Monday, December 31, 2012

Let's just move on

Let's just move on past this Happy New Year stuff. I know, you expect that coming from me.

I have a love/hate relationship with the last 6 months of the year. In a way I love the fall for the weather it is supposed to bring (some years, nature doesn't bring it). However, with the seasonally shorter days and every other excuse there is, the end of the year (starting with mid-November around my birthday) puts me into a funk.

More dealing with family situations, more reminders of another year that has gone by without much change from the last, people going on about how they plan to improve themselves. Oh, my goodness, can we get to January 2 already?

In 2011, I feel short of reading my Bible every day by one day. December 31 was the only day I missed. If only I did so well in 2012. I know I missed a week.

The only resolution I may have met this year, and I'm not sure it started off as a resolution or a formal goal, but all 366 days of 2012, I posted on this blog. Now, granted, 200 of them were not quality posts. That probably applies to all 366 days, actually.

I didn't lose the weight I wanted to lose. I didn't walk as many days as I planned to walk. Aren't those auto resolutions at the first of any year?

But here is something positive...

The best thing that happened in 2012 was that I was finally freed from a job that I needed to be freed from for my own mental well-being. It was an awesomely good thing. 

In 2013, I hope to be able to escape this neighborhood. I still may not be able to buy a house, but I at least want to graduate from this one.

I don't plan to pick a word for the year. Or make a list of goals, though if I did, perhaps I should make resolutions such as:

  • Only make one Facebook complaint about my neighbors per week.
  • Only make an excuse to get out of walking once a week.
And my mind just went blank. 

As I get ready to log-off for the evening, I debate whether or not to call back over to my parents' house to see what they decided to do. Go to a movie or not? Cook something they bought at the grocery store or not? 

With the rain and cold, I don't really care to get out of the house. If I hadn't had a cold for the past week, my taste buds might actually crave something and I might be more gungho to go somewhere. In fact, I know that would be the case. 

I wonder if my friends decided to not go to the Big D NYE because of rain. For more reasons than one, I wonder if they might not be hanging out tonight at their homes too.

Anyway, I'm ready for the next year, just to get past the holiday hoopla and on with life. It all gets so built up, then it just doesn't seem to live up to its potential. Do you feel the same way?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's more than a cute hat... it's safety wear!

One thing's for sure...

Side story: When my parents owned a sports shop for a number of years, a kid used to come visit my dad a lot. I think he was a little slow and a lot lonely. He always said, "one thing's for sure." Of course, he said it so much that many things must have been for sure.

If I had felt like reading or crocheting while I've been down for the past 4 or 5 days, I would have gotten a lot done. A lot.

Here's my new hat model. Which reminds me, my mom owes me a picture of a hat I made a couple of weeks ago for a family friend. If I had it, I would post it.

The star was a little larger on the head than I had intended. But, she loves it, and that's all that matters.

Peyton told me today that she wears it outside when she shoots her BB gun she got for Christmas.

Who needs a hunter's vest when you have a hat like that. Safety 101!






Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Promise to Protect

I was trying to create a meme of the World's Most Interesting Man. In fact, I did create it. It just won't upload to this blog. Just picture it... "I don't always read Love Inspired Suspense... but when I do, it's by Liz Johnson."

Did you catch the interview with Liz I posted a couple of weeks ago? If you missed it, just click on the link in the last sentence. The post also included an excerpt from A Promise to Protect

I love suspense. It's romance that I'm usually not so big on. It depresses me. (I know it shouldn't. Stop lecturing me!) I don't want to fall for all the guys in the stories. 

I always fall for Liz's men. Who can resist a strong, muscular, handsome Navy SEAL? A protective guy who watches out for you... But Matt isn't perfect, he's also human. 

I admit... It took me a little while to get into the story which seemed to start a little slow. But I think that has more to do with me right now than anything. I'm having a hard time getting into books lately. I think it's just been that I've had so many other things going on. 


Book Summary:

Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer–not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.




Thanks for sending me your book Liz!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I have now seen it all

I have watched too much TV while sick. And way too many bad commercials.

Did you know you can get the equivalent of pantyhose for your arms to push all your arm fat together and keep it from flapping around?

Whatever this contraption is, it goes over your shoulders and buttons just below your bra. It gives you sheer (or lacy) sleeves under a sleeveless top.

Because it is more stylish to wear this thing than just wearing sleeves of you don't want to show off your flabby arms. Not.

I may not be a style maven, but I know that Stacy and Clinton would not approve. (I know Clinton is doing The Chew, but what is Stacy up to these days besides holding Lee jeans with tummy panels?)

I guess you can wear this with the camishaper from the creators of the Genie bra (that commercial is on as I type). It smoothes out everything from your shoulders to hips.

Add in some Spanx and you will be all smoothed out. But having all your fat mashed in has to get uncomfortable. I mean tight jeans do me in really quickly.

I have news for everyone. Just buy a size bigger. You'll look better in clothes that fit without the lycra.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That's what time off is for?

I always have the greatest of intentions.

I have had all of this week off and will not be back in the office until next Wednesday. In that time I planned to do so much.

Read at least part of several books so I could crank some press kits out when I get back to work.

