Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thanks SOOOO Much

While celebrating Christmas with my extended family, Brooke my two-year-old granddaughter, handed my brother a gift. He leaned down toward her, smiled, and said, "Thanks, so much." Brooke paused for only a second then went back to handing out gifts for my dad.
Later that night, while we sat around the table playing a game, Brooke repeated, "Thanks, sooooo much," softly. Over and over.
One of my nieces laughed and looked at me. She said, "If anybody else was doing that it'd be annoying, but with Brooke it's just so cute."
This scene has replayed in my mind as one of the sweet moments of Christmas this year.
Do I thank others enough for the things they do for me? Do I thank God enough for all the mercies He shows me? Maybe, I need to practice saying, "Thanks, so much."
Let me start by thanking you all for spending time with me these last six months as I begin my writing journey. THANKS, SO MUCH!!!

I hope 2012 is a slam dunk of a year for you all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sights of Christmas

Where I live we've seen record rainfall this year. And I think it's affected people's Christmas spirit. The times I've gone Christmas shopping, it has rained. The days I haven't gone Christmas shopping this month, it has rained.
We haven't gone out to look at Christmas lights in other neighborhoods because it's always been raining. I began thinking about the things I like to see at Christmas time. One of my favorite sights is the look of delight on a child's face. I also enjoy lighted Christmas trees and Christmas villages.
What about you?

What are some of your favorite sights at Christmas?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sounds of Christmas

I have a shoebox full of Christmas CDs. I'm not talking a lady shoebox, but one of the big shoe boxes for athletic shoes. Every year I tell myself, we have enough CDs and still I seem to find a new one I need.
Some of my favorites are by Harry Connick Jr. and George Strait. But this year I discovered Michael Buble's Christmas CD.



I've played this over and over and it's one of my favorites now.
What about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas CD?


My family took a time-out from Christmas to celebrate a princess' birthday.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hope

Christmas is the season for hope. For weeks now, I've been looking for signs of hope.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went down to Athens, Georgia. We went to the Georgia vs Kentucky football game. A family sat behind us cheering for UK. The kids screamed and cheered like crazy. I'd hear them talk to their dad. They hoped UK would win the game, and they played a great game. I was so impressed with the children though, because UK had a bad season. If Georgia won they'd be the SEC East champions. I'm a Georgia football fan through and through, but I enjoyed the kids hope through the game. UK's players must have hoped to win too because, as I said, they played a good game.

The Georgia fans hoped we'd win the game. So Stanford Stadium was full of people hoping for a win, but at the end of the day, only some of us left with our hopes fulfilled.

When we place our hope in Jesus, we'll all see our hopes fulfilled. He's the true One to trust and be worthy of our hopes.

I hope you all enjoy the Christmas season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pamela S. Meyers

Today I'm excited to welcome Pamela S. Meyers. This month Thyme for Love came out and she's taking time to answer some questions for us.

Q: Give us a little preview of Thyme for Love.
A: April Love has always dreamed of being a chef. When her Aunt Kitty hears of an in-house chef position for a non-profit organization housed in a lakeshore mansion next door, April returns to Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, where she’d spent many summers growing up, to apply for the job. When she discovers her former fiancé Marc Thorne working there, she wonders if this position was really God’s intention for her. After all, Marc all but left her standing at the altar to chase his own dreams in California. It doesn’t take long to realize Marc is hiding secrets and despite returning feelings for the man, April determines she will not make the same mistake as she did eight years earlier. But when their boss is found dead and Marc is framed for his murder, April has no choice but to turn sleuth to keep Marc from being accused of a murder he didn’t commit.

Q: What made you want to write this book?
A: I’ve always loved romance and mysteries, and decided to write a story that married the two elements together. I grew up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and have always been fascinated by the many 20th Century mansions that dot the lake’s shoreline. I toyed with the idea of setting the story in one of those homes, but decided to create a smaller lake and village just to the east of Lake Geneva to gain more freedom with some of the details of the story and its characters. I loved having the area located close enough to Lake Geneva that April and Marc could go there for a meal at one of the actual restaurants there. I also gave them backgrounds that involve working on Geneva Lake as many college students do during the summer months.

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: In one way or another I’ve always written almost since I could hold a pencil. When I was eight years old I asked for a diary for Christmas and I wrote in it at different times of my childhood. I still have that little book, and it contains bits and pieces of my life from age eight until sometime in high school. Even into my adult years I’d journal from time to time, but never thought of turning that “need” to put words to paper into a career until years later. While completing my bachelor’s through an accelerated adult program, one of my professors suggested I could make a living writing. I published several magazine articles, but as the hankering to write stories grew stronger, I began taking fiction-writing classes. At a local writer’s conference a multipublished author suggested I could turn one of my short stories into a novel. That was all I needed to hear. I soon joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) while the organization was in its infancy and through their writing courses and conferences I continued to grow in the craft.

Q: Have you written other novels besides Thyme for Love?
Oh yes. My first novel which I would classify as a women’s fiction languishes in my computer at the moment. Authors very seldom publish their first written work as that often turns out to be a practice project. The storyline still resonates with me and I’d love to one day pull it out and rework it. There are a couple other stories that will probably never see the light of day. I’m very excited to have a novel set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, coming out in June 2012 from Summerside Press. It’s a 1933 historical romance, and I had a blast researching for the story.

