Thursday, April 23, 2009

Odds & Ends

My thoughts aren't very coherent today so I'm going to post them helter-skelter. (I love using that term--my husband thinks I sound like a ninety-year-old when I do. He's also a big fan of whoopsie-daisy, shoot-a-pickle, and mayn't. I say them all just to annoy.) Here goes:

*Had my final weigh-in today for Get Fit, Iowa. (Click here to read my early musings on this fun little program.) Lost six pounds and 5% body fat. Feeling pretty good about that... Guess all that Zumba, yoga, and cross-training did some good.

*The Moment Between book trailer was the most watched trailer on Preview the Book website today. Not really sure that means anything, but it's fun all the same. If you haven't already seen it (or even if you have!), go check it out and keep that ranking high. :)

*Decided to go to Denver this summer for ICRS and the Christy Awards ceremony. After all, how often does your second book get nominated for an award? Gotta revel in it while I can.

*It's 87 degrees right now outside. We went from winter to summer with a tiny pit-stop at my favorite season, spring. Sigh. Though it is fun to wear shorts.

*Was playing at the park with my boys yesterday when a UPS truck slammed on the brakes and backed up. I recognized our friendly delivery man and had to laugh when he said, "I just stopped by your house and you weren't home. Can I give you your package now?" I signed for the box from our wine of the month club and used it as a table for our McDonalds lunch. I love small town life.

*Kinda crabby that all the images on my older posts are AWOL. Is that a blogger problem? Do I have to re-download every single photo? Oh, that would make me mad. But I'm a perfectionist. I'd do it.

*Currently addicted to Wheat Thins Great Plains Multigrain Toasted Chips. That's a mouthful. Avoid them at all costs if you love your waistline.

*Got bit by our rabbit, Dustbunny, yesterday. Didn't know rabbits bit. Wondering if little gray fluffball could have rabies... No foaming at the mouth, but all the same...

Hope the sun is shining where you are!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I know I should be thinking books, books, books since I'm smack-dab in the middle of a book release and mere weeks away from a book deadline, but the only thing I can wrap my puny little mind around right now is: Florida. Yes, sweet southern Florida. Where it's currently 85 degrees and sunny. Where I get to laze around on the beach or in the pool all day. Where I can finally relax enough to realize that when people say, "It's five o'clock somewhere," they mean here. I've been looking forward to this for months. And it's finally here!

For eight whole days I'm going to play with my kids, laugh with my family, and revel in the scent of coconut sunscreen. We'll be grilling burgers, kayaking through the wetlands (hope we see a manatee!), shelling on Sanibel island, and soaking up the sun (beneath copious amounts of SPF 125--they make it that high, right?). Of course, I'm also looking forward to... the snakes?

Thank you, Mr. John Stewart of the Daily Show, for pointing out to the rest of the country that south Florida has been (in the words of Science Daily) "invaded by gigantic Burmese pythons." Are you freaking kidding me?!?!? Apparently, in the past five years alone 144,000 Burmese pythons have been imported to the US and sold as pets. Authorities believe that when people get sick of parenting a python, they set them free. And the Florida Keys happen to be perfect python breeding ground.

Sick. Sick, sick, sick. I hate snakes. No, you don't understand, I hate them. If I even see an itty-bitty garter snake in my yard I run shrieking--and may or may not come back. Now I'm walking into a giant snake infestation?

Okay, scratch that day-trip to the Everglades off our list. No way, no how. And kayaking through the marshes? Uh... no. According to the articles, wherever alligators live, pythons can too. That eliminates my walking route (through wetlands), our "backyard" (where a pair of giant turtles live), and anywhere that grass grows. I'll stick to the pool, thank you. Except... pythons can swim!!!


Yeah, fine, I might be overreacting. But according to Skip Snow, a biologist with the Everglades National Park, "Humans don't belong to their natural prey. But Burmese pythons are perfectly capable of killing a human." I know they're gunning for me. Or worse, my boys--they are, after all, smaller and infinitely more delicious-looking. Is there such thing as a snake repellent?

Anyway, say a prayer for us. May our vacation be as blissful as the top photo. And nothing like this:

PS - I might not blog much for the next little while. However, if I don't pop up here at least once in the next week or so, you might want to call in the National Guard. Or a snake handler. A snake charmer? Anyone will do. Just send someone. Please.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Site

In case you haven't figured it out yet, my website has undergone a complete redesign. (It's not just the blog!) The wonderful guys who used to do my site found themselves extra busy with their other jobs and decided to pass me on to a new design team. I've decided graphics companies are filled with the nicest people around... Working with all four of these gentleman has been a pleasure. And Brand New Graphics had my new site up and running in no time--they even happily put up with all my annoying perfectionistic tendencies! (Or at least pretended to.) They should be sainted.