Work on some blog posts that Caitlin has been patiently waiting for me to write so that she can post on the Litfuse blog. (she has been waiting for months)

Start a new blog that I am collaborating with several others on.

Work on the Shutterfly scrapbook I have been working on since July.

That reminds me of the pictures I need to print for Paige.

Wash out my new canisters and arrange my kitchen counters.

Rearrange my overcrowded office.

Troubleshoot my phone synchronization to get my calendar fixed.

Go shopping with Paige to use some of our gift cards.

At this point I am just thankful all my Christmas decorations are put away and I've read 25 pages (maybe more) of one book.

All I have done today is lay around and cough. I guess it's a good thing I didn't have to work. But I sure would like to have the energy to get off of the couch. I don't even feel like crocheting, and I would like to do a project or two along those lines too.

But all that is going to move me right now is the need to turn down the heater because I am hot now.

What have you not done that you planned to?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The decorations were packed away on the closet with care

When do you take down your Christmas decorations?

In my family, we start putting up the day after Thanksgiving, so they come down the day after Christmas. They get their time for a month. I don't understand the put up the day before tradition. It is just too much work for just a few days, especially with as much stuff as I have on mine.

All three of mine are down, back in their boxes in my dad's truck (if he has not unloaded them yet), and the decorations neatly organized and back in the closet.

Now, I just have to vacuum the masses of fake needles all over the floor. I've had so many needles on the floor that I am surprised my trees aren't bare.

When I was younger, I used to always get sick around Christmas. This year, the tradition returned, and now I am having a hard time convincing myself to just hurry up and finish straightening up the living room. It would only take 5 minutes to vacuum if I would just do it. But for some reason, I just hate vacuuming. Anyone else have that problem?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Ya'll

We actually saw snow in Texas today. Up at my grandmother's house there were big, sloppy, wet snowflakes. Close to being a Christmas miracle!

It was a great day, but I gave my parents some grief over it. My dad said that regardless of when Brian and family got to come over, the three of us would open presents on Christmas morning. I got to their house, we had brunch food, then someone forgot what they said. Everyone loves getting and giving so yes I did want to open presents this morning! I made my parents open what I got them before we headed over the river and through the woods.

In a mad rush, we opened presents with 9 people simultaneously about 5 tonight. I really am not sure what everyone got quite honestly. But the girls loved their hats. I don't have a picture on my phone, but I will try to post in a day or two.

This whole month flew by, and I can't believe it is time to box up the decorations already. That is not the part I look forward to.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Guilt Trip

Although I am sure to have the kind of guilt trip you are thinking of tomorrow, today, my parents and I went to our annual Christmas Eve movie.

This year, our selection was The Guilt Trip. Dad was worried becuase the critics had given it bad reviews. All I can say is that the critics had never traveled with their parents, or they were parents who couldn't see the humor in how they really act.

We all found it hilarious. A few awkward moments. Some language could be cut.

In the restrooms, a guy who had also seen the movie said that he didn't think he could travel with either of his daughters. I'm not really sure what my dad said in return.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Got them done!

I finished my Christmas gifts last night, but I have no clue how they are going to fit. Cross your fingers and say a prayer!

I hope they look as cute on.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The race is on... As usual.

Any time I crochet anything for Christmas, I am always racing to get it done by Christmas. I am cutting it close. I have to do a flower for the one on the left and it will be finished. I should have all but the flower on the orange one done tonight.

What do you think?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Choreographed confusion

I admittedly forgot to upload this yesterday. The third graders, being the oldest kids in the program, had the hardest choreography. This may have been a little too much for most of them. Here's Peyton's lollipop dance.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Checking out Jerry's World

I have to admit, the only reason I was showing my school spirit at the State Championship football game was that I wanted to see Jerry's World aka Cowboys Stadium. The Mildred Eagles should be proud for making it to the championship. Unfortunately, the East Bernard Brahmas were crazy good. As was their mascot in a Santa suit. Professional sports teams don't have mascot suits that good.

Jerry's World is still shiny and new, and pretty impressive. Goodness knows you can't ever get in there for cheaper than the $12 tickets were to the high school football championships. I'll never have seats like we had for anything I'll go to.

And when we left (shortly after half time), we had a personal escort to the swanky elevators, then on the golf cart directly to our car. That was service! And I think the staff was bored since there were less than 7000 people there verses 90,000.

Just inside the doors...


The abstract football lighting...





I'm kind of bummed I didn't get the picture of inside the elevator because it had a cool picture of Tom Landry inside.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I made it out alive!

Tonight I made it through my 7th straight Mildred Elementary Christmas program, thankful that they only go through 3rd grade due to space. Peyton is in 3rd grade.

Of course, Layton starts kindergarten next year. We'll have to talk about that later.

I will post dancing video tomorrow. Poor Peyton would have benefited from suspenders for her jeans that were rolled up 8 inches.

Watching the attendees is an interesting observation on society and human behavior. Like why this one guy didn't have the good sense not to wear his grimey-est tank top showing off his naked woman tattoo in a gym full of children. (And I have watched enough Ink Master to tell you how badly done it was.) Or my mom commenting on how old one of my former classmates looked in the face.

And every year I am still surprised to see how some people are able to find people to marry.