Q. Do you have any plans for a sequel to Thyme for Love?
A. I’m so glad you asked. Thyme for Love is part of a three-book series called “On the Road to Love.” Books 2 and 3 involved April and Marc, and both are set in Canoga Lake. In Book 2, Love Will Find a Way, April moves into an old Victorian home with plans to turn it into a restaurant and catering business. It isn’t long before a discovery made while they are renovating the home threatens to hijack plans for the grand opening. In Book three, Love’s Reward, April and Marc’s wedding plans are in full swing, until it becomes apparent there is someone who doesn’t want them to marry.

Q. How do you get your story ideas?
A. There’s an old adage to write what you know. I might add to that, to always keep your eyes and ears open for a possible story line. That first novel I wrote was sparked by something someone said to me when she showed me a picture of my great-grandfather’s grave. My Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin story grew out of wanting to know the history behind the beautiful lakeshore recreational building that has become an icon of the area. Just today a newspaper article sparked an idea I’d like to develop into a proposal.

Q. What is your daily writing routine?
A. My best writing time is morning, but I’ve had to make myself work outside the box at times when that kind of schedule doesn’t work. Since I am a morning person, I find it best to set my alarm as if I’m going to work. I get up at 5:30 and spend at least an hour in my Quiet Time with God. Then I try to walk daily for exercise before settling down in my home office to write. I recently converted unused space in my dining area into an office and that has helped tremendously with getting the sense of “going to work.” This helps me stay on task. Too many years actually working Monday through Friday probably contributes to that. On days I have an obligation away from home in the morning, I have had to force myself to be creative in the afternoon and early evening. I think as I start working on deadlines more and more that’s going to be essential.

Q. What advice do you have for new authors?
A. Persevere, persevere, and persevere. I started out aspiring to be published in novel writing more than ten years ago. I had the raw ability and desire to write, but that skill had to be trained and honed, much like a young colt has to be trained. I have learned that writers need to develop what we jokingly refer to as rhino skin, and we also need a positive teachable attitude. Join critique groups, take writing courses, attend writing conferences where great teaching occurs and you’ll have opportunities to meet with industry professionals and pitch to editors and agents. ACFW has a great yearly conference ever September that is for fiction writers only. I cannot tout ACFW enough. It is a must organization to join for anyone who writes fiction from a Christian point of view.

Q. When you aren’t writing, what fills your days?
A. I volunteer at my church in the multicultural ministry, helping Japanese women learn to speak English and lead a women’s small group Bible study. I’m also chapter president of my local ACFW chapter, which meets monthly. Also, I enjoy reading (surprise, surprise) and movies. I love to cook and find new ways of making things. You’ll find an adaptation of a recipe someone gave me called Chicken George at the back of Thyme for Love. I loved having April prepare it in the novel, and look forward to experimenting with more recipes for the sequels.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friends

Over the years I've mostly had "couple" friends. Couples my husband and I enjoy spending time with. As our sons grew, our friends became other parents with children involved in the same activities. We've made a lot of great friends at sporting events cheering for each others kids.
Because I've been a working mom, I always felt a little guilty when I'd spend time with the girls. Shouldn't I be doing something with or for my family?
Now that I've started writing, I really feel guilty if I spend time with the girls instead of family.
This past Saturday, a group of us got together to celebrate a good friend's 50th birthday. We met at Saul GoodR

estaurant. We laughed and enjoyed our time together. As we walked out that afternoon, we all agreed we should get together more often. We all needed this time together.
This morning my devotional focused on Titus. Older women encouraging younger women. Bottom line was women need other women.
So I'm going to try to be more intentional about getting with my friends, not just to celebrate birthdays, but to celebrate life.
I hope you can take time to enjoy your friends!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Interview with Regina Tittel

Regina Tittel's new book, Unexpected Kiss, will be out on November 10. Once again Regina turns out an enjoyable story. She graciously agreed to spend a few minutes with us today.

Can you tell me what inspired you to write this?

Two things inspired me. First, we had lived in the area described in
the book and I wanted to broaden my writing capabilities and capture
something different than I did in Abandoned Hearts. Secondly, I wanted
to reach out to those who weren't blessed with an active father in
their youth and show them who our heavenly father is and how to
connect with him.

What qualities do you admire about the hero and heroine in your story?

I appreciate Ethan's patience and non-judging attitude. And of course,
who doesn't like a man who protects us at all cost?! And with the
heroine, I like her controlled manner and her perseverance. She's
turning over a new lease in life and thinks things through rather than
jump into anything.

Is there a spriritual truth you want to reader to walk away with?

Always. In Unexpected Kiss, I want the reader to understand no matter
what sins they've committed, Jesus is quick to forgive and He cares
about everything that happens to us.

Tell us something about yourself the average reader might not know.

I'm cautious of snakes, but I don't fear them. And when a four foot
black snake wanted to crawl under the rocks that line the exterior of
our basement wall, we had a full tug-of-war going on. He won. He got
to stay under the rock but I'd damaged him and haven't seen him since.
(don't try this at home!)

Because we're seeped in football right now do you have a favorite
college team? NFL?

I'm an embarrassment to any sport enthusiast. I don't keep up with any
sports. We don't even have television hooked up in our home. When we
moved in and were finally able to hook up the antennae after months of
building on the house, the same re-run was on that we'd watched before
we'd moved. So we figured we wouldn't miss much. That was twelve years
ago. (We still rent movies though.)

How do you get inspired for your stories?

Through movies, books I've read and stories of people's lives. In the
upcoming book, Coveted Bride, I had a friend who was going through a
very rough time in her marriage. That inspired its beginning. And in
the upcoming book, Cherished Stranger, last year while schooling our
daughter, we used a book called, Windows on the World. It shows the
need for Jesus in countries around the world and the poverty people
live in. I'd almost cry every time I read from it. It inspired me to
write about a sponsor child and her father and draw readers' attention
to the need that's out there.

