Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Five "New" People who touched my life in 2009

Two days before Christmas, I met my college friend Suzanne Brubaker (nee Cantwell) at a Starbucks south of Indianapolis.

We talked for 3.5 hours. Not having seen each other in 15 years or so, exchanging only Christmas and Birthday notes throughout the years, I was confident the young woman who impacted me during sorority rush 24 years ago would impact me that day.

She did. We had a blast. Meeting with her was some what of my Christmas present to myself. I looked forward to it about as much as Christmas morning. I was glad I took the time to contact her. Glad she could take the time from a busy Christmas schedule to meet me.

I felt full for the next day, having made a heart connection that had been ignored over the years. We talked about life, where we are now, what we want for the future. Spent only a few minutes rehashing college memories. It was good. One can only rehash college memories for so long.

Suzanne Brubaker touched my life in 2009.


Thomas Nelson contracted a new author I knew only via Twitter, Kimberly Cash Tate. We tweeted back and forth a bit before the Denver ACFW conference and I sensed a kindred spirit. I looked forward to meeting her. I was not disappointed. We hit it off, chatting while the servers cleared the lunch tables about politics and religion and the love of God. All those touchy subjects people tend to ignore.

Kim and I waded right in and flowed in the same stream. We both realized our idenity comes from Jesus and the Love He demonstrated by the Cross. Any differences in background, culture and history weren't all that magnified because we both found our core belief in Jesus. He is the one who brings up valleys and lowers mountains.

After meeting her, I was encouraged, edified and full. Kimberly Cash Tate touched my life in 2009.


I've known Chip MacGregor for several years through ACFW and my stints as president. Occassionally we'd exchange email barbs. He's an Oregon Ducks fan, I'm an Ohio State Buckeye. (The January 1st Rose Bowl will be the first real test in our relationship!)

In the middle of the year, the Lord began speaking to me about changes coming up in my career. Through a series of cool events, Chip became my agent in July. After a year and a half of off and on angst about my representation, walking in faith, trying to be bold and take chances, I could finally exhale in peace. I knew that I knew that I knew Chip MacGregor was my agent home.

Joy. Confidence. Rest. Simple. I felt full. Chip MacGregor touched my life in 2009.


Jenny B. Jones. What a cool name. An even cooler person. I'd know of Jenny through writerly circles and the fact she is another Thomas Nelson author, but it wasn't until we connected during the summer I really got to know her at any level. We chatted at the ACFW conference. We tweet back and forth. She's funny, clever and an all around unique individual that impressed me.

I was just laughing at some of her tweets and thought, "I'm glad to know her. She's brightened my life."

Jenny B. Jones touched my life in 2009.


RITA. Okay, so the RWA RITA Award is not technically a person. She's named after a person, but the Award is merely a gold statue. One I don't have on my shelf even though I was an award nominee. Accepting the award on behalf of my writing partner and great friend Susan May Warren was a highlight of my year. God answered my prayer to sincerely love and appreciate the winner. Yes, ladies and gents, I wanted to win. I prayed to win.

While I didn't take home the golden statue, I took home the winning of answered prayer. God deposited a joy in my heart that cannot be destroyed. Or gather dust. When I called Susie to tell her she won, the words, "I didn't win, you did," still bring tears to my eyes.

God specifically sent me to the conference by providing the money to go -- in a month! I registered in faith, feeling I was to attend. Then the money came.

If God provided for me to go, didn't that mean I was to win? Yes. But not the RITA. Something deeper in my heart that comes from genuine joy and love for the one who did win.

It's the scriptual admonition of esteeming others higher than oursevles. And God supernaturally brought me to a place I couldn't have achieved on my own. Yes! Amen.

The RITA Award touch my life in 2009.


Naturally others have touched my life this year. These are merely the new or reconnect ones.

My hubby continues to be a major force in my life. My writing partner and friend extraordinaire, Susie May. My editor, Ami McConnell continues to impact me. My Mom. My sister, Rebekah Gunter. My church family. The women of my Tuesday night Dream Team! Love you all. My Kansas City family: Stuart and Esther, and Cassie. My Melbourne/Palm Bay friends and family. My brothers! My writing friends! You know who y'all are.

