Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cover Reveal of Deadly Disclosure + A Giveaway!

{Affiliate links ahead.}

It's here! It's here! It's here! Wheee!

{Can you tell I'm excited? J }

Without further cartwheels, I present to you the cover for my August Love Inspired Suspense release, Deadly Disclosure ~~~


Getting shot at on her way to work is only the first shock of
law student Hannah McClarnon’s day. The second is when FBI agent
Derek Chambers—her first love—reveals the truth about Hannah’s
family. Though Hannah was raised by a wealthy Indianapolis couple,
her birth father was with the Chicago mafia. And now, convinced she
has information against them, they’re hunting her down. Derek’s first
big assignment is to protect Hannah, and it’s becoming more personal
every minute. He’s never revealed why he left long ago, and he still
believes Hannah deserves someone better. But with the enemy in
relentless pursuit, he’ll risk his life to be the man she needs—
and loves—again.

If you've read Under Duress, you may recognize Derek Chambers. He was an officer with the Heartwood Hill Police Department and the hero's only friend left in town. Deadly Disclosure is his story!

In honor of Derek getting his own book {and since I don't have any copies of Deadly Disclosure in my possession yet}, I'm giving away a copy of Under Duress.

The winner can choose either a print copy or an e-book. To enter, send me an email either by replying to this if you receive my blog posts via email or through the contact form, or you can leave a comment below. I'll choose a winner at random and announce next week. {Only entries from the U.S.A. are eligible for the print copy. A winner from outside the US will receive an ebook.}

In the meantime, if you want to buy your own copy of Under Duress, it's still available in ebook form on Amazon.

You can also pre-order Deadly Disclosure! And of course, there will be plenty of giveaways as we inch nearer to August....

One last announcement ~

I've joined several other authors from the Love Inspired lines in a group blog. We'll be taking turns talking about suspense, contemporary, and historical Love Inspired books as well as some fun mixed in like word searches. I'm sure there will be giveaways as well! You can find us at Love Inspired Stories.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now...." ~ Philippians 1:3-5

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Talk to the Moon…or perhaps a better title would be “Missing My Dad”

{I was searching for a blog post topic in my stash of ideas and jottings and came across this little piece I wrote nearly five years ago. I was at the college getting some work done while my oldest three were in their dual enrollment class and my youngest three were sitting with me working on their homeschool work…and I started crying. In the middle of the study area. A few tears slipped down my cheek, and I couldn’t help it. I still miss my dad, and he passed away more than seven years ago. My 6yo will never know him, and my 8yo doesn’t remember him at all.

It seemed right to share this with you today, along with the somewhat overdone but still valid admonition to hug the ones you love a little bit longer today. Be sure to say I love you and I’m proud of you. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.}

The storm door creaks, and she steps into the moonlight, carefully lifting her veined feet over the threshold. She pulls her sweater around her in the humid night air and breathes deeply. The moon is nearly full, and she lifts watery eyes to take in its’ brilliance.

“The grandkids were here tonight, Harry,” she says to the moon. “We ate at Monicals, at that table in the back. They’re getting so big, so grown up, and the baby isn’t really a baby anymore. He has our name, Harry, but I think I’ve told you that before.”

The moon gazes down on her, listening intently, as she wipes an eye.

“We had ice cream, too. I still buy the vanilla you like.”

The crickets buzz in her ear, and she shoos a mosquito away. But she can’t … won’t … look away.

“Oh, Harry, I had no idea it would be this hard. We had some good times together, though, didn’t we?” She hums a little bit of I’ll be loving you always, swaying in the moonlight, hugging her arms around herself.

“Happy anniversary, Harry.”

P.S. I'll be sending out my first author newsletter this weekend, and I have a special giveaway for subscribers. I'd be thrilled if you signed up below! Thanks.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Great Purge Continues to My Purse ~ What I’m Keeping and What I’m Discarding

I have a love-hate relationship with purses. Sometimes I love the cute designs, the colors, the organizing pockets both inside and out, the ability to have what I need/want with me. Sometimes I wish I could just stick a wallet in my pocket and not worry about anything else like my husband.

