piece of electronics in the house and listening to it to figure out what was making that infernal racket. Not fun.

Then on Saturday Abby had a 24 hour stomach flu. It sucked, I felt so bad for her. Vomiting (including once in her carseat--gross), fever, lots of sleeping and whimpering, "Uppies!" But save for a bit of fever in the morning on Sunday, she's been fine ever since. Though we did get this little gem on Sunday:

"Mommy! I have a beaver again!"
" have a beaver?"
"Yeah, a beaver. Take my tempa-chur, I have a beaver!"

She's in the middle of a major growth spurt, too. Her naps have gone from 1.5 hours--2 on a great day--to 2-3 hours! I've had to wake her up the last few days because I don't want her wide awake at bedtime. When my parents saw her yesterday, my mom said she actually looked bigger to her.

On the writing front, I reached my September writing goal--10% of "Guilt" is complete! I also turned in my marketing pack to Zondervan, meaning I've made two deadlines on time in the past couple months. I'm quite proud. Writing is more difficult than I thought it would be--I really thought I'd done enough work on the scene synopses, but it turns out I didn't. But I'm learning a lot, and the next snowflake I do is going to be even better, and maybe *that* book will basically write itself.

Well, Abby wasn't up until 5 today, so even though it's nearly 9:30, I'm off to wrangle her into bed...


Regardless of whether or not you support the bailout bill, you should be outraged.

The outcome of the house vote on Monday was reflective of the opinion of the majority of Americans. That's how the system is supposed to work: the people tell their representatives what they want, and the representatives vote in a way that REPRESENTS the majority of their constituents. They don't say, "Well, I know 89% of the people in my district want me to say no, but that's not how *I* feel, so I'm going to vote yes."

Well, today the government basically told its citizens it didn't care what they wanted. They made some minor changes to the bailout bill and then attached it to a bill that was sure to get passed--a tax cuts for businesses bill. They also decided they didn't want to go through the house first, like they're supposed to. They're skipping the house--bypassing it altogether as though there wasn't a proper order for these things and you could just toss them anywhere willy-nilly--and going straight to the senate.

Is it just me, or is this underhanded, sneaky, and deceptive? Is anyone else as bothered as I am (and bothered is a gross understatement) by how the government consistently chooses to basically shred the Constitution in order to do whatever it wants? Yes, the minority of the country will be thrilled when the bailout bill gets passed, but how will you feel when they pull this kind of stunt with a bill you vehemently oppose? This isn't about the bailout bill anymore--this is about a government run by crooks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Excellent explanation of the problem

Dr. Paul's notes which he didn't have enough time to deliver in full on the House Floor this morning. Excellent observations as always from the good doctor.

Never thought politics would make my heart beat so fast

Dan and I just finished watching live video of the house vote on the bailout package. My stomach was literally in knots watching the seconds tick away and the vote tally change. The video was turning our connection to molasses so I quit it before the last vote was cast, but seeing the nay votes so far in the lead made me want to cry tears of joy. I am so proud of the citizens right now--because this was a citizen-led decision, make no mistake. The public outcry was so huge that representatives couldn't help but listen if they valued their seat in Congress. I know when I told my reps how I felt I made a point of saying I considered this a reelection issue and that I'd track how they voted, though Dan pointed out they don't always track who voted how. Which I didn't know, and which I think is bloody stupid. But I hope people see how raising your voice and making your opinion known can actually make a difference.

Dan's watching C-Span online (I can't because they don't support Quicktime--thanks a lot guys!) and they're saying people can change their vote and there's some arm-twisting going on right now to try to get people to flip their decision. That makes me sick. It's bad enough to think that there are reps who don't care what their constituents want (or what all the experts say is the right thing to do) but to then try to force their decision on others and try to get them to forsake their own conscience!? Talk about making my blood boil.

Anyway, it's not going to matter, but I want to say thank you to all the reps who voted the way their constituents wanted. That's their job, and they did it well. Chances are this package is going to be re-packaged and pushed on the people again, so the fight isn't done, but hopefully people will continue to be vigilant. Check out to get updates about what's happening so you know when to harass your Congresspeople.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

You are responsible.

I'm encouraged by the fact that the majority of the country realizes this bailout is a tremendously bad idea. However, if you haven't told your Congressional representatives yet how you feel, you *need* to make your voice heard. Our government was never supposed to bully its people the way it does, or act without following the will of its people. But somewhere along the line Americans got very lazy. We stopped thinking for ourselves and figured the government would sort things out just fine. We stopped taking them to task when they screwed up and stuck us with the fallout. We stopped speaking out and making our will known. It's time to shake off the apathy, folks, and get on the phone and the fax and the Internet and contact your reps whatever way you can to tell them you absolutely DO NOT support 3 trillion dollars' worth of bad debt being put on YOUR shoulders. The depression that this bailout will (not might, but will) cause is truly catastrophic.

This video does a phenomenal job of explaining what's going on and why the bailout must be stopped. It's ten minutes long, but worth watching--grab yourself a snack or some laundry to fold and put it on to listen to. Then email everyone you know and tell them the same thing: contact your Congressional reps, watch this video, and pass it on.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Yesterday was a red-letter day for Abby. She had her first McDonald's cheeseburger. We were at the mall, it was dinnertime, she likes hamburgers and chicken finger-type foods and anything else is very hit-or-miss, even if she's had it and liked it in the past. I was tired of buying her food she won't eat, and didn't want to deal with the whole eat-two-bites-say-I'm-done-then-complain-for-the-next-hour-about-how-hungry-she-is routine. SO I got the apple dippers to go with it, and a cup of water (which is all she wants to drink anyway) and comforted myself with the fact that she lasted about 20 months longer than a lot of kids her age when it comes to getting her first taste of the quintessential fast food.

Then this morning I ran across this.

WOW do I wish I'd just bitten the bullet and gotten her pb&j from Paradise Cafe instead.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

Camy is cool! Have you read her stuff yet? Here's a little bio about her:

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.

I've blogged about Camy's other two books, which I luuuuuved, and today I'm blogging about her third, though I haven't had the chance yet to read it. Can't wait to, though! Single Sashimi just released, and here's what Camy had to say about it--as well as some other things...

