Saturday, September 29, 2007
Last night we went out for supper with friends. Totally standard Friday night routine. Well, sort-of. It's not always easy to get sitters for the kids. But last night we had babysitters and glorious freedom! Until the girl who was babysitting our friend's kids called to say one of their sweethearts was throwing up everywhere. Of course, it stood to reason. All the other kids had the stomach flu this week except for him. So, off for home. Sigh. Fun night out cut short. But then Aaron had to stop at the new Holiday Inn Express and Suites to drop off a deposit check for a spiritual gifts seminar. It was right on our way home... It would only take a minute... I've never seen it before and I was more than willing to accompany him inside to check out the decor... Imagine me: totally oblivious and innocent of his deceit until I catch a glimpse of a huge poster with--what's that? An upside down chick? I'd know that baby blue cover ANYWHERE! Aaron had to drag me the rest of the way to the conference room.
Oh my goodness, a book launch/birthday party. Up until last night Aaron has never surprised me with anything. Instead, I always hear a few days before my birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day (pick your holiday/event): "I just have to tell you what I got you!" And against my arguments otherwise, he proceeds to tell me. It's so endearing. But he didn't do that this time. No, this time I got serenaded with "Happy Birthday" and "Happy Book-Launching" by 75ish friends and family. 100? I lost count. Thanks, Dad, for that well-timed glass of wine. I needed it.
And though I sound sheepish (I am!), I'm also so thankful and so overwhelmed by such a fun, fun night. A good friend of ours catered amazing tapas and finger-foods including baked brie, smoked salmon on ciabatta bread with capers and herbed cream cheese, steak flatbread, dark chocolate covered in macerated berries, and other amazing delicacies. I'm still nibbling olives and proscuitto from our refrigerator. My Dad kept everyone's glass filled with a wonderful Chardonnay/Viognior or Pinot Noir. My Mom made the room beautiful. All my friends and family made it so much fun. And Aaron surprised me like I have never been surprised before.
To say I had a wonderful time would be a ridiculous understatement. So instead of trying to express how amazing it was, I'll just say: Thank you. I am so blessed.
PS - It's not my birthday yet! Aaron threw me a party two weeks early so I wouldn't suspect a thing. And I didn't--but don't you dare call me 30 just yet. I think I've decided I'll be eternally 29...
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Anyway, feeling poetic as I am, it somehow seems fitting that Aaron and I chased a little dream today: we put a bid on our dream house. Okay, it's not quite Aaron's dream house yet, but it is pretty darn close to mine. It was built in 1897 and recently renovated by a really neat man with an incredible vision for restoring the home to it's original grandeur. I'm drooling over the refinished hardwood floors, original oak moldings, sweeping staircase, nine foot ceilings, and windows big enough for four people to walk through abreast. It's gorgeous. There are some temporary drawbacks, but we are hoping that if we get the house we can someday make it just the way we want it. I'm so excited! But I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high... Now they have to accept our offer (or we have to negotiate) and we have to sell our house. I don't think our home will be a hard sell--it's super-cute and we've done a lot of work to it--I'm more concerned about how I will feel about selling it. We have so many memories here! This is our home... Oh well, we are leaving this situation completely in God's hands. Wherever he wants us to be we will be. As he opens and closes doors we will follow willingly. And hey, even if we don't end up moving into this beautiful old home, at least I'll be able to admire it from my living room windows--it's right next door to the house we're currently living in! How's that for an easy move?
I'm feeling so blessed today... Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the possibility of the house. Maybe it's the awesome email I got from a sweet girl who is partway through After the Leaves Fall. Maybe it's because I have my first booksigning tomorrow... Or maybe it's because I have fantastic friends...
Laurel Wreath is the next stop on my blog tour and I can't possibly say enough good things about her. We met when she received my novel to review for her column in Christian Women Online. We've been close ever since. She is an incredible woman with a passion for God and I am so thankful to know her! Check out our interview here and her review of After the Leaves Fall here. You don't want to miss Laurel's interview because she is giving away a FREE BOOK! Who doesn't love a freebie?
