Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Thought: Committing Your Goals To Writing

The link below will take you to a post you should read. I have found what Michael Hyatt shares in this post to be very true. There is something about writing down your goals that makes them more likely to happen.

I was challenged by this concept when I read Debbie Macomber's book Knit Together. (A book I think all writers-- fiction or non-- should read.) She talked about making a list of people she'd like to meet, and how ever since she made that list, God has opened doors for her to meet those people in miraculous ways. Not all of them, but many of them. Her story challenged me.

Last summer I made a "dream endorsers" list. I wrote down some people I could only dream of knowing well enough to ask them to endorse my book. Do you know in the year since I made that list, a few of those people have come into my life in some pretty amazing ways? And now I wouldn't hesitate to ask them to endorse my book.

So I am a big believer in writing down your goals. Don't have any goals? Then that's your homework for today! Think of some goals-- physical, spiritual, health, intellectual, business, personal, marriage, parenting... you get the idea. Then write them down.

This will be my last Thursday Thought for a month. I will be back in August!
Pin It!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Psalms For Moms: Haunted

Psalm 25:12, "Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him."

Haunted doesn't have to mean ghosts and spooky houses. The dictionary also defines haunted in this way: "to recur persistently to the consciousness of; remain with, preoccupied, as with an emotion, memory, or idea; obsessed."

And yet when we think of the word haunted, we do think first of fear, don't we? Let's go with that today.

I read this recently in My Utmost For His Highest, and it gave new meaning to the correlation between haunted and fear. I thought I'd share it with you, courtesy of Oswald Chambers:

"The Psalmist says we are to be haunted by God... A child's consciousness is so mother-haunted that although the child is not consciously thinking of its mother, yet when calamity arises, the relationship that abides is that of the mother. So we are to live and move and have our being in God, to look at everything in relation to God, because the abiding consciousness of God pushes itself to the front all the time. If we are haunted by God, nothing else can get in, no cares, no tribulation, no anxieties... To be haunted by God is to have an effective barricade against the onslaughts of the enemy... We rob ourselves of the marvelous revelation of this abiding companionship of God."

Does God haunt you? Do you fear Him? Think of the way your child feels about you-- the way they run to you when they are scared or hurt or uncertain-- the way you are their first instinct-- even before they process the situation their brains are simply saying "Run to her."

This has given new meaning to the idea of fearing God, and what that fear-- that haunting-- can add to my life. I hope that it gives you something to ponder today as you decide if you fear God, and if He haunts you as He should. I know I've been giving it a lot of thought.

Psalm 112:1, "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands."

Psalm 128:1, "Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways."

This will be my last Psalms For Moms for a month. I will be back in August!
Pin It!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top Ten Reasons I Am Taking A Blogging Sabbatical

I will finish out this week with regularly scheduled posts but will be on a month-long blogging break starting next week. Here are ten thoughts on why I am doing this:

1. It's summer and I want to spend time with my family.

2. I just went through a whirlwind time of writing, editing and releasing a novel and I need a break from thinking at all. That includes blog posts.

3. We are going on vacation and my kids are doing some camps and we have She Speaks in July. That will take up a lot of my time during that month. Not having to think about blog posts will be a relief.

4. I am also taking a cooking sabbatical during the month of July. Ok, I'll be honest. During the whole entire summer. Basically.

5. Most people aren't on blogs during the summer any way. They're on vacation. Or at the pool. Or chasing their children. Which means there are less of you reading any way-- a good time to take a break.

6. I will still use Twitter for updates on what we are doing. So I am not going to completely disappear. You can follow me on Twitter or come here to see the updates in the sidebar.

7. I took a blogging break last summer and it proved very beneficial. I got some great ideas for how to keep my blog going and honestly, I really enjoyed the break and came back with a renewed sense of purpose.

8. It's not called summer vacation for nothing.

9. I will probably redo my blogging schedule when I come back, just to keep things interesting.

10. I was debating whether or not to take a break when I read this post by Michael Hyatt. It really helped push me over to the yay side. Perhaps there's something you need to take a sabbatical from, too? This article helped give me permission-- maybe you need the same.

Again, I am finishing out this week but will be "off" for the month of July. I've got a special thing I am doing for the month of August that I am very excited about-- so I hope each of you will make plans to come back and participate!
Pin It!

Monday, June 27, 2011

In A Food Mood... When Life Gives You Lemons

In She Makes It Look Easy, Justine insists on making fresh squeezed lemonade while Ariel just resorts to Country Time powder. Recently I decided to make fresh squeezed lemonade to see if I could. I have to say it was easy, and SO good! I thought I'd share the recipe I used in case you wanted to give it a whirl. Or a squeeze.

