The Authors of Writes of Passage

The Authors of Writes of Passage

Monday, April 30, 2012

I Could Die Laughing

First of all, I FINALLY finished the revisions of Betrayal. God bless my patient editor! I think the romance between hero (at left) and heroine—both of whom know betrayal on a personal level—will please readers, and I think I gave the villain his proper comeuppance.

Of course, I am not done with it yet. Still to come are line edits and copy edits and page proofs. But I'm one step closer. That's a good feeling.

Today (Monday) I get back to work on the third book in the series. Prayers appreciated for a quick shift of my brain from a small cattle ranch in Wyoming in 1899 to upper crust society and political circles in Idaho in 1900. And if you're sending up a prayer, you might also ask for an abundance of words every day so that I can get back on schedule.

Second, I actually did get around to cleaning my office. My desktop is clean and so is my credenza. Compare this shot to the one from last week. (FWIW, this won't last long. We are getting new carpeting, and as soon as our chosen carpet is back in stock, we will enter a period of chaos.)


Okay, now I have to share a funny. Last week, while still in the frenzy of trying to finish the revisions, Jerry came to my office and told me he was going to the grocery store. While he was gone, I went into the master bathroom and I heard this strangest vibrating sound coming from around the shower head area. It sounded a bit like what would happen if a large truck was in the neighborhood, idling, maybe while pouring concrete. I needed to water my rhubarb plant, so I went outside. There was no truck, no sound of anything idling. Hmm. I made sure the faucet outside was turned off good, then went back into the master bath. Still the vibrating hum.

Panic started to set in. I couldn't hear water running, but the only thing I could think of was a broken water pipe. I tried to call Jerry on his cell. No answer. A short while later, I tried again. And again. And again. (Turns out he'd left his cell at home, turned to vibrate.) Just as I was about to really panic, he pulled into the drive.

I told him about the vibrating noise in the bathroom. He said he'd heard it earlier and thought it was a big truck idling somewhere (we obviously think alike). We went into the bathroom together. I could put my hand on the wall of the shower and feel it "shaking," and it was making all the little things in the shower (like the mirror and razors hanging on it) make a constant humming sound. Irritating!

Jerry got the flashlight and we opened the trap to underneath the house and we tried to see if water was spraying all over. Couldn't see or hear anything. Now we began to talk about calling a plumber because the vibrations were only in that wall where the pipes were. I'm envisioning dollar signs attached to some major home disaster. And the rattle of the mirror and razors was really getting on my nerves. So I grabbed the mirror (attached with a suction cup) and yanked it off the shower wall. The noise stopped but....

It took several seconds for me to realize that what I was holding in my hand was still vibrating. I looked at it front and back. A vibrating mirror? I said, "Jerry, it's this. What on earth?"

LOL! Turns out one of his regular-looking razors runs on a AAA battery (the closest one in the photo). I didn't know they made such things! He'd failed to turn it off after shaving in the shower, and then forgot about it when he later heard the vibrations.

To say that I'm relieved the sound got on my nerves so that I yanked that thing off the wall is an understatement. Can you imagine paying a plumber $50 or $75 to come tell us to turn off the little razor? Ack!

Oh, we have laughed and laughed about that since. Do things like this happen to other people? I don't know, but by the time Jerry and I are in our dotage, we will probably be laughing 24/7 over the dumb stuff we do.

I could die laughing ... and there are much worse ways to go.

~robin

PS Speaking of laughter in marriage, ours started out that way too. Check out the story on Rachel Hauck's blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wildest Imaginings

Yesterday, after reading Tracie's blog about quaries, I envisioned scuba diving in a water-filled, scum-edged quary. That was just the beginning. The water contained either toxic substances or a dead body. Now that I've thought more about it, the toxic substance spawned another creature a' la Black Lagoon, and he probably is responsible for that dead body...

As a child, I had an imaginary playmate. Mom couldn't punish me by sending me to my room; I'd go there, crawl up on my bed, and get lost in play. Even without toys, I'd burrow under a blanket and be a bunny, a gopher, or make a tent and be camping.

My imagination never waned. It came in handy when my kids were little. One has ADD. The other has ADD ADHD. Booking up ways to keep them busy required constant application of the imagination God gave me. It also comes in handy since I'm a writer.

My world doesn't spin at a steady rate like the science books said. A syncopated beat makes it bop, hop, skip, and whirl. Often, it shakes with mirth. And I'm glad. Surprises crop up all the time.

