Friday, May 28, 2010

Feeling Very "Real" Now!

I am starting to get more and more emails and comments on Facebook from folks who have received their copies of Mailbox via the pre-orders that have gone out or have found it in stores even though the official launch isn't til Tuesday. Knowing people are reading the book makes this whole experience feel that much more "real." Thought I would share a couple of photos some friends have sent me just today!

The Mailbox is not just for women... here we find an unidentified man reading the book. (You know who you are!) For the record, my husband says men can read the book and still hold onto their man points because one of the main characters is, in fact, a man.

Karen Ehman stopped into a bookstore in Ft Wayne Indiana during her son's baseball tourney and look what she found on the shelves!! Very, very cool indeed. Thanks for sending this pic Karen!! So fun!!
If you find the book on your local bookstore shelves, snap a photo of it and email me with the location and the name of the store. It would be fun for me to see where the book is making appearances!
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Winner of The Mailbox

The winner (randomly picked by my 8yo son) is Kim-- commenter #10! I have commented on Kim's blog to let her know she won. Thanks to all of you who left comments and pledged your help in spreading the word about the book. If you didn't win, please consider buying the book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any local bookstore. If your local Christian bookstore, Books A Million, Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. isn't carrying the book-- ASK FOR IT!! This helps raise their awareness that there is an interest in the book.

I so appreciate your wonderful comments of encouragement as I ready myself for the launch on Tuesday. I have no idea what to expect but just know I will be keeping you guys posted! Remember, you guys are helping the book's success every time you tell another person about it!!

My birthday is tomorrow-- the big 4-0! We have no special plans during the day-- just hanging out as a family. Am hoping it won't rain so we can head to the pool. Tomorrow night we are going out to my fave restaurant for dinner with my parents and Sunday night we are headed to another restaurant for dinner with friends. I am looking forward to both nights out. Monday we are going to the lake with some friends.

Which means, I hope you all have a great Memorial Weekend!! I will return on Tuesday with a post about the launch.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In Just One Week...

My book will be available!

And I am hoping you guys will help spread the word!

Below is a list of things you can do starting now. (Kudos go to author Deborah Raney, who originally wrote this list and has it posted on her blog.) I have modified it to fit my book and I have bolded the ones I think are the easiest to do for most anyone.

And yes, you really do make a difference in a book's success. If you've ever heard me speak, you have probably heard me talk about how we all have a sphere of influence. Well this is your chance to work within yours!

(Read all the way to the bottom for a "win it before you can buy it" giveaway opportunity!)

Write a review for the book on an online bookstores such as:

•Write a review at one of the many online book review sites, including:

At you can recommend books via an e-mail link that will take your friends right to the page of the book you’re promoting.

Recommend the book as a featured title for an area book discussion group (or start your own bookclub!). This is especially appropriate if the book has discussion questions in the back. (The Mailbox does!!)

Mention the book on your blog or on e-mail loops you’re a part of.

•If you have a website or write a newsletter, consider featuring novels you’ve read and enjoyed.

Add the book to your list of favorites on facebook or other online communities.

Post one-line reviews in your status on facebook or shoutlife, or "tweet" about it on Twitter as you're reading it.

•After reading and reviewing the book, give it away as a prize in a drawing on your website or blog.

•If you have a unique perspective—for instance, personal experience with the book’s topic, a man offering a male perspective for a women’s fiction book, etc.—offer your insights in venues that might not ordinarily hear about the book.

•Print out a review you’ve written, or other reviews of the book and give them to your public or church librarians for consideration.

•If you're in a local bookstore, “hand sell” the book by talking it up to customers shopping in the fiction department. (Ie, stalk customers while trying not to look creepy.)

Talk to the clerks in any bookstores and libraries you visit and ask if they carry the book. If not give them a short book report and recommend they order a few copies.

•When visiting bookstores, do a little creative rearranging to turn the book face out on the shelves. Use good judgment and don’t hide one book to promote another. Also keep in mind that in some stores front-table space is paid for by the publisher, so don’t “steal.”

Offer to write a book review for your church newsletter, neighborhood newspaper or any other printed source that might reach readers.