Each year is a reminder of how old I am getting, right along with my greying classmates, and that Christmas is somehow just days away.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm so over Christmas that I am planning for next year

Christmas has become so routine that I'm already planning to do something different next year.

The farthest I ever venture from home is about 45 miles away, so I'm going off somewhere. Somewhere cold rather than pushing 80 like it was today. Somewhere it is realistically possible to have a white Christmas. Somewhere it isn't as far fetched to be dreaming of a white Christmas as it is to win the lottery without buying a ticket. Somewhere I can roast chestnuts over an open fire rather than in the front window of my office during the afternoon sun. Where can you find sleigh rides in the snow?

Next Christmas I won't be buying or making anyone any presents. No worries about wasting my money on something that is going to be shoved in the corner of a shelf for at least 6 months where it got crammed when it was brought home. No more spending time making something with love and attention to only be put in a storage box somewhere never to be seen again. No more wrecking my brain trying to figure out what to buy someone I barely see or speak to during the rest of the year.

Oh, and when I go off to wherever it is I'm going, I'll get to schedule my time however I see fit. I won't give any care or attention to when someone has to be at their in-laws. Or when their kids are with their exes or their exes in-laws or their current's exes' in-laws blocking days of availability. I won't miss the annually scheduled meltdown that comes between the rushed lunch of sandwiches (because everyone else is so dog-gone picky that we can't have real holiday food) and the ripping into presents and promptly packing them up before it's time to go to the next place. There's no playing any reindeer games because there's no time. Oh wait, the meltdown usually comes on the way out the door in the blur of flurry. And I just realized, I can eat whatever I want at whatever place may be open.

Then I can skip the tension between are we or are we not going to make the out of town family get together where everyone gets on everyone's nerves in a tight confined space once a year. (Being or arbitrator or mediator would be an extremely stressful job for me.) And the ride home talking about how strange our relatives are. The same discussion year in and out.

And it won't come down to me keeping my parents entertained (and vice versa) for days if we aren't all able to get together on Christmas Eve or Day because the three of us have anything else to do. And I won't be answering my grandmother as to where my brother is because everyone was here for the family picture except for him. That picture where we are always facing the 80 degree sun and I always look disgruntled with the sun grins. Or sun frowns as it appears. We'll see if anyone asks where I am and what I could possibly be doing.

I'm one of those people who experiences the holiday blues every year, and it's really no wonder. The older I get the more beat down I get by all of it. Especially after a conversation today.

I'll just leave that at that.

Besides, I need to finish crocheting a project someone is sure to hate and stuff in a drawer because I finally decided to do that rather than buy something since I didn't know what to buy. Besides, it's too warm for it right now anyway. And I need to hurry up and do it because I have absolutely no clue when in the next 4-9 days I need to have it ready.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Funky, Funky Christmas

This song came up tonight at the Litfuse Celebrate and Be Merry celebration. You really missed it if you weren't there.

The person who brought this up as the worst Christmas song ever won the prize I was giving away.

When the New Kids on the Block Christmas album came out, I was in junior high, and my mom wouldn't let me listen to this song with her because FUNKY sounded like a bad word. I remember riding down the highway with her and having to skip the song in the tape deck.

It's really quite stupid. But worth a laugh when Santa Claus burns his butt.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

A somewhat productive but lazy Sunday

I actually accomplished a lot between church services and my nap today.

What I did not figure out is how to melt the white bark and food coloring without it hardening instantly. I still lack the skills to become a professional chocolate dipper, but maybe my parents' friends will be impressed.

However, I finished off a crochet project and didn't take a picture of the hat. Can you believe that? I was in too big off a hurry to think about it because I was handing it off tonight. I really wanted ear flaps and a pom pom on top as a joke, but I don't have a pom pom maker and the ear flaps would have been dorky. It was probably dorky enough.

I wish you could have seen it when I tried it on. Sigh.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shopping completed? Maybe...

I may have gotten my Christmas shopping completed today. Maybe. I'm really not impressed with anything I got anyone other than my parents. But, I think I got my family finished today. Kind of a long story in more ways than one.

I finally decided to crochet the last two family projects. I guess I better do that instead of sitting her blogging or doing Google searches. The race is on!

Are you like I am about Christmas? I kind of dread it. Yes, I have three trees, making my halls and house quite decked. That still doesn't mean I'm not Scrooge. I'm over the hype. I feel like the Grinch.

But at least my purple tree is pretty.




Friday, December 14, 2012

A Promise to Protect - An interview with author Liz Johnson

The book that I'm currently reading is Liz Johnson's A Promise to Protect. I promise that a review is coming, but in the meantime, I'd like to share this sneak peek and interview with Liz.

Excerpt:

            “Tristan is the closest thing I have to a brother. He’s worried about you, and so am I. Let me help.”

            Fear flickered through Ashley’s eyes as she whispered, “Someone almost ran me over.”

            “Tristan said something about a letter,” Matt pressed.

            Ashley nodded. “When I got home that day, there was an anonymous note saying that someone wanted his property back.”

            His gut clenched. What kind of jerk threatened a battered women’s shelter? “Listen, I’m in town for a few days. Let me look into things.”

            She smiled up at him. “Thanks, but I got the note more than a week ago. If there was any danger, something else would have happened by now.”

