Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Season of Giving

Christmas is almost here! Tis the season of too much...

Too much shopping.

Too much eating.

Too much wanting.

Too much spending.

Too much STRESS.

Wouldn't it be great if we saw it as the season of too much loving and too much giving!

So I had this perfect little lesson planned for the kids in my Sunday school class. A less about giving. Because Christmas really isn't all about getting. It's about what God gave us, and what we give back.

Christmas should be about showing God's perfect love to a hurting world.

I meant to ask the children in my class this question: What would you give up for Christmas?

Not what do you want to get? Or what will you give. But what would you be willing to give.

Or give up. I'm not talking fruit cake or a pan of fudge. I'm talking about personal sacrifice.

I wanted them to think about compassion and charity. I wanted them to think about having a willing heart; willing to give up something they love or cherish.

And then God asked me: What are you willing to give up.

I found that the question wasn't as easy to answer as I had thought it would be. It was easy when I thought I was going to be the one asking. Not so easy when God required something of me. As in; my time, my home, my heart, a piece of my life.

Giving up those things we hold dear isn't easy.

Sometimes giving requires big change.

Sometimes it requires us to step out of our comfort zone and do what we never thought we'd be expected to do.

Last week we received an unexpected blessing, two of them. One is six months old. The other is three. The blessing was extended to our entire family. Five blessings, enough to go around.

I had been pretty content (big mistake) with my life. I'd been thinking that I had this kid thing just about wrapped up. I was so wrong! Suddenly I'm making bottles, chasing a toddler, and falling into bed exhausted each night.

Last week I thought Algebra was hard. HA! Algebra was just the pop quiz. This is the real test.

I'm pretty sure its worth it. Its worth it because of the smiles, the hugs and the baby kisses. Who needs an extra hour to drink coffee.

Oh, take that back. I do. But I'll keep the babies and drink the coffee when I get a chance.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Harlequin--YES! Algebra--NO!

I'm an author. That makes me a very LEFT BRAIN individual. I do not do algebra.
I like math that is straight forward, says what it means, means what it says. I like columns. I like accounting math (not the actual accounting, because that would require more work).

Algebra does not work with my brain. It has never worked with my brain. My brain sees numbers and letters in the same problem and it starts to chant, "La, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you."
Which is probably very close to what I told my math teacher years ago. Even then I had something figured out. My future was shoved behind my algebra book. It was smuggled into P.E.
It was carried on the bus after school. It was devoured with bedroom lights turned off and a sliver of light from the hall enabling me to finish those last few chapters.

I loved Harlequin when I was twelve. I love it today.

Which brings me to my very scattered point. There is one class they should teach in school.
They should offer a class called, "Algebra for Moms who will someday have to help with homework."
Yeah, its wordy, but you have to admit I have a point. When my son opens his algebra book and I look at those letters and numbers typed across the page, my brain shuts down. It starts to chant, "La, la, la, I can't hear you."
He opens his algebra book. I want to do what I learned in algebra; read a romance novel. Its instinctive. Pick up the book and hide the Harlequin behind it.

Next time my son asks for help with Algebra, I'm going to show him that little trick.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Doing the DIshes..For the Lord?

Have you ever had a Bible verse leap into your mind for no reason at all? I admit that I do have a lot of random thoughts. My brain goes on little escapades that I call 'chasing rabbits.' I also have chain reaction thoughts, where one thought takes my mind on a completely different path that is connected, but not really.

I said all of that to say this: Today this verse popped into my mind, 'And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men.' Colossians 3:23 (NKJV)

Of course when the verse first popped into my mind, I thought about being a good wife and mom, and then about church and teaching children, about ministry at the nursing home, and writing. Those are the biggies when I think of 'doing as unto the Lord.' To be honest, I felt pretty good with the list of things I'm doing for God.

But, as He so often does, God shoved other thoughts into my mind. He has a great sense of humor. I know this because my mind went in directions that I definitely wouldn't have taken on my own, not in a million procrastinating years.

Housework popped into my mind. Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning the bathrooms. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord. I stuck my spiritual fingers in my spiritual ears and sang, "La, la, la, I can't hear you."

I'm not against housework. (I'm not really for it, either) I love to cook for my family. I'm a firm believer in the Proverbs 31 wife. I especially like the part where she has servants. (vs 15)

But when I tie housework to Colossians 3:23, it made me think a little deeper.
I tried to push the thoughts aside. I was busy drinking coffee, checking email and ignoring dishes.

Seriously, clean house as if I'm doing it unto the Lord? Do laundry and dishes, as unto the Lord.

Yes, those things, too. Do them as unto the Lord.

I'm a little convicted by this. Or maybe a lot convicted. Not enough to just jump right up and tackle those bathrooms, but I'm really very close. But first I had to share the thought because:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hyper Alert

Yesterday I bought a Keurig coffeemaker.
It was an impulse buy. But I did take time to think about it. I looked at it. I picked it up. I touched the box. I walked away. I bought my groceries, called a friend (Thanks Steph) because that's always one of the steps, and I went home.

Thirty minutes later I drove back and bought it. And I bought two boxes of Newman's Own coffee.
But when I got home I realized it came with a box of 18 of those little cups: coffee, tea and hot cocoa.

Do you realize what those 18 different blends of coffee did to me, an addict? I have to try them all, as quickly as possible. I have to test them, see which ones I like the best. I'm drinking coffee like a mad woman, checking off our favorites on the little book that came with the keurig. I'm on Amazon, wondering if Diedrich coffee is good. I'm searching for hot cocoa for the kids.
My heart is racing. My hands are shaking.
I NEED HELP! I need coffee detox.
I need an enabler to drink coffee with me.
I need more coffee.......

Monday, November 16, 2009


A few of you know that I'm a pastor's wife. Yes, that is a little strange to think about. My husband is now the pastor of the little church that I attended as a kid, the church where I found faith and really came to know God. Oh, and where I first had Nancy's oatmeal scotchie cookies. Nancy is still there! Everyone should have memories of VBS, a little country church, strawberry kool-aid and oatmeal scotchies.

Quite a few of the people in our church know me by my maiden name, and remember me. Boy do they remember. But their memories are probably not of the little barefoot girl sitting on the front pew singing Amazing Grace. No, they remember the other me; the wild teenager that they worried about and probably prayed for. A lot.
Thank GOD for those prayers.

And now I'm the pastor's wife teaching the children. I remember the pastor's wife who taught us. Sister Eileen. She invited us to her home where we would eat cookies and play chutes and ladders.
Great Memories.

The kids in my class are probably having nightmares of a giant, red headed Turkey that clucked instead of gobbled when it taught the lesson yesterday. It was really kind of funny. When I walked into the room clucking at them, talking in a pretty scary Turkey voice, they looked like they were about to call 911.

But the turkey had an important lesson to teach. (I always learn something from the kids, and the lessons we have together) The lesson was about Thanksgiving and being thankful. The key point: We say "Thank You" when someone gives us something.

I asked the kids what they were thankful for. One was thankful for turkey (not the one teaching them). Another was thankful for noon, when the lesson ended. And one was thankful for life, and for Jesus.

Who are we thankful to?

And what has He given us that we're thankful for?

I can tell you that I'm thankful to the people who prayed for me when I was a teenager trying to find my way back to God. I'm thankful for those kids who show up at church every week. I'm thankful for Trevor, who slipped in yesterday and sat on the back pew; his first Sunday in church.
The list could go on. But the important thing the turkey taught me is to be thankful to the right One. The one who gave me this life, and all that I have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Love Inspired Guidelines, and more

There are a few questions I am often asked about writing. One is: how did you get published?

The answer to that question is: Hard work.
But there was more involved than writing, or learning to write. From the beginning I knew that I had to find the right publisher. I had to find a publisher that matched my writing style and what I wanted to write.

I went on a search for that publisher. I looked at Wal-Mart and at bookstores. I wrote down titles, names of authors, names of publishers and the types of books. And then I got a computer (that was back in 90s; a decade in time, and a century ago in technology). I could get online and do the research I'd been doing at the stores and by reading.

While searching I found a brand of Christian romances that captured my heart and attention.