•At your next women’s retreat, volunteer to organize a book table, where you will feature the book.

•Offer to organize a blog tour for the author, setting up a week when numerous blogs will feature the book and interviews with the author.

•When you’re finished with the book, tuck it into a gift basket for someone who is ill or in the hospital; or take it to your next dinner party as a hostess gift.

•Leave the book in a waiting room where someone with a few extra minutes might start reading it.

•Prison ministries are always looking for wholesome books to distribute. Check out groups like Prison Book Project.

Word-of-mouth is still probably the number one way books hit bestseller lists, so simply start conversations about the book. Tell your friends and family what you’ve been reading and why you enjoyed it so much.

Now... if you've read all of these, I have an opportunity for you to win a copy of the book before you can buy it! Simply leave a comment telling me what you are going to do from this list to tell others about The Mailbox. I will choose one winner on Friday and announce it here.

To all of you who will go the extra mile and do one or two things from this list-- I can't ever thank you enough. I know the success of the book depends on people like you.

And I promise not to talk about the book all the time-- just let me get through the launch and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming. :)
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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
Looks like another iffy day-- might rain, might not. I am ready for hot weather. I know that sounds strange but I am longing for long hot days where the only relief is a dip in the pool!

I am thinking...
About my book's release... next Tuesday!! In a few days I am posting about how YOU can help my book become a success. I hope you guys will read and be inspired!!

I am thankful for...
A great husband. He's still searching for a job and I am so proud of the way he has handled this whole thing. Last week he spoke for an unemployment group at a local church and is considering starting a small group for unemployed people at our church. Not to mention he's been such a help as we've prepared for this book to launch and I've been finishing my book that's due next Tuesday.

From the learning rooms...
I am making a summer reading plan to read aloud every morning from some of the great chapter books I enjoyed as a child. I've read many of them to my older children, but now it's time to share them with my younger ones. Summer is a great time to do so.

From the kitchen...
Curt and I are doing this crazy diet that one of our pastors challenged him to do. And so I jumped in too. The nice thing is we are eating the same thing so it's kind of hard to fall off the wagon. The hard thing is it's all meat and fresh veggies/fruits so we are forever running back and forth to the grocery. We are eating well, though! It's a 21 day diet and we are 7 days in. I've made a chart for the fridge to check off each day I make it through.

I am wearing...
Sweats. I am always wearing sweats when I write this, it seems. Says a lot about my daily wardrobe. Glamorous.

I am creating...
My next novel. Going through and making changes so I can send it off.

I am going...
To dinner several times this weekend considering it's my birthday!! Looking forward to a weekend of celebrating. (I will NOT be doing the diet over the weekend, I don't care what anyone says...)

I am reading...
Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel once it comes in from the library hold list. It was recommended by, a site I still very much enjoy even though we aren't homeschooling anymore. A woman recently told me she thinks God gives special wisdom to homeschool moms. That site is evidence that this is true!

I am hoping...
For a happy birthday and a successful book launch. Here's a preview of what I will be talking about in my next post: tell all your friends to buy my book!! :)

I am hearing...
Sirius 80's on 8. Love it.

Around the house...
This weekend the kids cleaned their rooms well (closets, under their beds, sheets washed, floors vacuumed). So needed.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Writing, a couple of interviews for Curt (prayers appreciated!), an open house for my youngest's summer preschool program, a volunteer appreciation dinner, an orthodontist appt for my 13yo, and swim team practices nightly. A pretty average week.

A picture I am sharing: 4 yo preschool graduation-- and yes, I cried! (The oldest was working so he missed it.)

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Missing Miracles

I talked to a friend yesterday just after going on a run. She asked me about my foot-- the one I broke two years ago. The one that, because of where the break occurred, I was not supposed to be able to run on for any distance ever again.

"It's fine," I told her. "Totally fine."

"Well that," she said, "Is a miracle."

"Why yes," I agreed. "It is."

I don't want to miss the miracles in my life because I am busy or time has passed or I get distracted by other needs and requests to lay before God. I want to live life in forward motion, yet not forget that there are lots of miracles big and small lining my path in the rearview mirror.

