Monday, September 15, 2014

The Title Is...

Hi there! I'm taking a quick break from my revisions to share some exciting news.

My book has a title and an official release date!

Covert Justice 

June 2015

When undercover FBI Agent Heidi Zimmerman enlists 
Blake Harrison's help to bring a ruthless crime family to justice, 
she's prepared to lose her life, 
not her heart. 

God is revealing Himself to me in so many ways. He is so faithful and so awesome and I'm excited to share this amazing journey with you. 

But it's going to have to wait a few weeks...

My revisions are due September 30th. I'll be back when they are done! 
Grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rite of Passage

The rising 3rd-5th grade kids in our church left for camp today. Look Up Lodge is a rite of passage and my Facebook feed is full of pictures of happy campers. I’m excited for all of them. I truly am.

But a little part of me is crying.

The little part that every now and then rebels against the reality that is my life. Because I didn’t take my rising 5th grader to Look Up Lodge this morning.

I spent the morning researching GPS tracking devices for her.

I don’t often write about Emma or about being a “special needs” parent. Mainly because most of the time, I don’t think of myself that way.

I don’t dwell on the allergy-free meals, the medications, the pullups, the therapies, the doctor visits, the IEP meetings, the underlying but ever-present frustration of having a child who cannot tell you about her day, or the uncertainty of her future.

Just reading that list is depressing. If I thought about it all the time, I’d need to be sedated.

Instead, I think about the way she yells, “Mommy!” every single time she sees me. The way she is fearless in her style. The way she insists on an upside down piggy back ride up the stairs before she goes to bed. The way she refuses to leave the house without a bow in her hair. 

The way she swings with abandon and spins with joy. The way she’s obsessed with toothbrushes and Goldilocks and sign language. The way she has wrapped pretty much everyone who has ever come into contact with her around her little finger.

But last week, when she wandered from our yard and disappeared for over an hour…when I had to explain to the police that they could call for her but she might not answer…when I ran up and down the streets and barged through my neighbors’ back yards…when I watched the officer put her pillowcase in a plastic bag so the bloodhound could get her scent…

In that hour, I felt every second of the last 11½ years of special needs parenting.

And all I wanted was the privilege of doing it for the rest of my life.

There are many more rites of passage to come. Some will sting. Some will throb. Some will leave me sobbing in the shower.

But then she will come down the stairs in her footed pajamas and she’ll yell, “Mommy!”

And it will be okay.

*Emma was safe and sound the entire time. She’d wandered into our neighbors’ home and was playing in their playroom. They were not at home, but found her when they returned to a cul-de-sac full of police cars.

We cannot ever fully express our gratitude to the family, friends, neighbors, lawn care workers, mail carriers, and police officers who joined in the search. We are so blessed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Call

In my last post, I mentioned that the jury was still out on my 2nd novel. Well, it isn't any more!

To bring you all up to speed…

Earlier this year I entered a contest. The Search for the Next Killer Voice was a four stage contest held by the editors of Love Inspired Suspense.

Stage 1 – Submit your first page. No problem. I already had it written.

Stage 2 – Submit a synopsis. Not much of a problem. I had a synopsis written, I just needed to tweak it, re-write it, start over and try again. (A huge shout-out to Mary Denman for talking me through it at midnight!)

Stage 3 – Submit the first 3 chapters. Bit of a problem. Wasn’t exactly expecting to make it this far and had to rewrite most of what I already had to make it work for this publisher. (Never-ending gratitude to Lynette Eason for reading it and giving me hope that it might work!)

Stage 4 – Submit the full manuscript by June 9. Big problem. Way back in March when I sent in my first page, I never imagined I’d still be in it at this point. The pressure was intense. I may have sent out one, two, multiple SOS prayer requests to my writing and non-writing friends as I wrote during every spare minute and most of the rest of the minutes of my days and nights. There is no human explanation for how I was able to finish the book on time. Truly, it was a case of God expanding my time and energy.