Anyway, I invite you to take a few minutes and peek around the site! I think it's awesome. There's a whole new section just for book clubs. (Is your book club reading one of my books? I'd love to join your group via telephone, internet, or personal visit if you're nearby!) You can also check out the updated bio page (the other one was way old), see a schedule of upcoming events, and, of course, learn all about my books. Let me know what you think!

Phew, feels like all I do right now is talk about what's happening in my book world. Guess that's natural with a book releasing and another one approaching deadline. But I promise to blog about other things soon... just as soon as I have the time! I even have lots of interesting stuff to write about, but I'm doing all I can to keep my head above water right now. Once I get things under control I'll tell you all about the newest addition to our family (a Netherlands Dwarf named Dustbunny), my son's preoccupation with the infamous "Hockey Song," and all the great books I've been reading. (I know I just admitted to having no time and it might seem strange that in the midst of my busy-ness I've been able to read several great books... Don't ask.) Of course, we leave for Florida next week (YAY!) so I may keep sending up these quick little posts. Hope you don't mind.

Have a lovely week!

Monday, April 13, 2009


In addition to trade paperback, audio version, and Dutch translation, The Moment Between is going to be released in large-print hardcover. I'm so thankful for that! My last two books were difficult for my grandma to read. Anyway, a new version means a new cover, and I thought I'd share. Abigail Bennett, my protagonist in The Moment Between grew up in southwest Minnesota. Aren't the cover images perfect? They could be snapshots of my childhood (I grew up a short drive from the Iowa-Minnesota border). In fact, the middle photo looks like it was taken at the gravel pit where I worked as a lifeguard in high school and college. Too cool.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

I tried to find a picture to cap off this holiday post, but after paging through photo after photo of chocolate eggs, fuzzy chicks, even fuzzier bunnies, and bright spring flowers, I gave up. Now, I like chocolate as much as the next girl (especially in gooey-centered egg form), and I have a soft spot for all things furry, but has everybody bought into this myth? That Easter is about eggs and baby animals, and foil-wrapped candies? Sigh.

In today's day and age, it's hard not to sound sanctimonious when discussing religion. It's certainly not vogue to call yourself a Christian or to say something as bold as, "I am a follower of Jesus Christ." But I am. And I love the Lord. No, I really love him. Like crazy, head-over-heels, take-my-breath-away in love. I'm not going to push that on you or rub your face in it or expect you to feel the same way I do. But I gotta tell you--it's awesome. It's freedom and hope and love and life. It's everything.

Anyway, I'm not a preacher--that's my husband's job. But it is Easter and I live a life of second chances. A life from death. Oh, I love how that sounds. So, happy Easter. And I'm not talking bunnies, chocolates, flowers or eggs. I'm talking resurrection.

Happy Resurrection.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book Questions

I'm working on an interview right now for a Reading Group website and some of the questions they asked were really interesting... I'll share my answers with you, but I'd love to know how you would answer these questions! Leave a comment. :)

  1. What are you reading right now? Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas.

  2. Have you ever read anything you're too embarassed to admit? A series of smutty sci-fi/fantasy books. Totally not my style, but my friend gave me the first one and it was as addictive as crack. I blush admitting it...

  3. What was your favorite book when you were a child? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

  4. What book has changed your life? Why? Peace Like a River by Leif Enger because it taught me that redemptive fiction doesn't have to be pat or easy. And, best of all, hope-filled fiction can be literary.

Monday, April 6, 2009

TMB Review & Giveaway

One of the cool (and sometimes scary) things about writing a book is that your audience has the potential to reach far and wide. Shortly after my first book was published, someone at Tyndale recommended that I set up a Google-Alert for my books. I'm still amazed at where After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow turn up! And now my in-box is starting to pick up rumblings about The Moment Between. Exciting, and just a little frightening.

Anyway, Google-Alert just told me that Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here posted a review of TMB. I believe this is the first "non-professional" (i.e. non-Pub-Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, etc.) review. I enjoyed reading her take on it and poking around her site. (I intrinsically love any woman who calls herself "Mom-extraordinaire and negligent housekeeper." Oh, how I can relate.) Check it out! She's giving away her copy of the Advanced Reader Copy, and all you have to do to be eligible is leave a comment. Buena suerte!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Welcome to my NEW blog!