1. Juice the lemons. I used about 6 to get a cup of juice.

2. Mix 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish. Nuke until the sugar is dissolved. (I started out with one minute and just added to it, checking often.)

3. Mix the lemon juice and sugar water mixture (simple syrup) in a pitcher. Add about 3 cups of water and ice. Refrigerate until chilled through.


Pin It!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiction Friday

If you are joining me today after reading "But Will It Make Me Happy?" welcome! Today is Friday and on Fridays I post a "Fiction Friday" post, zeroing in on the process of writing fiction. I share tips, post interviews with other novelists, and sometimes include links to posts that I found helpful. If you're fascinated by fiction or are a writer yourself, I hope you'll come back each Friday!

And now, here's my Fiction Friday post for today...

I recently finished the first draft of my third novel (coming in fall of 12!) and what a moment that was. I love writing but I love having written even more. It's like working out or seeing a movie or reading a book. When you look at it again, you think, "That was good or worthwhile or whatever... but I wouldn't want to do it again!" And that's what I think when I finish a novel. I think "Wow, that was fun and I loved getting to tell that story. But I am also very glad I made it all the way through to the end."

Now there's more work to do-- don't get me wrong. I have no idea how many edits this thing will go through between now and Sept. when it is due. But at least the story began at "Once Upon A Time" and made it all the way through to "And They Lived Happily Ever After."

I loved this post by Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me and Deep Down True about penning "The End" of her third novel. Read on...
Pin It!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Thought: Partnering With God

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know that I have a serious love of Donald Miller's writing. This post so eloquently expressed something I've been thinking about for a long time that I wanted to share it with you all. I hope that for some of you it is exactly what you need to hear. As you change diapers, or tend your garden, or bake cookies, or hug a friend... you are doing God's work.
Pin It!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Psalms For Moms

"But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do." Psalm 73:28, NLT

Since it's summer and we're all dashing around enjoying vacations and sitting poolside and being generally lazy, I won't belabor this verse with a lot of expounding. I will just say that the last half of the verse really challenged me. Do I tell everyone about the wonderful things God does for me? How can I be more intentional about that?

Maybe this is something you'd like to ponder too. A good thing to think about while you're on vacation or sitting poolside or, if you're like me, sitting in the various waiting rooms while you take care of all those appointments you thought would be good to get out of the way over the summer when it didn't conflict with school... Wondering why I thought *that* was a good idea...
Pin It!

Monday, June 20, 2011

In A Food Mood/Top Ten List All In One!

It's summer and I am feeling a bit lazy. So this week I am combining my Monday and Tuesday posts and doing a top ten list of easy summer dinners. I cook a lot less in the summer so that we can spend longer days at the pool and not rush home to make dinner. The kids like this and say they'd rather do that than have a big homecooked meal. So here's what we eat during the summer that's quick and easy to throw together either in the morning, or when you walk in the door, depending on the suggestion.

1. Grill chicken, slice, and toss with your fave bottled marinara sauce. Serve over penne pasta with parmesan cheese on top.

2. Shred a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and serve over bagged salad with a variety of toppings. Make some french bread to round out the meal.

3. Do a baked potato bar. My kids love bacon bits, sour cream, cheese, bottled gravy, and cooked frozen chopped broccoli on top.

4. Stick some chicken breasts in the crockpot and pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over top. Cook all day. Just before serving, shred with two forks and serve on buns as sandwiches with chips and cut up melon.

5. Another rotisserie chicken idea: Cook a pound of angel hair pasta, rinse and drain. Stir in shredded chicken, 1 cup of shredded carrots, sliced green onions to taste, and 1 cup chopped peanuts. Then make a sauce of 1 cup Asian Ginger (or sesame ginger) Salad dressing, 1 cup peanut butter, 2 Tbsp water and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want the kick). Toss. Makes a yummy peanutty pasta salad that's filling but not heavy.

6. Brown two pounds of ground beef, drain. Put back in pan and add a 30 ounce can of tomato sauce and two packets of taco seasoning. Stir and simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve over a bed of lettuce and tortilla chips with your favorite taco salad toppings.

7. Get some different types of deli meat. We like roast beef, ham and turkey. Buy a couple of loaves of french bread and slice down the middle. Layer the meat and your favorite sandwich toppings. Slice and serve with chips and a pickle spear for your own version of Subway for a fraction of the price.