What's the basic scoop on "Single Sashimi"?

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Drake Yu. Why would Drake call her after … what, five years? Six?

Venus heard in his voice that resonance that was almost a growl, that titanium-hard determination to get what he wanted. And he usually got what he wanted. The voice said: “I want you to work for me.”

Not this time… If it was a choice between Drake and McDonald’s—she’d choose french fries. She’d never work for him again. It would take an act of God.

Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister’s startup, the offer to become Chief Operating Officer tempts Venus to think the unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again … except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake’s wealthy family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in the game industry. It’s also a short job—only a few months—so Venus won’t have to stand Drake’s presence for very long.

But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma’s determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane. With the encouragement of her three cousins, Lex, Trish, and Jennifer, Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful transformation …

This is the third book in this series, right? Will there be a fourth? If not, what do you have planned as your next release?

Yes, Single Sashimi is the third book in this series. Zondervan didn’t contract me for the fourth book, BUT I will be writing it anyway and offering it around the end of the year as a free ebook download to members of my YahooGroup newsletter. It’s tentatively titled “Weddings and Wasabi.”

To join my YahooGroup is free and easy! Visit this webpage:

(If anyone has problems joining my YahooGroup, they can email and I can help them out.)

As for my next “official” release, I’m writing a romantic suspense tentatively scheduled for August 2009 that will be released by Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line. It’s titled Deadly Intent, and it’s set in a day spa in Sonoma, California.

What was the most difficult or challenging part of writing "Single Sashimi"?

The research for Single Sashimi was harder than my other books because it was a completely new field for me. I had to rely heavily on friends who hooked me up with other friends who work in the field of video game development. The two women I dedicated the book to were invaluable help in creating Venus’s career around her and also accurately depicting the world of start ups in the Silicon Valley.

What are you reading for fun right now?

Miss Fortune by Sara Mills. It’s like a Christian Maltese Falcon with a female protagonist.

What do you hope readers will take away from "Single Sashimi" (besides a craving for sushi, that is)?

I hope, first and foremost, that they have an entertaining, satisfying read. Second, I hope they come away with a renewed sense of how God is always in control.

Thanks for having me here, Alison!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pepper is the new ketchup

We've always known Abby likes her food with some taste, you know? She loves salsa, for example. I didn't even try salsa until I was 21.

But really, this is ridiculous.

It started at Claim Jumper's the other day. Dan took her there for dinner because I needed a break. They started putting pepper on her...grapes. Yes. Grapes. And she loved it.

Fast forward to today. We're eating dinner at my parents' place. I come back from putting Penny Jane down for a nap and find Abby sprinkling pepper on her...cucumber. Ooookay. Then Mom tells me she ate six cherry tomatoes--which she has previously loathed--all dusted with pepper. For dessert, she had applesauce, and, well...

Looks like I'm it

My book club buddy and doula, Sheridan, tagged me for this survey. I haven't done one of these things in a while, so I figured why not? :)

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules to your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

1. I have 1.5 chapters done on my fourth book.
2. I just ate an apple with peanut butter for my mid-morning snack.
3. Today I'm wearing my glasses instead of my contact lenses.
4. Five objects that are within reach here on the dining room table are: my FlipVideo, the baby monitor, PJ's appointment card for her 9 month well-baby check, the remote to Abby's GeoTrax train, and my peanut butter-smeared plate.
5. There are currently eleven tabs open on my Firebox browser window.
6. I am a world-class procrastinator, evidenced by the fact that I just chose to spend 10 minutes on this blog instead of doing any of the hundred or so other things I really *ought* to be doing.

The five people (I don't follow directions well, what can I say) I am tagging are: My sister-in-law Kelli, my friend Marcela, my friend Meg, my brother Kyle, and my husband.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It curls!

I was going to get it styled like I did when I first moved out here, but when Brooke started going at it we realized that it really curls when it's short. So, voila, the new me!

Monday, September 08, 2008

So long long hair!

I've finally reached the end of my rope with my hair. Tomorrow at 2:30 it's getting HACKED and I'll send it in to Locks of Love. I'm going back to my super-short cut that I got when I first moved out here. I CAN'T WAIT. It's been way too long since I did something with my hair.

So tune in tomorrow night for the results! Here's the BEFORE:

Friday, September 05, 2008

So this is what we've come to

We used to have a first amendment, if I remember correctly. And the freedom to assemble peacefully. Apparently not anymore.

Our government has more in common with Nazi Germany these days than it does with our own Constitution. God save us all.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wonder Pets, we love you...

One of Abby's favorite shows is The Wonder Pets. For those of you not hip to the toddler TV trends, The Wonder Pets are three preschool classroom pets--a duckling named Ming Ming, a turtle named Tuck, and a guinea pig named Linny--who rescue baby animals from various quandaries after the preschoolers have gone home for the day. There's lots of singing--it's sort of opera-ish, where they sing instead of talking (though not always) and the theme of the show is always teamwork--they always work together to save the baby animal, and always employ some outside-the-box solution which they used previously to put together the Fly Boat. It's a cute show, overall, despite the disturbing hints of gender identity issues Linny (supposedly a girl, but not quite) displays.

Anyway, I've been noticing lately how much Abby has picked up from this show. Anyone claiming kids aren't influenced by what they watch should just observe her for a week and see just how much--good and bad--she soaks up from this show. Some samples:

1. She's BIG into teamwork, which overall is a good thing, though not when you're trying to sweep or change the baby's diaper. She'll say, "I need some teamwork over here!" when she wants help, and while you're working together she'll make you sing the teamwork song from the show.

2. One of the episodes involved helping a baby rooster who didn't know how to crow loud enough to wake the farm. After they give him some suggestions, he says, "Okay! I'll cock-a-doodle do it!" This is now Abby's favorite thing to say.

3. Lately she's talked about "being in trouble." I was confused for the longest time about what she meant since we never refer to her as being in trouble and, as far as I could remember, none of the shows she watches have characters who get in trouble, either. But just the other day I remembered one of the lines to the theme song is "There's an animal in trouble somewhere!" I realized she always says it when she's stuck or unable to get something to work right--like today, when trying to get her shoe on. "Mama, I got my foot in this one, but I in trouble with this other shoe because it keeps closing!"