What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?

My writing goal is to not only capture the readers' interest through
engaging, relatable stories but to leave them informed and inspired. I
want to change the world for the better, one reader at a time.

My books can be found at most online stores, in e versions and
paperback. Abandoned Hearts is available now, and Unexpected Kiss will
be available, November 10th. If you're interested in learning how to
write and become published, I leave my experiences on my blog at
reginatittel.blogspot.com. If you have further questions, you can
contact me at reginatittel@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for having me, Jackie!

I'm glad we could get together, and I wish you much success on Unexpected Kiss!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall in the SEC

I graduated from the University of Georgia. My husband graduated from the University of Kentucky. So fall in my house can be rather interesting. I love Georgia football. I'll even watch them play on TV if I'm home alone. Until this year Tim has stayed a loyal UK football fan. We always try to make it to the annual UGA/UK game and he always cheers for UK, and I cheer for UGA. Only one of us goes home happy. I hope I'm the happy one this year.
This year we got into the Halloween spirit. I dressed as a UK football fan, and Tim dressed as a UGA football fan. Then the most precious Minnie Mouse came to our door and said those magic words, "Trick or Treat."
We had a fun night, and I hope you did too!

Friday, October 28, 2011

WHY?

How often do we wonder why bad things happen to us? We try to live in a way that pleases God, and still disaster can strike at any moment. Cancer, loss of job, car accidents, loss of family, flunk an exam in school, and the list goes on. And we question God. Why?
This evening God gave us a gorgeous sunset. And I wondered why. If I'd been inside I'd have missed it. On my way home from the grocery store, the pinks and blues streaked across the sky. Why does God give us beautiful sunsets and sunrises?

I also am amazed at the variety of flowers, weeds, trees, shrubs, dogs, cats, and food God gave us. Why didn't he stop with one tree? One flower? If I slow down, I find that God delights me on a daily basis.



Think about ice cream. There are ton of ice cream flavors plus yogurt, sorbet, Italian ice and other cold delights.


I guess what I'm trying to say is that when we question God, let's not forget the good questions too.

Have a great weekend!

(Pictures by Kelli)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dancing

Last night we babysat Brooke who will be two in December. Rain prevented us from playing outside which is her favorite thing to do. Brooke is a Disney girl who has been to Disney World twice already. She loves the princesses! The music and dancing appeal to her.
Close to eight o'clock, she began winding down, but we were at my house so we couldn't get ready for bed. And we didn't have a princess video. But I found a Barney DVD and popped it in.
According to her mother, she hasn't seen Barney before. Well, she was drawn to it. She stood in front of the TV and watched the children dance. Then she tried.
She tried to move her feet like they did. She clapped her hands OVER her head and twisted her tummy. She had a ball.
I think Barney said you can't be down if you're dancing. And I think he's right.
The first dates my husband and I had involved dancing. I'm not a great dancer because I'm not that coordinated, but I enjoy it.
And how many people talk about Snoopy's happy dance?
So next time I'm feeling down, I'm going to pop some music on the CD player and dance my blues away.
I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Mildred Colvin

Today I'd like to welcome a friend of mine, Mildred Colvin.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Mildred Colvin, Christian romance author. I’ve been married over 40 years, have three children and three grandchildren, and love to piece quilts. I say piece because, to me, the hard part is putting top, back, and lining together and making the quilt look nice. I’m neither country nor city, but maybe a little of both. I’m not a great cook, but have always enjoyed collecting recipes. I write both historicals and contemporaries. By now I sound like a walking contradiction, and maybe I am, but the variety is what helps make me who I am. I love the Lord and enjoy serving him through my writing and my work with children in my local church. I consider both my ministries.

2. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Take up writing? LOL! Actually, I may be serious.

3. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love to read and write stories set in the late 19th Century. But that’s time period. My favorite genre is definitely romance. Specifically Christian romance.

4. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

I live where the neighbors target practice each fall with loud, booming explosions that make me jump. Crickets chirp and birds call. Snakes and frogs give me the creeps, but both think our yard is their playground. Deer eat my flowers as soon as they bloom, and a garden is usually a lost cause. I’m too busy writing for a garden, anyway, but in the past I’ve put in large ones and spent some wonderful hours canning the bounty. I’d love to have another garden like that, but we built over our garden spot when we expanded the house. Imagine that!

5. How many books do you have published and where can they be found?

I have fifteen books published, which includes eleven small paperbacks, two 3-in-1 collections, one audio book, and four e-books. I know it doesn’t add up, but some are reprints not included in the first figure.

6. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest paperback is Love Returned, which began life as an e-book and is now also in paperback form. More about Love Returned is in answer seven below.

7. Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.

Love Returned is a book that touches my heart. In the first place, I wrote this while I was active in the Cub Scouting program with my own boys, so using that as a background seemed natural. The heroine, Megan, was forced to give up her newborn son when she was in college. She has resented her mother ever since while she longed to find the child she scarcely saw after his birth. Nine years later, Megan meets Scott who has an adopted son. He enrolls him in her Webelos den, and she begins to believe his son is the baby she gave away. By this time she has fallen in love with Scott. If she lets Scott know of her suspicions, she could easily lose him and her son. She finally settles into a false sense of contentment as she remains silent and lets her relationship with Scott and the young boy grow ever closer. Then Scott proposes marriage and everything blows up in her face. She can’t marry Scott without telling him the truth, but she’ll lose him and her son for sure either way. Why can’t everything continue as is? I won’t tell what happens, only that there is a happily ever after.