And then I found this amazing place called "eharlequin." I found message boards where I could ask questions, and guidelines so that I knew what the editors of Love Inspired were looking for.
I began to think about the market, and about myself as a consumer.

Love Inspired was the perfect fit for me. The right genre, the right price point, and they can be bought at the stores where busy moms and wives shop. You see, at the time I had young children. I bought books that were easy to find, easy to afford. I knew that other busy moms probably felt the same way. I also wanted books that were on the shelves, picked up by everyone.

I started on my journey, the journey to become an author for Love Inspired. It took a few years, but in 2006, it happened. That first contract. It was an amazing day, and an amazing year. And the start of a great adventure.

Yes, as you've heard, Love Inspired has guidelines. I've always seen those guidelines as a challenge to my writing, not as something that limits my creativity. They are just words. By adhering to the words my books reach a wider audience. Some won't miss the words, might not even have noticed the lack of those words. Others will feel more comfortable because the words are not there. And honestly, what book is made better by the word 'bra?' What book is really made weaker by the lack of that word?

Writing to the guidelines hasn't hurt me as an author. There are words that I can't use. But those words don't affect the depth of the stories that I write, or the stories the other Love Inspired authors write. I believe our readers are testimony to that fact. Our characters portray people who have made mistakes, overcome the greatest of odds, found a way to healing, and to God. Our characterse are people like us. People we identify with.

Our readers are housewives, husbands, teenagers, moms, single ladies, doctors, lawyers, secretaries... It is a long list. Some of our readers go to church, some don't, some are seeking.

You get the point.

I am so proud of Love Inspired and the books that I have been allowed to write for them. I'm doubly proud of my readers, all of them. I love the letters that I get, pointing out small things that the reader felt touched by, or characters they identify with.

As I sit here and think about that word and this post, I realize it is the perfect time of year to think about the things in our lives that we're thankful for.
God is at the top of the list. In the last few years He has shown me that no matter how much I believe I'm in control of my life, and that my plan for myself is perfect: He is the one in control and His plan is far better than anything I could have come up with on my own.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Cold weather has arrived and with it...mice. Cute, but not really welcome in my house. But that's okay, I have a cat. Right?
Said Cat, as I've previously disclosed, is lazy.

This story is not for the faint of heart, or those with a heart.
Today a little mouse sneaked into my house. And guess who saw him: the chihuahua. The cat was there, just five feet from the mouse. He was sleeping and couldn't be bothered. The dogs ran after the mouse, got him cornered. The mouse hunkered and probably prayed.

As I chased the dogs out of the house with the mouse, the cat followed. He sat near the door, flipping his tail, and he actually yawned.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time to Stay Home

I've become more and more distracted lately. Kid 2 notices this more than others, maybe because he insists on talking to me more than the other two kids do. But lately I hear more of this from him, "You're not really listening, are you?"
Yes, I am. What did you say?

That said, the following will come as no surprise. Today I was talking on the cell phone while getting ready to leave the house.
Hair Brushed: Check
Makeup on: Check
Clothes: Check
Cell phone? Where's my cell phone. I checked the table next to my chair. That's the last place I saw it. Not there.
I checked the kitchen. Maybe I plugged it in to charge. Nope.
I had a brilliant idea. I'll call myself and see if it rings.
Oh, but first I'll have to hang up the phone. The one I'm talking on. Get the picture?
This is why I shouldn't leave the house.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

critique winner

I know it has taken me a while...with the flu and deadlines...BUT I have a winner for the critique.

And since I had quite a few entries, I drew a second name for a one chapter critique: Lorie Warren from facebook.

Thanks everyone for reading the blog, for comments, for hanging out with me. Hope you all stick around.
And hey, I'm open to suggestions if there is anything you want to talk about. If you're lurking, hoping I'll say something crazy, talk about writing, my kind of insane life; then come out of hiding and say what is on your mind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cat and Mouse

We have a mouse.
Not a pet, but the little kind that sneaks around the house, scurrying into hiding, creeping along walls. And yes, invading my counter.

We also have a cat.
Not the mousing kind, obviously. He's more of a sleepy kind of cat, the kind that likes to curl up on your lap, crawl into the box, even cuddle with the dogs. But chasing mice, that is not his thing.

Yesterday morning my husband yells; "Where's that cat? The mouse is right here, on the counter. He's hiding behind the coffee pot."

I have to make a confession. For all of you people reading this and going, "Ewww, a mouse." The truth is, I like mice. The older I get, the less I really like them in my house. But I do think they're kind of cute and when I was a kid I would save them and bring them into the house.

Back to the mouse. He's on the counter. NOT where I want him. I came up with the great idea, "WAIT! I'll get a box and we can catch him."
My husband looks at me the way he does (like I'm insane) and says, "And then what are you going to do with him."
As we're talking the little mousy is hiding behind the coffee pot, peeking out and thinking, "Yeah, then what are you going to do with him?" (Insert little mouse voice)

"Well," think quick Brenda, "I guess we'll take him outside and set him loose." Yes, people, I've done that more than once.
"Turn him loose?" Husband is a little shocked. "And let him come back inside?"
"Well, we can't just kill him." I look around, wanting a new idea. I see my perfect solution. Because as much as I don't want to kill the mouse, there is a certain sport in letting the cat chase him until he collapsess from exhaustion. "THE CAT! Silly me, we have a cat."

The mouse must have heard because he ran for a new hiding place, the sink. Perfect! I grab the cat and shove his nose into the sink. "Get the mouse, cat."
The cat struggles to get away. The mouse probably laughed as he ran out of the sink and across the counter, hiding behind a bottle. Okay, more confessions from a crazy person. It was cute, that little mouse behind the bottle.
But because I had the cat in my arms, I shoved the cat up there. "Get the mouse. Get the mouse."
The cat yowled in fear, jumped from arms and hid under a bed. The mouse escaped.

Later I did see the cat peeking under the stove. I told my husband, and he wasn't really proud. Instead he says my cat is worthless and we need one that will chase a mouse. Does that mean I can have another cat?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The swine flu hit our house a little over a week ago. It hasn't been the most horrible flu we've ever had, but it has been the most contagious. It started with one kid, then another kid and I got it, and then the husband and last kid.

A week of togetherness. TOO MUCH BONDING. Too much of my coffee being drank, my TV being controlled, my office (the house) being invaded. The house is a mess because there are five people here every day, all day, messing it up.

I keep picturing The Banks of Plum Creek, or whichever Little House book included a flu outbreak. Those people were in one room together, with no Advil! No
Coffee. No Running Water!

It hasn't been that bad, or too unbearable. Until this morning when my husband said, "You love the dog more than you love me."

"Not true, honey. If you got hit by a car, I wouldn't go to the pound and replace you the very next day."

See, we're fine. We've survived a week of being stuck together and we're still feeling the love.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walls Fall Down

On a Serious Note.
I have really struggled with this today, with the Empire State building being illuminated for communism in China. I've thought about how life moves on and history becomes a story in a book, watered down with time. The pain endured is a scar that people no longer notice, the kind you get used to seeing and so it becomes invisible, painful only to the person bearing the scar. Younger people don't understand. Those who are older become a little forgetful. What we once saw as bad somehow gets romanticized, especially in the minds of the very young or uninformed. They hear a song that makes it sound like a perfect world; everyone sharing, no one earning, everyone happy.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. We were in Germany when it happened and we got to take part in history. An East German family ended up in Frankfurt. They had won a prize, airfare to West Germany. No accomodations, just airfare. Somehow they found members of our church and they found us. And we learned their story first hand. The story of a husband, a wife and three children.

They lived lives so different from ours that reading about it in a text book might not do it justice.

This is their reality:

The husband had once been given a special visa to visit a dying relative in America. Other than that, they had never been allowed to leave East Germany. (Imagine no countries? no borders?)

The wife didn't have a coat. There were no coats available for her in the East German stores. It gets cold in Germany. (imagine living for today)

They didn't have a bathtub. Theirs had a crack and wouldn't hold water. A new one couldn't be bought, not by a normal family with a normal income.

They had never seen a grocery store like ours, with full shelves and choices.

They had never seen an ice cream store with more than two flavors.
(imagine having no possessions...)

