Friday, October 30, 2009

Blog Cargo

A week ago I asked anyone who had used a background from my website to send me a note. Well, below are a few that sent me samples of their blogs. Designing blog backgrounds has become a bit of a hobby for me. I’ve fallen in love with Photoshop. :)
If you use one of our backgrounds, please let me know. I might put a sample of your blog up.

Meanwhile, check out these blogs. Each is well worth following.
------------------------------------Teen Harvest Ministries
---------------------------------Journey To The Heart Of God
--------------------------------------Extraordinary Life
------------------------------------My Little Old Thoughts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Worth It

A card from a little old lady, whom I probably won’t ever get a chance to meet, telling me how much she liked my book and how excited she was to see it was an autographed copy is more important than the words of any professional reviewer.
~Enough said.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How I Write

I had to squeeze out of the chair very quietly to get this shot. Meet Margaret Thatcher and Eleanor Roosevelt, my writing buddies.
I love Dalmatians. :)

Btw, I’m looking for bloggers who have used designs from my family’s website: We’ve got nearly 50 designs up now, all for free. Check it out if you get a chance. I’m going to put up a list of blogs using our designs. So if you’ve used one, let me know.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How Agatha Christie Saved History

I propose to you that Agatha Christie is as important to us as text books in today’s context.
She is of course remembered most for her quaint English cozies with elderly sleuths sipping tea and little Belgian men tracking killers down cottage lanes, but these are not my favorites or in my opinion her most important.
I will confess, I do not read fiction analytically. I allow myself to go where the author wishes. Therefore, my favorites are her Middle Eastern and African based novels.
By way of her pen we are allowed to discover the beauty and dangers of South Africa in The Man In The Brown Suit, the clash of European and Native North African cultures in Destination Unknown, the intrigue of an archeological dig in Murder In Mesopotamia, a pleasure cruise down the Nile in Death On The Nile, and an incredible street view of Baghdad in the 1950s in They Came To Baghdad. But what makes these works so much more fun for me is that Agatha Christie was not a research based author. She wrote about what she saw with her own eyes.
Agatha had experienced some exotic travel in her earlier years, but had long since settled into English country life. Then in 1930 her life changed dramatically when, at the age of 40, she hopped aboard the Orient Express and headed east. At that point she was a relatively successful novelist with a disappointing personal life. By the time she returned to England she was fascinated by the ancient cultures of the east….and she was engaged to an up and coming archeologist.
Consequently, over the next 30 years she spent a considerable portion of her life in the Middle East and North Africa, often living on the dig sites with her beloved Max, during the time when the Valley of the Kings was a new concept. Of course her portable typewriter was always close at hand.
I would LOVE to see the world she wrote about, but tragically much of it is lost to us. Lebanon has been stripped of her beauty, Baghdad’s tourist industry is no more, and most of Egypt’s mysteries are locked up in museums. So, we are often only left with text books full of dates and facts, perhaps a few pictures. Unless you read Agatha Christie.
We may never get lost in North Africa, stumble upon Victoria Falls, ride along the Nile, watch the excavation of the Ur of Chaldees, or sleep in a hotel on the Euphrates river, but at least Agatha give us a little glimpse of what it was like.

If you’d like to read more about one incredible life, I highly recommend The Life And Crimes Of Agatha Christie by Charles Osborne. As for me, I am currently joining Hercule Poirot on a trip on the Orient Express from Syria to London. (Murder On The Orient Express, 1934)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Word On Writing

A short article I wrote on writing has been posted today by The Young Ladies Christian Fellowship. If you get a chance, check it out. I’d really appreciate it if you would also leave a comment on their site.

And when I say short article, I mean short. I had to stay within a 400 word limit. Trust me, that was hard! In person I am not the most talkative individual in the room, but when it comes to writing it is hard for me to shut up. ;)

Monday, October 12, 2009

How Book Signing #3 Turned Into The Most Amazing Of All.