8. Does your faith affect your writing? How?

Yes, without question. Each of my books have something that the characters must face in their spiritual life. Many times they deal with forgiveness. In Love Returned, Megan must forgive herself and her mother, and Scott has his own forgiving to work through.

9. Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?

I think there may be a lot more of me in my heroines then I realize at the time. I borrow from my own experiences and from things I see and hear. There are also many things in my characters that have nothing to do with the way I am. Those things are purely imagination.

10. Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?

Love Returned is based on the Scouting program, so there are many borrowed bits from real life, although I don’t think any one scene is a true happening.


11. Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?

http://www.mildredcolvin.blogspot.com
http://www.infinitecharacters.com
http://www.twitter.com @mildred colvin
http://www.facebook.com @romantic reflections

Jackie, thank you for graciously inviting me to be interviewed on your blog. You have a wonderful blog, by the way. I’m honored to be here.

Here’s a short excerpt from the beginning of Love Returned:

Megan McGinnis yelped and jerked back. She touched a hand.
Her gaze skimmed past the well-sculpted male fingers, moved up a muscled arm dusted with dark hair, and over a broad shoulder, to a rather attractive specimen of the stronger sex. The palm of her hand burned, and heat crept up her neck to fill her face.
Where had the man come from? One of the other campsites, obviously. Her mind had been filled with her dream.
“I am so sorry. I—” She couldn’t think. She wrinkled her nose. “I didn’t see you.”
He laughed. Not a polite titter, but a throw-back-your-head-and-let-it-out laugh.
Her hand tightened on her water bucket. A smile touched her lips, and before she could stop, she was laughing, too.
“I apologize.” He shook his head. “It’s just that you looked so cute when you squealed and then—” He tapped his nose and grinned. “That cute face you made—I’m sorry. Are you serious you didn’t see me?”
“Of course not. I made it up so we could hold hands.” He thought she looked cute? No one had called her cute since she was five, certainly no one ever said so twice in a row.
She giggled at his raised eyebrows. “What can I say? My mind was on something else. And really, I don’t go around holding hands with strange men.”
His eyes, bluer than any she’d ever seen, twinkled above a lop-sided grin. “I’m not so strange once you get to know me.”
“Is that right?” What was wrong with her? She never flirted, but unless the rules had changed in the last ten years, that’s exactly what she was doing now. Of course, today her emotions were in such turmoil, she might be capable of doing almost anything. Just not this. Not with a stranger.

Mildred, thanks for joining us today. I've read your story and enjoyed it.

If you're interested here's a link:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vacation Reflections

My husband just returned from a week in North Carolina. We visited Mt. Airy and enjoyed that.
We visited family near Durham. Our niece and nephew are growing up too fast, and we left wishing we all lived closer together.
Next we got together with friends we've known over twenty years. No matter how long we're apart we pick right back up where we left off. They are a true blessing.

Then we spent a few days by ourselves riding bikes and kicking back.


Now we're back in Kentucky refreshed and ready to see what God has in store for us next.

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mayberry


My husband and I've been vacationing in North Carolina this week. First stop was Mt. Airy, the home of Andy Griffith. We had a blast seeing where Andy was born and visiting his museum. The entire town was charming.
We'd hoped to eat at the Snappy Lunch, but just as we were about to walk out of a gift shop a tour bus pulled up to Snappy Lunch. So we tried Barney's Cafe. What a delight! The waitress was friendly, and the food was delicious.
Mt. Airy was a reminder that life does not have to be so hurried and simple pleasures can be enjoyed if we'll only slow down for a moment.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goals and dreams


Today I answered a question about dreams. I've set goals throughout my life. Some were go to college and get a good job. With God's help I've accomplished this goal. I'm married to a wonderful man and am blessed with a great family.
My youngest son, Scott, began to play tennis four years ago. Many tennis players started when they were small children and played competetively for years before Scott ever picked up a racquet. He didn't let their comments deter him from his goal of being the best tennis player possible. Sure, he experienced down moments wishing he'd begun playing years earlier, but he persevered. He sacrificed a lot to learn his sport and make great strides.
At the point he graduated from high school he'd made it to the top ranks of USTA players in the state of KY. He's playing for Asbury University and still loving the sport.
Why am I telling you all of this? I began writing seriously a couple of years ago. When I feel down about my age and slow progress, I'm going to think about how hard Scott worked. I'll keep on writing and studying how to be a better writer and see where this dream takes me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life

Life has suddenly gotten away from me. I feel like I need a lasso to corral it and get back in control. I don't see that happening anytime soon.
One little thing going on is I'm dog sitting. Chloe, Heinz's sister, is staying with us for a week. When you go from one to two dogs, you don't double the chaos, you triple it. What one dog doesn't find to bark at the other does. And nobody wants to be left out of barking.
Last night my mother called, and the dogs began to bark. I left them in the house and went to the back deck to hear my mom. The neighbor was mowing his lawn, I was on the phone and still could hear the dogs. Whew.
They are so cute though. I wouldn't trade them for anything. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

Today I was awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by Sheri Salatin. Thanks, Sheri.

There are two rules to accepting this award.
1. Tell 7 random facts about yourself.
2. Pick 5 other blogs to pass the award on to.


Here are my kids at Scott's graduation.