8. Buy Bubba Burgers and have your spouse grill them for you.

9. There's nothing wrong with ordering Domino's.

10. Chinese takeout is also an acceptable option.

Pin It!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fiction Friday: Old Story/New Story

If you subscribe to the Randy Ingermanson EZine "Advanced Fiction Writing" you probably saw this last Friday when it came out. But if not, read on. This is great advice! It's long, but make yourself read the whole thing. (If you want to subscribe to his free ezine like all the smart writers do, the last paragraph has info as to how to do so.)

One of the biggest mistakes I see in beginning
novelists is when they write a novel with characters
who had nothing going on until the story began.

I mean nothing. No plans, no ambitions, no goals. These
characters are having a completely uneventful life
until the story starts. Then BOOM -- suddenly they have
a whole lot going on.

That's not the way the world works and it's not the way
a novel works.

In the real world, when something big and exciting and
dangerous happens to you, it always interrupts
something. Maybe not big and exciting and dangerous,
but something important to you.

Just as an example, I have a friend who was in New York
City on September 11, 2001, when a big, horrible,
dangerous story erupted. But my friend didn't go to New
York for that story. He was there to launch his next

That book launch got interrupted, and it never really
got rolling, because it was overtaken by a much bigger
story, a story which is still going on.

When a new story starts, it always, always, ALWAYS
interrupts an older story already in progress.

The old story is generally something fairly normal. The
new story is much bigger and quickly pushes it out of
the way.

Before long, the old story is mostly gone, although old
stories have a funny way of intruding on the new
stories, and pushing them in unexpected directions.

The usual term for the old story is "the ordinary
world." This is a misleading term. It makes it sound
like the old story actually has nothing going on --
that it's all setting and no plot.

Not true. The old story has a very definite plot. It's
just not nearly as exciting as the plot for the new
story. But it has the same lead character.

When you write a novel and there is no old story going
on, it feels weird. Like your characters are just
sitting around twiddling their thumbs and waiting for a
story to come along and give meaning to their vacant
little lives. Characters like that are dull.

Maybe an example will help.

I have this friend named John who was having trouble
with his wife awhile back. A lot of trouble. They were
fighting all the time. Finally, she picked up and moved
from New York to LA because her boss offered her a big
promotion. She moved across the countery with their
kids. Leaving John behind.

John is a cop. He can't just drop all his cases and
move across the country because wifey got a promotion.
And anyway, he's the kind of guy who likes to wear the
pants in the family. OK, so maybe he's a bit of a
chauvinist. John is old school, and maybe having a wife
who's a hotshot in the business world makes him feel

Anyway, after six months of screaming fights by phone,
John decides to eat his pride and go to LA and visit
his wife. Try to make peace. Patch things up. See if
she'll come home. He takes some time off from his crazy
caseload at work and flies to California. Did I mention
John hates to fly?

But he does it. For his wife. Because he really,
really, really wants to make this marriage thing work.

When he gets to LA, there's a limo driver there to meet
him. Compliments of wifey's boss, who happens to be
Japanese and a very polite guy. John gets in the limo
and tells his troubles to the driver on the way in.

Did I mention this is Christmas Eve? And there's a
Christmas party going on at wifey's office? And one of
her co-workers is hitting on her? And she's not all
that jazzed that John's coming to town? And she'd sorta
like to make up with John if it's not too inconvenient,
if he'd just stop being a jerk?

The problem is that the office building where the party's
going on just happens to be the target of a terrorist
attack that begins ten minutes after John gets there.

And now John's wife is a hostage and he's alone in the
bathroom, barefoot, armed with only his standard issue
cop gun while he listens to machine guns firing out in
the hall.

That's where we transition from the old story to the
new story in the movie DIE HARD, starring Bruce Willis
as New York cop John McClain.

The old story takes maybe 10 minutes of the movie. The
new story takes the rest of the two hours. But all
through the movie, the old story keeps popping its head
up, making complications for the new story.

John's wife is ticked off when she realizes that he's
trying to save the building single-handed. He could get
them all killed!

When her slimy co-worker realizes this, he tells the
terrorists who John is and tries to negotiate a "truce"
that would get John killed.

John gets in more and more trouble as the story moves
along, and he really ought to just pack it in and give
up. But he can't give up because he wants to reconcile
with his wife, and he can't do that if she's dead.

The old story makes the new story deeper. A lot deeper.
Without the old story, the new story wouldn't work
nearly as well.

OK, maybe another example.

I have this other friend named Claire. She's a nurse
married to a guy named Frank. It's a little hard to
tell how their marriage is going because it was on hold
for a long while.