4. In one of the shows, Ming Ming and Tuck get in a fight and Ming Ming sings, "I'm not going to talk to you anymore!" Well, now every once in a while Abby sings the same thing, complete with dismissive head-toss. Oops.

5. The Wonder Pets always reward themselves with celery after a successful rescue. Now she eats celery. Woohoo!

6. Dozens and dozens of "Hey! Like on Wonder Pets!" that occur throughout the day--animals we see (like the cranes at the Wild Animal Park), instruments (there was a mouse in a saxophone once, then we saw a sax on Riverdance), etc. I'm stunned sometimes by the details she remembers. Just one more reminder to watch our p's and q's around her. She's soaking it ALL in.

Catching up

My apologies for all the spotty blogging lately; there's been a ton on both my mind and my plate and I just haven't had the energy to sit and write anything. But now that we're back from our vacation in La Jolla (which, in all honesty, wasn't all that relaxing) I feel ready to at least post some updates.

First off--make sure you received my newsletter from August 17th. If you know you signed up but don't think you got it, check your spam and it should be there. If you aren't sure if you signed up, go ahead and do it again--the system is smart and won't list you twice, so if you're already signed up you're not going to start getting multiple copies of the newsletter. And if you haven't signed up, then you can do it right now--just put your email address in the little box up there in the right-hand column and click the wee button. When your submission goes through I'll send you a copy of the August newsletter, and if you want you can read the the June issue in the archives.

Second off--I have officially begun working on book #4, and since I'm sick and tired of calling it Book #4, I hereby dub it with the working title of "Guilt." Though, to be completely accurate, I actually haven't started working on the book itself--I've just started the marketing for it. That's a kick--filling out a marketing packet for Zondervan for a book that doesn't exist yet except in my snowflake notes. Which ROCK, by the way: of the 5 things Zondervan (hereby called Z) requested in the marketing packet, 3 of them were steps in the snowflake and are thus already completed. A little cut-n-paste and I'm done. Woohoo! Unfortunately, one of the other things it asks for is 15-20 pages of completed manuscript that is representative of the whole of the book, and since I haven't started writing yet I am not only short 15-20 pages, I am clueless as to what section of the book would actually *be* a good representative of the whole. The marketing stuff is due in to Z on Oct. 1 so I've got some time to sort it out. And who knows--given how comprehensive the snowflake is, I may have half the book done by then! Wouldn't that be a trip?!

Third off--If you're ever in San Diego, you've GOT to go to the Wild Animal Park. We went the other day and had so much fun! Though I did learn some things:

1. The Wild Animal Park is nowhere near the Zoo, which is, of course, in San Diego. It is in Escondito, which is inland quite a bit. Therefore...

2. ...when planning a trip to the Wild Animal Park, do NOT check the weather in San Diego and get all excited at the thought of a nice day in the mid-70's and decide to wear jeans. Because when you get to Escondito it will be 93 degrees and you will feel like a giant sweating pig by hour #3.

3. Bring strollers for ALL children. Do not assume that the forward-facing carry you read about online will work with your sling and that your baby will want to be in it all day, thus freeing up the stroller for your toddler. And when you're on the Safari Walk for 45 minutes and are going up the third hill, your toddler is going to want to ride, or else be carried, and then you're really stuck.

4. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the prices. No, it's not cheap, but it's not highway robbery the way some places are. And their kids' meal is awesome! (Though the bees will want to sample everything, too, which makes for a sort of dicey eating experience.)

Giant sweating pig-ness aside, it was a fantastic day and we can't wait to go again. It's only about an hour from us here in RSM, and since we have annual Zoo passes we get free admission and parking, so there's no reason for us not to go back a bunch, especially before the crowds start picking up. We went on the day the public schools all started classes, so the place was really empty, and the parking attendant said it's usually pretty empty through October. We're going to just keep an eye on the Escondito weather and head down there on cool days.

The only two things Abby said she wanted to see while we were there were, "a cat and a giant chicken." All the big cats were in hiding because of the heat, but we did see some meerkats, which she seemed happy with:

And while there were no giant chickens to be found, there were flamingos aplenty:

We also saw gorillas during feeding time--the trainer was atop their rocky enclosure and dropped whole bell peppers, corn on the cobs, and carrots to them, prompting Abby to say, "I want to be a monkey so you can throw food at me!" And there were tons of elephants, including one giving himself a bath, which Abby really enjoyed watching. Next time we go we're going to take the safari bus tour--can't wait for that!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Checkpoint 2

I'm so psyched. I just emailed my editor with my manuscript two days early! I didn't think I'd get it done before mid-September, but I miscalculated the number of chapters I had (if by miscalculated you meant 'mistook the 3 in "Chapter 23" to be an 8') so I didn't need as much time as I thought I would. But coming down to the condo definitely sped up the process. It's not like I don't have to make meals, or do laundry (diaper laundry, anyway), or take care of the kids, but for some reason I find more time here to work.

So the next step is to start working on the marketing pack for book #4--and actually start writing book #4. FINALLY.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Did you get it?

So it's been a week, and through the mighty powers of newsletter tracking, I can tell that some of you still haven't read your August issue of "Life in the Balance" yet. It's totally cool with me if you just haven't had the chance, or if you changed your mind and deleted it on sight, but I wanted to mention it in case it went to your spam without you knowing it. And if you haven't signed up for it yet and want to see what you're getting into when you register for it, then click here to read the latest issue.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mental illness and the church

A fellow writer and blogger, Julie Fidler, is currently working on a book about mental illness and the Christian church and needs a little help:

I'm writing a book about mental illness & the Church - what the Church has done right, what they've done wrong, what mental illness is, what it isn't, and how they need to improve in reaching out to the sick.

I'm looking to interview people with mental illness (depression and/or everything else!) who have stories to tell about their experiences with church and other Christians, both good and bad.