1. I was a girly girl until God gave me sons.
2. I enjoy watching SEC sports. I cheer for Georgia football and Kentucky basketball.
3. I love tennis now and Asbury University is my favorite tennis team.
4. I love spending time at the beach any time of the year.
5. I fell for my husband the moment I met him.
6. I have a beautiful daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
7. I take a book almost everywhere I go.

Some of my favorite blogs that I'd like to award are:
Regina's a mustard seed of faith. http://reginatittel.blogspot.com

The Queencityquill by my friend Heidi Glick. http://queencityquill.blogspot.com

Steps is another lovely blog by Susan. http://stepsusan.blogspot.com

A Prisoner of Hope is a tight, crisp blog by Megan. http://megandimaria.blogspot.com

Nancy Kimball shares her experiences of writing on http://nancykimball.blogspot.com

You all have lovely blog designs. Now you have a chance to encourage others by awarding them a lovely blog award.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall is in the air

Football season has begun, and fall is in the air. Fall is the worst time of year for my allergies, and yesterday they attacked with a vengence. Whenever I feel bad, I begin to think of ways to live a healthier life.
Fall is also apple season. Apples offer us about 5 grams of fiber which helps lower our cholesterol. Some studies show that apples can help us fight colds, lower our weight, increase our metabolism, and prevent some cancers. They are full of antioxicants and only contain about 100 calories.
I think I'm going to head out to the grocery and stock up on a bunch of apples.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sweet Tea And Secrets

Today I'd like to welcome Nancy Naigle. I met Nancy through a contest, and she's a true delight.
Have you always lived in a small town?

No. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach. Although, now that I think of it, back in the sixties my section of Virginia Beach was considered rural but not for long. My husband came from a small town and he loves wide open spaces. Our first farm was in Chesapeake. Even though we lived on a farm it was only a few miles to the grocery store or a nice mall. In fact, I could commute to my office in downtown Norfolk in about 30 minutes. When we bought this farm it was a big shift, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love the quiet and the sense of community that comes with it.

Love stories from the crossroads of small town and suspense is very catchy. Have you always wanted to write love stories? Thanks. I’m a hopeless romantic, so yes, I knew I’d write love stories. I came up with “Love stories from the crossroads of small town and suspense” as a way to describe what I write because romantic suspense conjures up a much darker story than the ones I write. I want my stories to be light reads that help folks slow down, take the time to recall a fond memory, or just get lost in the story to get a break from the fast lane and multi-tasking lives we all lead.

How did you know you were meant to write? I’ve always been a story teller. Not a liar...oh no, my Granddaddy lived with us growing up and he instilled the thought that everything is a test in honesty and that’s a test you never want to fail. A good lesson. BUT... I loved making up stories about people when we were on a road trip, sitting in the airport or shopping in the mall. It wasn’t until I started realizing how important books were to my life balance that I started getting really antsy to finish and publish my own stories. I remember reading a hard cover Jayne Ann Krentz book at a particularly low point in my life and being sad to turn that last page. I didn’t want to leave the new friends I’d made and I wanted to continue to celebrate their happy ever after. But reading that book made me feel better...hopeful. What a gift! I wanted to share that feeling and that’s when I started really working on writing for publication.

Do you have a special way to make your sweet tea? (I've discovered some of my friends don't know how to make good swee tea.) Oh yes! There is magic to good sweet tea. I have a link on my website to Pearl’s Sweet Tea recipe. Here’s the link à http://www.NancyNaigle.com/sweettea.htm

In my opinion, the trick is in bringing that water to rolling boil so the tea steeps just right. Like coffee, tea blends have a brewing temperature. Oh, and you have to add that sugar when the tea mix is hot – hot – hot so it sweetens into the liquid. You can’t add sugar to cold tea and make sweet tea....doesn’t work.....ever!

Tell us about your new story. Thanks for asking J My new story is Out of Focus. It’s about Kasey Phillips, a successful commercial photographer, who gets caught in a web of friendship and betrayal. When her husband is killed in a car accident, her son is missing from the wreckage. Her maternal instincts tell her that Jake is alive and friends rally to help reunite mother and son, but someone knows more than they are telling.

How long did it take you to write Out of Focus? It took me about six months to write that story. It did very well in contests right from the get go winning the:

1st Place :: Mainstream/Literary Category :: 2010 Maryland Writers Association Novel Contest
1st Place :: Mainstream Category :: CT-RWA The WRITE Stuff
2010 Finalist :: Single Title Category :: Silicon Valley RWA Gotcha! Contest
2010 Finalist :: Novel w Romantic Elements :: San Diego RWA SPRING INTO ROMANCE Contest

Following that incredible contest run, I spent time tweaking and tightening the story and then it sold. It was actually the first book I sold, even though it’s not the first that made it to the shelf.

Is this part of a series? Out of Focus has ties to the small town of Adams Grove, just like Sweet Tea and Secrets. There’s also another story but we’re working on changing that title so I’ll keep that under wraps for a while. As a piece of trivia, Sweet Tea and Secrets was originally titled Pearls of Wisdom. I love Pearl’s little Pearl-isms throughout the book. Words to live by.
Nancy, thank you for joining us today!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sweet Tea and Secrets


I'd like to welcome Nancy Naigle to my blog this week.
First I asked Nancy to share a view from her back porch.
Join me Tuesday as I interview Nancy.




Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

I'm so happy it's Labor Day Weekend. The last unofficial weekend of summer, and the temperatures are soaring. I feel blessed to have a job, but I'm looking forward to three days off.
Happy Labor Day weekend!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nancy Kimball

Today I'd like to welcome a new friend of mine, Nancy Kimball. She's going to share with us some of her research tips.

