Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In The Houston Area?

This is where I'll be Friday night! It's going to be great fun, and will benefit a great cause!

Authors in attendance include
Don M. Aycock
Linda & Steve Bauer
Allison Bottke
Terry Burns
Lena Nelson Dooley
Leanna Ellis
Dorothy Featherling
Marcia Gruver
Anita Higman
Charlotte Holt
Nancy Jo Jenkins
Eileen Key
Linda Kozar
Jeff LeJeune
Elizabeth Ludwig
Cathy Messecar
DiAnn Mills
Randi Morrow
Janelle Mowery
Kim O'Brien
Susan Titus Osborne
Allison Pittman
Karen Porter
Deb Raney
Jerry Rassamni
Deborah Rather
Martha Rogers
Carla Rossi
Lynette Sowell
Donn Taylor
Janice Thompson
Sharen Watson
Carol Weishampel
Brenda White
Nancy Williams
Kathleen Y'Barbo
Julie Johnston Zick

Monday, July 28, 2008

Money-saving Monday! Buying in Bulk?

I think we're going to take the plunge and get a Sam's membership. This past Thursday I was my friend Lisa's guest at our local Sam's Club that's about 30 miles away from us. Since I'm pretty familiar with the prices of items we usually buy, I was able to compare prices at Sam's. Overall, I think it's a toss-up. Some items--especially the brand-name multi-packs of products we usually buy--were more expensive. But then some of their frozen foods were a better deal than our local Wal-Mart, where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping. My one triumphant purchase on Thursday was a big honkin' glass jar of sea salt with its own grinder attached. It's a monster jar, and only cost $3.88. Much smaller containers at a regular store cost that much.

The important think to consider when buying bulk is realizing how much space you have to store items. Plus, will you use the products before they go bad (in the case of food)? Will it benefit you in the long run to NOT have to purchase these particular items as often?

Since we have our own business, CJ can buy us a Business membership for $35. Since it's a membership, Sam's also offers other benefits such as eye wear and travel discounts. We'll see if this membership benefits us or not. And I know CJ will enjoy ogling the HDTVs!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eternity in our hearts...

The writing world said good-bye to a shining light this week. Author Kristy Dykes went home ahead of us left here. While we're glad she's not suffering anymore, we grieve for those she left behind. That "blessed hope" we share must help carry us in the midst of pain. If you click on the link above, you'll read her husband Milton's account of her homegoing as he held her hand right until she stepped through Heaven's door. Have the tissues handy, pray for Milton and his family, and then go hug your loved ones and cherish all those ordinary moments that pass too quickly.

In the last ten months, loss and grief have circled around my family and friends, like two hungry sharks in the ocean. In September I watched a lively, vibrant friend leave this life after suffering a similar illness to Kristy. In October, I held my brother-in-law's hand as he stood next to Heaven's door and I had a glimpse inside before he left us two nights later. This spring I IM'ed and wept with another dear friend and author who lost her daughter. In June I heard the phone ring and then listened to someone tell me about a friend's untimely needless death, and just this month, I've cried on the phone with another good friend who's suddenly found himself alone in the world. And sometimes I feel unable to handle the smothering grief. I find myself running to the "Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief," asking Him to help us all, because I can't carry the pain of those I love.

Because how do we NOT sorrow like those who have no hope? Sorrow is pain. It forces us to rearrange our lives, knowing that the one we love has been shuffled to memory. In our human-ness and frailty, we want the ones we love to stay close, to never leave, to never part from us.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

Eternity is planted in our hearts. Lots of us don't know that or think about it very much, but it's true. We have an innate longing for home. We have so much "busy work" on this planet, but when we find loss and grief circling us, it turns our hearts toward eternity. Eternity is what fills us with hope while we grieve and healing takes place.

So, Kristy, Carla, Jolene, Eddie, and Joanne, we'll see you--soon. Like Aslan says: "I call all times soon."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Money-Saving Tuesday (and more randomness)

Yes, I missed Monday. This week AND last week.