They had prayed in secret, knowing soldiers were on the streets with orders to kill them for their act.
They had PRAYED for that wall to come down and for communism to end. (Imagine no religion)

It had been anything but idealistic for their family and for the millions of others who lived behind that wall. They didn't have a world where everyone shared and no one went without. They had a world in which a few had everything and the rest did their best with what they could scrape together.

The one thing this family did have: they had faith. The government couldn't take God from their lives.

Another memory of Germany that I cherish takes us farther back in history.
My husband was in the Army and one night we went to dinner at a restaurant in the town where we lived. While we were there a family joined us. An older man, his wife, their grown son. The father was quite a bit older and as we talked, tears came to his eyes and he shared a story, the story of being a young man held in a concentration camp. He had been that young man. And American soldiers had freed him, had given him back his life. He wanted my husband to know that he loved America. He loved what our Army had done for him. He was alive. He was free. He was a part of history that should never be forgotten. He wasn't merely words in a history book, a story on PBS, he was a human being who had been held captive while millions were killed.

Imagine if you will...

I'm sorry to get political. I really told myself to stay away from this subject, but I didn't listen to me. There are people who need these stories, these pieces of history.
Never forget.

Take a journey through history; watch THE HIDING PLACE or CHINA CRY.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

romance and surprises

ah, romance, isn't it wonderful.
most of the time.

My husband, bless his heart, he tries.
Let me take you on a brief journey to the year 1989. The place is Germany. The couple, us on our 4 anniversary. Or 3rd. I think. My sweet husband, just a kid back then, comes home in his army uniform, excited because he bought me a gift. We really couldn't afford much, but he'd taken what he had to buy me a Hummel figurine. Or maybe a yard gnome. Yes, that's what it was, a yard gnome. Painted bright blue, green and red. And he wanted me to keep it in the china cabinet. It was years before I told him what it really was.

Two years later, still in Germany, I wanted a saphire ring. He bought me an emerald necklace. But he got a little extra gift for free. He brought it home, wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree. (he was so clueless) A week before Christmas he said I could open one gift early. Of course I picked the little box that I thought was the ring. My heart was beating in anticipation as I tore off the wrapping paper. To reveal a jar of wrinkle cream.

Warning to men: You don't give a 24 year old new mom WRINKLE CREAM for Christmas. If you do, be prepared to duck. Quick.

Fast forward 20 years to the phrase, "Honey, I have a surprise for you."
I get a little sick when I hear those words.

This time as we climbed into the car and headed down the road, I felt a little nervous. We weren't going in a direction that promised 'great surprises.' As we drove through small towns, then down country roads, I laughed because I had a feeling he was going to be as surprised as I was.

We passed a one room Amish school. The children were in the field playing baseball and basketball. They waved as we drove past. I was starting to get into the surprise because it had turned into an adventure: note the ability to switch gears and lower expectations. This skill is not provided on your wedding day, it comes with time and practice.

Finally we turned into a long driveway. We circled past a house and in front of a metal building that had the sign: Down the Lane General Store. Closed.
But there were people inside, so, being determined, we circled and sought the parking that was indicated. The only thing we found: HORSE AND BUGGY PARKING ONLY. Cars were directed to park in a small yard that was kind of a mud hole. A big truck was actually stuck in the 'parking lot.' They were putting chains on the tires and trying to dig it out. (if you guys are reading this...sorry my Saab couldn't pull you out)

The place was great. It was at the back of the 'general store.' Grab a bit to eat, a gallon of milk and fifty pounds of grain for your cow. Now that's 'one stop shopping.'

My favorite part of the cafe--the french fries. They were fresh cut and you ordered them by the potato. ie; one potato or two.
We had a blast.

Last night we went to see The Producers at the Landers Theater in Springfield. It was a great performance! But the greatest moment of the evening, A SURPRISE. (not mine)

As the lights dimmed, a young man came out on stage. He started to explain his relationship with his young girlfriend. On their first date they saw The Producers. Since then they've gotten to know one another, and they've fallen in love. He brought her up on stage, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Right there, on that historical stage, the orchestra in the pit behind them, ornately carved ceilings overhead and an audience!

Do you think he came up with that on his own?

I actually proposed to my husband. Sitting on the floor watching TV, I nudged him and said, "My aunt thinks we should get married." and he said, "OH, okay."

MOMENTS! Life is made of them, so create as many as you can. And cherish the ones that make you laugh; like surprises that backfire, yard gnomes and wrinkle cream.

Anyone want to share their 'great surprises?'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

pet peeves

I'm a morning person. I honestly don't have a problem with 'morning people.'
BUT morning people who accomplish things, that bugs me.

Mornings are for waking the kids up, dragging them (kicking and screaming) out of bed, hugging them as they go out the door, and then drinking coffee as I surf the net and talk to my BFF on the phone. We discuss all we're going to accomplish, how clean we're going to get the house, and how many pages we're going to write. Note, I said: TALK about what we're going to do.

But I don't know if I trust people who accomplish a lot before noon. Which is why I choose to surround myself with people who, like me, procrastinate. They make me feel safe and happy.

oh, don't forget to sign the comment under the post on free critique.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


IN HONOR of my CLEAN HOUSE! As a celebration of dusted furniture and clean bathrooms, I'm having a new contest!

No contest rules, nothing to sign up for, just sign in and comment on this blog that you'd like to be entered in the contest. In two weeks I'll draw a name and announce the winner here on my blog. So be checking back to see if I pick you!

Monday, August 31, 2009

home sweet home

true love, the wedding was very sweet
my friends the mules

a place to...plot, nap, hide

coffee anyone?

my office


I would love to say I have an office where I sit for hours each day, typing away. The truth is, I spend most of my time in the recliner with Fox News or CMT playing in the background. There are times when I want silence and the TV gets turned off. If I need a change of scenery I take my computer to the front porch. Sometimes I need a nap, I mean I need a place to plot the story, so I head for the hammock. And sometimes I need a distraction so I go outside and talk to the mules, or I dress my dog up in a wedding dress. :-) Actually my daughter did it, but the cat thought it was kinda hot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Writing Q & A

The kids went back to school. My house is quiet. The dogs are even quiet.

That means it is either time to drink coffee on the front porch, or time to work on the next book in the cowboy series. But being a multi-tasker, I can do both.

As I put these two characters together, I wondered what the rest of you are working on. If you're writing, what are you writing and how is it going?
Do you have trouble spots that you're struggling to fix, or characters that won't bend to your will?

If you have any writing questions, questions about my books, or questions about Love Inspired, feel free to ask away. If I have an answer, I'll give it. If I don't, I'll find someone who does. Or I'll make something up.
But with the kids in school, we might as well spend time talking.

I'll start the discussion with: How do you all come up with characters?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

country life

Living in the country is not always PEACEFUL.

For the last few nights we've had a middle-of-the-night visitor. A coyote.
He slips around in the dark, probably eating leftovers that I toss over by the fence. But in the process of scavenging for food, he wakes up the entire house.

Or should I say, he wakes up the dogs and they wake up the entire house.

Last night I caught him in the act. I woke up and couldn't sleep, so I was in the recliner at 3:00 am when I spotted him heading for the front porch! What is it about 3:00 am and my life. Wasn't it just a month or so ago that 3:00 was the time that someone decided to ride horses down the road in front of my house?

Back to Coyote at 3 o'clock. There he was, slipping up the porch, probably for cat food. But that kind of freaks me out, because we have floor to ceiling windows and I picture him peeking in at me.

stay tuned for more quiet nights in the country
The minute the dogs spotted him, or smelled him, they went crazy. At 3:00 am.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I'm working on a new cowboy story, and I'm loving it. But sometimes my brain needs a break. I write a scene or two, and then I have to do something kind of useless as I think of the next scene or what kind of trauma to hit my poor unsuspecting couple with.

So I've developed my Top Ten Ways to Procrastinate.

Starting with number 10:
10: check email. At least six times in a row. Within a five minute time span. Anything can happen, you know.

9: Check facebook and stalk other people through their status updates.

8: Check email again. It's been ten minutes, you have no idea what can happen in ten minutes.

