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Sunflower Surprise

I love sunflowers.

Sunny, cheery, summery splashes of color.

When we visit Long Island in the summer, the roads along the North Fork are always full of sunflowers I’ve tried to grow them in my yard without much success. This summer I noticed some plants coming up in the old garden. Hmm…we didn’t plant anything this year. God surprised me with healthy stalks of sunflowers! Don’t know where they came from but I love God’s surprises.

Has God surprised you lately?

Upstate NY Welcomes Mary Connealy!

Some writers are able to weave wonderful stories but don’t have the same talent when it comes to speaking skills. Not so with Mary – she excels at both writing and speaking. She did an awesome job today at the Clifton Park NY library, sharing her story, encouraging others to “Strive for their Dream.” It was interesting to hear how this Nebraska gal wrote for ten years without publication and now she has twenty seven books published! Hard work and a deep determination. She never gave up and now…she is living her dream.

Mary’s fun personality shone through her speech and the audience responded with a busy question and answer period, followed by a book signing. I admit I eavesdropped on visitor’s conversations after the session and am happy to report that all the comments were positive – way to go, Mary! Personally, it was an encouragement to hear of her writing journey and a motivation to continue to pursue the dream. I needed those words today.  Thank you, my friend! Following a few more pics from the event.

Mary meant eagerly, awaiting her time to speak.


I'm so happy to have a fellow ACFWer in NY!


If Mary’s success has encouraged you, leave a comment to enter a drawing to win an autographed copy of her book, “Petticoat Ranch.”

Conference Conversation & Blue Ridge Blues


Due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to attend the Blue Ridge Conference this year. Since I have gone to it for the last six years, this was a major disappointment and I sang the Blue Ridge Blues all week…but I’ll be making my reservation early for 2014 : )

If you attended, please do leave a comment and fill me in on Blue Ridge 2013. What was your favorite class or workshop? The best keynote message? Was TM as hysterically funny as last year? I heard something about TS line dancing? Probably instigated by EME? Did you remember to thank Dr. A and his sidekick EM for all their hard work? And most important -Did you leave the conference with a new motivation to go home and WRITE?

If you didn’t attend Blue Ridge but another conference really encouraged you, do leave a comment. Oh, but I miss my Blue Ridge Mountains… 

NOTE: WINNER OF DYING TO READ IS – MERRY! Congrats and please email your mailing address.

Candlemas and other February holidays








Candlemas falls on February 2nd and marks the  midway point of winter. We’re now between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Love to see that word – Spring!  Candlemas is also traditionally known as a Christian holiday marking the presentation of Jesus in the temple, forty days after his birth, according to Jewish custom.

I invite you to celebrate Jesus as the light in this dark world and pull out some candles this week to chase away the winter darkness. The tealight LED candles are great to line up in your windows and are totally safe. Of course, Valentines Day is celebrated this month which brings our favorite things: flowers and chocolates. And if no one buys you flowers and chocolate, go buy yourself some!

Other celebrations: February 4th Thank A Mailman Daycommunications,government,mail carriers,mailmen,males,men,occupations,people at work,persons,postal workers

February 9th – Happy Chocolate Daybonbons,candies,chocolates,food,treats,truffles

February 15th – Singles Awareness Daybeaches,females,Frisian Islands,Germany,healthy lifestyle,iStockphoto,landscapes,nature,North Sea,outdoors,Photographs,resting,Schleswig-Holstein,sleeping,Sylt,tourists,vacations,Westerland,women,young women

February 20th – Love Your Pet Day animals,canines,dogs,Fotolia,puppies,terriers,Yorkies


Don’t forget to light candles, thank your mailman, eat chocolate, encourage a single friend, and love your pet.

Can you think of ideas for articles about these celebrations?



businesses,businesswomen,lists,metaphors,occupations,overworked,persons,women             Complete revisions (once again) to The Book.

Done! This was number one on my ahem…very long to do list. I was hoping to complete this by end of December but upped the pace so I would have a break through the holidays. I can’t properly express my satisfaction on finishing up that last chapter. Saved the document, emailed several friends to rejoice together and sat back waiting. The Book was ready. Any moment now the phone would ring from my agent. Oh wait. I don’t have one yet. Well then, time to check email. Surely the last editor I had an appointment with would sense through her writerly intuition that it was time to send me an email. Clicking on the keys, I found my inbox held all kinds of quirky messages but none from The Editor. Ah well. I’ve been told these things take time. On that note, I recently read a post from a friend who has been working on her book since around 1997. Amazing. Her commitment and stubborn determination not to give up. This year she won a Genesis award.    I think she deserves a special recognition for her perseverance. Waving madly at Kathleen Maher! I am so proud of her. And inspired by her example.

Several posts back we discussed goals for the last three months of 2012. Have you crossed any goals off your list? To celebrate, I’m offering a giveaway on this post. Leave a comment on a project you have completed in the last month or two. From finishing a rough draft of a novel to sending out a query letter. I want to know what you have accomplished…let’s rejoice together! One winner will receive a copy of Hello Hollywood! by Janice Thompson.