Hope you're having a beautiful fall day, wherever you are.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
In Summer Snow, the sequel to After the Leaves Fall, a small apple orchard on Nellie's farm plays an important role. You won't read about it in After the Leaves Fall, but since it is autumn and since the apple orchard in question was inspired by the apple trees in my parents' backyard (we're up to our eyeballs in apples right now), I thought I'd share my favorite apple recipe with you. This is my grandmother's recipe and it's something that I am just sure Julia grew up on, as I did. I can imagine her eating spoonfuls of the caramel sauce, something I was caught doing on more than one occassion. And if you don't like pudding, don't let the name of this dessert fool you--it's actually a dense cake.
Anyway, enjoy. It's amazing...
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup of butter
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
10 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the apples. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add the flour mixture to the apple mixture. Stir well. Pour in a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cake springs back in the center when lightly touched. Serve with warm caramel sauce.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup half & half or sweet cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the vanilla and cream. Heat through and serve warm, drizzled over apple pudding.
Monday, September 17, 2007
I feel like I am so busy right now, so caught with my fingers in every little pot I can stick them into, that I can’t form a coherent thought. Much less a coherent blog. Thus I am going to go with it. Welcome to random musings…
-Last week marked my first “back to work” day. I made myself comfy in a corner of my favorite coffee shop and turned on my I-pod so loud I’m sure I annoyed passers-by. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Nearly twelve pages in just over two hours to be exact. It was SO FUN. So fulfilling and rewarding, and a great reminder of why I write: because I love to do it. Best of all, my head was bent over my computer and my mind in another universe when I was startled by a sunflower poking in my eye. I looked up to see Isaac clutching a bouquet of flowers that was almost as big as him. As I’m pulling out my headphones I hear him say: “These are for you, mommy, because we love you! Happy birthday!” It’s not my birthday, but Aaron later explained that when he asked Isaac what he wanted to do with his “boys only” morning, Isaac answered: “Buy flowers for mom.” What a great kid! Can he stay three forever?
-We went to the county fair on Friday and had way too much fun. My dad has been taking me to the fair since I was a little girl… We always go on the last Friday of the fair and we always make a date out of it. When I was in high school I even got to skip my afternoon classes just so we wouldn’t have to miss the Arabian horse show. Dad and I would try to pick the best of class (sometimes we were even right) and then we’d eat junk food until we were sick. Nothing can beat a bag of Tom Thumb Donuts! For the past three years, Isaac has come along, and this year Aaron and Judah also joined us. Isaac had to watch the Big Cats show twice and he laughed just as hard the second time as he did the first. Dad and I decided the whole troop can come along next year, but we’re still going in the horse buildings--too bad if Aaron is afraid of horses. He’ll get over it.
-I have lots of readings/booksignings coming up and I have to admit I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t want to be unnecessarily sensitive, but something feels very weird about autographing my books. My cousin’s sweet little son came up to me the other day and said, “May I have your autograph, Auntie Niki?” He had been prompted to do so, and it was terribly cute, but it also felt strange. Why would anyone want my illegible signature in their book? It just messes up the nice first page.
Well, that’s a taste of all the things that are running through my mind right now. I’ll write more soon about Christ Is Our Hope, and I’ll post a list of the bookstores and libraries that I’ll be visiting in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let me leave you with a link to the next stop on my blog tour:
Amy has graciously agreed to host this week. I only know her though the emails we’ve shared recently, but she seems like an amazing woman. I hope you enjoy reading our interview and browsing the rest of her blog!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
We had stopped in a local bookstore to drop off an ARC for the manager, and afterwards we stuck around to do a little shopping. All of the sudden, Aaron grabbed my arm and swung me around. “Look,” he said, in one of those low voices that I know better than to argue with. And there it was, in all its baby-blue glory. Four of them to be exact. All pretty and facing outward and begging to be bought. He-he-he!
What a bizarre feeling. But very, very cool. A little strange, too, that we had stood only five feet away from the book while the manager oohed and aahed over the Advanced Reader Copy. The real thing was on his shelf!
Well, I was a little confused, so I emailed my marketing manager today and that’s it, the books are out. Wow. I thought I had a few more weeks to sit on this. But how exciting! After the Leaves Fall could be in a store near you even as you read this. I guess that means those of you who ordered it via Amazon or Target could get it any day now…? Oh, and I have to tell you this since we’re talking about pre-ordering the book--Aaron stumbled across some bizarre stat the other day that told him After the Leaves Fall is the 197th most pre-ordered Christian book of 2007. Yeah baby, now there’s an honor! Too funny…
Anyway, the wait is over. Who knows what God will do from here.