I’m honored to be part of Back Porch Reflections today to discuss research. If Jackie would allow me, before we dive into the interview portion, I’d like to give a few do’s and don’ts that would have been big helps before I first tackled research for my writing.
DO work within your strengths, without trying to replicate someone else’s method.
DO recognize that google and Wikipedia are wonderful, but used alone they can do more harm than good.
DON’T feel that you must travel to a location used in your novel to be considered credible.

DON’T spend more than necessary. Money that is, not time. Lots of time will be required.

Why do you feel those suggestions are so important to emphasis?
Other than those are the ones I wasted the most time and stress over? I kid but honestly, I’d become so discouraged whenever I would come across an author who is photographed standing in front of the Great Pyramids, or the Statue of Liberty, etc. and think… will anyone take me seriously because I haven’t been to Rome or stood in the Coliseum? While I would love to be able to do that, it’s not practical for me at this time. The same with purchasing source material like reference books, text books, documentary DVD’s, etc. It’s more work to utilize your local library resources but I shudder at what it would have cost to purchase all the source material I used. This can backfire, so keep a list of titles and authors with the material taken from that source since you won’t be able to pull a book from your shelf and flip for the highlights. And the internet, Lord help us, reminds me of a potluck supper at church. You’re putting a lot of faith in how that potato salad has been prepared, and the quality of its ingredients with no way to check. This should go without saying but use discretion and if at all possible, be sure the information is at least consistent with what you have learned or will learn through other sources.

How much research went into Chasing the Lion, your first manuscript?
That’s almost two separate answers. As my debut novel, a fair amount of craft study happened in conjunction with my research for the novel, but all together, I would say over the past nine months roughly eighty to a hundred hours. Of those hours, about 65% pertained to Ancient Rome in the Flavian Dynasty and gladiator life and culture throughout Roman history.

What were your sources and how did you find them?
For craft study, I went to the local library and found the correct section and skimmed the spines. I pulled the ones that looked like they would be helpful, and checked their publication dates. Anything older than ten years I chose to pass up, since I felt anything older than that would be outdated, especially if related to publishing. Also as I began to research agents, I found many of them make recommendations on craft study books and the titles I saw repeatedly recommended across the board, like Noah Lukeman’s THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, I made sure I requested at the library. Fortunately my library carried it, but that would I probably would have purchased since it was recommended so often.

For the novel, I did the same but with the search feature of the online catalogue for the topics I needed to know about, such as gladiators, early Christianity, life in Ancient Rome, etc. I also did a fair amount of research online, reading articles, perusing various websites, and Netflix of all things proved very helpful. Several documentaries were available there that aided my research tremendously, though one was a bust and a complete waste of time. Fortunately I had done enough research at that point to know their facts were incorrect or skewed.
Did you find conflicting information often and if so, how did you handle that?
Not often, I think about three or four times. In those cases, I let the majority rule and adopted the view or facts supported by the most sources.

Would you share an example of one of those conflicts?
Well the most frustrating for me as a follower of Christ was whether or not Jesus truly was the son of God or, and I’m quoting here, “a criminal justly executed under the laws of Rome for attempted subversion.”
That ‘expert’ made me furious, but in fairness I chose to take that with a grain of salt because it forced me into a broader view of my setting. That was the question two thousand years ago just as much as it is today. Though how anyone can believe Jesus Christ was just a man is beyond me, but that’s another conversation all together.
 One I never could resolve was whether or not Caesar Domitian’s predecessor, his brother Titus, died of fever or Domitian had him poisoned. That’s a fairly substantial conflict, but since only one source supported poisoning, and at least seven blamed fever, I went with fever.
A great tip I wish I had figured out sooner is flip to the back of your non-fiction research books. When I compared three I felt were the best written, most informative and authoritative, I found something very interesting. A few of the source books in the bibliographies were consistent in all three, so I went and found those research books the authors used to write the books I was using for research. That was very rewarding and made my time more efficient.

Any last tips or word of advice in closing?
Don’t try to fit all that great research into your novel. I know, I know… because I too felt like all that became wasted if I didn’t work it in, but it’s not. There’s a fine line between being rich in period detail and overwhelming the story. If you aren’t careful you’ll end up with a narrative non-fiction with a side order of novel and no one is going to contract that.
To give you some idea, only about 10% of everything I learned while researching for Chasing the Lion is actually a part of the finished novel. I’m comfortable stating this is normal, but if you go too far the other direction and pull just enough facts to include to get by, that will be easy to spot as well.
Lastly, think big and go for it. I came across the name of the technical advisor for the Ridley Scott/ Russell Crowe film Gladiator and found her e-mail. To my delight, Professor Coleman at Harvard not only answered my e-mail, but sent me copies of all her published articles I requested. So while you tell yourself all they can say is no, sometimes they say yes, but you won’t know if you don’t try.

Nancy, thanks so much for joining us today.

To learn more about Nancy visit her blog:
www.nancykimball.blogspot.com





Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Air

The other night while riding our bikes in the park , a truck pulled up into one of the fields. They pulled out a hot air balloon and began preparing it. First they filled it with air.

It was a beautiful balloon. As I watched, it occurred to me that the words of my mouth were only words. After a certain amount of air filled it, they shot a flame into that balloon.
When the fire mixed with the air, the balloon rose and did what it was meant to do. When the Holy Spirit lights a fire in me I'm able to use my words for His glory.
Have a great week.