7: Read Fox News headlines, look for dirt on stars and politicians and mumble things like, "Are we really surprised, and yes, Brad Pitt is a pinhead for saying he wants to run for Mayor on a NO RELIGION platform." He used to go to church in Springfield.

6: Check email again.

5: Update twitter status. Not that anyone reads twitter other than other people tweeting. And when did adults start using words like TWEET.

4: Call a friend (notice it is step four in this program)

3: Make coffee

2: Call another friend


1: Look up insane articles on the pain tolerance level of redheads and actually be proud that you have a mutated gene that allows you to endure 25% more electrical shock than average people.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

eye serum and reality

Here is a moment of reality. We celebrated our 23rd anniversary this week. Twenty-three years and we still like each other, still have fun, laugh at stupid things, do stupid things. And, silly us, still think we're twenty.

For our anniversary we went to Branson. Not a big deal, but we had a blast. I love the Branson Landing. I love sitting outside at Garfields, watching boaters on the lake, listening to the band. But right away we got caught by a kiosk vendor peddling miracle beauty products. So, now for reality. We're walking down the sidewalk and Michell (a guy) approaches us. "Come, sit here, let me show you this miracle from the Dead Sea." (insert cute accent)

Sure, why not. I sit down. Michell begins to rub my hands with Dead Sea Salt scrub. My husband and I are laughing, thinking this is fun. Michell asks what I do. I tell him I write romance novels. He asks if I can put him in a book. but make him tall. Of course I can, but he'll have to be a bull rider. As I scrub my hands, Michell begins to touch my face, look at my eyes. A little freaky, but okay.

And then he says, "I have something to get rid of those wrinkles, too."

Michell was no longer cute or funny. And he'll never be a hero in a book. HEROES DON'T NOTICE WRINKLES. But I bought the stinking bottle of eye serum and I have to admit, it works.

Monday, August 3, 2009

time for school!

I'm a bad mom. I admit it, I am SO READY FOR SCHOOL TO START. And I'm pretty sure my kids are ready. We're at the end of our 'bonding' rope. We've had togetherness. And now, time for them to GO TO SCHOOL.

This is how I know it is time.
At the beginning of the summer, the kids liked each other. (and I liked them) They played games together. They talked. They watched TV. They made plans for vacation.
Now they're starting to say things like: "Mom, she keeps looking at me."
or, "Mom, he won't stop breathing."
Looking and breathing are not optional.

I just caught my daughter chopping something up. A banana. Because the dogs might like a treat. THE DOGS DO NO EAT BANANAS. They've never eaten them. How bored do you have to be to think dogs eat bananas?

And worse, I've realized I kind of like watching Wizards of Waverly Place.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

kind of warped

I won't bother sharing all of our DC vacation photos, mainly because most are blurred beyond recognition. My middle kid was the photographer and the only picture that came out clear was the one he took of himself.

I realize most of us have taken pictures that weren't clear, kind of blurry, a little out of focus. BUT how many of us have made national monuments appear warped?
I know that middle kid has gifts. He's creative. He's kind of psycho. He's a people person. He is not a photographer. And in his defense, I'm sure it was the camera's fault.
If he's reading this: you have other gifts, and you know I love you. Just don't ever take my picture again. and be careful, bugs bunny is behind you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

home is where the dogs are

This is me, after the RWA. Happy to be home with the 4-legged kids who never argue, fight over who gets to sit in which seat of the van, or complain about what's for dinner.

Of course my human kids don't piddle on the floor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Vacation Log: Stupid Mom Moment: Take Two

After a lovely morning at the zoo with a cranky ten-year-old, I thought the Cathedral would be a great next stop. After all, we were walking past Cathedral Ave. How far could it be?

We started up the hill, and it was a big hill. Finally the Cathedral came into view. It didn't look far. (Mistake one) We asked a Fed Ex driver how far it was (he should know, right?). He said 4 blocks. Four blocks, that's something we can do after having already walked about six, plus walking all over the zoo. Up Hill.
With a cranky ten-year-old, and the 13 year-old-heading down hill fast, of course we can do it.

ANOTHER ten blocks later, we arrived at our destination, thirsty, tired, and all of us not so happy. There were threats made, and tears shed.
But the National Cathedral changed all of that. Within fifteen minutes life was better. The Cathedral was beautiful.

Presidents have been in that place. And God was there, too.

After walking around the cathedral, it was time for the National Mall. My middle kid, of course, thought there would be stores at the mall and he wasn't interested. Why would we go to DC and go to a mall. The girl thought that we could get a new pair of shoes.

But before we get to the mall, I have to tell you that small towns do not have the market cornered on friendliness or community. Our experience in DC was a great one. After a week, I have come to the conclusion that it is the friendliest city in the world.

Maybe because they live in DC, where they constantly see reminders of our history, of who we are; for whatever reason the citizens of DC understand community. Perhaps they aren't listening to the media or politicians who try to tell them that our country is falling apart and melting into a divided place where people hate one another and are divided by two colors: red and blue.

If you go to DC you'll see something totally different than that picture the media paints. But you have to take a bus, or walk through neighborhoods. Don't stay in the typical tourist areas. If you go to the real DC, you'll see America, a place where people look past skin color and nationality.

Maybe my glasses are rose colored. I'm sure I'm an optimist. I like being one. But as I sat on a bus watching people of four skin colors, and several nationalities, coming together to help a young woman with her baby and the stroller, my hope in this country was restored.

We should all be those people on that bus, forgetting how tired we are, how much we want to be left alone, or how we need to do our jobs. We need to think of each other and realize we're a nation of people who have more in common than not.

Maybe we should go back to singing that old Sunday school song: Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.

Maybe we should stop listening to politicians, the media, and even Hollywood. It is great to be an American. It is okay to be proud of our nation and our history.

Let's melt blue and red into purple...just to spite the powers that be.

Monday, July 20, 2009


THIS IS A BEAR. I know, it isn't clear from the picture. But seriously, would you want me to get closer?
So, here is the smartest 'mom moment' of our recent trip to DC.

We were driving along the Shenendoah National Park's Skyline Drive, one of the most beautiful places in the country, when I saw this bear having lunch on a walking trail.
"BEAR! We have to go back, there was a bear down there."
I can't explain why we're so enthralled with the idea of seeing a bear, but we were/are really obsessed with some things. Bears are one of those things.
We drove a little, found a place to turn around and hurried back to the parking lot where the trail started. Off we went, to find a bear.
WHO DOES THAT? Who takes their children and knowingly walks down a trail TOWARD the bear, not AWAY from the bear.
Me, obviously. (note: husband stayed in van)
As we walked we met several other 'bear hunters.' They all informed us, 'Bear down there, on the right, eating.'
On we walked, like the tourists we were.
We found the bear. He wasn't nearly as interested in us as we were in him. He was more interested in finding ants under rocks. From twenty-five feet away, we watched him pick up rocks that I couldn't have scooted.
And still, we stayed? That should have been a real clue that he was strong, and able to do damage to tourists.

Fortunately hunger was more important to him than tourists. And fortunately he didn't look up and think, "Wow, I bet those are tasty little treats. Especially the young ones."
He finally moved away, and we went back to the van. And afterwards I had that moment of realization (afterwards, which is so often the case in my life...that I come to my senses after doing something incredibly stupid) afterwards I thought, "I just took my kids down a trail to face off with a bear. What was I thinking?"
I'm sure that someday I'm going to think ahead, stop myself before doing stupid things, and think through what I plan to say before I say it, and actually stop myself ahead of time.
I'm working on that.
But until then...we saw a bear!!! and it was cool!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Work, work, all day long.
My house is a mess. I can't even begin to explain how bad it is.
In a week we leave for Washington DC, for the RWA Conference.
My kids are off to camp on Monday.
And I'm on the final stages of finishing a book that I need to mail next Friday.

Final stages of a book. What happens in the final stages.
I read back through the book, delete scenes that really don't move the story forward and add scenes that will help to keep the conflict strong and the pacing strong. I hope.

I tend to write fast, so I also go back and fill in where I might have rushed to get the story down. I find places where I fell into 'telling' rather than 'showing.' Those always stand out. The places where I tell that they did something, but fail to take the reader on the journey with the characters. And isn't reading all about taking a journey?