While I scolded Dottie today for barking, Rocky raced up and sat quivering with expectation of a treat. Kelly's dog didn't want to be left out. Whenever he's excited, Midas bends into a horseshoe shape and defies all the laws of anatomy by still walking with his tail smacking his face. Like the Slinky Dog on Toy Story, he arrived--with a wadded up paper towel in his mouth that made him look like he had dentures and a fat cigar hanging from his mouth. The Three Stooges live... ad they each got a dog biscuit...

My paternal grandmother was born in 1905. She grew up as a minister's daughter, then married a minister. She lived a very sheltered,very proper Victorian life. She never drove, never danced, and would look around to be sure a man wasn't present before she'd whisper something scandalous... like asking my mother to take her shopping for new "foundation garments." It didn't take much to shock her. Wide-eyed, she'd press her hand to her bosom and declare, "Never in my wildest imagings!"

So I've been thinking.... do we all have imagination, but channel it in different ways? Do some of us create fictional worlds for amusement, while others concentrate on the dreadful what-ifs so their lives are consumed by worry? Is it a matter of taking the creative bent and use it to sing, or garden, create new recipes or restore cars? Somehow, I want to believe everyone has that spark within them.
We are all created in the image of God, and judging from the world and creatures around me, He's got an utterly Divine imagination.
I'm going to make up a huge batch of Tammy's gluten-free fudge mug cake and celebrate my Creator who must sometimes look at His children, watch the wacky ways we approach him, and chuckle. Jesus wept. Don't you think God laughs?
That thought brings me joy.

Cathy

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quarry Fun

As promised, I wanted to share some of the neat pictures I took on my research trip to Minnesota Just outside of St. Cloud, MN is Quarry Park. It's one of the most incredible hidden treasures of Minnesota. The park is over 600 acres and has the most amazing walking trails. My friend Merrill DeGroot and I walked throughout the park and took photos for my research.

The granite is plentiful in this area of Minnesota.







The quarries here are just a few of what the state has to offer. Some of these quarries are over 100 ft. deep. The park allows rock climbing and scuba diving with permits, as well as fishing and swimming in specific areas. Walking through the wooded areas we enjoyed seeing yet another spring come to life. The aspens, oaks, maples were only a few of the trees that gave us a beautiful backdrop.


Of course dandilions were blooming and butterflies were enjoying the warm weather.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's derricks like this one were used for moving tons of granite stone.
This derrick has been refurbished to keep history alive.
When machines weren't available for power, horses would pull the lines and move the rock. It was a pretty amazing feat. While in St. Cloud I also went to the Stearns County Museum.

The folks there are wonderful to talk to and most helpful. John in the research library knew exactly where the book I needed was located. Cindy helped me with a mass mailing of research materials from the wonderful little shop. Local museums are some of the very best places to get research information. I love supporting them any way I can. This exhibit of quarrying was very useful.

The trip was pretty fast paced, but we did take time out to eat at Joe's Crab Shack. Hey, it was our reward for walking all those miles in the Quarry Park. Hope you get a chance to visit this great park. Oh, and last but not least - KINDLE has been offering A LADY OF HIGH REGARD for free! I don't know how long this will be available so you need to check it out right away.
God Bless You! Tracie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gotta love a garden

As you read this, I'm far from home, on my way to some meetings followed by a speaking event. Hopefully, back at home, Hubs is remembering all the flowers I planted and giving them a daily drink so they'll still be around when I return. Before I left I took lots of pictures to prove that--at least for a little while!--my courtyard contained some lovely flowers.

I have to confess, I do NOT have a green thumb, as this sad-looking verbena can testify. I purchased it a week ago, and I thought I'd killed it. But Daddy looked at it and said it was just too wet (you can water plants too much???), to let it dry out a bit, and it might recover. Well, as you can see, there are a few new blooms, so maybe it'll favor me and return to its former glory.

At our other house, I planted a knock-out rose, and within three years it had grown to a massive, pink-blooming bush of beauty. So I'm hoping I'll get the same results from this knock-out rose. (I chose yellow rather than pink because yellow provides such a nice contrast to all the purple in my courtyard. I need some yellow to signify the gold crown a king might wear. Purple, of course, is the color of royalty so it goes well, too, in the courtyard of a place called The King's Inn, right?)

I spotted this fuschia plant hanging in the flower section at Lowe's and let out a squeal of delight. When I was in Ohio with Tracie, Judy, and Cathy a few years ago, I saw fuschia plants and thought they were the prettiest things. Apparently they can grow in Kansas, too! So I brought one home. I just love it!