For the time being, though, I know I can’t go without. Some women carry a cell phone in their back pocket and that’s it. But, not only do I generally not have back pockets, but I wouldn’t want an electronic device riding on my bum all day either. I need a bit more available than just my phone.

I can, however, declutter. Now that I’m without a diaper bag, it’s been an interesting endeavor to examine what I carry and why. As it’s been going with our family with our household decluttering, my purse will probably continue to downsize in waves.

For now, I’ve reduced the items I carry to these essentials ~

Phone. I know, duh. J

Kindle Paperwhite. Hundreds of books on my person. I know, another duh. J

A pocket pack of tissues. Tears, blood, boogers….

Personal items. Comb, compact, chapstick, two bandaids, a spare ponytail holder.

Two pens. Sometimes, it’s just easier to have my own. Plus, my baggallini has two terrific pen holders, and it wouldn’t seem right to leave them empty.

A few business cards and bookmarks. Because you just never know when you might need them.

Various cards, including debit, credit, insurance, etc. I’m just not to the point of being comfortable with all of that in my phone. Maybe someday, but for now, my baggallini has plenty of slots to keep them organized.

Small bottle of hand sanitizer. I’m not sure if this will make it through the next wave of downsizing, but for now, I like having it available.


This is what I’ve eliminated ~

Wipes. I still feel the need to have wipes handy when we’re out, especially since my 6yo seems to need to use all ten fingers and his palms to eat tortilla chips and paper napkins only tear at the grease and salt that has become stuck on his skin as a result of eating said tortilla chips. But I don’t generally need wipes for shopping for groceries or a stop by the bank. So, wipes will stay in the van, remaining accessible for eating out.

Small paper notebook. I may regret this someday, like when the phone dies, but right now I keep all my notes on my phone.

Checkbook. I barely write paper checks anymore, and I’m trying out a checkbook register app on the phone. We’ll see how it goes.

Menards merchandise credit checks. I cannot tell you how long I’ve had these in my purse. Seriously? These are only needed when my husband goes to that store.

Lint. J

As I downsize, then I need to buy smaller purses to replace my bigger purses. See that love/hate thing? I love purses…until next time. J

Care to share what you carry in your purse?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Eight Reasons I Want My Children to Be Best Friends

It's a difficult world in which to raise a family, isn't it? Especially a family that likes to be together.

I'm not sure how we got to this point, but a lot of people seem to value friends outside the family for their children rather than encouraging siblings to be friends. They are quick to get friends together and believe that siblings who are best friends are socially backward, as if they are incapable of making friends with anyone else.

Of course, friends are important, but why does it seem to be at the expense of a close family? This grieves me.

If we read the Bible, starting at the very beginning, we read that the first group of people the Lord God ever created was a family. Doesn’t this mean that family might be important to him? J

We can't assume that siblings will be best friends just by virtue of living in the same house. With so much pulling on our children these days, including churches that separate everybody into age-appropriate groups rather than keep them together as families, we only do ourselves a disservice with that assumption. Friendship among siblings needs to be nurtured, and here are eight reasons why I've made that effort.

A harmonious family home. Even with outside activities, families still have to spend time at home together. If the children are friends, those times can be sweet and uplifting.

Holidays...for the rest of their lives. If you have not experienced a holiday get-together with family that was fraught with tension because relationships weren't what they could have been, then you are blessed. Wouldn't it be more fun, more encouraging, more uplifting to get together with family over Christmas if everyone loved being together?

Vacations. I would loathe having children who didn't want to be on vacation together but kept emailing or texting or Facebooking with friends back home. Vacations are for family-together-time, experiencing the adventure of new things or relaxation and rejuvenation with people you love, and making memories to last a lifetime.