If you fit that description and would be willing to talk with her, you can contact her at She also posted about this on her blog. She's pretty open about this on her blog, so I think it's okay for me to tell you that Julie herself has bi-polar, so you won't be talking to someone who is only working from a theory standpoint--she's been there, done that. Knowing that might make it easier for folks to contact her; you know she will relate to you in a way most of us never can. Good luck, Julie!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

five years

Today is Dan's and my fifth wedding anniversary. We agreed no presents, but he got me one anyway, the goof--a silver linked-heart necklace that Penny has not once tried to grab while nursing, long may it last. Like it?

We're in Ventura for the weekend, and right now we're watching the Angels (yay!) versus the Yankees (boo!) but my friend's husband is pitching for the Yankees (yay!) so its kinda hard not to cheer for him. He's doing really well, too (yay for him, boo for the Angels). Since we've gotten rid of cable we've never had the chance to see him pitch, so it's been a treat to see him on TV.

Thought I had wedding photos on this computer, but I guess not. I'll post one when we get back from Ventura...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Deep thought of the week

Mothers are proof that evolution did not bring us to where we are today. If it had, then by now we would have four arms, eyes in the back of our heads, and the ability to function on three hours of sleep.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Toddler Spirituality, Part 2

Yesterday I took the girls to the RSM lake to meet up with some friends. While we were there we ran into a woman I was in a small group with back before Abby was born. After she left, Abby said, "Who that?"

"That was Miss Lori. Mommy knew her before you were born."

"Oh. I was with Jesus before I was born."

*boggle* "Um...really?"

"Yeah. Penny Jane was, too."

"PJ lived with Jesus too?"


"Before she was born?"

"Yeah. He's gone now."

"Jesus is gone? Like, he's up in heaven?"


We've never said anything to her about her living with Jesus before being born. I have no idea where she came up with the idea. Unless...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Toddler Spirituality

Abby's really into Jesus these days. One of her bedtime books is a collection of Bible stories about him written in very simply language. For the last week or so it's been the only book she wants to read at night (we typically read two), and she'll pick to a random title in the table of contents and we'll start there and read three of the stories. And then the other day she told Dan, "Jesus is coming over today. He's going to give me a hug."

I'm teaching her the Lord's Prayer. We were praying it at naptime, and then praying our usual prayer at bedtime, but now she asks for the "Our Father prayer" anytime we pray. I say a line and she repeats it, but she's getting a few of them a little wrong. It's so cute. For example, every time I say "thy" she says "my" (for some reason I memorized it in King James language). She also says, "deliver us from eagles." And every time I say, "Lead us not into temptation" she'll say, "Like Larry Boy!" (Thank you Veggie Tales.) And I started pronouncing "Amen" as "Ahmen" when we did the Lord's Prayer, and now if I say it with the long A sound like I used to, she'll say, "No, it's AH-men!"

Abby has heard me sing Penny Jane's lullabies enough that she's learning the songs (plus she's heard all the songs on her Praise Baby DVDs for the last year or so), so now she sings them whenever the mood strikes her. One of the songs' lyrics is "Hallelujah, hallelujah, God is love." Abby pronounces it, "Haba-you-yuh," and when she sings along with me while I'm trying to put PJ down it's always a struggle not to start laughing, I just love how it sounds.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pens, highlighters, and notecards at the ready...

Guess what this is?

That is my third novel, Reinventing Rachel, all 192 single-spaced pages of it. It is due in two months. Tomorrow I'm going to begin my edits. Woohoo! I love being this far ahead of the game. All I need to do before I start is three-hole punch it, buy some highlighters, and pick up the editing flashcards (a.k.a. the checklists at the end of each chapter of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers) I had laminated today at Staples.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you know that I wasn't supposed to start editing until next week. Well, I decided to tweak my schedule a little. I finished the snowflake method for the fourth book a couple nights ago, but I decided not to start writing because I have a feeling I'm going to get really into it, and I didn't want to set myself up for frustration by starting something I wasn't going to be able to finish. I'd rather set the snowflake aside, edit ReRa, and then come back and reread the snowflake and insert the information I've gathered from the research I still need to do and then start writing. I also decided to take on a sewing project because I'm just not busy enough.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Checkpoint 1

Today was the first checkpoint on my six-month schedule. I am happy (and surprised, frankly) to announce that I indeed finished mapping out the scenes for Book 4! (I really have to figure out a title for this book.) I didn't think I'd make it since I'd missed a big part of the process and had to set the scene stuff aside to go do it, but I actually finished it Thursday night. However, when I made that schedule I did so assuming I was going to skip the last step in the snowflake process, but I've decided to really stick to it and do it all the way. So I doubt I'll get the first 10% done by August 2 like I'd planned. But, then again, this whole experience has been one happy surprise after another so far, so who knows, maybe it'll work out.

Dan's brother-in-law is here with his family for the weekend. They're Las Vegas folks (North Las Vegas, to be specific) but they're Disneyland fanatics, so they're in town to purchase season tickets. I'm going to get pictures while they're here of their son Simon (who's 5) with Abby, because they look so much like siblings; same with their 6-month-old Gavin and Penny Jane. It's bizarre, really, how much they look alike. There is zero resemblance between me and my cousins, so it really cracks me up.

All the kids are in bed, Dan and Andrew are holed up in Dan's office playing XBox games, and Amber is, I think, tucking herself into the Aerobed, so I'm going to take advantage of the solitude and get going on the last step of the snowflake process. I can't say enough about this concept--if you're a novelist you absolutely MUST check it out. It's ten bucks and worth every penny.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Abby said today

Abby: "I want a baby."

Me: "You want to *be* a baby? Or you *want* a baby?"

Abby: "I want a baby. In my beebo (bellybutton, a.k.a. tummy). I want to be a mommy."

The look on her face when she said it...oh my goodness, I nearly cried. It was so precious. She just looked so sincere.

Check your email!

Go ahead, go take a look, I'll wait.

*insert elevator music here*

Did you see the friendly reminder from me and my newsletter? You didn't?! Oh dear--that means either:

A) It went in your spam folder--quick, go check! Is it there? Mark it as not spam so you don't miss anything else!