What happened is that Frank was in the military and so
they were separated for several years because there was
a war going on. Claire can't help wondering if maybe
Frank had a girlfriend while they were apart, but
that's just not something she can ask him.

In any event, Frank is out of the military now and has
a junior position in academia. Claire and Frank are on
vacation trying to do one of those marriage enrichment
things. And hopefully get a baby started.

Maybe I forgot to mention that both Claire and Frank
live in England. They're staying in a bed and breakfast
place in Scotland. Frank is doing a spot of research
about one of his ancestors who used to live in the area
a couple of hundred years ago.

While Frank's doing his research thing, Claire meets
the local ladies. It seems that some of them have very
weird talents, but Claire can't quite figure them out.
There's something very odd about these folks, and she's
just an outsider who can't seem to break in.

Claire and Frank manage to spy on the local women doing
a weird sort of ritual dance at the site of some standing
stones. Next day, Claire revisits the site and ...
somehow finds herself transported back to 18th century

At this point, the old story transitions into the new
story of the time-travel romance novel OUTLANDER, by
Diana Gabaldon.

The old story was about Claire and Frank putting some
fire back in their marriage after several years on ice.

Now Claire is in a new story, in which her main goal is
to survive and get back to her own century.

But the old story keeps intruding. The first person she
meets is Jack Randall, her husband's ancestor from long
ago, a captain in the hated British army and not a nice

The new story is a long story, with many twists. It's a
better story because of the old story that it
interrupted. Claire really does want to get back to
Frank and finish up her marriage enrichment.

But it's not so easy to get back to the standing
stones, what with being mistaken for a prostitute,
getting captured by the suspicious locals, and then
being married off againt her will to Jamie, a towering
hunk of a man who is in all kinds of trouble because of
his past run-ins with Captain Jack Randall.

The old story takes up only 35 pages of OUTLANDER. The
new story takes up nearly 600 pages. The new story is a
lot more interesting than the old story, but it works a
whole lot better because there is an old story.

Now what about your novel? You probably have a pretty
good handle on the new story -- the main plot of your
book. But what about the old story -- the story that
the new story interrupts?

What is your old story? How does the new story
overshadow the old story? How does the old story
complicate your new story?

Don't confuse the old story with the backstory.

Backstory is everything that happened before your novel
begins. It covers your lead character's entire lifetime
and maybe several generations before that.

The old story is not that. The old story is what's
going on right when your novel starts. Your lead
character has plans. Those plans are going to be
horribly interrupted by the new story, which breaks in
on the old story and sends it to the back of the bus.

The old story is important because, for most novels,
your old story is where your book begins. It's a rare
novel where the new story begins on page one, paragraph
one. Normally, you begin with the old story, with small
plans, small ambitions, small goals.

If you don't have an old story in your novel, then it's
going to feel strange. Like your characters were taken
out of a deep freeze just for your novel.

What's your old story? In chapter one of your novel,
what do your characters have planned for today, for
this week, this month, this year?

How does your new story break in on the old story and
smash all those plans to bits?

Most importantly, how does the old story keep jamming
itself into the gears of the new story, creating

If you're having problems figuring out what your old
story is, here's an exercise you can do:

* Make a list of your five favorite novels.

* For each one, write a one-sentence summary of the new
story -- the main storyline of the book.

* Write a one-sentence summary of the old story -- the
storyline that your lead character THINKS is the story
in chapter one.

Doing this exercise will show you how your favorite
authors have solved the same problem that you need to
solve. You'll learn something from this exercise.

Now go apply it to your own novel.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing
E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If
you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.
Pin It!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Thought: Perfect Is Paralyzing (But Good Is Great)

When I read this post, it made me think about the subject matter of She Makes It Look Easy (affectionately known around these parts as SMILE). I wanted to direct you guys to it because I think you'll agree with the conclusions writer Camille Noe Pagan comes to. I loved what she said about comparing herself to another writer who takes five years to write a book. I write fast, like she does, and sometimes beat myself up for not being more of an artiste. But we moms have to write fast-- if you're anything like me you do everything fast, zipping around your house like the Tasmanian Devil. But hey, at least it gets done... right?

Perfection is paralyzing-- but good is great. I'd rather be a Tasmanian Devil... and do a good job, only leaving little messes in my wake. Messes can, after all, be cleaned up.

Don't forget to check out Camille Noe Pagan's new book, The Art of Forgetting, which came out June 9th, while you're over at her site! Don't you just love that cover??
Pin It!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Psalms For Moms

"You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done" (Psalm 92:4).