            As they reached her car, her smile died. He didn’t have to ask if she still thought the threat had passed as she took in the smashed windshield of her coupe. Tucked under a wiper blade, the person responsible for the mess had left a clear message.

            If I don’t get what’s mine, you’ll get what’s yours. 

Summary:

Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer–not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.


About the Author:

Liz Johnson graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations and set out to work in Christian publishing. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream—becoming an author. She is now a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Promise to Protect is her fourth novel with Love Inspired Suspense. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com, or follow her on Twitter.


An interview with Liz:

What’s your new book, A Promise to Protect, about?

Ashley Sawyer has been the director of a battered women’s shelter for three years, so she’s no stranger to dealing with threats. But when she helps a young woman disappear, the threats become more intense than she’s ever experienced. Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone is happy to check on his best friend’s little sister, certain he can take care of the situation. But as Matt and Ashley search for the source of the threats, they uncover a plot more sinister than they ever imagined . . . and a love they never expected.

How did you get interested in writing about Navy SEALs?

When I was in college, I picked up a novel about a SEAL, and I was hooked. Who were these men unafraid of facing down the worst in this world? Who would go through such torturous training to be called the elite? I began watching documentaries on Special Forces units and reading everything I could about the men on the teams. Lately I’ve been reading biographies of SEALs including Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Fearless by Eric Blehm, fascinated by the type of personality it takes to become a SEAL.

It’s been said that good writers are good readers. What do you enjoy reading?

I’ll read just about anything that I can! And I read as often as I’m able. That translates into—whenever I’m not on deadline. My favorite books cross genres and years. As a kid, I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I loved it! Still do. As an adult, I’ve really The Princess Bride and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Mostly I just enjoy a rich story with a happily ever after.

What have you enjoyed reading recently?

I’ve written three books this year—met three deadlines—so I haven’t had as much time to read as I’d like. But I did catch new books by some of my favorite historical authors—Julie Klassen and Karen Witemeyer. On a recent road trip I finally listened to the audio version of Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy. It was wonderful!

Liz, what’s up next for you?

Right now I’m working on the follow up to A Promise to Protect, which is due out next year. It’s about Ashley’s brother and Matt’s best friend, Tristan. Then I’m scheduled to write a third book in my SEAL series. I’ve loved writing about the men of SEAL Team FIFTEEN and the women they fall in love with, so I’ll be sad when the series wraps up. I’m also working on a contemporary romance and bouncing at least a hundred and three other ideas around my mind.


Thanks for sending me your book Liz!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spend a year At the Feet of Jesus


An interview with Joanna Weaver,
Author of At the Feet of Jesus
  
Author Joanna Weaver confesses to being a fellow struggler when attempting to find a quiet time for study and reflection. She understands the challenges we all face. In her latest release, At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart (WaterBrook Press / October 2, 2012 / hardcover / ISBN: 978-0307731005 / $ 15.99 / also available in e-book), Weaver gives readers the structure they need to grow closer to God. This 365-day devotional encourages and inspires women who want to deepen their spiritual lives as they spend a year at the feet of Jesus.

At the Feet of Jesus combines a conversational tone, real-life stories and insightful Bible teaching to engage readers at an emotional and spiritual level. Each page-per-day devotional includes a brief inspirational reading, a short Bible passage and a reflection question designed to create a greater hunger for intimacy with God.

Q: You admit to being a fellow struggler when it comes to finding quiet time for God. How do you find time to work on your relationship with God?

I’m learning that intimacy with God is a choice I have to make every day. It’s so easy to allow other things to crowd out my time with the Lord — to allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to take priority over what is truly important. But when I allow that to happen, it isn’t long before my soul begins to feel what my spirit lacks. And a malnourished spirit affects every part of my life. While I’m not completely disciplined at having a quiet time every day, I’m learning that if I set aside a consistent time and find a consistent place to meet God it really helps keep me on track. And when it comes to time alone with Jesus, the more time you take the more time you want!

Q: What tools have made it easier for you to structure your own devotional time?

Though I’d been raised in the church all my life and was a young pastor’s wife in full-time ministry, no one had taught me how to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. I knew I was supposed to — but I didn’t know how to. But God was so good to lead me to a year-long discipleship course that changed my life, offering structure and accountability as well as the how-to tools I needed to have a deeper relationship.

TIME + THE WORD + PRAYER has always been the formula for intimacy with God, but the discipleship class showed me how to read the Bible in a way that made it come alive to me. I learned how to read it as a love letter then respond to it through prayer and journaling, turning my quiet time into a living dialogue with and that has changed everything.

Q: In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus says of Mary, “This is the better part.” What did he mean by that?

I believe Jesus was inviting Martha to enjoy the friendship Mary discovered as she sat at His feet. Martha was so busy serving Jesus, she didn’t realize she could know Jesus. And that is the trap we all fall into from time to time — even those of us who are seasoned Christians.

Martha was a woman who loved Jesus. She was operating in her gifts — the Greek word for “preparations” in Luke 10:38 is diakonia. It can be translated as “ministry.” Martha wasn’t showing off. She was doing what women did back then, working really hard so everyone else could worship. But Jesus offered her something she didn’t know she could have: intimacy with Him. It wasn’t “more” that Jesus required. In fact, I think it was less.