B) You're not signed up for my newsletter. And really, what excuse do you have? You don't *like* insights into the writing process, or hearing about awesome women who are doing cool things to stay home with their kids, or entering ridiculously easy contests to win fantastic prizes? Maybe you just missed the sign-up box in the right-hand column of the blog, and just didn't happen to see the posts back in June about the first issue being sent out. It's okay, we all make mistakes. Go sign up and I'll forgive you. Then check out the archives to see last month's issue and to enter the contest!

And if you're thinking, "Waitaminit--I *did* sign up for the newsletter, but I never got it!" then that means it went to your spam, just like my reminder most likely did. Oops! The next issue releases in mid-August, so be on the lookout for it so you don't miss it. And until then, you can check the first issue at the archives.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The itch

Two nights ago I completed the last character sketch for my next book. I even modified the approach by writing each character's backstory in their own voice starting at the point where they enter the story. I think it helped me to create a unique voice for each one of them; I tend to make all my characters sound alike. (At least, I think they do.) The next step is to actually plot out every scene in a big spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets. I'm excited to have a reason to open Excel.


The itch to start writing has begun to, well, itch. This is the point when I gave up on the snowflake method when writing Reinventing Rachel. Actually, if I'm honest, I slapped together some pretty half-baked character sketches for ReRa because of the dang itch, so it's safe to say I've gotten much further this time. I've never outlined with this much depth, and my little inner voice is complaining that this is too formulaic and all the creativity is getting sucked out of the process. Which is so not true. If anything, I'll be able to be MORE creative because I won't have to stop every five minutes to figure out where exactly I want this or that scene to go, what's going to come next, etc. But regardless, it's getting more and more difficult to focus on the process because I want to write already!

It's also not helping that I'm completely stuck as to how to start the story. I'm eager to get out my spreadsheet, but I don't have any idea what to put in it yet. Actually, that's not quite true--I do know about some of the scenes, but they're further on in the story, and I have a very hard time approaching a book in a non-linear way. (Diana Gabaldon, who writes the unputdownable Outlander series, supposedly writes her books by just writing random scenes and assembling them together later. I CANNOT fathom that process. Talk about messy!) Even though I have those scenes in mind, I can't bring myself to enter them into the scene spreadsheet until everything that's supposed to come before them is there. Maybe I'll be able to push myself in that area with the next book, but not yet.

So I'm wracking my brain to come up with the right entry point into the story, but I think once I do the story will unfold pretty easily. My revised schedule for the rest of the year (I can't believe I'm planning out six months worth of work; I've never planned out more than a couple weeks at a time!) is as follows:

July 19: scene spreadsheet completed
August 2: First 10% of story completed
August 3-31: edit ReRa and work on marketing ideas
September 1: turn in ReRa to Cook Publishing
September: 1-30: write 20% more of story (30% cumulative) and complete marketing pack for book 4
October 1: turn in marketing pack to Zondervan
October 1-31: write 25% more on book 4 (55% cumulative), work on ReRa edits with editor
November 1-30: write 25% more on book 4 (80% cumulative), work on ReRa edits
December 1-31: complete book 4, work on ReRa edits

If I can stick to this, then I can set book 4 aside for all of January, start outlining book 5, and then come back to book 4 in February to edit before turning it in March 1. Am I completely insane for thinking I can do this? Especially given holidays, and travel, and parenting, and life in general? I don't know, truly. We'll see. Right now, however, I need to figure out my opening scene for the book--and my next move on Scrabulous. Kari is kicking my butt.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's going on here right now:

Abby is cleaning the family room. No one asked her to, we weren't talking about how it needed to be tidied--we were just sitting here and she started picking things up and putting them away. And in the right places! Well, most things, anyway--the towel doesn't belong on PJ's playmat, but whatever. Dan and I are biting our tongues trying not to laugh or to catch her eye--she almost always stops doing cute things as soon as she discovers she's being watched.

Anyway...I can't believe she's doing this. Adorable. And very helpful.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Vote for Tiffany!

I know Tiffany Hull from my days at Axis, the now-defunct Gen X ministry at Willow Creek. Her husband was my boss when I was the Axis administrator, and Tiffany sang with the band. I just reconnected with them of Facebook, and just found out Tiffany is this up-and-coming awesome singer/songwriter! (Not that I'm surprised.) Anyway, there's this big vote going on right now for bands to play at Lollapalooza, so go here and vote for Tiffany right now--the deadline for voting is tomorrow, June 22. There are four rounds and this is just the first--if she makes it to the next round I'll be sure to post so we can all go vote again. :)

Go Tiffany go!!!

Recording them for posterity...

Abby toppled off her training potty (which gets a lot more use as a stool than a potty), and said, "Whoa--that was scary."

Me: "Oh yeah?"

Abby: "Yeah--my tummy jumped!"

We walk into Dan's office the other morning and Abby points to the print he'd hung on the wall the night before after she was in bed (same picture shown on this t-shirt) and says, "Hey--that's Ron Paul!"

Abby and I had lunch with my mom the other day and Abby tried some of Mom's salad. When Dan asked her later what she had for lunch she said, "I had salad, but I didn't like it."

Dan: “No?”

Abby (leaning in close and whispering): “It was too juicy.”

Priceless. I love it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book tour: Copper Fire by Suzanne Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s just-released historical novel Copper Fire, is the sequel to the three-time award-winning Copper Star, a World War II love story inspired by true events. That wasn't her first writing gig, however. Fisher was a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her work has appeared in Today’s Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to ten non-fiction books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs. A wife and mother, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The best thing about being a writer, she feels, is that all of life becomes material for writing. It’s all grit for the oyster.

Suzanne can be found at

During the month of June, Suzanne is running a book-a-day-giveaway contest. To enter, scoot on over to her blog ( to pop her an e-mail:

And now, for some random questions for our visiting author:

Q: Tell us about Copper Fire.

SWF: Copper Fire is the sequel to Copper Star, picking right up at the very end of World War II. On a summer day in 1945, my main character, Louisa, receives a telegram from the International Red Cross Tracing Service. She discovers that her cousin, Elisabeth, has just been released from Dachau. Louisa is determined to go to Germany to get Elisabeth…and that’s where the story begins.