Yesterday I shared with a friend the story of the scare I had that I was losing our sixth baby. I told her how I will never forget standing in the Walmart talking to the nurse who assured me that my HcG levels were climbing each day just like they are supposed to. I remember looking around the Walmart, filled with joy at the news I had just received. A very ordinary place had been turned into holy ground. As I shared with my friend, I just bought that same little girl a pair of Tinkerbell sunglasses at the grocery store and watched with delight as she wore them out of the store. And yet, I don't see a miracle every time I look at her. Many times I see another request, another need, another discipline issue, another task. I miss the miracle of her.

Today as I go running I am going to revel in the ability to run instead of complain about the exercise. I am going to inhale the smell of honeysuckle and magnolias as I run past. I am going to crank up Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" and concentrate on the breeze on my face, the rhythm of my feet in time with the music. I am going to smile at my 4yo when she comes downstairs, instead of being put out that my quiet time is over. I am going to remember that my teenage son who can be mouthy and obnoxious was once a baby I didn't think was going to live. I am going to celebrate the miracles of our daily provisions from God even as Curt is jobless.

I don't want to live life missing miracles. They are all around us, if we just remember to look.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Life In A Bowl

Life has a way of never working out the way we planned. This is the second week in a row of not getting to work on my novel that's due June 1 due to some mysterious virus thing that is making its rounds through the house, kid by kid. Which also means, I've not had much time to write on this blog either. It really means I've not had much time to do a lot of things.

Isn't that just the way life is? Full of highs and lows, unmet expectations and serendipitous surprises all jumbled up into this big cauldron of feelings and emotions and doubts and certainties, continually being stirred up so no ingredient is allowed to settle to the bottom. Sometimes the bites we take are salty, sometimes they're sweet, sometimes even bitter. But it's the range of tastes that make for an exotic, flavorful meal.

And with that, I think I will go have some lunch. Some bitter greens, some sweet strawberries, some smooth olive oil, some tangy vinegar, some crunchy almonds... life in a bowl. I plan to savor every bite.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

40th Weekend

There's a quote from the movie Tequila Sunrise that I always think of when I think of my 3 best friends from high school:

"I don't know what it is about going to high school with someone that makes you feel you're automatically friends for life."

How true. There is something about that high school connection for me, especially where these girls are concerned. The truth is, the last time we were all together was 12 years ago. Three of us still live in the same town but might see each other once a year... on a good year. We don't talk daily or even monthly. And yet, we all decided to keep up with our long-ago promise to each other that we would get together for a weekend to celebrate our 40th birthdays, which fall in April, May, June and July. So we all did a little juggling and made this past weekend happen in the midst of busy schedules and craziness. Sometimes a little juggling turns out to be well worth the effort.

The home we stayed in is called Shadowlawn, a historic home that has been completely refurbished and brought back to its original glory near the town of Blowing Rock, NC. We enjoyed lavish accomodations and were pampered by our hosts, Ron and Paula Withrow.

A view of the mountain range from the expansive front porch where we spent lots of time, rocking and talking, catching up on what life looks like for each other now.

The four of us: Me, April, Kim and Karen.

Karen and I at lunch at a quaint little restaurant we found tucked away down a path in Blowing Rock where we enjoyed delicious food and an even more delicious atmosphere.

Kim and April from across the table

In some ways we haven't changed at all. In other ways, everything has changed. And yet, our friendship endures. What is it about high school that makes you think you're automatically friends for life?

I am not sure... but I sure am glad.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window… still kind of damp and dreary after heavy rain yesterday.

I am thankful for… the kind notes and comments readers send to me when I have a devotion run at P31. It's so nice knowing the words I write aren't just floating around in cyberspace and are actually touching people's hearts and challenging them to think differently!

From the learning rooms… watercolors, craft books to spark ideas, crayons, markers... creativity!

From the kitchen… I need to bake banana bread and homemade blueberry muffins for this weekend-- my promised contribution to a girls' getaway weekend I am going on.

I am creating… Still working on my novel that is due June 1. I am coming into the homestretch and nearing the point that I know I've done all I can to it and it's up to my supremo editor to take her pruning shears to it and shape it into something I will be proud of. She's the real miracle worker in the equation.