Grandmas and grandpas together some day. Many, many years ago, when the now-13yo boy was just a little guy in a stroller, we went to the airport to see the planes come and go and eat in the food court. {Big doings! J } A pilot waiting for his next flight noticed us and starting talking to the children. He had three children, and he said he encouraged them to be best friends because some day they would be grandmas and grandpas together. Unless a sibling severs ties, brothers and sisters are going to grow old together. I'm working now so that they have the benefit of a life-long nurturing friendship. This goes along with the next point…

Friends move away and don't always stay in touch or make the effort to travel to get together. Siblings do. There's still power in that word – FAMILY.

When others reject them, they have each other.

If trouble arises between sibling~friends {and it will}, a parent is there to sort it out. Friendships end all the time because of misunderstandings or hurts that don't get resolved, but living in the same house, perhaps even sharing the same bedroom, is a great encouragement to conflict resolution.

If siblings are friends, they get along better with mom and dad as well, and that's a win for everyone.

How do you nurture your children to be friends?

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Taking Sermon Notes on my Kindle and Four Other Things I Learned in February

I love learning, and I love adding value to my life and to the life of my family. I bet you do, too. With that in mind, I try to be mindful of what works and what doesn’t, learning through life and adjusting as I go. Some months look better than others, but as long as there is an effort and some forward progress, it’s a win.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

If I’m going to do a “What I Learned” post, I need to be mindful of it throughout the month. J Now, it’s the last day of February, and I’m starting from scratch, wracking my brain to remember what I learned. Does that mean I didn’t learn it well enough? J

I don’t run the whole gamut of emojis {some can get a little crazy and far-fetched}, but I do like a smiley face now and then. I’ve wondered if my tone here needs to be more serious. I’m a suspense writer. Should I eliminate the smiley faces and opt for a lightning bolt or an emoji that looks like one of those serious Lego guys? 

Nah. Everybody could use more smiles in their day, even if it’s just an emoji. J

My kindle wins over a print book nearly every time. I admit it. I read so much more on my kindle. Remember my debate a while back about print books versus e-books? I don’t dislike print books at all, and I still have plenty on my shelf. But when I’m ready for a new book, I find myself wanting it on my kindle. A tap turns the page, I can highlight easily and then see all my notes in one place, and I have hundreds of books with me all the time.

Just this month, I’ve started taking sermon notes on my kindle. Our family rule is no electronic devices in church. {I’m the only one with a phone, and I leave it in my purse on silent so that’s not an issue. But we wanted the rule in place before the teens had all the latest gadgets.} But like I said above, I’ve been reading more and more on my kindle. Plus, with getting six children to and from church and all their stuff, I didn’t want to lug in my Bible, notebook, pen, etc. Then the 6yo wants to color in my notebook during church, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. With my kindle, notes are simple, and I have my Bible with me all the time already. I simply highlight the passage for the sermon and then tap “Note” when it comes up. The keyboard appears, and I enter my text throughout the sermon. I tap Save, and there appears a subscript which I can tap again and see my note. Then, also, I can see all my notes in one document, if I so choose.

My 13yo son is much more capable in the kitchen than I realized. See? He can cut up vegetables! 

I have encouraged him, but I think most of what he knows he learned from watching his older sisters. Woot! J {There’s another emoji!} 

What have you learned this month?

The Lilla Rose flexi-of-the-month for March ~ perfect for St. Patrick's Day!
Available March 1.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sometimes, selling stuff online is a bit like water torture.

If you've been reading this blog for long, you {hopefully} remember The Great Purge of 2015.

Well, that Great Purge continues into 2017. It's lost a lot of its initial intensity since we’ve cleared out so much, but I find myself in the second and third wave of discarding, tweaking our earlier choices. This includes trying to sell furniture and smaller items that we've finally decided need to go. Also, my mom is moving to a retirement community, and she’s been downsizing. I don’t need her furniture AND mine, so some has to go, and I know she’d appreciate the little bit of extra cash.