Next week Regina Tittle is going to interview me on her blog a mustard seed of faith.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Encouragement

There's a park in the back of my neighborhood. The other night we were riding bikes around the walking/bike trail. In the center of this trail are many soccer fields.
One team was finishing up for the day, and I heard the coach call out and ask the little boys and girls to gather round. He said, "I loved the teamwork. I loved the passing. I loved your attitude." That was all I heard as I rode by, but that replayed in my mind for the rest of my ride. Wouldn't it be great if we all worked together in our jobs and life? How much smoother would life be?
The Bible is full of encouraging scripture. Encouragement means to strengthen or stimulate. Barnabas means son of encouragement.
Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

I was touched today to discover my good friend, Mildred Colvin, awarded me the Liebster Blog Award.
The Liebster is awarded to blogs with less than 200 followers. It's an opportunity to shine the light on fantastic blogs and their authors in an effort to build readership. Each blog I've listed here are ones you'll love to read.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver of the award and link back to them.

2. Give the Liebster to five bloggers and let them know with a comment to their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.

4. Have faith your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. Have blogging fun!
Here are my five Liebster Awards:
Romantic Reflections
a mustard seed of faith
The Queen City Quill
Nancy Kimball
Sandra Orchard

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Patience

Last year my dad broght me a flower he dug up for me. It was wrapped in a damp paper towel to survive the trip. I planted it and waited. It never showed much promise last summer, but I kept it. Early this summer a little green sprouted up. It wasn't very showy, but I left it alone. I knew my parents wouldn't have given it to me if it didn't pay off. Finally it has begun to bloom, and it's beautiful. If I hadn't had faith in my parents gesture, I would have dug it up and thrown it out long ago.
Another flower I have that symbolizes patience to me is the resurrection lily. Every spring green leaves shoot up and die. Then toward the end of July the flower pops up.

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
James 5:7-8 (New International Version
There are many areas of my life where I need to be patient. I hope to trust God for the outcome and be patient in the process.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brainstorming Retreat

I got back last night from a brainstorming retreat with Rose, Jennifer and Christy. I had never met these women before. They welcomed me and offered me some great ideas. It was so fun to bounce ideas off each other. Rose's husband joined us late Friday night and offered his perspective.
Before leaving Saturday, we visited a pre-Civil War house.
This is Rose and Christy with me in front of the Peck House in Cynthiana, KY.

As I understand it, when all the homes along this street were burned during the Civil War a lady ran out to the soldiers. She begged them not to burn this house because some really nice people lived there. This historic home would not be here if that lady had not been brave enough to face the soldiers. Also the family must have been extremely nice, and the soldiers felt some sort of sympathy in order not to burn it down.
I wonder if I'm that brave. I have great neighbors, but would I be that heroic in a similar situation? And if my house was about to be burned would any of my neighbors think I was nice enough to step up for me?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Perspective

I went for another bike ride tonight. When I ride in the park I think the sun is setting over Harrodsburg Road. I have an exact spot in my mind where I think it is. But as I wound my way out of the park last night I noticed the sun setting behind a neighbor's house. This did not match the direction I perceived from the park. So tonight I asked my husband to help me pay attention to the angles. I wanted my perspective to line up with reality.
On our way out of the park, we ran into a neighbor. He shared a story with us of following God's will.  God impressed something upon him last year. He didn't know how it could possibly happen, but he moved forward because God told him to. He had a concrete deadline to achieve. He did everything he could, followed every lead God gave him, but the day arrived and he fell short of his goal. That day though God amazed our friend and finished the mission.
From a human perspective this was an unattainable goal. But from God's perspective it could be done.
I've dreamed about writing and tried to write on and off for the last few years. But two years ago, I felt  God gave me a green light to pursue my dream. I'm still striving toward the goal of being published. I've learned a lot and made good friends the last two years.
I wonder what God's perspective is on my writing. After listening to my friend, I feel rejuvenated. I'm going to work harder than ever on my writing and hope to please my audience of One.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

End of an era

Tonight West Jessamine High School held their end of season tennis party. This is the last event my son, Scott, will ever participate in related to high school tennis.
Not only did Scott make a lot of great friends, but I did too.
Here are Scott, Coach Yost, Kevin and Jake. They are the graduating seniors.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiates 3:1

Friday, July 29, 2011

Coupons for Prescriptions

On my way to work today, the radio conversation revolved around coupons. I started thinking how hard a person will work to save $1.00. I know I'm always happy to have a coupon, and I enjoy seeing how much I can save. But did you know often times when a new drug comes on the market you can find an on-line coupon from the manufacturer. I've seen coupons for a free 7-day supply. I've also seen coupons that can save $25.00 to $50.00. Often times you can use these after your pharmacist bills your insurance. Prescription coupons can also be found in magazines or the magazine section of your Sunday paper.
Next time you get a new prescription check out the internet, it may be well worth your time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eyewall

If you're interested in a thrilling summer read, check out H.W. "Buzz" Bernard's Eyewall.
Once you begin reading it, you won't want to put it down.  Check out the review on
http://sleuthsandsuspects.blogspot.com

Eyewall

Sunday, July 24, 2011

29 Hours in Downtown Cincinnati

I've just spent a whirlwind 29 hours in downtown Cincinnati. My son played his first college level tennis tournament. His first two matches were in Triangle Park. He was the first match on at 8 AM Saturday morning and last match on 8 PM. I'm not used to big city life and discovered there's never a quiet moment. Traffic wizzed by on all three sides of the park. Semi-trucks, sports cars, ambulances, you name it, we saw it. I saw more than one doggie day-care.