On the evening of June 8, I hit “send” and put it out of my mind for a few weeks. I celebrated my 40th birthday, went on vacation, and tried not to think about the fact that somewhere in New York, an editor could at any moment make THE decision about my book.

Which leads me to the stage no one warned me about.

Stage 5 – Lose your ever-lovin’ mind while you wait to hear if they want to buy your book.

I was doing fine until they started offering contracts. Then they offered three in one week, then another, and another, and then…NOTHING. 

I did not cope well. I am embarrassed to admit that I was checking my email obsessively and jumping every time the phone rang.

Because if they want to buy your book, they call.

On July 23rd, when I checked my email for the 100th time that day, there it was.

Except it wasn’t what I’d been prepared for at all. This was neither a rejection or a list of revisions. My editor asked if I would be willing to make a significant change to my plot. She needed my response before she could proceed.

I assumed this meant that if I was willing to make this change, she’d send me a revision letter, and I’d spend the next several months working on the novel, resubmitting, and hoping for the best.

I emailed her back and told her I’d be willing to make that change.
She emailed me and asked if this would be a good time to call.

The tweet from my editor after she called.
I may have screamed a little.

Because if they want to buy your book, they call.

I’d tell you about the call if I could remember the details. I was barely coherent. She even had to ask me if I was saying Yes to her offer. Which of course I was!

It’s been a week and I’m still trying to get my mind around it. I have a feeling there will be a part of me that doesn’t believe it until the day I hold the book in my hands. 

The announcement of the sale!
I will be continuing to blog as time allows, but the revisions required are extensive and they are due by the end of September, so most of my writing time will be diverted in that direction.

God has taught me so much through this process and I have no doubt He will continue to do so and I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with you.

I’d be so thankful if you would pray for me during this time. There is so much to learn and so much to do and I so want God to be glorified in all of it.

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Time to Start Over

My son loves playing games on my phone. He has one that he’s been playing for a while now. He’s completed so many levels that he has begged me not to let his little brother play, for fear that he’ll mess things up. 

So I was surprised yesterday when he asked me to download the game onto the iPad. As I handed the iPad to him, I asked, “Are you sure you’re okay with this? Won’t you have to start over from the beginning?” 

He shrugged, a grin spreading across his face. “That’s okay, Mom. It will be good practice.”

Ah. Out of the mouth of babes. Or, in this case, five-year-old Angry Birds Go fanatics.

I need to start over.
I have to.
It’s a good thing.
But it’s so hard.

I’ve completed two novels in the past five years. The first one will probably never see the light of day and the the jury is still out on the second. So it’s time to begin a new story. Time to create a new world. Time to breathe life into new characters, then make their lives difficult, come close to killing them several times, and have it all work out in the end.

I’m on the verge of a panic attack just thinking about it.

I’ve been doing everything creative I can think of—besides writing. I’ve knit. I’ve decorated. I’ve read. I’ve cooked.

But today, I’m writing.

Today, I’m ignoring the voices telling me how pointless it all is. Ignoring Trying to ignore the tension in my chest at the thought of failure.

I’m choosing to see the act of starting over through the eyes of my five-year-old.

It’s good practice.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to transition from a completed project into a brand new one? Or do you love starting new projects but have trouble finishing them? Do you find you need to take a break between creative endeavors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Blame the Kale

I blame the kale.

All pre-chopped and bagged.
It’s why I took the kids into the store in the first place.

Have you ever been to Trader Joe’s? It’s—interesting. The layout is odd, it’s significantly smaller than I thought it would be, and the shopping carts are tiny.

On this morning, I plopped my three-year-old into the back of the cart and allowed my 5-year-old to ride along on the outside. You know. The way the little diagram on the seat warns against? Yep. That way.

It would have been fine if I hadn’t paused to grab the kale.