The truth is, I work better under pressure. If I have plenty of time to get things done, I procrastinate. I have time, so why rush?
Whether it's writing a book or cleaning house because I have company coming, I'm a last minute person. When it comes to the trip next week, I'll be doing laundry and packing bags the night before we leave.

My favorite part of having a deadline for a book, "I'm sorry, I just can't get to those dishes right now."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tuesday got confused with Monday

Mondays have a reputation. They've even had their own song. If you're an 80s chick like me, you remember: 'Just another manic Monday, wish it was a Sunday, cause that's my fun day.'
I honestly don't remember if it was an 80s song, but my 80s brain filed it there.

So, on Tuesday, (which woke up and thought it was a Monday), this is what happened:
My day started with a pretty crazy storm that blew up. I then forgot, until 9:00 am, that my daughter had to be at VBS at 9:00. Oops.

Came home, wrote a whole chapter. ONE WHOLE CHAPTER. Saved it to Word. It saved. And when I went back, realized it saved without WORDS. And words are very important to a writer. We like them. We like them so much, we put them down on paper and SAVE THEM.

Since it wasn't a crash of the system, Word didn't bother to save an autosave file. Thanks WORD.

We're leaving for DC in less than two weeks. Husband took van to have it looked over, tuned up. The perfect van, its ugly, but it always starts, never gives us any problems. Until it gets a check up. And then it dies on the side of the road and has to be towed.

The day ended with me opening the dryer at 9:30 pm. The cat yowled and jumped out at me.

Just another manic Monday...or Tuesday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

King David

Okay, I tried to let it go, but I've had four cups of coffee and can't. Gov. Sanford of South Carolina compared himself to King David: who saw another man's wife and took her.

I'm not going to talk about Governor Sanford, that's his business. Although they've sort of made it the world's business by calling in the media. But I think there are a few issues there that need to be cleared up about David.

He's been used as a scapegoat for bad choices for years. "Well, David did it and he was still a great man of God."


God's grace covers a multitude of sins. No doubt, God forgave David. But does that mean David's sin was okay with God?

A year ago we did a study of David.
This is what we learned. If David had been serving his people, he wouldn't have been at home, watching Bathseba take a bath. HE would have been away, leading his men who were fighting a battle. David had momentarily forgotten his duties to his people.

WHY? Maybe he was distracted, or tired, maybe he'd forgotten the calling God had put on his life. There are a lot of reasons that we get distracted. There are things that distract us.

There are steps that take people from temptation to sin.

Step One: David wasn't where he was supposed to be. If he had been, he wouldn't have gotten into the trouble with Bathsheba. How many of us get into trouble because we aren't where we are supposed to be?

Step Two: David looked at Bathsheba. He was tempted. He could have put on his big boy robe and turned away. Instead he acted on the temptation.

Thus is the fall of man. (and woman) It isn't the temptation that gets us, it's acting on the temptation. It happens to all of us, probably daily. It's just that not all sins hurt the way David's sin hurt the people in his life.

Step Three. David didn't immediately repent. Once he'd taken Bathsheba, he could have recognized his mistake and sent her away. Instead he kept going. He not only looked at Bathsheba, he acted on his temptation and had her brought to him. And then he tried to cover up his mistake by creating a bigger problem for himself: having her husband murdered. The chain reaction of sin.

THE FINAL VERDICT: Consequences. I'm constantly telling my kids to make good choices, because there are consequences. Bad choices follow us for a long time. The child David had with Bathsheba died. That pain stayed with him, I'm sure for the rest of his life.

David was redeemed by God's love. But he didn't walk away unscathed.

I wonder if there was a moment when he recognized that what he was doing was wrong? Did he have a moment when he knew that he shouldn't, but he told himself that it wouldn't matter? Did he tell himself it was his decision to make, and no one would get hurt?

Did he drop his guard because he thought he was such a great servant of God, he couldn't possibly be tempted to do something like take another man's wife?

And how many people were hurt by the choices he made? His wife was hurt. Bathsheba. His son. Bathsheba's husband. The people he dragged into his scheme, the ones who were ordered to carry out his plans. And the people of his land. People who looked up to him. His children.

In the end, he did find his path back to God. He was a great man of God. His is a story of Redemption.

This is a little different for me and I hope you'll forgive me for going in a new direction with today's post but this was on my heart and I have a bad habit of speaking, and then regretting. Hmmm, also not a good thing. I need to work on that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

life in the country

It's 3:00 in the morning...who will you call? I know that when an emergency strikes at my house...wake up the husband. If you can. Sometimes he's snoring too loud to hear anything.

3:30 am last night, the dogs start to growl, and then bark. Shhh, be quiet. They finally listen. I hear what they heard. Horse's hooves clip-clopping down the road. HUH? At 3:30 am? I climb out of bed, sneak to the window (like the horse is going to jump out of the bushes and get me). Yep, sure enough, horses. A car driving down the road catches them in headlights. Wait, what are cars doing driving down my road at 3:30? There were a half dozen in the time that i stood on the porch. We'll have to investigate that on another night. Maybe follow and see where they're going, since there is nothing out here to go to.

Back to the horses. I wake up my husband. Horses, going down the road. A sane man would have said, "Honey, go back to sleep." But, as usual, I convince him this is some big mystery and not someone out for a nice ride in the cool of the...evening? Horse Thieves! He gets up, goes out. Sure enough, he sees them too. We look to the field west of us. Are all of the mules out there? I suddenly can't count to four. There might only be three. He gets his car keys. Oh, wait, there are four. But what about the one at the neighbor's house? What if IT isn't there.
Husband goes down the road in the car. Two men on horseback.
He drives back to the location of the lone mule, to make sure it is there. He drives up the neighbor's drive, shines headlights all over. CALLS and WAKES UP the sleeping neighbor. "Where's your mule?"
I'm laughing just thinking about the poor guy at, by now, 4:00 am, getting this phone call.
The mule is there--of course.
Husband comes home. He can't sleep. Funny, cause I'm already back in bed, dozing off. I closed the door so I wouldn't have to hear him stomping around the house.

Who says life in the country isn't exciting?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

spa day

I had a great time at the salon yesterday. My family gave me a gift card for a spa day. Massage, pedicure, manicure, facial. It was wonderful, relaxing, and everything it should have been.
Back to the facial. I'm sure I look younger. But the 'slight tingle' she warned of was actually a horrible burn that felt like jalapeno juice being poured in an open wound.
That's how I described it.
So why did my daughter announce at VBS that I had a great time, but the facial was hotter than (insert certain very hot location).
Yes, she did that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Big Girl Hair!

Vanity, all is vanity. But I have to tell you people, having straight hair for a day or two makes me feel like a grown-up...as opposed to my normal pretty juvenile self. I seriously do think I act more serious, more together when the hair is straight.

But it won't last. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, humidity will come, it might rain, or I'll eventually have to wash it. The curls will be back. And so will my normal disorganized, crazy self.

But for today, my straight-hair self is feeling pretty grown-up.

And if you're wondering about Dad. I think it's better if he's visited by Curly Sue, because Straight Haired Me might be a bit too much.

Monday, June 1, 2009

church with Dad

Last night we had our bi-monthly service at the nursing home. My dad went to church with us. As we were sitting there together, singing WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE, I realized that it was only the second time in my life that we'd gone to church together. (both times have been in the nursing home) And aI realized that he knew all of the words to the song we were singing.

It was a sweet moment, until he started acting like me.
So, my third realization of the night: I AM MY FATHER'S DAUGHTER.
As my husband preached on, both Dad and I started to look at our watches and get a little antsy. And then dad started to whisper words that shouldn't be whispered in church. He went on to talk about my husband being a little long winded and the fact that old people can't sit that long. It went from there to, "Well, I'm outta here. Time for my smoke break."

There were sweet moments last night. A dear older man sang a song that his father used to sing, about reading the Bible in a cabin by the sea. One lady shared with me that she taught school until she was 80, and that she started to go down hill after retiring. She's nearly 100 now, she says, and she just isn't doing as good as she used to.