Q: Who was the naughtiest kid in your elementary school and what did he or she

SWF: A boy named Hugo who had hair like Bozo the Clown. He argued with everybody, including teachers. He’s probably a brilliant diplomat by now. All of that experience with conflict resolution.

Q: How do you get yourself out of a funk?

SWF: I try to distract myself so that I can see the situation more objectively. I pray a lot, too, and find that I receive wonderful counseling advice that way. Free, too!

Q: What is your motto?

SWF: “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write (published in 1938), Graywolf Press

Q: Can you tell us what’s on your desk right now? What can readers look forward to?

SWF: In late August, Grit from the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, will be released from Vintage Spirit. I wrote Grit with three other very talented authors.

And another piece of great news! I just received a contract from Revell/Baker for a non-fiction book called Amish Peace in an English Life. It won’t be out until 2010…but ‘everything Amish’ is filling up my head right now.

Thanks for letting me visit, Alison!

Find Suzanne on-line at

Copper Star (ISBN: 0-9793327-4-5) and Copper Fire (ISBN: 978-0-981-5592-0-9) are available at Amazon or other on-line booksellers, at Suzanne’s website, or can be ordered through your favorite bookstore.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Daddy Day to all the papas out there. Hope you got lots of hugs and breakfast in bed. Or whatever floats your boat. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The newsletter launches tomorrow!

We have articles! We have inspiration! We have contests! Really, what else could you ask for in an author newsletter? Readers and writers alike will find something of interest and benefit in this bi-monthly offering. Sign up here on the blog (check out the right-hand margin) or on my website. You don't want to miss it!

Sunday, June 08, 2008


It's done! I can officially say I have authored three novels. This afternoon I wrote the last words on Reinventing Rachel, a book I started so long ago that I can't remember exactly when. It's the first of at least two books I'll be publishing with David C. Cook, and is set to release sometime next year. Final stats: 192 single-spaced pages in 12-point Lucida Grande font, 89,490 words.

It's been the most difficult book to write so far because of the lack of consistency in my writing schedule and other little things like having a baby. :) I'd sometimes go weeks between writing opportunities, which made it difficult to keep track of what was going on plot-wise and really messed with detail continuity. The major lesson learned from this book is that I must have a writing schedule that allows me to write at least every other day. Given that my next book is due in March and I've not even outlined it yet, I'm going to have to really keep to that schedule to get it done in time.

I'm trying something new with this book as well, in terms of my approach to the craft. I'm going to completely set this book aside, start working on my researching and outlining for the next project, and then come back to it around August to edit. With my last two books the editing was funky: With Worlds Collide I didn't know what I was doing, and I was more concerned with cutting words (they wanted me to slash forty thousand words! I managed twenty thousand and luckily they were okay with that) than with tightening story or working on word crafting. With Violette Between I scrapped the entire manuscript, save for one scene, three months before my deadline, so all I was concerned about was getting the thing written, and again, there was no time to actually work on the crafting. This time I have time to spare, and I want to use it wisely. I'm going to have a few pros read through it and look at specific areas I want to work on so I can get their feedback and suggestions, and then in August I'm going to go through the whole thing myself on paper, rather than on the computer, and make the changes they suggest as well as look for things I want to improve. I'm also going to take some time over the summer go to through Self-Editing for Fiction Writers so I can work on my editing skills. It's so much easier to work on someone else's stuff; I really need to work on looking at my own work with a critical editor's lens.

But for now, this week, I'm taking a break from writing entirely. Well, from writing books, anyway. I'm going to be collaborating with someone on an article that we can hopefully get in some local papers about the loss of choice women in Orange County are facing due to the closing of the only maternity ward in the county that allows midwives to deliver. We're hoping to get at least one local hospital to bring these midwives on, though ideally they'd get privileges at all the area hospitals. I'm also going to work on Penny Jane's journal. I'm keeping a journal for both girls, talking about their development, my thoughts on what it's like to be their mother, etc., and I haven't even started Penny's yet! I need to update Abby's as well. And I'm going to read a lot this week, too. My book club is reading My Antonia this month, and my friend Meg and I are reading through Desiring God by John Piper. I'm reading the introduction right now and it's fascinating. It's about "Christian Hedonism." If the rest of the book is anything like the intro, I'm going to love it. And I'm going to have lots of time to read, too--we're going to Ventura on Thursday and staying through Father's Day, which means Abby will be off frolicking in the garden and den with Greena and Par and I will be free to read to my heart's content! Throw in one last pass through a manuscript we're editing and I've got a pretty full week, but one I'm looking forward to because I'm doing it all without my book hanging over my head.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

What she said

Lately Abby's been having this conversation on the phone, over and over: "Hello? Oh, hi...oh yeah?...*laugh* Great!...okay, buh-bye."
Me: Who are you talking to?
Abby: There's an angel on the phone!
Me: Oh really? What angel?
Abby: Mary's angel.
Me: Oh, what did he say?
Abby: Mary's having a baby.

Can you tell we've been reading her Jesus storybook a lot lately? :)

Other cute things she's said lately:

(upon realizing one of her socks had fallen off) "Lookit, Mommy, I have a sock and a foot! I take off the other one--I want to wear only feet."

Abby, with phone to her ear: Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Abby, holding up a finger: Wait a second, I'm on the phone.

(hugging her sippy cup) "It's okay, I gotcha baby, I gotcha," followed by little soft hums and pat-pats on the cup's "back." She mimics the tone I use with Penny Jane exactly.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Do your part!

This is frightening.

Under proposed Assembly Bill 10942, NY surrenders its control of public health and makes every vaccination recomended by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices mandatory. For the first time, vaccination of infants and toddlers becomes mandatory. Under this proposed law, there will be NO exemptions for any reason. Even if a child has previously had an adverse reaction to, or has a genetic disposition towards heightened sensitivity to, vaccines the child will not be exempted. These are the actions of a police state, and there's no reason why other states won't eventually follow suit.

We need to stick up for those children--AND our own. Regardless of what you think about the safety and necessity of vaccines, you need to realize that the state SHOULD NOT be able to force you to make decisions about your health and the health of your children. Your body and your child do not belong to the state. (Yet.)