In our small town, we ask our neighbors to check on our dogs. During the last match Saturday a young couple walked by as we watched Scott play. They appeared down on their luck and a little rough. They sat near us in a spot surrounded by trees. It was growing dark. I saw them rustling through a bag and pull something out. Next they lit up.  I was so happy when I noticed the guy smoking a cigar and the girl smoking a cigarette, that I didn't even worry about my allergies.
Sunday at 8AM, another match. Scott's opponent was late so I walked around another park. High over this city of beauty and mystery, guess what I saw? Look closely.
God bless America!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My hero

When I read a book, I always picture the hero as my husband. Now, when I write a book I base the hero's good qualities on my husband.
This weekend, Tim researched and found a desk for me at a Target at least 45 minutes away from our home. I went to work, and when I came home he had a desk. Late last night he and Scott built it for me. Scott finally said he thought there was a defective piece, but he'd look at it more today. That wasn't good enough for Tim. He worked and worked until he figured it out and built it perfectly.
For a couple of years I've wanted a red bud tree, and I love crepe myrtle. After I got home from work today, I discovered Tim bought and planted a red bud. He also bought a crepe myrtle which we planted after supper. He also bought a bush for our oldest son, and we drove over and planted it for them. (Bill showed up and helped finish the job.) Later this week, I'll take a picture and share the new view from my back porch.
Here's a picture of us in June with Scott.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Janice Hanna Interview

Thanks for joining me today as I interview Janice Hanna. Her new book Love Finds You in Groom Texas will release this week.


Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas.

Always the groomsman, never the groom… It’s 1914, and Jake O’Farrell has gained an unusual reputation among the locals: He’s played the roles of groomsman and best man in all four of his older brothers’ weddings, but he’s never been able to find the woman to capture his heart. And now with the upcoming wedding of his best friend, Jake will become the last single man in the town of Groom.  

Anne Denning has made the difficult decision to move with her sisters to Texas, but a train derailment forces them to seek shelter in Groom, near Amarillo. Mrs. O’Farrell, hopeful that Anne will catch her youngest son’s eye, invites the girls to stay at her home until the train is repaired and ready to pull out. Anne has no idea of the blissful chaos that lies ahead!

Why did you decide to write this story?
My editor at Summerside approached me with the name of the town because she knows I write a lot of wedding-themed stories. She wanted something lightweight/fun, and she knew me well enough to know I would enjoy a fun story. The only real question we had in the beginning stage was: “Should this be a historical or a contemporary?” We went with historical because I felt sure the story idea was better suited to the turn of the century.

Tell us something interesting about the town of Groom:
Groom boasts a nineteen-story high cross. More than 100 welders worked together to erect it in 1995. Now you can see why I toyed with the idea of writing a contemporary novel! I wanted to include the cross. Because I went with historical, I decided to give the heroine a small cross necklace to wear, one that symbolizes her faith (and alludes to the “bigger” cross to come).


Groom is a wedding-themed book. Why do you write so many stories with a strong wedding theme?
I have four grown daughters—Randi, Megan, Courtney Rae and Courtney Elizabeth. Yes, I really have two daughters named Courtney. (Long story!) All four of my girls got married within four years of each other. We’re told to write what we know. I know weddings, trust me! I helped coordinate all four weddings and even worked as a wedding coordinator at my church for a season. I was also tickled to be the “Wedding Planner Examiner” for the city of Houston for a spell. What fun! You’ll see me writing about weddings for years to come, so hang on for the ride!
What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about her?
Readers will care about Anne because she’s been through so much and still chooses to move forward. They will also love her relationship with her younger sisters. She’s the only remaining parental figure and takes that position very seriously.
 
What are you working on now?
I just turned in Love Finds You in Daisy, Oklahoma, a fun historical about a single woman in her late 30’s who moves from the Gulf Coast to the landlocked state of Oklahoma to become the director at an orphanage. It’s a love story, of course! She falls in love with the town sheriff, who has adopted two of the unruliest boys from the orphanage. I’m currently writing Wedding Belles, the first book in the Belles and Whistles series for Summerside/Guideposts.
I understand you have a new VIP bookclub. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, I’m so excited about this, too! I came up with this idea several months ago: Why not create a “club” where members can get each new Janice Thompson/Janice Hanna book as it releases for a set price of $11, shipping included. Books are autographed and mailed out to club members before they ever hit the stores. I also encourage my VIP club members to leave reviews, as they are able, on amazon, christianbook.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. If people are interested in joining the club, all they have to do is shoot me an email at booksbyjanice@aol.com with the words “VIP bookclub” in the subject line and their address in the body of the email.

Where else can readers find you online?
I love to connect with my readers at the following places:

Where can I get the book?
Love Finds You in Groom, Texas can be purchased at any number of online stores, as well as my website: www.janicehannathompson.com (front page). Readers can always join my VIP bookclub and get the locked in price of $11 (no shipping) by contacting me directly at booksbyjanice@aol.com.
Janice, I appreciate you taking time for this interview. 
Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

How can I help?

I discovered this weekend how much Brook likes flowers. We walked through the garden Friday night, and I cut at least one of each flower for her. Saturday she got a new purse and didn't let go of it until we got home. I'm continually amazed at the girliness she exhibits. Having a brother and then sons threw me into the world of men. I love having sons, but there is something very special about a granddaughter. She constantly amazes me, and makes me smile.
This morning I read Romans 15:2 in the Message.
"Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?" I plan to make that my memory verse this week and hope to find ways to help others.
Please check back later this week as I post an interview with Janice Hanna. We'll discuss her new book Love Finds You in Groom, Texas.