I am not going to say a whole lot about this verse except that I want to challenge you today to push aside all the negative thoughts you are carrying around and spend today-- just today-- listing in your journal or just on a piece of paper all the wonderful things God has done for you. See if it doesn't change your perspective...
Pin It!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Songs I Run To

I've been doing a lot of running lately, often in the heat of the day. Sometimes with the sun beating down on me and sweat dripping into my eyes and my legs and lungs aching, the music in my ears is the only thing that pushes me forward. So I thought I'd share ten of the songs I run to. Some of them are obscure. All of them are (relatively) old. Because old music is good music in my book.

(And if you watch the videos, you'll see more than a few mullets...)

1. I Wish I Had A Girl by Henry Lee Summer

2. Back To You by John Mayer

3. The Secret of My Success by Night Ranger

4. Survivor by Destiny's Child

5. Rolling In The Deep by Adele (this one's not old... but as my friend Ariel says, how can you hear this one and not run??)

6. Midnight Blue by Lou Gramm

7. No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper

8. Something's Always Wrong by Toad The Wet Sprocket

9. Maniac by Michael Sembello

10. Runner by Mannfred Mann's Earth Band (Saved the best for last. In my opinion you can't beat this song to run to.)
Pin It!

Monday, June 13, 2011

In A Food Mood

If you dropped by after reading today's devotion, welcome! I am glad to have you! On Mondays, I run a regular feature called "In A Food Mood." The goal of this weekly post is to inspire you to get in the kitchen and whip up something yummy for your family, thus putting you IN A FOOD MOOD. I can honestly say, there are times I am NOT in a food mood. I don't feel like meal planning, I don't feel like grocery shopping, and I don't feel like cooking. But it's part of my job description, so I have to get over it. I've found that visiting blogs and websites by people who are excited about cooking can get me back in a food mood and put new wind in my kitchen sails.

So, with all of that said, I will share a recipe that inspired me this past week when I received it in my inbox courtesy of The Cottage Journal. We love lime anything at our house, so I am sure this cake will be a hit. If you'd like to receive this e-newsletter, you can subscribe by visiting this link.

Makes 1 (10-inch) cake (about 12 servings)

2 (16-ounce) boxes pound cake mix, Betty Crocker®
1 1⁄3 cups water or whole milk
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Garnish: lime wedges, fresh strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a tube pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, butter, and eggs; beat at low speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape bowl as needed (batter will be thick). Stir in lime zest and lime juice. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with Strawberry Sauce. Garnish with lime wedges and strawberries, if desired.

Makes about 1 cup

1 1⁄2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, Driscoll’s®
1⁄3 cup sugar, Domino®
2 teaspoons lime zest

1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine strawberries, sugar, and lime zest; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Pin It!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Bonus: The Help Featurette

This is a new featurette about the movie The Help, that is coming out this summer. I rarely count down to the day a movie premieres, but I am with this one! See the new featurette here:
Pin It!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fiction Friday: Author Mary DeMuth

Today is the last day for the Author Buzz contest! If you are here after reading the Author Buzz letter, you can leave a comment at this post. Thanks for stopping by!

This week I have a guest post from Mary DeMuth, who has written a fabulous new ebook for those of you who are looking to get published in either nonfiction or fiction. I will let Mary take it from here, but I would urge you to get this valuable resource if you have any desire to be published.

I spent years and years writing before my big publishing break came. I practiced Malcolm Gladwell’s advice to write 10,000 hours (link: ). I attended conferences. I submitted to several critique groups. I entered contests. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Recently I downloaded my writing journey and publishing advice into an ebook entitled The 11 Secrets of Getting Published. In that book, I have a section entitled “I’d be published, but...” Below is one of my favorite entries. And it involves one of the She Reads founders, Ariel Lawhon!

I’d be published, but I’m not where I want to be . . . yet.

Ariel wrote:

I’d like to be (re)published but...I want to grow and master the craft of writing first. It’s an ongoing process I know, and no one ever arrives at perfection, but I don’t want to settle for the level of skill I have today.

I’ve had the privilege of corresponding privately with Ariel, and I can attest to you that she’s the real thing. She is passionate about improving. She wants her words to have impact, and she intrinsically knows when they’re not quite up to par with her vision of excellence.

This is a great place to be, though sometimes frustrating. I’d encourage those of you who have had some success in publishing, but have pulled back to improve your craft, to keep at it. But also rest in where you are and continue to send things out. I fear that perfectionism may hold some of us back from submitting. If you don’t submit when you’re not exactly where you want to be, you won’t have the opportunity to hear from editors how exactly you can improve.