Jesus was saying, “Martha, Martha . . . come sit at my feet. Come find life for your soul.” And that’s the invitation He gives to each one of us today.

Q: Would you mind sharing with us what the words “at the feet of Jesus” mean to you?

Ah, I love that phrase! I had always viewed devotions as a duty — something all good Christians should do. One more thing to be added to my to-do list. But I’ve found that it’s so much more than that! When Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the “Better Part,” He wasn’t insisting that she add one more thing to her busy day ; He was offering her a relationship — a chance to take off her apron and lay aside her duties and just rest in His presence. That’s what “at the feet of Jesus” means to me, Hanging out with the Lord, just loving Him and allowing Him to love me.

Q: How was At the Feet of Jesus designed to be used? How long does each devotional take per day?

Devotionals have really added a rich structure to my time with the Lord, especially in the beginning. But I still find them a wonderful addition to my time in God’s Word. It’s my prayer that At the Feet of Jesus will serve as a companion like that.

With one page per day, the devotionals don’t take much time to read at all. But I hope readers will go to their Bibles and look up the verses included at the bottom and take time to reflect on what they learn there.  

Q: Each day’s devotional is dated, but does it matter if you start at January 1?

It doesn’t matter at all. Being a perfectionist — albeit, a frustrated one! — I understand the feeling that I must start at the beginning of the year if I’m going to do it right. But just as each year has a first month, so each month has a first day. Each day has a first hour, and each hour has a first minute! Etc, etc. Just begin. That’s what the Puritans suggested, and I love their advice! “Start small, but begin.”

Q: At the Feet of Jesus excerpts portions from your previous releases. What features and new materials are included for those who may have read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World or one of your other books?

Because I tend to “write to find out,” I often end up with extra material that doesn’t make it into my books. While it is excruciating at times to “murder my little darlings,” as writing experts advise, it is necessary to the editing process. When I came up with the idea of intertwining excerpts from my books into a devotional, I got excited about including some of my favorite “outtakes.” I hope readers will enjoy them, as well, and get a small peak into the process of writing a book.

We’ve also included sidebars to give readers tools to go even deeper in their quiet time and study of God’s Word: tips for creative quiet times, scripture memorization helps, inductive methods of Bible study, as well as other resources.

Q: At the Feet of Jesus includes sections called Out Takes, which are made up of material that didn’t make your previous releases. In the case of movies, outtakes are often some of the best parts of a movie. What goes into deciding what does and does not make it into a book?

That is such a good question. I suppose it is different for every writer, but for me, it happens a couple of ways. My tendency to write without an outline leads to some interesting detours and dead-ends. I usually discover what works and what doesn’t in a portion I’ve written when I read it out loud. But it is often my sweet, all-knowing, all-wise editor who deletes the portions. When I don’t miss the piece she’s removed during my read-through, I know it has to go. It was fun to revisit my outtake file and pull the pieces I especially loved.

Q: What are some of the areas that you encourage your readers to dig deeper into?

I really want people to get into God’s Word for themselves. Before I learned how to have my own quiet time, I once heard a woman say, “I love this book!” and she hugged her Bible to her chest. I remember sitting there thinking, “Wow. A lot of the time I don’t even understand that book.” But as I’ve spent time in the Bible, I have fallen in love with the Word of God. And that’s my prayer for those who use this devotional.

Don’t worry about what you don’t understand in the Bible. Start with an easy-to-understand book like Mark or James or one of Paul’s smaller epistles. Read slowly and in smaller portions. Think about ways to apply what you read to your life. Don’t worry about getting through the Bible in a year if you’re just starting out. Just let the Bible get through to you.  

Q: Tell us more about the Bible reading plan included in the back of book. What are some of the ways readers can customize the plan by going to your website?

As I mentioned before, I am a fellow struggler when it comes to spiritual disciplines. For so many years, I would make a resolution to read through the Bible in a year. I’d start in Genesis only to give up in Leviticus or Numbers. But when I started using a Bible reading guide that took me back and forth between the Old Testament and New, my time in the Word really came alive.

That reading guide is included in the back of the devotional, but a special program is also available at www.becominghis.com. It allows you to create a reading guide to your specifications. Just fill in the date you’d like to begin and the book you’d like to start with. Then with a push a button, you’ll receive a personal reading guide you can print off and keep with your Bible.   

Q: How do we find a balance of both worship and service?

As a pastor’s wife and mother, I’m constantly trying to find the answer to that question. To be honest, it looks different every day. Some days I have more time for contemplation and worship. Other days, it is busy, busy, busy. But I’m learning to invite Jesus into every moment rather than compartmentalize Him into a part of my day. To prayerfully ask Him to walk with me as I go about my tasks, rather than beat myself up when I haven’t kept my quiet time schedule. But I’m also learning to purposely guard and prioritize my time with Him. Because the truth is, I need Jesus! I don’t have enough on my own to be the wife, the mother, the friend I want to be. But He’s promised to provide everything I need if I’ll seek His kingdom first.

Q: Most of us lean naturally toward being like Mary (worship) or Martha (serving). Which are you more like?

I am a schizophrenic Christian. I want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside keeps bossing me around! I truly have characteristics of both — good and bad! I’m driven, but I’m not so hot in the kitchen. I get things done, but I also have a lazy streak. Most of all, I really do love Jesus. And that was true of Martha and Mary, as well.