One last thing. As promised, the unabridged blog tour list:
1 ~ Sept. 3-7 (Carrie at “With all I have been given…”)
2 ~ Sept. 10-14 (Becky at “In the Pages”)
3 ~ Sept. 17-21 (Amy at “Pretty Shiny”)
4 ~ Sept. 24-28 (Laurel Wreath at “Laurel Wreath’s Reflections”)
5 ~ Oct. 1-5 (Amanda at “A Patchwork of Books”)
6 ~ Oct. 8-12 (Becky at “Becky’s Christian Reviews”)
7 ~ Oct. 15-19 (Novel Reviews)
8 ~ Oct. 22-26 (Miriam at “In His Grip”)
9 ~ Oct. 29 - Nov. 2 (Sally Bradley)
10 ~ Nov. 5-9 (Deena at “A Peek at My Bookshelf”)
Monday, September 10, 2007
PS - Tomorrow I'll have the complete blog tour list up and running!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Truth is, I've never done anything like this before, and I just don't know what it should look like. But my first "stop" on said illustrious book tour is coming up tomorrow!
I suppose I'd better point you in the direction of the wonderful Carrie, lover of "small world" coincidences and all around fantastic person. We "met" online via one of those small world connections, and though we live all of twelve miles apart I'm a little embarrassed to admit that we have not yet met in person. But plans to get together are in the works!
Anyway, I'm babbling. Pop on over to Carrie's website tomorrow for a review of After the Leaves Fall, an interview with me, and a chance to win a copy of the book! I'm not sure how many she has, but Carrie will be giving away a few copies of After the Leaves Fall. Be sure to stop by and enjoy her thoughtful blog.
And check back here tomorrow. I hope to have the complete list of sites and dates for the blog tour.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
So I gave in. A couple copies are in the hands of trusted relatives and they have been given strict instructions not to lend them out! Of course, I let people borrow my books and I don't care if After the Leaves Fall is passed around, but I do want people to at least have the opportunity to buy it when it hits stores. Wouldn't that be nice? If people would buy the book? Oh I'd love that.
And since we're on the topic of book-buying, I suppose I should tell you what Aaron and I intend to do with some of the proceeds from After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow (the sequel). But before I do, I feel I need to let you in on what a difficult decision this was for us.
For almost a year (since I signed the contract with Tyndale last November), Aaron and I have been praying about this and seeking God's will. There is a passage in Matthew that says, "... when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." We have struggled over this passage, wondering if we should keep our plan to ourselves. But then we would think about the potential for good, the amazing results that could come about if people knew what we intended to do. And so we started to share our idea with a few close friends and family members. Their response was so positive and so overwhelming that we decided this gift is something we can all participate in together.
15% of the proceeds that we receive from the sales of After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow will go to support the children and workers at Christ Is Our Hope orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia. It's not enough, it could never be enough, but we are excited to do what we can. We are blessed to be a blessing--what else is there in life? And if I'm not doing my math wrong (which I could be, I was never very good at math), we've already raised $37.65! Some of that money was straight-out donations when people heard that we were contributing to Christ Is Our Hope, but still. Do you know what $30 can do in Liberia? It can feed, clothe, educate, and provide basic medical care for a child for one month. Wow.
Buying books is not the only thing you can do to get involved. We are also in the process of setting up a child sponsorship program for the kids of Christ Is Our Hope. So far we have about fifteen sponsors, but we need 70. Or better yet, 150. There are many street kids that the orphanage would like to enfold but they simply don't have the money. Anyway, for only $30 a month you can support a child. How awesome is that?
Stay tuned for more information. Our website will be up and running soon. In the meantime, if you would like to sponsor a child, please email me and I can send you everything you need to know. And if you would like to know more about our relationship with Christ Is Our Hope, feel free to browse old posts:
What I've been up to...
One last thing. Here's one of the boys from Christ Is Our Hope. I dare you not to fall in love... :)