Remember in that series I wrote about selling your stuff and pocketing the cash? Sometimes, that feels a bit like water torture.

Here's a recent exchange I had with someone about a king-size quilt set I had listed for $15 ~
{Edited to protect the innocent but all grammar and punctuation remain the same. J}

Prospective Buyer: I would love to buy this quilt from you...where do you normally meet. I'm in [city]...gem and 100
Me: Usually we meet in the Walmart gas station parking lot in [City], but we can meet elsewhere if that's easier.
Prospective Buyer: No that is fine...are you available tomorrow evening?
Prospective Buyer {a few seconds later}: My son lives in [name of subdivision] ..if around there is closer for you?
Me: We're not far from [name of subdivision]. Where would you like to meet? Tomorrow evening is fine. Do you have a time preference?
Prospective Buyer: I'm just gonna have my son or daughter in law pick them up...could I get back to you later after I talk to them? 🙂
Me: That's fine.

The quilt in question.

Or, sometimes, exchanges go like this ~

Prospective Buyer, in response to a particular item I posted: is this still available
Me: Yes, it is.

Looks like a nice desk, don't you think?

Can you feel the drip…drip…drip?

I understand that, sometimes, people have second thoughts or they message before they ought. But if I had five dollars for every minute spent messaging with prospective buyers…well, I wouldn’t feel the need to sell my furniture.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is a result of my prayer for more patience.

Or sometimes, I wonder if I don’t pray enough for patience.

And yet other times, I contemplate loading the van and driving to the thrift store donation center.

“…Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer….” ~ Romans 12:12

Hope for sales ~ patient with messaging ~ continuing to pray for successful decluttering. J

Have you tried to sell your stuff? How did it go? Do you have any tips to share?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What’s Working Right Now in Our Homeschool

Some days work better than others, right?

I’m quickly realizing the value in reviewing our days to see what works and what doesn’t. Well, I’ve actually been doing that subconsciously nearly my entire adult life. That’s how you make things better, make better choices, improve life. Right?

Let me back up a bit and start over.

I’ve always been a list-maker, but it seems that the blogosphere has exploded these last few years with list-makers promoting all sorts of detailed written reviews in pretty journals. This has made me think that there’s some benefit from deliberately thinking through what works and what doesn’t work and making an actual list. I’m posting it here with the hope that what we do might inspire or encourage you. And if you have any insights, please share!

Dual enrollment. I posted on this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t mention that it also is benefiting our younger grades. We all go to the college, and the Littles and I find a common/study area for school and writing-work. This is turning out to be quite productive for us since all distractions from home are eliminated ~ very few toys available, no DVDs, no constant asking for a snack.

Bubble gum. This isn’t a discussion about what type of gum is better for dental health. J It’s simply a comment that sometimes it is helpful to have something occupying a mouth other than constant chatter. 

Fun pens. My birth mother and her husband sent each of the children a unique set of pens for their birthdays. When the pen is fun to use, you want to use it more…more writing, more drawing. And it doubles as a toy.

Yogurt for lunch. Our family of eight eats lunch together at the college two days each week. That means lunches have to be fast and easy to prepare in the darkness of the late night before or the early morning of our day. Yogurts come in a variety of flavors to please everyone, are easy to pull from the refrigerator and throw in the cooler, and are good for us. (L. acidophilus and calcium! Just be sure to avoid the ones full of high fructose corn syrup.)

Boxed curriculum. I’ve blogged before about how I would love to create my own curriculum but didn’t think I had the time. I admire those mothers who cobble together bits and pieces and have fun doing it. In this super-busy season of life and especially now that we’re on the go more with six different grades in tow, I am beyond grateful that we have a curriculum that meets our needs and lesson plans are done for me. We still piece in whatever we’re interested in, but I don’t worry about having the basics covered.

What’s working in your homeschool ~ or life ~ right now?

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