The truth is: we don’t usually improve in our writing in a vacuum, or by ourselves. Yes, it’s important (vitally so) that we read great books and write in isolation, but there comes a time when we need to be okay with where we are and submit so others can help hone us.

I am a published writer because I worked hard on craft. But I’m also a published writer because I took risks. I sent things out. I have several books that were never bought. But some were. And every time I had the privilege of professional editing, I improved.

So Ariel, go forth. Keep working on your craft, but don’t be shy about submitting. In that process you will grow.

If you’d like to learn everything I know about traditional publishing and you only have a few bucks to spare, consider purchasing my $2.99 ebook, The 11 Secrets of Getting Published.



My next novel, The Muir House, releases in two short weeks! It’s my 11th book. Link:

Meet me around the web:
Pin It!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thursday Thought: Protecting Your Marriage

Note: If you are here after reading the Author Buzz letter, you can leave a comment at this post. Thanks for stopping by!

One of the themes in my new novel, She Makes It Look Easy, is the decisions that can head us down a path that will destroy our marriage. So when I read this post, I knew I had to direct you all to it. There are things we can do to protect our marriages. Read the five things he lists, and think about how you are incorporating them in your marriage now-- or could in the future. (Although this was written from a male perspective, it can be applied to women too.) It's a great post to print off and talk about with your spouse if you can.
Pin It!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Psalms For Moms

Note: If you are here after reading the Author Buzz letter, you can leave a comment at this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Today I am diverging a bit from my usual Psalms For Moms post and directing you to a post written by my friend, LeAnn Rice, who is also the Executive Director at Proverbs 31 AND an excellent cook to boot! She has written a blog post in honor of She Makes It Look Easy called... She Makes It Look Cheesy. She's sharing a yummy cheesecake recipe AND giving away a cheesy prize package. You've got to check this out!

And just so I am keeping the "Psalms For Moms" theme today, I will share this verse:

Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
Pin It!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Top Ten Things To Do To Get Ready For Summer

Note: If you are here after reading the Author Buzz letter, you can leave a comment at this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Summer is upon us. My kids' last day of school is Wednesday, which means I better be thinking ahead as to what we're going to do to fill our days! Thought I'd list some ideas I've had. I hope you will share yours, too!

1. Make a reading list. If you're like me, you mean to read aloud great chapter books to your kids, but the busyness of the school year seems to swallow up your best-laid plans. Make a list of books you'd like to read to your kids this summer, then set about getting them through your local library or bookseller. Might I recommend Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards, Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White, Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankwiler by EL Konigsburg, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and I Am David (formerly titled North To Freedom) by Anne Holm.

2. Find a great story Bible to read to your kids from daily. We might not have time to do a daily Bible study with the rushing around of a school day, but we can make time this summer. I plan to use this Bible with my kids this summer. For less than $15 on Amazon, it's a great deal for what it will teach you and your kids. Another option is to download this free summer Bible reading chart to get kids reading and keeping track on their own. I found out about it through this post.

3. Gather some craft supplies and create an art box. Pick up some new coloring books, paper, watercolors, tempera paint, crayons, markers, etc. That way when they say "I'm bored" you can direct them to the art box and tell them to create away! A great craft idea book is another handy tool to throw in for older kids who like to make crafts but might need ideas for inspiration.

4. Look into area classes and camps that aren't that expensive. I am not one who thinks kids need to be signed up for camps just to keep them busy, but I do think that if your child has a special interest or talent, it's wise to use the time in the summer to help encourage and build on that talent or interest via classes or camps. Keep your eyes open for stores, community centers and libraries who offer classes and camps for reasonable fees.

5. Make a list of places in your city you've always meant to visit, but never get around to it. Then pick one place per week to go to all through the summer. Your kids will look forward to this and you might just learn a thing or two too.

6. Find "You Pick" places and go pick blueberies, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, etc. This is a cheaper way to get fresh fruit and a fun activity to do with kids. When you get home let them help you research things to do with your bounty-- cakes, pies, cobblers, oh my!

7. Seach the free movies in your town and list out some that you'd like to take your kids to. Most movie theaters offer some sort of free movie program in the mornings. A cool movie theater is a great way to beat the heat and pass the time.

8. Befriend someone who owns a pool. :)

9. This might sound cheesy, but buy a workout dvd and do it with your kids in the morning. They get their wiggles out and you get valuable exercise time. Some (not all) of my kids loved doing Jillian Michael's Shred video with me and bragged about being able to outdo me. They still like to do rock star jumps just to prove they can do more than me. What. Ever.