I am reading… Just finished Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, a shocking and beautifully well written novel. I read it in just over 24 hours. It inspired me to write better, which is a good thing. For me reading is a bit like working, as I am always studying novels I read to see what works and what doesn't. This one worked but I warn you-- it's not for the faint of heart.

I am hoping… that my sick children get better and my family does well without me this weekend. I so want to join my friends but I have been gone a lot and I am feeling very torn about leaving.

I am hearing… nothing. Silence is golden.

One of my favorite things... holding a printed copy of my manuscript for the first time. I got the newest novel printed out at a local UPS store the other day so I can go through a hard copy with a red pen, the old-fashioned way. I took it home and laid it on my dresser, then remembered the copy I had printed of Mailbox when I was in the final stages of editing it. I still have that copy so I pulled it out too, holding both of them and smiling as I did. I felt like a proud parent-- seems like just yesterday Mailbox was a freshly printed manuscript, now it's about to go off into the world as a bonafide real book. How quickly they grow up!

Around the house… cleaning up messes of the type that you don't want to share on a blog... remember? Sick kids. Suffice it to say my couch will never be the same again after yesterday and no amount of Febreze will help. This is why we buy used furniture from Craig's List!

A few plans for the rest of the week… I speak at a teacher appreciation luncheon tomorrow for a local Christian school and leave directly after that for the girls' weekend in the mountains of NC. There were 4 of us who were best friends in high school. We're all turning 40 around the same time so we planned this weekend together long ago, to celebrate. The 4 of us don't see each other very often (though 3 of us still live in the same town!) so this will be reunion of sorts-- a time of rehashing old memories and catching up on each other's lives. I am looking forward to the time to just enjoy myself, but also already missing my family. After this weekend I don't have to leave for awhile... which is just the way I like it!

I will be out of pocket for the rest of the week but plan to return next week! I might even post a picture of me and my 3 friends and our 40something selves.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Reflections On Mother's Day

Last night I had the most vivid memory. I was walking into church on Mother's Day morning 18 years ago. I was due in just a few months, my stomach entering the church before the rest of me did. The usher at the door offered me a flower, just like he had all the other moms. "Oh," I said, embarrassed. "I'm not a mom... yet." He thrust the flower into my hand anyway, gestured at my stomach and smiled. I whispered a thank you, slunk into my seat and looked at the floor. I was 21 years old and out of my league.

On Saturday I sat in the audience while the women of the church I was speaking at honored a mom in their midst. They had chosen their pastor's mom, who I had met moments before the event as we all prayed. She was an amazing prayer warrior and I loved hearing her pray. I had no idea she was the pastor's mother, or that she was being honored that day.

One by one her 3 daughters, her daughter in law, and her son (via video) extolled the seeds of influence she had planted in their lives. Their words offered me hope as a mom. Her daughters talked about how she required them to live differently than the culture, making choices that were difficult, yet now that they are adults they understand and are even grateful for. As a mom of teens, this was so important for me to hear. One by one they each thanked her for being a mom who opened her home to others, loved them fiercely, made sacrifices willingly, and never backed down from what she knew was right. I have never seen a more beautiful picture of children rising up and calling their mother blessed.

Afterwards I told her what an inspiration she had been for me, just hearing what I heard. I told her how hard it was to hold my children to a different standard than the world's, and how much I worried that they would remember only the bad stuff and none of the good. She laughed. "Oh I worried about the same thing! I am surprised by all the good things they remember!"

Sometimes I still feel like that scared 21 year old girl, not able to take that flower that honors me as a mother. "I'm just not good enough," I say. I fail in countless ways, pray often for God to fill in my gaps, and doubt most everything I do. And yet I see God, just like that usher, smiling at me and thrusting that flower into my hand anyway. He gestures at my children this time, proof that I am a mother-- not because I have earned it somehow, but because He entrusted me with them, plain and simple. Even when I don't feel like it, even when I doubt. I take the flower anyway.

And whisper a thank you.
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

In Anticipation Of Mother's Day

I wrote this post in 2008 but it still holds true... read on.