Learn more about Joanna Weaver and her books at www.JoannaWeaverBooks.com. Readers can also keep up with her via Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easiest Christmas candy. Ever.

I'm getting a post ready for the Friday Favorites on the Litfuse blog, so I thought I would share it here too!

I had one of those weeks last week when I was just about ready to dip everything in chocolate. Thankfully, my excuse was a Christmas party at my house. I spent most of my Saturday melting and dipping chocolate.

And believe me, I had plenty left over that I have been eating on all week.

I’ve had to pace myself on leftovers. But these treats can keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


First, I’ll share the absolute easiest Christmas candy ever. Really, seriously, ever.
  • You’ll need a microwavable mixing bowl, a spatula, big spoon and cookie sheet covered in wax paper. You may want two cookie sheets because you’ll probably run out of room. 
  • Pour 1 bag of chocolate chips (depending on your favorite: dark, semi-sweet, or milk) and 1 bag of butterscotch chips into the bowl and melt in the microwave for 1 minute. 
  • Stir the chips to make sure they are fully melted. If they aren’t, but them in for a little longer, (15 or 30 second increments). They will melt fast so, don’t scorch them by leaving them into long. 
  • This time, I dumped in a whole jar of roasted peanuts (salted or non-salted are fine). Mix together until the nuts are coated. One jar of peanuts did just right, but you may have a little bit too much chocolate at the end. (I love doing this with cashews and pecans too.) 
  • Spoon onto the cookie sheets and put into the fridge until the chocolate sets.

 That’s it. And they are addictive!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This year, I also made peanut butter balls. But I didn’t want any Rice Krispies in them. I adapted the recipe I found on Pinterest a little bit because I didn’t have shortening. Does anyone have shortening at their house anymore? And the instructions were like reading a book. Too much information.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 2 cups of creamy peanut butter (this is approximately one regular sized jar, so I just put in the whole jar)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
For the coating:
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
And here’s what you do:
  • For the balls themselves, melt the peanut butter and butter in the microwave. Try a minute, then 30 seconds at a time until you can really stir the peanut butter in.
  • Add in the vanilla
  • With the peanut butter still warm, mix in the powdered sugar until a soft dough forms.
I got my peanut butter a little too hot, and figured I would have to add more powdered sugar if I mixed it in right when I got it out. I let it cool a little bit which was sort of a mistake. If you don’t mix it when it’s fairly warm, it doesn’t stick together really well.
  • Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl – start with 30 seconds and stir. Add time as needed.
  • Add in the vegetable oil. This helps make the coating a little shinier and the chocolate not melt quite as easily while they are setting out. I think you could actually leave it out.
  • Roll the peanut butter mixture into balls the desired size, and insert a toothpick to dip in the chocolate.
  • Let the extra chocolate dip off, then put on a wax paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Since it’s harder and takes longer to dip out the chocolate than just spooning it out of a bowl like the chocolate covered peanuts above, you may have to stick it back into the microwave to melt again.
  • Once you have all your balls dipped, you can pull out the toothpicks (or leave them in) and let them cool in the fridge until the chocolate sets.
This is not the easiest/cleanest process. I had chocolate EVERYWHERE. Up my arms, in between my fingers, all over the bowl. But the end product is so worth it!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And like I said, I was into melting and dipping. I really wanted the big pretzel rods (would have been so much easier), but the grocery store did not have them, so I did pretzel knots in white almond bark. I was running out of time, so they didn’t turn out pretty. I wanted some red and green too, but I was having trouble with getting it melted right. I put some peppermint extract in the red which turned out pretty good taste wise.

I have more white chocolate and pretzels left, so I’m going to have to try these again.




Oh yeah, and my gooey butter cake. It didn't turn out just right, but aren't the peanut butter balls pretty?



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Join the Litfuse Chicks for a Christmas Party!



Merry Christmas from the Litfuse Chicks!

To show our appreciation for our readers, bloggers, media friends, and clients, we're hosting a very merry celebration of the season, and you're invited! 

Join us on Facebook on December 17, come with your questions about us, what we do, the publishing industry, and our Christmas traditions! Plus, we'll be giving you the scoop on the new 2013 blog tours that you'll be able to participate in! We'll be joining you via video, so it will be like we are all right there in the room with you. 

As a thank-you, we'll be giving away prizes, including custom Christmas gift packages from each of us chicks, filled with our favorite items. Come prepared with photos of your ugliest Christmas sweaters, best cookie recipes, and other holiday favorites. 
Don't miss it! RSVP here for our end-of-the-year celebration.



Monday, December 10, 2012

A Christmas Homecoming - Enter to win a Kindle!

Grab a copy of MaryAnn Diorio's
"A Christmas Homecoming" for JUST .99! 

MaryAnn is celebrating the release of her new book
by giving away a Paperwhite Kindle! Details below!



One "merry" winner will receive:
  • A Paperwhite Kindle
  • A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 22nd. Winner will be announced on 12/23/12 at MaryAnn's Blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.


About the book: 


Seven Christmases have passed since Sonia Pettit last heard from her daughter Jody. Since Jody’s departure, Sonia’s world has been turned upside down. Her husband has died of a broken heart, and her son, bitter over his sister’s destructive actions, has become rebellious.