My dad isn't as independent as these two. He lives on a locked unit with people that he's known for years, and none of them know each other now. I think that's one of the saddest things about the disease of alzheimers. They can't sit and talk about the old days, or compare pictures of their grandchildren. They don't play bingo. Instead they play games trying to remember the state they live in and the month of the year. They were robbed of their golden years.

Yesterday a lady who was once the librarian in our small town stood inside while I sat outside with my dad. She waved and whispered that she'd like to come outside with us. It was hard, leaving her inside. This disease has made them prisoners in so many ways. They're locked inside a nursing home hall, a place they never leave and where few people visit. To make it worse, they are locked inside a mind that no longer remembers who they were.

My dad remembers me. He remembers bits and pieces of who he was. Nothing makes me happier than when he sees me walk through the doors, he smiles and says, "Hey brat."
I cherish these moments when he is still my dad.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm ba'ack.

I haven't blogged in a while. I think because nothing really amusing or life changing has happened.

My life is a small world that evolved around my family, church and writing.

My dad being confined to the nursing home has changed my life, though. They haven't given us a clear diagnosis, but the thought is that he has alzeimers. He typically knows me and my kids, but he loses track of time and he really believes he works at the nursing home. There are days that he even points out his boss, and tells me about the work they've done on the outside of teh building. On other days he believes he's in jail.

Maybe our experience with this dreadful disease is something to share, because there is such a fear associated with it. What I've seen is that so many of these dear people are just looking for someone to talk to, someone to connect with. My dad is still communicating, still aware, still Grandpa. We sit outside, he smokes and teases the kids. He likes to go fishing, even if he doesn't catch anything. He can still play his banjo. He still remembers the words to the song, "I won't go hunting with you Jake, but I'll go chasing women."

Some of the residents appear to be in their own world, but if you stop and talk, they are still in our world, too. They're just looking for someone to step into their world with them. All too often, though, they seem to be forgotten. Few people visit. Fewer people stop to talk to them. They connect with the staff, the people who see them every day.

So maybe the greatest tragedy of alzheimers is that these dear souls are stuck in a locked ward with each other, the staff, and one sweet little dog for company. They ask if their families are going to visit. They ask when they'll get to leave. They sleep or walk the halls because they have nothing better to do. This is what their lives have become, but photographs hang on the walls outside their rooms, to remind them who they were. They were mothers, fathers, soldiers, teachers, nurses, police officers. And now they are forgotten.

The other day one of the ladies walked up and asked if she had my permission. I gave it, not knowing what she really wanted, just that she wanted permission. She took hold of my hand and stood next to me in the hall, smiling, holding my hand. She wanted permission to share a moment. After a few minutes she smiled and said, "That was very nice, thank you. I have to go home now and get some sleep. I never know when they're going to call me into work."

In her mind she has retained who she was, who she still wants to be. And what she, and all of the residents want, is someone with whom they can share those moments of remembering.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I'm going to the RWA Conference in July. That gives me two months to lose weight. I've lost things before. I've lost keys. I've lost the checkbook. I've lost my purse. I've even lost my mind on occasion. So, why is losing weight so hard? Seriously, why couldn't I accidentally lose it at the store, or leave it at someone's house?

Ten pounds. It sounds so easy. Don't buy Reese's. Forget the cheesecake. Yes, there are four slices left, but eating them all in one day is not the key to losing weight. THAT is my problem. I feel like if I eat all of the junk food in one day, it won't be there tomorrow and so tomorrow I can lost weight without the temptation.

The 'eat it all in one day' diet plan doesn't work. Obviously not, no one is writing a book about it. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The "EAT IT ALL IN ONE DAY GUIDE TO LOSING WEIGHT." That one isn't exactly on the bestseller list.

Accountability partners...also not working. My accountability partner is calling me from the grocery store, talking about chocolate.

Oh, and the reward system. Eat a frozen dinner with 300 calories, eat ice cream with 500 calories.

And the positive + a negative diet, although it makes me feel good, isn't shedding pounds. That diet works like this: In school we learn that positive 5 and negative 5 equals ZERO. So my thought is that a negative (diet coke) and positive (Reese's) equals zero calories.

Exercise? That doesn't work either. I exercise for 30 minutes and then feel as if I've earned the right to, you guessed it, eat a Reese's.

Anyone hungry?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

a day in the life

What do I have to do today. Finish information on cover art for March 2010 book. Work on edits. Next book is due in July. Vacation Bible School in June. If I was a man, I'd be overwhelmed, but i have the wonderful ability to look at what needs to be done, including cleaning house and doing laundry, and convince myself I have six months. So let's drink more coffee.

I always have time to mess with my kids. Kid 2 is the easiest to mess with, which is why that kid is the subject of more posts. My husband says that kid 2 "is going to need a good job to pay for the counseling."

His new obsession, dryer lint. Why? Because he's doing his own laundry now and I clued him into the fact that you have to clean out the lent trap each time you do a load. "Why?" Kid Monk asked.
"Well, because lint is flammable."
Yeah, well, I mean, it isn't going to just catch on fire, but it does have to be cleaned out from time to time.
This is better than the elves that made shoes. My lint trap is getting cleaned in the middle of the night while I sleep!!

I should tell him that dishes left on the counter and clothes left on the floor are prone to spontaneous combustion!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I'm at home with my middle kid...who claimed he was too sick to go to church. And I'll give him this, he did have a fever last night and this morning. Unfortunately now he's feeling much better. He's playing XBox and he wants money for points. I think I've spent enough on him in the last month, and he's the most expensive kid I have. He says that is because he's awesome.

I hope someday he'll get over his self-esteem issues. (JK)

The biggest problem with kid 2 being home: NON STOP TALKING. and now he's singing..
and it isn't good singing. I think it's something like, 'blame it on the ahahahaha, blame it on..agh.'
The dog howling at the alarm clock isn't as annoying as this kid's singing. It's a good thing he's smart, because the whole singing thing is not going to work out for him.

And that takes me back to...isn't he supposed to be sick? Because if he was truly sick, not that I want that for him, but if he was, he'd be quiet. He'd take benadryl and sleep. I'd be sympathetic and bring him water, or crackers.

But when he sings, sympathy is out the window.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reviwer Blog

I found a great little reviewer blog today, and I wanted to share it with you all. Dr. Grace is witty, smart and her reviews are unique. And I'm not saying that just because she reviewed my February book. I'm saying it because I love to read reviews on all types of books and I really enjoyed reading her blog.
so, check out Dr. Grace.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Interview with...MYSELF

Today I'm interviewing...Myself! I know, can you believe I managed to score such an illusive author!
Me: Brenda, I hear your 4th Love Inspired is out this month. How does that feel?
Myself: Great, unbelievable. Steeple Hill Love Inspired was my dream publisher, and now the dream is reality.

Me: Has being published changed your life?
Myself: In more ways than I could imagine. I now have an excuse for not getting the laundry done, or the dishes, or the dusting. I have an excuse for ordering pizza or serving bologna sandwiches. DEADLINE. It's my excuse for everything from messy house, being a hermit, to being a total grouch.

Me: I read on Amazon that your new book is about a jewelry designer.
Myself: Umm, no. That's Lois Richer's book, A RING AND A PROMISE, which I just read got a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times. You can order it in June. My book, THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR is about Lacey Gould, a character from HIS LITTLE COWGIRL. She meets the cowboy who changes her life, and gains a slightly unexpected surprise.

Me: So, do you have plans for the future.
Myself: I don't know, are you asking me to go somewhere with you?
I really think we should hang out more often.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday Blahs

Monday is great. It's the beginning of the week. I start out thinking about how much I'll get done and how I'll get the week off to a good start. The thoughts run along the path of keeping up with laundry, being organized, cooking great meals and hugging the kids as they walk through the door. I'm going to be JUNE CLEAVER. I'll even have hair that gets brushed and styled.

By Wednesday I've come to the conclusion that I'm "June Cleaver: GONE WILD." Or should I say June Cleaver: Gone Wrong. Because "Gone Wild" implies I'm off having a wild time. Instead I'm at home, reading a Linda Lael Miller book and I've given up on brushing the hair. The laundry is piling up, I'm still in my PJs and the only thing I've accomplished is walking the dogs and updating facebook and twitter.