Proverbs 31:28, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

I received my annual Mother’s Day call from one of my friends a few moments ago. Her call was a reminder of a past Mother’s Day—a day that will live on in infamy in my mind. Not because it was an awesome Mother’s Day, but because it was a horrible Mother’s Day. Let me set the stage for you: I woke up that morning and wandered out into the den where my family—I was certain—was waiting to shower me with gifts and sing my praises. Instead, I found no cards, no flowers, and everyone seemed too preoccupied with getting ready for church to even remember to say something to me. I felt like the character in Sixteen Candles; only instead of forgetting my birthday—they had forgotten Mother’s Day.

We went to church with me silently stewing. I was not prepared for the gauntlet of friends I had to run by at church who oh-so-kindly shared with me what their families had done for them that morning. “What did your family do for you?” they innocently asked. I just shook my head and took my seat in the sanctuary. I was embarrassed that my family didn’t care enough to remember my special day. I was angry that I had been overlooked by the very people who professed to love me most. I grumbled to God throughout much of the service and made vows that I would absolutely not make my husband’s Father’s Day special. So there.

Once we got home, I got busy trying to get an ordinary lunch ready for the family—all the while wondering where my special Mother’s Day lunch was. Finally, I snapped. I yelled and screamed about how horrible my day had been. I blamed my husband for not taking the lead. And then I went to my room and cried.

God met with me there in that room. He got my attention by showing me how out of whack my attitude had been. If He had called me to motherhood—with all the service and self-sacrifice that entailed—then why did I feel I deserved a day just for me? Why did I let the retailers and the culture build up my expectations to a place of total unreality? Why didn’t I instead turn to Jesus’ humble servant’s heart and say, “This is not about me. Even today, this is still about You.” If He is truly my model, then why did I let go of that and turn the focus on myself just because of a date on the calendar?

In the end, my sheepish husband and children snuck off to Walmart to get me some hanging baskets I had been wanting, and they ordered my favorite Chinese takeout for dinner that night. In trying to salvage the day, I saw their love for me displayed. I also faced the reality of the fact that at that point in our lives, a lavish gift and expensive restaurant meal just wasn’t financially possible. My expectations had not met with my reality, and I played the victim to the hilt. Shame on me. I resolved that in the future I needed to lay all my expectations down and wait on God to surprise me, as His surprises are so much better.

Later that night I was talking with a friend and she asked how my Mother’s Day had been. I told her it had not been a good day. She replied, “Did it involve locking yourself in the bathroom, running a bath and then crying your eyes out? Because that’s how my Mother’s Day went.” In that instant, I realized I was not alone. From that conversation, my friends and I resolved that perhaps we should not place so many expectations on our poor families. Perhaps we should instead make our own Mother’s Day plans, and let our husbands off the hook. So that is just what we did.

And so, this year my friends and I are getting a plan together for how we are going to spend our Mother’s Day. We have chosen a great chick flick to sneak off to in the afternoon, then on to a nice dinner and perhaps a latte afterwards. Our husbands are breathing a collective sigh of relief and our children are learning that sometimes mommy needs a little R&R just like everybody else. But then again, mommy doesn’t expect it or act like a diva about it. I will always remember the Mother’s Day I got an attitude adjustment and will try to keep this day in perspective in the years to come. In the end, that has made Mother’s Day at our house much happier
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Monday, May 03, 2010

4 Stars From Romantic Times!

I am celebrating a good review from Romantic Times. Thought I would share it with you here!

by Marybeth Whalen
Genre: Mainstream, Inspirational
4 star RT Rating

Whalen’s debut novel will speak to readers on many levels. The book moves seamlessly between past and present, giving a glimpse into the characters’ lives and how they have changed over the years. The heartfelt love story will surprise and delight readers.

For 20 years, Lindsey Adams has been visiting the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach, N.C. She writes letters summarizing her summers, leaving them in the mailbox for the kindred spirit — a secret “keeper of the mailbox” — to find. When she first writes as a teen, Lindsey is in love with Campbell, but things don’t go as planned and the two lose touch. Lindsey and Campbell reconnect as adults and must work through their pasts to move forward into the future. (DAVID C. COOK, Jun., 320 pp., $14.99)

Reviewed By: Melissa Parcel
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