The same day I bought the fuschia, I also snagged three clematis--two purple, one white--and Hubs and I strung chicken wire across the fence so the vines have a good climbing station. (I walked to the local lumber yard and carried the roll of chicken wire home under my arm. And nobody laughed. That's the nice thing about being in a small town--you can do quirky things and nobody laughs. )

I've always loved pansies--they are such cheerful little flowers--and I'd already potted some before we made this move. So I just set up the pots in our new courtyard. The bright little faces seem just as content here as they did at our other house. And with all the shade in our courtyard, I'm hoping they last a little longer into the summer than is usual. Poor little things are a bit like me--they wilt in the heat.

Another flower I've always liked is snapdragons. 
As a kid, I loved pinching them and making their mouths open and close. The snapdragons in Daddy's garden and I had some lovely conversations. I planted both red and yellow snapdragons in various places around the flower beds, and I'm looking forward to next year when they've reseeded and popped up in places I didn't plant them. I love surprises. :o)

I'm hoping our shaded courtyard will be a good place for both impatiens and a hydrangea to bloom. Daddy says the leafy plant sharing the space with the hydrangea isn't duck weed (I was going to pull it out) so I should leave it alone and see what kind of blooms develop down the road. If it doesn't pop up with blooms, though, I'll be giving it a tug. I want FLOWERS in my courtyard, not just duck weed-looking clumps of green.

The former owners planted some lovely purple-blooming shrubs, but there was a little hole that needed something. Bring in the foxglove! The bloom on this flower is so interesting--almost a pink leopard print. And I'm told it will get very tall and continue to bloom well into the summer. I sure hope so! It's probably the most unique plant in the entire courtyard.

 Isn't this a darling little lion cub? He's keeping watch over the blossoms, counting butterflies, and greeting visitors. I couldn't ask for a more pleasant little courtyard companion. And as long as he doesn't start sneaking off with our strawberries, all will be well. (Hubs chose that spot to hold the strawberry pot...and I love it! So clever.)








And that concludes the tour of The King's Inn courtyard! Although it's a small area, it should be very cheerful with all the splashes of color. That is, if my not-so-green thumb doesn't present itself and scare the poor things into neglecting to bloom. Time will tell, I suppose. But for now, I discovered the joy of pushing my hands into the soil, burying the roots of little growing things, and dreaming of the day they bloom with fervor. (Do you think maybe that's the feeling God has each time a child is conceived?)

When I return next week, I'll announce the recipe winner from last week's fun. In the meantime, feel free to visit The King's Inn website and browse around. It's a neat place to be!

God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A fun-filled, joyful time

Last week I traveled to Minneapolis for meetings with my agent, editors and marketing staff at Bethany House. I flew in a day early in order to join wonderful agent, Wendy Lawton, and super authors, Lauraine Snelling and Julie Klassen for a day of “beauty.” We traveled to Rochester, Minnesota where we met with Jill Swanson at her Simply Beautiful Image Consulting office. Jill is a delightful woman and you can learn more about her here: http://jillswanson.com/image-consulting.htmconsulting.htm

Unfortunately for Jill, she didn’t know she’d have to contend with the likes of me. She was totally flummoxed when I wrote on my sheet that my favorite colors are yellow, orange and brown. She gave me a sweet smile and said, “Do you know how few people choose those colors?” I shrugged and shook my head as she gave me a pitying look and suggested I put those shades into my home d├ęcor and refrain from wearing them since they are not “my colors.” I shuddered when she said I was a “summer” who would look so much better in pink, blue and raspberry. However, she artfully proved her point by slapping color swatches of those unseemly shades across my upper body while Lauraine, Julie and Wendy shouted their hearty approval. Who knew I was traveling with such traitorous friends!

After learning most of the clothing in my closet consisted of the wrong colors, we moved along to make-up where I learned Jill can wield a mean pair of tweezers and mascara wand and Julie learned how to curl those beautiful eyelashes of hers. By now, we were famished and Wendy and Lauraine made a food run and picked up some wonderful sandwiches and Wendy discovered these wonderful gingerbread boys at a local bakery. I decided that since they contained ginger, it should be helpful to my stomach. Sure enough, that little fella didn’t cause me any problems.