That light-weight shopping cart couldn’t handle the combined weight of both boys at one end, and in a flash, it flipped. The three-year-old rode it down and tumbled out with nary a scratch. (I think he enjoyed it). My five-year-old suffered two completely different injuries.

The first was physical. The cart landed on his arm. So minor it never even bruised.

The second was to his heart, and there was nothing minor about that one. He stood there, tears pooling in the eyes he refused to raise from the floor, saying, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry, Mama” over and over. And because he is so much like me, I knew that his regret had as much to do with causing a scene—with “messing up”—as it did with the trampled flowers and flying strawberries.

Once I’d confirmed no one was bleeding, I sat right there in the middle of Trader Joe’s and whispered, “Baby, it’s fine. You didn't do anything wrong. It was an accident. I’m not upset. I think you’re awesome and I’m so glad you’re okay.”

I want my little man to grow up secure in the knowledge that there is nothing—NOTHING—he can do, that will ever change my feelings for him. He’s going to make messes and he’s going to get hurt, and he needs to know that I am always and forever going to be on his side.

But the truth was that even as I comforted my little guy, I was fighting the voices in my head. You know the ones who point out how everything you just did was W-R-O-N-G. The ones pointing out the workers righting the buggy, the shoppers pausing to see if the kids were okay, someone picking up the kale. All because of my mistake.

By the time we had finished shopping, the voices in my head were screaming. I was replaying the incident from the moment I put the boys in the cart, to the second I turned loose to grab the kale, to the fact that I was so focused on the kids, I never thanked the people who got the buggy back on its wheels or located my strawberries and how rude was that and was I teaching my kids to be ungrateful?

As we approached the cashier, a woman asked if the boys were okay. Then she did the craziest thing. She looked at me and said, “You’re such a great mom. The way you were comforting him . . . you’re doing a great job.”

I wanted to ask her if she’d noticed that I was the “great” mom who’d let her kids be mauled by a red shopping cart, but instead I mumbled something like “Thanks, just glad they weren’t hurt” and moved on before her words made me cry.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what had happened. That my heavenly Father—who saw the whole thing go down and knows me better than I know myself—chose, in that topsy-turvy moment, to remind me that He thinks I’m awesome. And He used a stranger to say it for Him.

He knows that while I have no trouble believing He loves me when I’m singing praise songs with the kids or volunteering in Sunday school, it’s so much harder to believe when I’ve messed up. Dropped the ball. Blown it.

I don’t know how your Monday has been. How you’ve struggled. Where you’ve failed.
But this I know.
He loves you.
He thinks you’re awesome.

Zephaniah 3:17 - The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)

I Blame the Kale - What I learned about God's #love in the produce aisle. #motherhood #faith (Click to Tweet)

***I want to apologize for my lengthy absence.  I spent three months frantically writing a novel and I have no idea what happened to the month of June! I'm hoping to be back here on a more regular basis in the weeks ahead.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Beneath A Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter

Hi Everyone!! I've missed you!

I've been writing non-stop, but none of it has been for the blog. I entered a contest and to my utter shock, I made it into the final round. Last night at 9:30 p.m., I hit "send" and a full manuscript is now in an editor's hands.

I may be sick.

But the best way not to think about an editor with a big red pen is to read and write - a LOT! Which is exactly what I plan to do!

Let's kick things off with a book I thought I'd reviewed a couple of months ago, but didn't. 

If you like romantic suspense, historicals, and, like me, are always on the lookout for a way to support a local writer, then Beneath a Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter is the book for you!

(Lisa's from Raleigh and as far as I'm concerned, any Carolina girl is a local). 

In Beneath a Navajo Moon, Erin Dawson is a cultural anthropologist. She's hoping her internship at the Cedar Canyon Information Center will help her fulfill a personal mission to uncover the story behind one of her adopted ancestors, Olivia Thornton, a white woman who served at a mission on the Navajo reservation in the early 1900s. 