Her greatest desire is to have her family together at Christmas, but after what Jody has put them all through, can Sonia truly forgive her daughter?

Jody Pettit O’Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her departure, her world has been turned upside down. She’s been abandoned by the man she met and married, lost her job, and is unable to care for her two children. With nowhere else to turn, this prodigal daughter begins the long journey home and prays she will be welcomed after walking away so long ago.

Will Jody find forgiveness in the arms of her family as easily as she received it from God?


About the author:

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio loves God, people, children, and dogs, in that order. She also is passionate about story and its power to transform the human heart. Dr. MaryAnn, as she is affectionately called, writes compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of life. She is Adjunct Online Professor of Fiction Writing for Regent University and coaches writers on their journey to publication. MaryAnn and her husband Dominic are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters and a fantastic son-in-law.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New project inspiration - a change of direction

I saw some cool wreaths on Pinterest that I wanted to make. Of all things, they were made from toilet paper rolls. I have been saving them and one night last week started cutting them up. Look at the mess!

I got busy with other things and haven't gotten any farther. I am really tempted to trash them all and forget it.

My parent's friends have even been saving some, and this morning and I told them they didn't have to any more. I think Bronny was disappointed, so I told him that I would make him something special. Then, tonight I found this card and got new inspiration. I will be mailing it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas

An interview with Anita Higman,
Author of A Merry Little Christmas

Often times the mere mention of Christmas stirs cherished memories and makes us nostalgic for years gone by and the ones we love. Maybe you even begin to hum your favorite Christmas tune. Author Anita Higman harnesses that sentimentality and affection for the holiday season in her latest release, A Merry Little Christmas (Summerside Press / hardcover / $14.99).

Q: What inspired you to incorporate Jim Crow laws and segregation into your book?

Even though A Merry Little Christmas is really a love story, I felt it needed some additional conflict, and some of the racial struggles of the 60s seemed to be the right choice for this particular plot. I grew up in the 60s, and I was always interested in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In some ways I feel I’ve waited my whole life to write this book. It came easily to me in that it’s been percolating in my imagination for a long time, but it was also hard to write because I had to consider more deeply the injustices of that era. Even though it sounds like a cliché, A Merry Little Christmas truly was the book of my heart.

Q: The farm scenes seem pretty realistic. Did you grow up in the country?

I did. While the small towns in the book are totally fictitious, I did grow up on a wheat, cattle, pig and chicken farm in Western Oklahoma, and it was pretty much identical to the one in the novel. If the farm scenes seem realistic, it’s because I got to know farm life quite well before I moved off to college at 18.

Q: Franny and Charlie come from very different backgrounds but are both looking for something very different from the way they've grown up. Do you think, as humans, we all just have a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality?

Yes, that is a human frailty that is easy to succumb to, and I’ve been guilty of it as well. But God is good about reminding me that he’s placed me on my own unique life-road, and it may have little to do with anyone else’s journey. Besides, in many cases when we get a closer look at someone else’s “lush green grass,” it usually turns out to be turf.

Q: Do you think that sometimes we don't pray for what we want because we are afraid of getting what we pray for?

Perhaps that’s true, which would explain why Franny is equally nervous and excited about the sudden answer to her prayers.

Q: Was there a reason you added the themes of Christmas and music to your latest story?

My editor asked me to add those elements, and it was a blessing, since Christmas is my favorite time of year and I love music. Also, female readers in general love novels that are set during the holidays, and I’m hoping the music adds a cozy feel to the overall Christmas theme.

Q: What is your favorite Christmas song?

“The Holly and the Ivy.” The song has a melancholy feel to it, but it’s also beautifully sweet. I love the “Currier and Ives” style pictures my imagination conjures up when I’m listening to it.

Q: Does the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have a special significance to you?

The song makes me swoon it’s so romantic and lovely. It makes me think of being snowed-in with the man I love. Of course, that scene also needs a mountain cabin with a crackling fire and two mugs of wassail.

Q: What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

I love to have my gal friends over for brunch around Christmastime. I have been collecting tea dishes for many years, so when I do a brunch, I go all out. Women are usually in a service mode most of their lives, so when they come to my house I want them to feel wonderfully pampered. And by the time they leave, I hope their hearts are a little merrier and they feel we’ve celebrated Christmas well!

Q: Is Franny's character based on any "real-life" person?

Franny is like me in some ways, but she has a lot more courage than I have and more laughter in her heart. So, really, I want to be Franny when I grow up.

Q: You have written everything from romance to suspense/thrillers to nonfiction. What is your favorite genre to write?

I love inspirational romance. There’s just nothing else like it for writing and reading. It naturally makes you want to curl up on an overstuffed couch and read the day away.

Readers can keep up with Anita Higman by visiting www.anitahigman.com, becoming a fan on Facebook or following on Twitter.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just call me Alexander

Growing up, my Grandmother didn't have many children's books around the house, but she had Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. Anytime we were up at her house, especially with my cousins, we read it.

Just call Alexander b'mecause I've had one of those days.

All. day. long.

It's not even worth talking about. It was frustrating.

All. day. long.