Last Saturday was my third official book signing. I have to say, this will probably be the one I remember the most for two major reasons.
I showed up around 1:30 to find a table already set up and a large stack of my books in front of it. Much to my surprise, the manager had order more than twice the number of books than stores usually do. That seemed like a very good sign.
….But two hours later, as the signing drew to a close, that stack of books was practically the same size. I’d only sold 5 books. And I knew unsold books were always returned to the distributor, which looks very bad when the end of year tally happens.
The funny thing is the first thought that came to my mind when I woke-up that morning was, “What if I don’t sell very many books?” I know there is only one answer to that question. “I will still praise God.”
So, as 4:00 neared half my brain was screaming, “This is bad! This is very, very bad!” and the other half was calmly saying, “This just happens sometimes. Everyone has bad days. God is still good and it will all work out.” Frankly, the smile I was had on was a trial.
Then all of a sudden the manager walked over, looked at the stacks of my books and the other authors' and without hesitation said, “Go ahead and sign them all. I’ll put up a local author display,” and then walked away.
Sign them all? That means he can’t return them. Which means the distributor counts them as already sold! HOW GOOD IS OUR GOD?! Somebody smile wildly with me!
As we walked back to the car my mom said, “I’m sorry you didn’t sell very much.” I had to say, I was glad it worked out the way it did. I got to see God show up and politely tell me He is much better at selling books than I am. Agreed!
That was the first part of this amazing day. The second part was the people I was surrounded by. Sitting next to me at that table was Denise Dieser and Terry O’Leary, authors of Prayer Chain Ministry. Terry was my Sunday school teacher when I was ten years old. I kid you not. :) A few feet down was Doug Hansen, author of Mother Goose in California. Doug was my art teacher when I was twelve years old. Does anyone hear, “It’s a small world after all,” playing in the back ground?
And then out of the blue, two of my dearest friends, Karen and Katherine Meinicke, who live way down in Southern California, walked in. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped a bit. They stayed the whole day and even helped me pass out some of my cards. (One of the more amusing moments occurred when a woman carrying Richard Dawkins’ latest book refused the card.)
You know, I sold very well during my last signing, but I came home exhausted. This time I came home on the top of my energy scale. :)

Me, Denise Dieser, Terry O’Leary, Doug Hansen, and Kim Gruenenfelder.

Terry and I at the “official author table.”

Terry’s Book (We had a good laugh over the fact that I kept introducing her as “Mrs. O’Leary".)

Doug Hansen’s book. This is one of the most beautifully illustrated books I’ve ever seen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Rubber Band Simile

I have the tendency to get struck by the weirdest comparisons. ;)
My “other job” is submitting blueprints to the City Building Department for my family’s drafting business.
If you spend any time regularly in the City Building department you will notice two things. Everyone has to wait and rubber bands are very important.
Yes, they hold our plans together, but they also provide another important function. Amusement.
As the minutes drag on we begin by flicking and rolling them along the plans. Before long we’ll have one in our hands, twisting and bouncing between our fingers.
Then at last one of our names is called from the waiting list. We gather up our plans and papers and charge the counter like we will lose our position if we wait for more than thirty seconds.
What we usually fail to notice in the rush to the counter is that we’ve woven the rubber band around one of our fingers like a ring. I usually don’t realize it until my fingers start to feel cramped.
After years of going through this routine I’ve become rather magnetic with rubber bands. If there is one within my range it usually ends up in my hands without much thought and then I’ll find it twisted around one my fingers sometime later.
I found one completely twisted around my pinky-finger yesterday. As odd as this may sound, the first thought that struck me was, “I wonder how many people are walking around absentmindedly attached to bad habits and bad attitudes.” Strange, I know, but that’s how this post started.
God does call us to have an “excellent spirit.” (Daniel 6:3).
Yes, we may not lie, steal, or cheat, but we have a tendency to think we have the right to be a little bit short with people because we’re having a bad day, or leave a mess for others to clean up, or ignore other people’s rules because we don’t like them.
As one of my favorite teachers is fond of saying, “When a store says, ‘Please leave your cart here,’ that means, ‘Please leave your cart here,’ not, ‘Leave your cart wherever and make the employees run all over the parking in the dead of winter or height of summer.’”
You think that’s too small to make much of a difference? Winding rubber bands around your fingers might be a small thing, but it is not particularly safe. Circulation does eventually get cut off.
What seems small and unimportant now can eventually add up to be the difference between average lives and excellent lives.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Change Of Plans

I was alerted to a little change in plans for this Saturday’s book signing at Barns and Noble. This is both good and a little scary.
The store decided to bring in multiple authors and change the time to 2:00-4:00PM. Bringing in more authors is always a good thing. That tends to naturally bring in more traffic.
So, what’s the scary part? Well, another author I know recently ended up in this exact same situation in the Barns and Noble in her town...and it turned into an event that included the authors reading from their books. (gasp)
I know, that probably doesn’t seem so bad, but it’s bad for me. I have been informed in the past that my “reading voice” is not very good. Let’s put it this way. It’s great when I babysit because the kids fall asleep real fast. (I’m not sure if I should laugh or sigh. ;)
But I have also been informed that this is what God has called me to do so I’d better find a way to get better. :P
Well, once again, if you are going to be in the Central Valley area of California on Saturday, I’ll be at the Barns and Noble in Fresno from 2:00-4:00PM along with other authors whose names I do not yet know. (complete details on my EVENTS page)
And just in case I do have to read I promise I will do a little practicing this week.
(Open to page 1 and clear throat) “I would not have answered my cell that day , if habit hadn't forced me to check the caller I.D. the minute I heard it ring……..Are you still awake?”
Perhaps you’d better start praying for me now…..