Joan. The Gonda's. Carrie. My teenage best friend, Lorena Sikking. It was great to be in touch with her this year. My sorority "big" sister Tish Patton and I talked in January for over an hour!

Ack, if I start, I won't be able to stop.

I am blessed. How about you? Did you meet or reconnect with someone in 2009?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

I'm in Indianapolis visiting family, waiting for the Big Day. I already know one present. Hubby had to ask my opinion.

I'm off to meet an old college friend for coffee, so more on that later, but what are some of your favorite Christmas memories or gifts.

Do you like to be surprised or do you prefer to help pick out your presents?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Writing about food

I'm writing about a character who can't cook, but food is central to her world. It's challenging -- not only to write a sympathetic engaging character, but one who lives in the foodie world but does not feel apart.

In that way, Joy is very much like me.
But how do I show it?

I don't get the foodie world. Watching the Food Network doesn't make me want to run to the kitchen and break out the pots and pans. Reading recipes only irritates me. Why does any dish need more than five or six ingredients?

I once tried a mac-n-cheese recipe from Pat Conroy's cookbook. Oh my gosh, what a mess. I dirties three pans, per his assembling instructions, never mind the mess on my counter. And I'm not a slob. I kept thinking, "all this for mac-n-cheese?" I never wanted to make it again. I stayed out of the kitchen for a week after that night.

I don't want to cook for cooking sake so don't ask me to add citron to a cake. I'm not going to do it. First, what is citron? Second, how is it going to enhance the chocolate taste I'm baking the cake for in the first place?

Asking me to grate a lemon rind equates to asking me to grate my own nerves.

One friend said to me, "It's like everyone is in on this great secret about food and not telling me."


I've read Molly Wizenberg, Judith Jones, Suzan Colon, and Julia Child memoirs with fascination. What makes their heart zing over recipes?

I love food. I love to eat. And maybe that's why I don't like cooking. Because I want to EAT what I've cooked. Weight and I are not friends. "It" wants to control me. And don't want "it" to control me.

Yet, I love the aromas of baking cakes, cookies and bread in a warmly lit fall or Christmastime house. It's comforting and homey. But whose going to eat the warm treats I bake?

Still, in the midst of it, I'd rather read or write than stand in the kitchen. I'd rather walk or bike, or frankly, I'm being honest here, I'd rather Drive-thru.

In the midst of my writing and research, I have yet to connect with the heart and love for food as those I've read. God didn't give me that gene. I understand what the writers are saying and I appreciate every fine detail, but my emotions are not moved.

Growing up, I was never fascinated with the kitchen or watching my mom or grandmothers cook. In fact, I avoided the kitchen at all cost fearful they'd put me to work. One cannot cook without dirtying a few pots and pans. I never liked doing dishes either until college. Now I'd rather clean than cook.

Lest you start the violin strings for my hubby, I do cook. I can't afford not to! But cooking must not involve a recipe. If it does, no more than six maybe seven ingredients and nothing that I cannot pronounce. It's just not worth it to me. I'm not "into" it.

I bake. I can make mean chocolate chip-peanut butter chip cookies. I have a few tricks for making a box cake that is yummy. However, I can eat the whole thing myself, so let's not go there.

My can opener is my number one tool and the Rachael Ray knife I use to cut onions. I do love onions.

So, back to my character. There's something about food she does love, something she is longing and looking for, and it will spill out on the pages. . . eventually.

What about you? Do you cook? Do you like to cook? What are your favorite food memories?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Just how good is good?

The American Humanist society called for all who don't believe in God at Christmas not to worry. Just be "good for goodness sake." My hubby took the time to craft some thoughts in response. The floor is yours, babe.

I have a few questions. Can someone be good just for the sake of being good?

In an isolated circumstance, sure. Long term, I don’t think so. I know I can’t. But I don’t feel bad because the apostle Paul, whom Jesus appeared to and who was caught up into heaven, couldn’t be good either (Rom 7:19).

The question is how good do you have to be to be good? Who gets to define “good” in the absence of God?