I can't remember if I broke down in tears two or three times.

After making pancakes for me and Paige after I picked her up from her UIL meet out at the school at my parents house, I am trying to chill in front of the TV to watch Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.

However, I need to make my grocery list so I can go shopping tomorrow after work. I need to print the recipes of what I want to cook so that I can figure out what I need.

After today, I'm || this close to buying every kind of melt-able chocolate on the baking aisle and finding something to dip in it.

I'm just thankful for my laptop so that I can sit on the love seat with my feet propped up and print wirelessly while watching TV.

Hallelujah!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Maybe I'll be off the hook next time

It probably started off with the question, "have you read any good books lately?"

More likely it was, "are you working on any good books?"

It seems like the only question my Grandmother really asks me. At least anything that really has anything to do with me that doesn't end up being a gossipy kind of thing. There's another similar question about authors or anything neat or something. It's work related though. After 10 years, really, that's all you can focus on, what I'm working on? Do you ask anyone else about their job? It may sound innocent enough, but it seems to be more of a way of impressing her book club.

If you actually know me, or have heard/read some of my stories below, you know why this is such an ordeal in my mind.

Anyway. A few months ago, we did a blog tour for Robert Whitlow's The Choice. I actually had two copies of it because I had requested it from the publisher for review before I found out we were doing a blog tour on it, so my mom and I were reading it at the same time.

I guess Mom actually told her what we were reading and about it being good. I don't remember the conversation if we had it. Grandmother, before she even read it, recommended it to her book club.

Then the guilt trips start. "I sure hope it's really good. When I pick a book, I hope the group likes it. I don't want them not like something I picked out." In a certain tone.

She's made a point to tell me it was the next selection more than once.

I sure didn't force anyone into anything.

She did tell Mom she thought most of the club had actually read the book through this time.

So, Monday morning. I was brushing my teeth, getting ready to make my way down the hall to start to work. Before I could finish brushing, the phone rang. I checked the Caller ID. Oh. My. Word. to start a Monday. Call screen and blame it on brushing my teeth. Some people only call me when they want something. My brother. My grandmother.

A little while later I get the courage to call back. The book club meets Tuesday night and she wants me to come. I don't have an excuse. Not really anyway, but I did delay the answer for a few hours.

I got my mom off the hook, saying she couldn't come. My guilty conscience or inability to say no or something pushes me to say yes.

I think my parents were in utter disbelief. When Paige heard about it, her reaction was, "please tell me you are not going. You know it's going to be a bunch of old people." Having met some of Grandmother's friends in the past, I knew what I was in for. All of us did.

I could only answer, "it's for brownie points." Paige answers, "I've never heard of brownie points before until today and I've heard it twice."

I just kept telling myself, "you can get a Starbucks on the way. You can get a Peppermint Mocha Frappachino on the way. You have a gift card that will cover the venti on the way."

When I arrive, there was a bit of me being the object of show and tell. It still seems to me to be more of an "aren't you impressed that she works with authors" kind of thing. She kept bringing up, "she works from her home" as if that were a big deal. Maybe if I worked out of my 5 bedroom luxury home somewhere other than Corsicana. I work in a small extra bedroom of my duplex in the rentalhood where the kids bang on the walls and Three's Company's dog barks it's head off any time I walk outside and is out of the fence half of the time when I go out back to get in/out of the car.

There were 10 other women there. Four I knew. Four she always talks about. I don't know how the combination of the 5 of them ever get along really. Two of the four in particular were shocked I was there. These two I ate with and made sure Mom knew I took one for the team. (Oh, and no, Mom, I didn't tell her you were off all last week.)

During the meeting itself, she kept talking to me, almost gossipy stuff. At one point she was disagreeing with everyone about a character and whether the person was real or not. Of course, that was expected too.

It was kind of interesting. I think she kind of had to be the center of attention in a way. Not surprising.

She made a what was a somewhat meant to be a snide remark that only I could hear (and the closest nearby) that I was like my father when I was commenting on something related to the book discussion. Well, that almost came as a relief.

Payback was telling her she sounded like her sister later.

At one point, as everyone was getting ready to leave, one of the infamous friends was showing off an injury to the back of her thigh. By pulling down her jeans, bending over in her underwear, right in front of the glass front door, showing everyone her injury.

A) I wouldn't be showing everyone my injury. B) I wouldn't be pulling down my pants for everyone to see. C) I wouldn't be doing this in front of the glass front door.

After all this rambling of mine, I think I'll get to the point... I really think I just did this so that she couldn't say I never come see her. So that next time, I could say no with a less guilty conscience. To gain brownie points for some kind of redemption later. Christmas will be here soon. I just hope to be higher up the grandchild ladder for a little while, especially when all are gathered together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brownie points

I really had not anticipated that I would just be getting home at 11:00 tonight. Especially from a book club get together at my grandmother's house.

Some of you are thinking, "oh this is going to be good!"

Others are thinking, "she's lost it."

When the subject came up last night in the presence of Paige, she said, "please tell me you are not going."

I will tell you all like I told her. "Brownie points."

Maybe more accurately, guilty conscience.

With that said, you'll have to wait for the rest of the story until I am at a computer without auto correct and predictive text because with this phone, I will make no sense whatsoever.

Cliff hanger!