Okay, so it's not all that new. It's just redesigned. All the same, I'm pretty excited about it. Please take some time to poke around and let me know what you think! Also, I'm in the middle of labeling all my old posts. It's a long process (Apparently I have over 200 posts!), but when it's all said and done you'll be able to read blog entries with similar topics or areas of interest. Like reading reviews? Click on the label. Want something with a bit more depth? Try essays. I'm not always the most organized person, but there's something about cataloging my blog that appeals to me. Yes, I am a nerd. And happily so, thank you.

Anyway, have fun exploring! Keep your eyes open for a fun surprise, too. I'll keep adding more little extras as the weeks go by. ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I’m a Newsweek girl. Have been since… oh, I don’t know. Forever, I guess. I remember being really young and paging through the glossy magazine in search of photographs that would elicit a chill--either from the sheer beauty and truth they encapsulated or from the juxtaposition of the unexpected, like a child’s body floating facedown in a calm pool, white shift fanned out in a soft cloud. Can’t say I like those images, but they do have the power to show me the depth of my naiveté. It’s ponderous, I think.

Yesterday my mail bundle contained a fresh copy of Newsweek, and I (procrastinator that I am) promptly sat down and devoured it cover to cover. Back cover to front cover, of course. It’s the only way to read Newsweek--all the light, artsy articles are in the back, with the political and international hard-hitting sob stories near the front (I like to ease my way in). One of the final (first for me) articles was called “Generation Diva: How our obsession with beauty is changing our kids.” I was hooked after the first paragraph:

There's a scene in "Toddlers & Tiaras," the TLC reality series, where 2-year-old Marleigh is perched in front of a mirror, smothering her face with blush and lipstick. She giggles as her mother attempts to hold the squealing toddler still, lathering her legs with self-tanner. "Marleigh loves to get tan," her mom says, as the girl presses her face against the mirror.

Are you kidding me? I don’t have a daughter, but come on, that’s just not right. Jessica Bennett, the author of “Generation Diva”, goes on to catalog spa days for five-year-olds, laser hair removal instead of shaving, and Botox for girls barely out of training bras. In one staggering statistic she claims that by the time your ten-year-old daughter is fifty, she’ll have spent “nearly $300,000 on just her hair and face.” That’s no typo, there are five zeros in that staggering figure.

I’ll admit I was hyperventilating a bit at this point in the article, though what Jessica revealed next came as no big surprise: we’re priming our girls to be perpetually dissatisfied with themselves. More so, we're creating an entire generation whose identity is tied up in what they look like. I am nothing more than the sum of my clear skin, pouty lips, slender hips… Sigh.

Oh, it breaks my heart for a million different reasons. And yet, this morning I hopped on my computer, checked both of my email accounts, my blogger profile, and my Facebook pages (both personal and public), and felt a little stab of discontent when nothing interesting was going on. No emails from fans, agent, or publisher. Nothing new and noteworthy. Sigh. And all at once it struck me that right now my identity, my entire identity, is hopelessly wrapped up in my writing career. Part of this is because I have a book releasing in a couple weeks (things always get a little crazy around a book release), but I don't like the feeling all the same. I don't like believing that the worth of my existence is tied to my success (or lack thereof) as a writer. How is that any different from some poor tween believing that her beauty lies in the shade of her highlighted hair?

Yuck. The things we do to ourselves.

Anyway, I have a question for you today. What do you base your identity on? Where do you find your affirmation? I realize that this answer can change from day to day, but take a moment to ponder where you're at right now. And then remind yourself: I am so much more than this. I am not what I look like. I am not an extension of my job. I am not simply a wife/mother/daughter/sister or husband/father/son/brother. I am not just a friend of so-and-so. I am not what I do. I am not what I don't do. I am not always who you think I am...

But I am created for a purpose. I am significant. And I am beloved of God.

Have an awesome weekend, Beloved.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Website

My friends at Maverick Media are in the process of redesigning my website. They have been my website gurus since the beginning, and I've loved everything they've done. It's a bit of a work-in-progress at this stage, but all the elements are more or less there. Take a peek and let me know what you think! Any ideas, suggestions, comments? Click on the links to the right to check out the homepage and other tabs.

What do you think? Does the new site capture the essence of my tiny corner of the world wide web?