Does the definition change with time, culture or circumstances? Is there one definition, or do we each get our own? At some point, does the discussion become meaningless in the absence of absolute standards?

So where would we find absolute standards to measure good? Jesus said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mk 10:18)

It’s self-evident. You can’t be good unless you know what good is, and only someone who is good can tell you.

By the way, why even bother to be good if being bad is more fun...unless of course we’ll be responsible at some point to someone who is good. Something to think about.

Bottom line; not only do I need God to be good, I need God to even want to be good.

P.S. This has nothing to do with getting to heaven. For that you have to be perfect.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Monterey Memories by Gail Martin

Please welcome my friend and ACFW Advisor, Gail Martin. Since I've been striving to become an author, Gail has been successfully publishing great romance novels. I'm happy to have her featured today!

MONTEREY MEMORIES - is set in the beautiful Monterey area in the central coast of California. The Barbour anthology includes the novels And Baby Makes Five, Garlic and Roses and Butterfly Trees.

Book Description

Walk the streets and countryside of Monterey, California, with three couples who are surprised by love in the midst of their busy lives. Chad helps Felisa when she goes into labor in his lettuce field. Juli meets Alan while volunteering at a soup kitchen. Ross takes an overdue vacation at Alissa’s bed-and-breakfast. Can busy people slow down enough to realize the love God has brought into their lives?

Reviews from AMAZON

Monterey Memories, an anthology, is a must buy. I truly love this book. In each of the three novels, set in the central coast of California, Gail writes of God's love with such ease and weaves His love throughout each story.

We see how faith and growth in the Word affects every aspect of the characters lives. Everyday normal people with trials and decisions, which we too, can identify. From trust, or acceptance to forgiveness, each of the story's characters learn to lean on God through their faith.

I'm adding this book to my gift list for friends and family. Who wouldn't want to find this warm, engrossing book in their stocking at Christmas? Or simply a gift to share.
Reviewer Carolyn J. Devaney

About Gail:

Multi-award- winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of forty-three novels with three million books in print. Her novels have received seven national awards and was presented the Favorite Heartsong Presents Author Award for 2008. She writes for Steeple Hill, Barbour Publishing, and is the author of Writing the Christian Romance from Writers Digest. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. www.gailmartin. com.

Purchase the novel is bookstores everywhere or click this link to purchase on Amazon

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I never did get this one

In '97, I was working at a software company as an product tester. The engineers built the software, I tested it.

In those days, WYSIWYG display was becoming imparitive for any program. "What You See Is What You Get." It was no longer acceptable to have plain text on the screen. Yet, the company's premier product I was working on, didn't have WYSIWYG.

The sales team hammered the table. "We need WYSIWYG. All our competitors have it."

Sometimes you have to wonder about engineers. They can be so line upon line, sequential, nervous to step outside the lines.

The Veep of Engineering just couldn't or wouldn't dedicate the resources to developing a WYSIWYG display. The engineers were elbow deep in other development aspects of the program. WYSIWYG wasn't getting done.

WYSIWYG meant that when a sales rep in the classified advertising department of a newspaper entered an ad for a customer, it would appear on her screen as it would in the paper. She could fax the ad to the customer. Spiffy.

But our slick ole product couldn't do that particular function. A few engineers hacked at WYSIWYG coding, but produced a sloppy product. Crashed the program. Made taking an ad incredibly slow.

So, the Veep of Engineering decided to hire someone to do the job. An former colleague who hadn't written code in several years. She didn't know the Mircosoft tools we used. She didn't know C++. She didn't know our product. Talk about disadvantage.

I have to tell you, it was painful to watch her work. She was lost. So very lost. And the product was a monster, I mean a monster of code.

But poor new-engineer worked faithfully. Accomplished very little. And within six months had another job.

One of the lead engineers took over coding for WYSIWYG and had something working and demonstrable within a few weeks.

It continues to baffle me why those in charge assigned a complete neophyte to such an important process. We need this function to sell the product. Yet, all the Veep could see was the schedule already set and she wasn't leaving her path.

I didn't get it. Still don't. But that's me.