Once we’d finished lunch and Julie had gone through the make-up round, Jill said it was time for Julie and me to don a leotard so that she could better check our body shape. I told her I was more than willing to point out my muffin top and wave my flagging upper arms without stepping into a leotard, but she said the leotard was necessary. I warned Jill she really didn’t want to see me in a tight leotard. As you can see from the shocked look on her face, I was correct. The sight was enough to scare her to death! Once she regained her wits, she did her measuring and asked me if I realized that I tip to one side. Really? No wonder I have trouble walking a straight line. I stared into the mirror at that bright pink leotard I was wearing and she carefully pointed out that my right hip is higher than my left and that I would need to have my skirts hemmed accordingly. My solution? Wear a sign that says don’t look at my hemline. Better yet—no more skirts! Just kidding—I’ll still wear a skirt, but be prepared: the hem will probably be lopsided.

Lauraine and Wendy didn’t take as much work (or time) as Julie and me. They’d already had a previous session with Jill and they were there to make certain they were doing things properly. Jill added a few more tricks for each of them and gave them each a stamp of approval. We finished our session at 7:00 p.m. and were ready for dinner. Lauraine directed us to Michael’s a wonderful restaurant in downtown Rochester where we each enjoyed a delicious meal. Before leaving, we stopped to in front of the wall of fame. It was fun seeing pictures of all the famous folks who’d visited Michael’s in the past.

The following morning, it was off to Bethany House for meetings with editors and marketing. We had a great work session followed by lunch at the Oak Grill. Dave Long commented that with all the constructive criticism authors receive from their publishers, he couldn’t believe we’d spend an entire day and pay someone to criticize our clothing and appearance. Just goes to show that men simply do not understand the way women think.




And I have to share a couple of pictures our sweet Patti Jo sent to me. She enjoyed a few days at St. Simon’s and know how much Tracie and I love the live oak trees, she snapped some pictures for us. Aren’t they gorgeous? You need to click on them to see them larger and get the full beauty of these trees.











May you find joy as you experience joy with friends. ~Judy














Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Martha White may be rolling over in her grave but...

This biscuit lovin', cake bakin', pie falutin', cookie cravin' Southern gal has gone gluten free! I still can't believe it myself, and I haven't had gluten in a week.

It wasn't on a doctor's order, and I wasn't having any "issues." I've simply been doing a lot of reading and researching lately, and I knew I needed to make a change. I've been tired and sluggish for so long, and I'm tired of feeling that way. Plus, with Joe being diabetic, this goes hand in hand with the meal alterations I've already made over the past year.

So...guess what I made yesterday! My first gluten free Mug Cake. And it was de-li-cious! 

I know our sweet & snarky Miss Judy makes something like this because I remember seeing a picture of her precious Jim sitting in a chair eating it. And he looked very happy! But Judy, I'm guessing the recipe you use has flour in it (just like my original recipe does).

Here's the GF finished product

It's moist and warm and fudgy

And just melts in your mouth 

I topped mine with some whipped cream, and yum! I couldn't even eat it all. 
So Kurt ate the rest when he got home. 

So far, I'm not missing gluten at all, but I am missing 4 pounds. And I FEEL so much better, which is the main thing. Who knew that the foods I loved didn't love me back? : (

Here's the recipe if you're interested:

Mug Cake
(This recipe is for one serving and is cooked in a coffee mug in the microwave)

2 T. Almond flour
1 1/2 T xylitol
1 T cocoa powder, heaping
1 egg
1 1/2 T. half and half or cream
1 T Butter or coconut oil
Splash of Vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Mix all dry ingredients in mug, add egg and blend thoroughly. Add half and half or cream, oil and vanilla and mix. Place in 1000 watt microwave for 90 sec. Do not cover mug. Cake will rise. Let cool and place on plate. Add a little whipped cream, and enjoy!

I want to give a shout out to author and buddy Colleen Coble for sharing her Paleo and Primal lifestyle resources with me. And her recipe for Cocoa Crack. Fabulous! And Cauliflower Pizza, which I'm making tonight. I'll let you know how that turns out.

A couple quick things:
I'm giving away a PRE-RELEASE copy of Deb Raney's newest novel, After All, on my personal blog, so please sign up over there for a chance to win it. I'll draw a winner Friday at noon and mail the book that day!

Check out Rachel Hauck's blog this week and her blogging series entitled Beautiful Brides. In celebration of her latest release, The Wedding Dress, she's hosting authors in...you guessed it! Their wedding dresses! Yesterday, she shared pictures of Deborah Raney and her husband Ken. This Friday, April 27th, she'll show pics of me and Joe.