Buddy Check – Writers Groups








Last week we talked about the necessity of having writing buddies. To carry that a step further I believe it is wise to become involved with writing groups and organizations. The photo above features some members of the Christian Writer’s Den with Vonda Skelton.

Vonda has a helpful blog with educational posts, writing opportunities and just plain good advice. The Writer’s Den includes members from all over the country who often meet up at conferences.

American Christian Fiction Writers is another wonderful organization with active discussions on their loop forum, online classes every month and the encouraging and helpful camaraderie of other writers.

My Book Therapy group with Susie May Warren is chock full of writerly news, ideas, links and all kinds of fun stuff matching Susan’s vibrant personality.

If you do attend a writers conference, they probably have a blog to offer support during the year. Since I attend Blue Ridge Mts. Christian Writers Conference, I follow their blog each week.

What writing groups or organizations do you belong to?

Who would you recommend?

Which ones have truly made a difference in your writing efforts?


Awesome Alley – Buddy Check!

The announcement from the lifeguard floated loud and clear over the lake. “Camp Sunnyside Buddy Check!”       The kids splashed and kicked through the waters to link up with their assigned buddy. Were they in sight? Swimming over their heads? Obeying the rules or cutting up with other campers? Or wandering off by themselves way out of reach? This systematic check was a successful method for keeping everyone safe while still having fun.

We need buddies in our writing journey. Our writing buddies will encourage us when we’re overcome by waves of exhaustion, hold on to us when we feel like we’re drowning in rejections and keep us afloat and in the right direction when we start to lose sight of the dream. All this while still having fun.

A shout-out today to some of my writing buddies- steadfast Jorlyn sharing goals and inspirational quotes every month.  Connie, my Tennessee gal bringing encouragement and accountability. Vonda, my friend, mentor and cheerleader from day one. Judy and Anne, my southern gals lending their sweet support. New local friend (yea!) Elaine, sharing writing news and tips while featuring a blog promoting other authors. Dear Melody, who has offered continual positive feedback. And all those new friends I connected with at Blue Ridge this year – looking forward to sharing and supporting you all in your writing efforts.

Do you have a group of writing buddies? They don’t have to be in your local area, most of mine are in contact through email or phone. I’d love to be your “buddy” and encourage you along the way sharing links, tips, announcements, writing ops and support. Either leave a comment on this post or subscribe to my blog and I will be in touch.

If you do have writing buddies, please share about some of your favorites in a comment!



Sparkling Waves Summer Read

Lorna Seilstad continues with her wonderful Lake Manawa series with the addition of The Ride of Her Life. A lovely summer read, Seilstad brings you into the lakeside setting of a fun resort town in 1906 Iowa. Beautiful breezes off the lake, interesting characters populating the resort, a roller-coaster-designer hero (now that’s unique), and difficult family dynamics all combine to make one fascinating story.

Lilly, a widower, is working hard as a cook to provide for the most important guy in her life: her six year old son. Her in-laws are not pleased with her living arrangements and have the financial power and necessary contacts to make her life miserable until she bends to their wishes. But she doesn’t bend easily.

Throw in a handsome protector that she has not asked for, a typically mischievous little boy,  a new kitchen helper who wreaks havoc with every meal,  and a suffrage fighter girlfriend and you’ll keep those pages turning.

For the perfect background, pack this book away in your beach bag and pull it out at the edge of the shore.

Guaranteed good read.

Blue Ridge Moments


Lovely Vonda, my mentor & friend

Karen Moore, sweet, gracious lady

Beth Vogt and her pretty daughter.

My husband & I with Torry Martin (baseball cap), an unbelievably funny guy!


Blue Ridge faithful friends, Jorlyn & Ted

Susie May Warren, one of my fav authors – enthusiasm personified!

If you attended Blue Ridge this year, what were some highlights of the conference?

For me – Yvonne’s keynote, new teachers Beth Vogt and Susie May, Torry’s banquet keynote, and Al’s devotions. Also the caring and supportive staff including teachers and editors.



Writers Conference

It’s almost here! All those attending Blue Ridge conference are making last minute preparations. Thinking back on conferences I’ve attended I remember the excitement, the anticipation, and the total exhaustion at the end of the conference. If you attend a conference this year, whether it is Blue Ridge (one of the best!) or another one, here are two suggestions:

1. Though it’s a difficult decision, skip a class, a workshop or one of the evening meetings.There is so much to absorb and the quiet time away will put you back on track and ready to learn more.                         

2. Spend part of that quiet time in prayer and reflection.Taking time out to draw close to Jesus will bring everything into perspective and bring your emotions back to a healthy balance.

Learn, Study, Network, Enjoy – but remember to keep the Lord as your focus and your conference time will be blessed!

Question: Are you attending a writers conference or retreat this year? Which one?



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