I met my deadline--a day early--and then we headed to the Texas Gulf Coast where we TRIED to save money by not spending too much. Found a great Thai cafe in Port Aransas called Thaiphoon of Texas. I accidentally walked into their back door and into their kitchen, got hollered at in Thai and English, and finally found the right door (hey, the restaurant was in a cottage, what can I say?). But I fell in love with their Corpus Christi roll, eight slices of rolled crawfish, crab meat, avocado rolled in rice and the 'seaweed stuff'. Very reasonable at $7.99 and just enough to make my tastebuds dance. You don't have to spend a lot of money going out to eat in a beach town.

One of the things we do when we go to the coast is spend a little bit more on a room where we can spread out, do our own food, and not have to eat out as much. I guess it's a tradeoff financially, but I'd go stir-crazy stuffed in a hotel room with kids for a week so for me paying more for a studio condo on the beach is worth it. We go here: This year my hubby and I went on our own for the first time and left the kids home because they're working. We didn't spend as much $$ but it was bittersweet without them.

Anyway, I'm on to my next proposal and ironically enough, this one has fruit in the title, as do the next two books in the series. Am I getting stuck, or am I finally discovering a brand? Yet I love the ideas and I'm starting to love these new characters. We'll see how my editor likes these characters, too. And the titles were her suggestion. She's good at coming up with titles and she knows her market.

Hey, anyone following Nashville Star? Kinda interesting what people consider country music and not. Following a music dream sort of parallels following a writer's dream. It's a tough business to break into, but you stick around, show up, keep learning, you might just see things happen. What I like this year about the show is the mentoring aspect. Where would we be without mentors? I've been blessed to have a number of writing mentors in my life. I listen to them with the ears of a sponge (do sponges have ears?).

One final random note: I literally just got off the phone with my 51-year-old uncle, my dad's youngest brother. He called me just before midnight to say...HE'S GETTING MARRIED!!! For the first time. EVER. As my dad put it, I just saw a pig fly by the window. Who'd have thunk it? He and Nicole are eloping in September and then having a reception early next year. That way they can spend the money on entertaining and having a big bash, and enjoy time with all of us.

Time to start saving money for four round-trip plane tickets from Texas to Massachusetts. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm cruising toward a deadline with a wonderful reward in sight. Four days and three nights at the beach. Yeah!

Often while working on a deadline, other ideas try to grab my attention. For example, I have a character buzzing around in my brain from something that happened recently.

She hadn't seen him in nearly five years, and one of the things that bothered her the most was that she couldn't remember the color of his eyes.

My daughter and I had an interesting chat tonight about why someone wouldn't remember the color of someone's eyes. Yes, this would have to be a friend. A good friend. How many of us have friends and we know the color of their eyes? Why wouldn't we remember the eye color of someone who's supposed to be a good friend, and we used to see them regularly? Maybe it's not important to us. Or, maybe it's something else...

"Maybe they're hiding something." Good point. So what could they be hiding? A bad secret? Or maybe a good secret.

"Maybe they really don't want the other person to see into their eyes. Because maybe they want to be more than a friend."

Ah-ha! So this poor woman, who can't remember the color of "his" eyes will have to wait her turn. Back to my daily word count.
Oh, and whose eyes are those? Try to guess!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Money-saving Monday!

Okay, I would like to say I've found some earth-shattering new way to save money. Not this week. I'm a firm believer in the fact that since groceries take the largest chunk of our budget (besides housing), we need to focus on trimming that budget to save money. A few dollars here and a few there add up faster than we realize. And watch those "free sample" tables. It's usually for a premade food product that is more expensive than it's worth, and they tempt you by giving you a bite. Cruise by enough display tables and you can add $15 to $20 to your food bill in one trip.

I've also been doing some thinking about the economy in general. I don't believe in being a Chicken Little, running around with a sign saying "the end is near" or anything. I think we need to watch the times and makes changes to our lifestyles. Let's face it. We Americans are too dependent on big-box stores delivering whatever we need. Who can forget the stories of immigrants going on their first trip to a large grocery store? I remember hearing stories like that, but now they make me pause.

We take so much for granted, that whatever we want will be at the store waiting for us. At a price we can afford. What if that changes? What if supply decreases and there's still the same demand for a particular product? Add gas prices to that, and prices go up, up, up. We need to start doing more for ourselves and being less dependent on those "big" stores to meet our needs. I'd rather buy from a local farmer's market and put money in the pockets of local farmers than buy into the big-box store lie: You must buy EVERYTHING from us because it's cheaper. Not necessarily.