Oh, and I realized that my May book has the wrong blurb on the online retailer sites. Yes, you should check it out on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The Cowboy Next Door: about a woman who makes jewelry. OR NOT. You be the judge.

Monday, April 20, 2009

taking time

Last month we started a nursing home ministry. Every other Sunday we do an evening service for the residents, one of whom is my dad.
We thought we were going to be doing the ministry. But we've realized that we're being ministered to. It's been good for us, great for our kids.

Last night after the sermon an older man stood up and told a story. Years ago he witnessed a hanging on the square of the county seat. As the crowds gathered to watch, the minister walked across the lawn with the man. He walked up the steps of the platform with him. But at the top of the steps the minister stopped, and the man went the rest of the way alone. A minister can't take us all the way. He can pray with us. He can walk with us. But there is a point where he stops. God walks with us the whole way. He doesn't stop at the top of the stairs.

As I sat there listening, I realized how much the people in that nursing home have to teach us: about life, about history and about faith.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Last on the Team is OK

I have never ever been a jock. I was the girl writing poetry or love stories to entertain her friends. I was the one that got picked last for teams in P.E., unless a friend was picking. I was nearsighted, couldn't see the ball coming at me in softball, and my vision puts everything slightly to one side, so my aim in basketball was off. It wasn't that I didn't like to play, I just knew my limitations.

So, lucky for me, at 42 I played my first volleyball game in twenty-something years. I actually had to buy tennis shoes because I didn't have a pair. I do exercise, barefoot in my living room. I take long walks, in sandals.

Some things haven't changed. I'm still a dork, the person who says, "Oh, sorry, was that my ball?" The other players still look at me like I'm from mars.

The thing that has changed, ME. My body. My bladder when jumping for the ball. My back. My fingers, which now have arthritis. My bladder. You get the point without detail, right? You jump, you...
wish you could run to the bathroom.

If you're laughing because you aren't there yet, laugh loud, laugh long...but don't sneeze. Your day is coming. Oh yes, it is. I used to believe I would always be able to read the fine print on the medicine bottle. Oops, kids don't get three teaspoons of benadryl. And I always thought that my sister was the only one with a weak bladder.

Oh well, there is one area in which I have the last laugh. I could never remember P.E. shorts, but I could always remember to bring a romance novel to class. So, to Coach Conrad, if you're reading this, my forgetfulness paid off.

Now, if you don't mind, I have to go take some advil and write a book.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Being Published

People often have questions about being published. They ask me if I'm rich yet.
I love that one. And the answer is, NO.
Some ask me how I went about getting published.
Did I just send it and ask the publisher to publish the book for me?
Did I know someone?
Did I come up with the idea for the story and the publisher fills it in?
Has it changed my life?

All of the above are honest questions and probably questions that I would ask.

This is my story, and I would like to say that everyone who is published has a different story, a different path.
I started writing when I was in school. I think I wrote my first story when I was ten or eleven. I wrote on scrap paper, I wrote in notebooks, I wrote poetry and songs.
When I started getting serious about writing fiction, (About 12 years ago) I went to Wal-Mart and did research...because I didn't know what else to do. I went through the inspirational section and wrote down the names of publishers, the number of pages in the books, what the books were about. When I got home I researched the publishers, found their guidelines on their websites, and started reading books published by the publishing houses that I really liked.

I wrote on paper, filling notebooks with my first attempts at novel writing, and then switched to the computer. Finally, with finished manuscripts and the belief that I was going to be published, I started submitting to publishers. I feel for those first editors who received my amature attempts. I actually faxed a query letter to a major publishing house. Much to my surprise, the editor faxed me back and told me to send her the manuscript. She later told me, "Don't ever do that again." I would give the same advice. I can use the excuse that I was young and didn't know any better.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I also received a lot of rejections.

I looked up articles on writing romance, writing fiction, writing non-fiction and writing in general. I studied books that I enjoyed, looking at how the sentences, paragraphs and chapters went together. I looked at what was marketable and what wasn't.

I found wonderful critique partners and writing groups and then I found an agent. Finally I found my voice and stopped fighting my muse. I gave in and wrote the books I wanted to write, not the books I thought I should write, or the books that others wanted me to write.

After 7 years of learning, I got that first contract. A year later I received my first contract with Steeple Hill. And I learned that I still had a lot to learn. I'm still learning.

That's how I went about getting published.
Did someone do it for me? No. I did it through hard work. People can help you get a foot in the door, but then it's up to you to prove that you can write the book that the publisher wants to publish and the consumer wants to buy.
Did I just send it in and ask to be published? No. But I wished it worked that way. I guess in a way, when you send a story in, you are asking to be published. Unfortunately the answer is often, NO.
The story ideas and the words are mine. An editor does look it over, point out problems, but the writing is up to me.

Has it changed my life? Yes, writing has changed my life. I have friends I wouldn't otherwise have had. I have a career that I love. I have less time for procrastinating than I used to have, and I'm working on being more organized, but that's okay.

Monday, April 6, 2009

choking dogs and cold weather

It's freezing outside, not even 30 degrees in April? Global Warming?

The icing on the cake--I have to leave the house, in this. I'm not sure what upsets me the most about that: brushing my hair on a Monday morning, or going out in the cold.

Nothing more to say, except that I'd rather stay in the recliner with my dog, drink coffee and work on a new book idea.
OH, the dog. She nearly died this morning.

NOTE TO SELF: Dogs can't put hands on throat in international sign of choking.

Its also difficult to do the Heimlich on a dog. Finger down throat...of dog, not self. Yeah, that's a TMI moment, but be thankful you weren't the one with your finger down the dog's throat at 6:30 am.

My life is so stinking exciting.

Friday, April 3, 2009

getting stuff done

Today's schedule. I need to finish edits on my September book, work on a new proposal, do laundry, dishes and unpack more boxes. Six weeks in this house and we're still surrounded by boxes. Yes, the procrastinating life sounds great, but in the end, the mess has to be dealt with.

Now if everyone will cooperate. That means: no phone calls needing my presence elsewhere, kids coming home on the bus and not needing the mom taxi. Basically life needs to be as abnormal as possible today.

What would be a great help is if the dogs would cross their legs and stop whining to go outside.

Oh, and I need to turn off the computer and leave it off.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

an end to cleaning

Because I want to do my part in saving the planet, cleaning has to go. There are several reasons why, and I think after I explain, all of you energy conscious ladies will join me in saying, NO MORE CLEANING.

Yesterday I overheard that the vacuum cleaner uses a lot of electricity. Because I care, i came home and tossed mine in the trash. We really need to conserve energy and I feel like I've done my part.

Cleaners. Horrible for the environment, bad for our lungs, they dry out our hands. And the containers are made of plastic.

As you can see, cleaning is an environmental hazard and should be done away with.

in the seventies women burned their bras.
Today we burn our dust rags!

Friday, March 27, 2009


First, I want to say, my kids are fine. They're healthy and we've had no wire hanger moments this week.

Stephanie Newton's blog and her thermometer with the warm spring temps. Once i can get the chains on my tires, I'll be down to talk to you about that little salt in the wound moment.

i'm procrastinating.

Why? Because I really like sitting and doing nothing. That sounds a lot like being lazy, but I'm PROCRASTINATING! It's a big word and means 'putting stuff off until later.' Uh, yeah, much better than calling myself lazy.


It sounds like something important, like a gift, or a special skill.

And while I procrastinate, I am thinking about Cowboy book number 5, which is in the works.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I would love to pretend I'm the perfect mom who never loses it, is never responsible, in the least, for the counseling her children will need in twenty years. The truth is, we all have WIRE HANGER moments.

NO, I don't mean we beat our kids with wire hangers. What I mean is, we all have that moment when we're pushed too far. We lose it. Our normally kind, patient, mommyself is lost to BAD MOM WHO HAS PMS, RUN FOR COVER....
It starts with: "Mom, come here, I need..MOM, where are you, Mom, I said.." or "Mom, he won't let me..."

Remember the scene in MOMMY DEAREST when Joan Crawford goes into the kid's room in the middle of the night and she finds....WIRE HANGERS.
OH NO, not wire hangers.