Her search leads her to butt heads with tribal policeman Adam Silverhorn. A man who turns out to be far more complex than his shallow, womanizing ways lead her to originally believe.

As Erin digs deeper, she has no idea that her search for Olivia will uncover a dark secret that threatens her life and the lives of those she loves. 

Beneath A Navajo Moon kept me guessing with complex characters who struggle to make the right choices in difficult circumstances.

For someone like me who loves a great historical, but also loves a great contemporary suspense, this was the best of both worlds. 

Check it out. And if you read Beneath a Navajo Moon, be a friend and leave a quick review on Amazon, would you please? Authors really appreciate reviews and it only takes a few minutes of your time to bless them in this way!

Grace & Peace,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Get your copy of SILENCED by Author Dani Pettrey!

I'm so excited about today's post. We've got a great book, an opportunity to win a FREE copy from Bethany House publishers, and a fun sweepstakes you can enter.

All of these great opportunities are in celebration of the release of Silenced, the fourth book in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series.

The Alaskan Courage series follows the adventures of the five McKenna siblings. When Silenced opens, Cole and Bailey (from Submerged) are in the final stages of planning their wedding, with Piper and Landon (from Shattered) just a few months behind. Reef (who gets his own story in Book 5, yeah!) has promised to come home for the weddings and Darcy and Gage (from Stranded) are doing great.

Silenced is Jake and Kayden's story, and I was so excited to finally figure out what made the cool and distant Kayden McKenna tick, and to find out how she would treat Jake Westin, now that the truth about his past has come to light.

Here's the scoop on Silenced...

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a dark turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Was the climber’s death a terrible accident or something more sinister?
When the case is handed to Yancey’s overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With the truth of Jake’s past now revealed, Jake agrees to use his investigation skills for this one case–but nothing could prepare him for where the case will take him.
As Kayden and Jake work together to uncover the truth, will they also find a refuge in each other?  Or will the deadly plans of a killer destroy their chance at love?
I've come to expect page-turning reads from Dani, and Silenced did not disappoint. I tried, really tried, to stretch it into a three-day read. 
Didn't happen. 
I got about 1/3 of the way in before life pulled me away, but once I picked it back up the next evening, I knew I'd be reading until I got to the end. I closed the book after midnight, exhausted and satisfied. 
I read a lot of romantic suspense, so as it became clear that the investigation into the murder of the rock climber was winding down, I started to get a little anxious. There was still a lot of book and not a lot of story left. 
That was when the story really cranked up, and I loved that twist. You know how I feel about spoilers, so that's really all I can say.
As a rule, I only read a series in order, and while I realize not everyone feels like that is the only way to do it (even though it totally is) :-) I should say that if you read these books out of order, I think you'll be missing too much to be able to fully appreciate the character and romantic development. By the time you get to Silenced, you've already seen Jake and Kayden interacting for three books, and been in their heads quite a bit in the last book, so these characters are already familiar. And I know for me, I was rooting for Jake to finally break through Kayden's tough shell.
So, who wants to win their own free copy of Silenced?!?! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here on the blog, or you can also earn entries by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can earn up to 4 entries! I'll draw a name from all the entries on May 26th and Bethany House will mail a copy to the winner. (There's a lot of fine print below, so be sure to read that part.)
Another great giveaway is happening until May 21st over on Dani's site. You have a chance to win airline tickets, a gorgeous Alaskan print, or a very fun picnic basket. 
Enter the RUGGED ROMANCE Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

All you have to do is visit to enter!

Wow! Such a packed post! Be sure to enter both for the free copy of Silenced and the great prizes in the Rugged Romance Sweepstakes!

Super fine print for the free book...
No purchase is necessary. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.Giveaway begins May 19 and ends at midnight May 26. Up to 4 entries per person. Entries can be made by commenting on this blog post or by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Giveaway open to US residents, 18 and older. I will contact the winner via email and winners will have three days to respond before I will award the book to the next winner.