Please click here to send a letter to NY legislators. You don't have to be a citizen of New York to tell them what you think. The bigger stink we make, the better--and the less likely other states will be to try to tangle with us.

Remember: just because your freedom isn't being attacked doesn't mean it won't be eventually. Fight for the citizens of New York, and when the time comes, maybe they'll return the favor.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Facebook, how I love thee

Good grief, I'm spending way too much time on Facebook. It is way too addicting. And since all my favorite blogs are starting to go offline (Haiku Mama, please don't leave me!) I have a wee bit of extra time to spend on things like sending pretend plants to my friends and getting my butt kicked at Scrabulous.

Actually, I haven't been spending nearly as much time on Facebook as I could be because I've been writing like the dickens trying to get this blasted book done. And I'm so close! I'm guessing 3-5 chapters left. Then I take a five minute break before jumping into the next book, or rather, into outlining the next book, since at this point I have lots of ideas in my head and absolutely nothing on paper.

I'm putting together the first newsletter--have you signed up yet??? I've gotten some pretty good entries for the "Name the Newsletter" contest, but if I don't have your idea yet, there's still time to submit it! The first issue launches Father's Day, so get your submission in by Saturday the 14th--let's say noon PST so I have time to agonize over which name to choose. Don't forget, winner gets prizes!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

Julie over at Joy's Hope (the WAHM I mentioned in my last blog) tagged me for this little survey. Haven't gotten one of these in a while!

What I was doing 10 years ago
Let's see, 1998. Well, if we get specific and say May of 1998, then I was packing up my gear down at U of Illinois in preparation for moving home for the summer. I'd just finished my second junior year (or first senior year--I was on the 5 year plan thanks to my stint abroad in Scotland the year before), ended a rebound relationship I had no business being in in the first place, and was preparing to start an internship with the Axis ministry at Willow Creek Church.

Five things on my to-do list today
Since I'm in La Jolla today and not home, I don't really have a to-do list--this is like a mini vacation. Were I at home, the list would be pretty mundane: get the dishes done, clear up the kitchen, figure out something decent for dinner, try to get some writing in, spend way too much time on the internet.

Snacks I enjoy
Oh man, this is just cruel to ask--it makes me think of all the things I can't have now that I'm dairy-free. Big ol' bowl of cereal, cheese puffs, chocolate...hold on while I mop up this drool...

Things I would do if I were a millionaire
Relocate. Bail some folks I know out of debt. Donate to a handful of ministries. That's probably it. A million bucks doesn't go as far as you'd think when you start to really calculate. If I were a MULTI-millionaire the list would be amended to say "a lot" instead of "a handful" of ministries.

I don't know how many people I'm supposed to tag, but I'll tag my hubsters, Meg, Kelli, and Kyle.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The newsletter!

So I'm finally taking the leap and creating a newsletter. It's something I've been contemplating for a while, and since I've never been busier in my life than I am right now, it seemed logical to throw caution to the wind and pile one more spoonful of potato salad onto the overflowing buffet plate that is my life. Why not, right?

The first issue will come out this June, and at this point it will be a bi-monthly affair. Every issue will have a contest (with fun prizes!), an article, Q & A, book release and writing news, book reviews and recommendations, and the WAHMmy Corner, which will profile one or two Work At Home Moms who make awesome stuff that everyone should know about. I've developed a heart for WAHMs lately, not only because I am one and I know how hard it is to balance work and motherhood, but because I want those moms to be able to continue staying home with their babies, and the more customers they get, the more likely it is they'll be able to!

The first contest is starting now, before the first issue even releases. My newsletter needs a name! So sign up to receive it, then put on your thinking cap, get creative, and send me your idea. The winner will be announced in the first issue, and the prize is a signed copy of Worlds Collide and a movie pass pack!

Know of a WAHM who deserves international recognition? Have a question for the Q & A column? Email me! And don't forget to sign up--the form is in the sidebar!

Monday, May 19, 2008

WAHMs rock! (edited to correct a url)

My foray into the world of cloth diapering has made me much more aware of just how many mamas are out there busting their butts to work from home so they can stay with their babies. I can't tell you how many hundreds of diaper brands there are out there, but only a small percentage of them are companies. The rest are moms who decided to make diapers the way they wanted them, and then started selling them to others who liked their approach and style. Discovering all these WAHMs (work at home moms) has made me want to buy from them whenever I can, be it for diapers, or nursing covers, or wet bags (for dirty cloth diapers), nursing pads, whatever. I know what a tremendous blessing it is for me to be able to stay home with our girls, and I want to help those moms however I can.

To that end, when I start my newsletter (yes, I'm starting a newsletter! More on that later!), I'm going to feature one or two WAHMs in each issue so you can show them a little love the next time you're in need of what they're making.

But until then, here's a WAHM I just learned of when my friend Marcela gave me one of her wares as a baby gift. I thought this was just one of the cutest ideas ever: it's a picnic pack for a baby!

This is what it looks like all folded up and velcro-d closed:

And when you open it up, it has pockets with all these goodies:

It has a bib (handmade in matching fabric), a pack of rice cereal, two jars of baby food, a spoon, and wet wipes to tackle the post-meal mess. How brilliant is that? And how adorable is that fabric?!

Julie is the mastermind behind this project, and her store is located at She's in the middle of restocking her supply, but she also has some other great products available at her other store, Super cute and creative stuff, and fantastic gift ideas. She's going to be launching a new website this summer; I'll include it in my newsletter.

Do you know of a WAHM whose products deserve a wider audience? Leave a comment with their contact info and I'll consider them for a newsletter!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Embrace Me by Lisa Samson

My homegirl Lisa has a new book out! She rocks! Go buy it! Here's the CFBA blurb for Embrace Me.

Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…people are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexintgon, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, has very few friends in this world, and it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Head colds SUCK. This one whammed me around 3 this afternoon after a few days of being a small, mildly irritating cold. Now I can barely hear, my head is all pressure-y, and my throat is chronically dry. I sang all Abby's lullabies an octave lower than usual and kept having to swallow back coughing spells.