She loses it and yells, NO WIRE HANGERS. I don't think I enjoyed that line as much until I saw it again in Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Tyler Perry is a genius. Oh, sorry, sidetracked.
The point is, it wasn't the wire hangers that made Joan lose it. She'd already lost it at that point. The wire hangers were the 'last straw.'

My children sometimes push me to 'wire hanger' moments.

If someone tries to convince you they never have wire hanger moments, well, I don't know what to tell you. I can only tell you this, I'm a good mom, a good Christian, and I have wire hanger moments. That's reality and I think that we should be honest with one another. If we hide behind a mask of perfection, saying that we're perfect, our children are perfect, our marriages are perfect, then some young mother out there is having wire hanger moments alone and worrying that there's something wrong with her, that she's the only one losing it from time to time.

Oh, look, one of my little offspring has sneaked out of her hiding place with a note to tell me she loves me.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I moved three weeks ago and since I've moved, I've heard the same question every day, "Are you unpacked yet?"
For the record, the answer is NO. Every room of my house is full of boxes. The kitchen is the only room that I've unpacked, and it's a mess. The good thing is, I can use the excuse of, 'just moving in' for that mess.
Why haven't I unpacked.
Reason ONE: Procrastination.
Reason TWO: Children.
procrastination. The obvious is that I love coffee and I'd rather drink coffee with my back to the mess than face it and unpack.

Children. Here's an example of a typical day: Kid 1 goes to work, has to be picked up seven hours later. Dogs have to be walked at least 4 times during the day. Dishes need to be done, laundry has to be washed. Drive fifteen miles, pick up Kid 1. Drive back. Kid 3 has to be picked up from tutoring. Kid 2 has to be picked up from practice. Off to ballet, go to the grocery store. "Mom, I don't have clean socks." Buy new socks. "Mom, what's for dinner." Order pizza. "Honey, I need deoderant." Go to the store, buy more socks, buy deoderant.
Go home, do laundry, clean kitchen, take dogs out again.
OH, wow, I have a deadline. This book has to be finished in a week.
the end.
And no, I haven't finished unpacking. As long as I haven't unpacked, I have a reason for the house looking like this. And I'm not going to show you a picture.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


A few weeks ago someone made this comment to me, "Oh, wow, you're an author, I had no idea." She said that I'm down-to-earth. I love her for thinking that being an writer is something maybe a little glam. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade it. I love it. And I always thought it would be a little glam. (for more info on that, go to my website: www.brendaminton.net)

But her comment has me wondering. What do people think of authors. I mean, look at my picture, I'm no Angelina. And my husband and I never, ever get called Brendoug. Or how about, Donda (pronounced DUHNDA).
No matter how you connect those names, it isn't cute. We're not Brangelina, or TomKat, or even StrayCat.
My only paparazzi is my sister. Once I did try to run over her foot. Twice I've knocked the camera out of her hand. She gave me a black eye that time. (kidding sis)

Every single picture of me could go into one of those issues of, "See how bad they look without their makeup.' or, 'What was she thinking when she wore those sweatpants...
two days in a row.'
Today it is worse. I've had a cold. My nose is red. Stuff in the fridge is green. Something in the kitchen is starting to smell.
And to top it off, earlier this afternoon my daughter yelled, "Mom, the cat has something in here and he's trying to bury it in the floor."

Do you think Maddox has ever yelled that at Brangelina?
Or what about; "Mom, do I have to wear these socks again?"

I'm not sure if anyone is out there, other than my one friend :-) But if you'd like to talk writing, ask questions, or call me names, now is your chance.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MIA: Smart, Witty and CREATIVE

I'm not missing in action, just moving and writing. It is true, when it rains, it pours. I'm trying to finish a book, a novella, and move. All at the same time. So, 'witty and smart' are MIA.

On the UP SIDE, American Idol, still entertaining. Three people of the twelve who sang are going to make the final twelve. I, of course, am a Danny Gokey fan. I also like the little girl with pink hair. I won't try to remember her name because I can't.
Remember, I'm moving: witty and smart are MIA, and I have so much writing to do, creativity is MIA with them. Or maybe Creative took Smart and Witty and led them away with the promise of cookies and coffee?

My kids haven't even been cute, smart or witty lately. To be honest they've been kind of a pain. I know, no one else has experienced those moments when you really do want to stand them on the street corner with some kind of sign tied to their necks. I haven't done it yet, but I think if I ever want to be a Fox News Alert, I might try it. How about a sign like, "My mom says I have to stop fighting with my sister. OH, and check out her new release, A COWBOY'S HEART."
Why didn't I think of that earlier?

Oh wait, kid one was incredibly witty...never mind, I can't repeat that.
Here's one I can repeat.
At work one of the girls told him that he's cute. He's a short kid, just over five feet. She told him, "You're so cute, I want to take you home with me. Oh wow, you're travel sized. I could take you anywhere."
Don't worry, he loved it. He has a great attitude about life. He's short, but he's also alive. He'll take short.
I think there's a lesson in that: about life, faith and accepting our circumstances.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

American Idol, How sweet the sound?

No Balmy Florida here. Or coffee. And a certain someone seems to want to rub it in that it got down to a freezing sixty degrees in Florida today.
I'm not holding grudges, but she also has coffee, and I'm out. That might be the last straw.

But on to brighter subjects. American Idol is back, with Simon's sharp wit still with us, dashing the hopes of talentless children all across the country. I love that man.

And kudos to all of the loving moms out there who keep telling their children they are the future rock idols of the world, while oblivious to the reality that their children can't sing. Thanks to you, moms, grandmas, aunts, uncles and best friends, we are entertained for hours each week as some poor dear child gets her self-esteem cut down by Simon's English wit.

This really isn't funny, it's actually very sad. We want to encourage our children, tell them they are the best at everything, want them to succeed in every direction they turn. Reality TV has brought us to this place in our lives where we believe that every child can be a superstar with little or no work on their part. Sometimes with no talent. And in the end...Simon calls MOM onto the stage to ask her why she encouraged her child to sing.


It is time to be honest with our children. "HONEY, I love you, you're a genius at math, but YOU ARE TONE DEAF so please stop singing. Can't you see that the cat has lost all her hair?"
The words sound harsh, but do you really want to be the parent watching this episode of American Idol on TV as your child screeches a song to the idle judges, realizing with a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach that your child can't sing and now the whole world knows?

Worse yet, singing in a superhero costume.

Let's put the word 'no' back in our vocabularies. Our kids deserve it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

girls, girls, girls

a. A group of animals, such as dogs or wolves, that run and hunt together.

They forgot to add girls to this definition. I took my daughter and 7 other little girls to a waterpark for her birthday. And it was fun.
If you define fun as: totally exhausting, please yank all of my teeth without novocain, and hit my little toe with a hammer.

Girls are great. We all want one. We dream of how we'll dress her in bows, cute clothes, and maybe we'll do our nails together as she gets older.
And then we get one. We learn that they have meltdowns at the drop of a hat and they have 'a look that can kill' figured out before their second birthday.They are so much more than cute clothes, manicures and hair. They're complex little creatures, miniatures of us. That fact is both enlightening, and frightening.
Girls can be the sweetest people, helping the younger girls, tending to a friend who is sad, and then...
something strange happens.
I'm sorry, maybe this is too much reality for a Saturday night, but really, we have to get it out in the open, we have to face the truth, frightening as it might be: girls grow fangs and their claws come out.
Someone talked to someone else's BFF...and war is declared.

We came home with the same number of girls we left with. I tribute that to God and small miracles.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Every parent, when holding their tiny baby, believes they are holding the next great inventor, president, doctor, or even actor. When they say their first word, we're amazed, and have every right to be. We let family brag that no child has ever talked so early or with such clarity.

And then comes the moment. The day the 'next president' comes home from school and says, "Mom, today we were learning about the constitution. And you know that part where it says, RIGHT TO BARE ARMS, well, I thought it meant right to have short sleeved shirts."

ON A POSITIVE NOTE....I still believe he'll be president someday.

A COWBOY'S HEART, available February 2009 at most major retailers.