Oh! And brace yourself... I'm off of Diet Pop too. Yes, the world is still spinning. I know, I know. I don't know what's gotten into me but I'm feeling better than I have in a long time. I'm not going to promise you I'll never have a Krispy Kreme or Diet DP again, but so far I'm loving the changes I'm experiencing.

So tell me, have you gone GF? Or does the idea scare you to death and have you running for your bag of Martha White? 

Tammy

P.S. If you have any GF recipes you adore and are willing to share, I'd welcome them!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chaos Corner

A writer friend asked a bunch of novelists for photos of their desks or writing areas. I thought my blog readers might appreciate seeing where I create. I didn't straighten up. I just grabbed my iPhone and shot it just the way it is.
My writing domain!

Hopefully you can click on the picture to see a larger size if needed.

Here's what you see:
  • My "bucket list" (7 things to do before I die) taped to the bookcase doors. [Note: since writing this bucket list in 2006, I have accomplished two of the seven things and partially accomplished one more]
  • My Apple 27" LED display (oh how I LOVE this large display!)
  • The corner of my MacBook Pro which is plugged into the display as well as to my external hard drive.
  • Sticky notes to myself about my books, Bible verses, writing advice.
  • The corner of my Dymo printer (labels and stamps)
  • On the raised tray cover, my timelines (original in center & new one in progress on left) for the book I'm revising. Beneath them are other forms and notes related to this revision.
  • My Circa notebook "rolling outline journal" with notes regarding current revisions (on right side of tray cover).
  • In the tray, my Logitech Trackman Wheel (protects my wrist from tendinitis and carpal tunnel) sitting on my Brandilyn Collins' "Big Honkin' Chickens Club" mouse pad (I'm the VP of the club).
  • My Apple keyboard
  • Cords for keyboard, track wheel, and my iPhone
  • Checks to be deposited for the HOA (I'm the treasurer)
Yes, chaos is the condition my office too often is in. As a deadline nears, my desk gets piled with stacks and stacks of papers that threaten to topple over until I finish a book or finish revisions or finish edits or finish proofs. Then I sort through and toss or file. And then they start stacking up all over again. Thank goodness for the door I can close to hide the chaos from guests.

~robin


Saturday, April 21, 2012

They Lied in School



When I was a little girl, no matter how much spaghetti I ate, there was still the same amount waiting on my place. Mom teased me and said the spaghetti was alive, and while I blinked, it had babies.

In school, they taught the Law of Entropy: Energy cannot be created or destroyed. They lied.
I have a world full of mothers who can testify it takes only one baby to destroy energy. Well... at least the first part of the law is true: Energy cannot be created. That's a crying shame!

Sticking with that silly law, It is time to ammend it. Human energy is the exception to the rule.


UNLESS..... human energy is siphoned off and non-human matter uses it against us. I've discovered several things seem to double or triple when my back is turned. Dust bunnies breed under my bed like.... well, like rabbits. Two bills together on the desk quadruple when I'm out of the room. Most notably, stuff put out in my shed takes advantage of the lapse of time before I brave the door once again. One box of Christmas ornaments turns into three. A dozen gift bags becomes a four-inch thick stack of them. Picture frames.... *groan.*

Mom decided the time has come to have a yard sale so she can, "Get rid of some of this junk." Since I have been conscribed into this service, I figured I'd take over a few things.

(I'm waiting for you to cease that sinister Bwwwaaahahahaha laughter.)

Yes, you guessed it. I opened my shed and about keeled over. Behind my back, someone borrowed luggage and repaid the favor by returning it with a case they don't use. My husband put the Christmas tree in there. (It belongs in HIS shed.) An antique mirror-and-drawer wall unit that was overhead in the garage is now on the cement floor of my shed.

Of course, before then, I'd tucked things onto the huge metal shelves in there. Which was why I decided to cull through it for the garage sale.

I now have an obscene heap of things in the dining room. Each time I went out to the shed, other items chose miosis or mitosis and doubled. The more I took out, the more appeared. Kelly decided to help. She brought in things neither of us has seen before.


Tomorrow, I'm sacrificing yet more energy. I'll get up early to stand amoung the flotsam and jetsam, hoping and praying it all sells so I don't have to put it back in the car. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, then I'll gladly sell this stuff off since I can't destroy it. If my theorum of energy is correct, the stuff will claim the energy I lose. It shall go forth and multiply... elsewhere.

Cathy