Zicam, do your thing!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Eight million things

Alright, so, eight million is a bit of an exaggeration, but that's what it feels like. It's been forever since I've had time to sit down and blog more than a brief note. Hopefully I'll remember everything I've been wanting to write about.

1. Abby prays on her own now at nap and bedtime. It's so cute the things she thinks to say thank you for. The other day she included outside, the swingset, the gardeners, and Jesus. Tonight when she was done she said, "Jesus loves me!" So sweet.

2. We went to the Jana Alayra concert last weekend. If you have children between the ages of about 18 months and 8 years, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend her stuff. They're such great songs, super catchy, and the concert DVDs (at least the second one, I haven't seen the first) are really fun. She does all these hand motions to the songs, and Abby walks around doing them as best she can and singing in her monotone alto. Adorable. They perform all over the country; if they're ever in your area you totally have to go. Anyway...we got there super early so I could get in line for the first-come, first-served seating. The girls napped in the car and I wrote thank you notes and read. I was first in line, which was awesome, because we wanted to get close enough to let Abby feel like she was a part of the action without having to go down into the mosh pit of children, which of course she would never do. She was pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience; this was her pose for the majority of the concert:

though towards the end she did start doing some of the motions very small in front of her. I think she enjoyed it, though; at least, she says she did, so that's good.

3. Ron Paul is coming to San Diego on the 23rd! He's doing a book signing somewhere in Balboa Park. We're getting decked out (kids too!) in RP gear and going down to see him. I can't wait to meet him. I'm going to bring a copy of Violette Between for his wife. :)

4. I just found ShoutLife. If you're on it, send me a friend invite! I'm giving up on MySpace; it's too overwhelming for me. ShoutLife is a Christian version--or at least, a much more safe version, you don't have to be Christian to join, but they're strict on appropriateness of photos, etc. I can't believe how many friends requests I got on MySpace from totally skanked-out women. Hello!?

5. I'm in the home stretch for my current WIP. Chapter 18 is mere paragraphs from completion, and I think I'll have about 27 altogether, so that's less than 100 pages left to go! Woohoo! My chapters have come out surprisingly even in length, especially considering I don't plan the out ahead of time. They're all between 9 and 11 pages long. I'm over 70,000 words, so I'll be just over 100,000. Right on target! Way past when I'd hoped to complete it, though, but oh well. I've been putting a lot of thought into the next book, so as soon as I wrap up this one I should be able to jump in and start with it. No title yet, though, which is weird; typically titles come to me right away when I start thinking about a book. This one, though, hasn't offered up anything yet. It actually makes it a little harder for me to connect with it when I don't have a proper name for it. "Untitled" or "Current MS" just don't cut it.

6. My friend Meg recently made the jump to cloth diapers for her son, who is a few months younger than Abby. She has completely inspired me. As she points out in one of the first posts she wrote about her decision, the #2 landfill item is diapers. Every single one ever worn is still out there, not any more decomposed than it was when it was first thrown away. GROSS. So even though we're probably not that far from being potty trained (I HOPE), we're making the switch for Abby, too, and once I'm comfortable with the process, for Penelope Jane, too. I just bought my first diaper, which should arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday. Yay! But I'm not stopping there. I'm aiming to stop using paper towels, tissues, and disposable napkins as well. I'm actually going to get out my sewing machine, get it serviced (I don't know WHAT I'm doing wrong, but the thread keeps getting messed up in the bobbin case when I use it), and going to work making my own kitchen cloths, hankies, and napkins. I mean, why not, right? And while I'm at it I'm going to FINALLY get the curtains made for my office, and once Dan's done with class (less than two weeks left in the semester, yay!) we're going to put up the shelves we bought at IKEA an embarrassingly long time ago.

7. For some reason, over the last two or three weeks I've had a major energy shift. I finally reached my personal limit for being lazy, for procrastinating, for shying away from the mundane tasks I just couldn't be bothered with. I know I'm supposed to have less time and energy now that I have another baby, but it's just not true. I'm exercising, I'm cooking dinner, I'm going to the farmer's market again, I'm writing nearly every day, I'm planning an insane amount of sewing, I'm reading my Bible's awesome, I'm so psyched.

8. We got our new swing set! Old, crappy, screws-jumping-out-of-it set:

New, stable, doesn't-give-you-splinters-or-move-when-you-swing set:

The little house at the bottom has much potential; I can just imagine the girls eating lunch out there on rainy days. Here's Abby in there with her buddy Bryson:

9. A couple weeks back on Dancing With The Stars, they had some of the Riverdance performers on doing a number in between announcements of who was in danger of getting kicked off. They also had two kid couples who were contestants in their junior championship. Abby FELL IN LOVE with Riverdance and those two couples. Most mornings we watch that five or six times before our usual Blue's Clues. And now when we watch it she dances around the living room. "Wow--the feet are so fast!" she says when they show the Riverdance people. For Mother's Day Dan bought me a two-disc Riverdance performance, so Abby and I started watching it this morning. I LOVE that show. I've seen it five times, I think--London, Edinburgh, Chicago, and twice here. I saw the London show the first week I moved out to the UK in college, and listened to the soundtrack the whole year I was there, so now whenever I hear it I'm thrown back to my funky little room in Maclay Hall up on Park Terrace in Kelvingrove Park. Ah, the memories! Anyway, I'm happy Abby is so into it; I'm really hoping she'll want to take dance lessons in a couple years. There's even a big Irish dance studio not far from here. Nana took Irish dance lessons as a child; maybe the talent will run in the family!

Well, I think that about catches me up, save for Penny Jane news which I'll post on the baby blog. I'll leave you with a pic of the ladies of the family, taken today in my mom's rose garden. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh what a night (Drama part III)

THIS is why I never throw anything away! Old computer to the rescue!

It's sad how slow my writing life has been over the last year, but it's also a really good thing, because I was able to recover pretty much everything in that corrupted Books file by retrieving the folder off my previous laptop. The only un-updated thing was my current MS, which I've been saving chapter by chapter on Google Documents and was also able to save through Word into the new folder.

So, as far as I can tell, disaster has been averted. Time for bed.