10. Instill in your kids the value of SDR (Stop, Drop and Read). Have a quiet hour each afternoon in the hottest part of the day where you all (mom too!) lay down and read a book. Even the youngest child can learn to lay down and look at books. I believe this fosters a love of reading and you are leading the charge by modeling it. Need some great books for you to read? Remember She Reads exists for just that purpose-- pointing you towards great Christian fiction you might not hear about otherwise. I highly recommend a weekly library trip this summer to keep your kids stocked with books so that when you do SDR, they can't whine "But I have nothing to read!"

And a bonus idea: Make a list of projects you'd like to tackle over the summer. Maybe you want to teach your kids to do certain chores around the house like laundry, cleaning bathrooms, etc. Summer is a great time to do that instruction. Or you could decide to clean out the toys in the bonus room, or organize their rooms, etc. They won't necessarily love this idea-- but it's a good one nonetheless.

If you start thinking about this now, there's no way you'll be bored this summer!
Pin It!

Monday, June 06, 2011

In A Food Mood

Today I have a devotion running at P31 AND we are doing a great cooking-inspired giveaway over at She Reads!!! This giveaway is not to be missed and I have seriously pondered how I could secretly enter. (Don't worry, I am not going to cheat... but it's tempting for sure!)

So head over to She Reads today-- read my post over there, and enter to win. You know you want to...

AND if you are here from AuthorBuzz, please leave a comment to enter that giveaway as well! Just click at the bottom of this post where it says "Comments" and a comment form should open up. If you're wondering what the Author Buzz giveaway is, here's the link:

The Author Buzz contest will run all week! To enter simply leave your name and make sure I have a way to contact you (email) and get your mailing address if you should win.

Just to be clear, if you enter here, you're entering for the Author Buzz contest. To enter for the kitchen giveaway, please visit She Reads and enter there. Thanks-- not good planning on my part to have two giveaways going at once!! :) See? I don't make it look easy...
Pin It!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Endorsements For She Makes It Look Easy

Be sure to read all the way through to the end of this post, as I am announcing a fun giveaway...

Today instead of me talking about my new novel, I am going to let some other people talk about it instead. Here are some endorsements for the book that I wanted to share:

I sit here with tears in my eyes having just re-read the last chapter of Whalen's character Justine and I wonder how many women will read this novel and decide to make different choices because Marybeth Whalen was brave enough to put into words what so many women deal with in their lives, even it it just plays out in their heads. Am I more like Ariel...or Justine? Each reader will have to decide for herself and with those conjectures, make some touch decisions. Although this book definetly brought out the nosy neighbor in me, it also made me seriously examine my own life to determine which character I had more in common with. And sometimes, that's a hard place to go. Kudos to Marybeth, for penning such a risky read.
-Shari Braendel, America's foremost Christian Modesty Expert and Author of Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad

In this novel, the author addresses head on the way women compare themselves. We’ve all done it. Decided that we’ll never measure up to the perfect image another woman portrays while that woman lives in a glass room she’s created. Both are traps that leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. Read this engaging novel and you’ll enter a neighborhood of women living lives eerily like our own from the overworked mom with a life of chaos chasing her kids to the mom who’s created the image of a perfect, yet loveless world. Join Ariel on a journey to freedom. Freedom from comparison. Freedom to live our lives as God has called us. And freedom to develop deep friendships with other women.

Cara C. Putman, author of Stars in the Night

This riveting story offended me in the best kind of way. Oh how subtlety sin can tangle its way into lives. A masterfully written story with a warning every woman should read and heed.
Lysa TerKeurst
New York Times Bestselling Author of Made to Crave

Skillfully written, compelling, and honest, Marybeth Whalen's heartfelt story takes a revealing look at the price of perfection, the weight of secrets, and the blessing of those who love us just as we are --Lisa Wingate, National Bestselling Author of Larkspur Cove and Dandelion Summer

She Makes it Look Easy
is poignant and insightful, dramatic and challenging. Whalen details the inner struggle of two ordinary women with grace and wisdom. Women who could easily be our friends, our neighbors, our family. Or the women staring back at you in the mirror each morning. This is a great read.
Award winning author Rachel Hauck, author of Dining with Joy.

Marybeth Whalen possesses a remarkably keen understanding of the inner workings of a woman’s heart, and in her new and timely novel, She Makes It Look Easy, she takes an unflinching look at the lives of two upper middle class women in search of meaning and purpose beyond their seemingly picture perfect existences. This novel will remind you of what is most important, and it will certainly stir your soul.
Beth Webb Hart, author of the best-selling The Wedding Machine and Love, Charleston

Deceptively light, this story delivers surprising truths about friendship and temptation. I fell in love with Ariel and her delightful brood of little boys, who did what little boys do. They made me laugh out loud. I've known women like Justine and Whalen captured her perfectly. She Makes It Look Easy is a perfect summer read. Novel Journey and I give it a*high* recommendation.
Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey

Here are some reviews that have appeared on blogs:

If you review the book on your blog, be sure to send me the link and I will tweet/Facebook about it and maybe post it here at some point!

And finally, be sure to hop over to Karen Ehman's blog where she is giving away a wonderful gift set around the theme of organization that runs through the novel. I know you will love it. Can't wait to see who wins!!

Whatever you do, I just want to thank each of you who buy and read She Makes It Look Easy. You guys are why I spend countless hours alone, scribbling in my pajamas without showering for days on end.
Pin It!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thursday Thought: The Dangers of Pursuing Perfection

"When I look back, I can see that I wasn’t depriving Connor of anything vital; he was loved and cared for. But at the time my expectations threatened to topple me over like an oncoming avalanche. It wasn’t enough that my son was well fed and sheltered. I wanted Utopia straight up, right out of the package. Until that happened, I wouldn’t feel safe from the gnawing worry that I would one day become my mother and repeat all her mistakes."
(Quote by Paula McLain, author of the The Paris Wife, from the article "A Lesson In Motherhood.")

When I read this quote, it immediately made me think of the main character in She Makes It Look Easy, Ariel. Ariel has this compulsive need to create the Utopia that Paula references. She thinks that by doing so, she will ward off the things that happened to her as a child. If she can make her surroundings perfect, she will give her boys the perfection she lacked, making up for her past by somehow ensuring their future. This gnawing need drives her to befriend and follow her seemingly perfect neighbor, Justine. "If I could just be like her," Ariel thinks, "I could have that elusive perfection. Then everything would be the way I want it and my past wouldn't hurt me any longer."

Of course things don't go that way and a lot of stuff happens to Ariel, and to Justine. There is a part of all of us that strives for perfection. It might manifest in different ways, but it's there. This story was my way of showing not only that perfection just isn't possible this side of heaven, but also how people can get hurt when we put that pursuit above relationships, and how to sink into the acceptance that it's never going to be perfect... and that's okay too. I hope you enjoy the story.
Pin It!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

You Can Make She Makes It Look Easy A Success

Today is launch day for She Makes It Look Easy!! For the rest of this week I am going to be talking about my new novel. And then I promise I will stop the full-court press. But marketing your book is part of the publishing package, so I have to take some time to let you guys know a few things about it and try my best to convince you to buy it. And maybe you'll be like my friend Christy and buy 3 additional copies for your friends. :)

A few weeks ago, I ran a hat-in-hand post asking you all to buy the book. This post is taking that a step further. As my friends here on the blog, you share my daily life. You know me. So you're the best people to share the book within your circle of influence. This might mean your work, your neighborhood, your friends, your mother's group, your church... wherever you know people who might be interested in reading.

What can you do, you're wondering? Here's a list:

There are so many ways to help spread the word and start a "buzz" about a new book and you'll never know how much the author appreciates readers who do that!

Not everyone will feel comfortable or have the means to drop leaflets while parachuting from an airplane, but on the list below, you’ll find at least one thing that will be a perfect fit with the ways God has gifted you.

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

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

•As soon as you start reading the book, post a comment and/or link to your facebook profile page, or send a tweet on Twitter letting friends and followers know you're reading (and enjoying!) the book.

•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.

•Start a discussion about 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 myspace, facebook, shoutlife, or other online communities.

•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.

•Donate your influencer copy to your public library or church library when you’re finished reading it. Better yet, share your copy in other ways and buy a second copy for the library.

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

•Offer to distribute bookmarks and/or postcards for the author or publisher. Public libraries, church libraries, bookstores and gift shops are usually happy to have giveaways on their counters.

•Ask your church if you could tuck postcards or bookmarks in the morning service bulletin some Sunday.

•Place bookmarks or postcards about the book at each place setting as favors for a luncheon or banquet.

•Hang out in your local bookstore and “hand sell” the book by talking it up to customers shopping in the fiction department.

•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.

•Drop leaflets as you parachute out of a plane.

(Note: This list was written by Deborah Raney, who is a novelist herself. A big thank you to her for creating this list!)
Pin It!