Monday, January 31, 2011

Write What You Know..."But that would be boring!"...NOT!

One of the first things I remember hearing upon taking the path to publication is "write what you know." The first thought I had was that I could only write about Ohio where I've lived for over 33 years. I wonder how many other new writers are plagued by that statement. I have a dear friend whose husband tells her the reason she isn't published is that she's not writing what she knows. Maybe he's right, but most likely he's incorrect.

Writing what one knows doesn't mean where you live, what you eat, what you wear, or all the ordinary things one does each and every day. What it means is giving your characters feelings and emotions which make them come to life with your words. In order to do that, a writer must tap into his or her past experiences and dig deep to remember the emotions, the sights, the sounds, the tastes...everything they felt at a given moment in time. It requires quiet introspection, visualization, and truly "getting to know oneself." Many will recall wonderful, happy moments...other will recall painful, deep hurt.

Rachel Ballon, the author of BREATHING LIFE INTO YOUR CHARACTERS, leads the reader into a series of "free writing" exercises which tap into these memories. I'd highly recommend it for anyone who is seeking a way to create better, bigger than life, characters.

Anyone can come up with a good story idea. But in order to write that story in a way to grab an editor, agent, and reader's attention, the key ingredient is characterization. In order to do this, you need to write other words, write what you know!

I'd love to hear from readers on this one. In your favorite books, what made them stand out for you? Was it the actual plot, or how the characters handled the situation? Have you ever read a book where you didn't care about the characters or if they achieved their goal?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Way Are You Putting Me In That!!!!

Yesterday I helped a friend by taking her and her cat to their vet to get the cat's shots updated. I had taken care of Baby Kitty when my friend went out of town, but it had been a while since the cat saw me. I worried that she might be nervous and hide. If that happened, I knew we'd be in for a struggle to catch her and put her in the carrier. But, Baby Kitty came right up to me and begged for petting. She purred and kept tapping me to get more loving. Finally, I headed out to the garage to get the carrier while Baby Kitty was on my friend's lap.

The moment I opened the door and the cat saw the carrier she tried to escape. Luckily my friend kept Baby Kitty in her arms long enough for me to grab her. It's amazing how cats can use their back legs to keep from being put into a carrier. Baby Kitty used her legs to push against the sides of the cage so that I couldn't push her inside. Talk about strong! So, I decided to try putting her in feet first. Nope! There went those legs again.

Finally, I turned the carrier on end and managed to drop the cat inside and get the door locked. Baby Kitty refused to acknowledge me again until we returned home and I opened the cage to let her out. She allowed me a few apolegetic pettings before she flipped her tail in the air and walked away.

Today I'm typing with a bandaid on my finger, a remnant of my good deed for the day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow, Snow, Snow!!!

Yesterday the snow started early in the morning. Very fine snow, no big flakes. But, boy did it ever pile up quickly. I use our leaf blower to clear the walks and drive (and the car). Sure did get a workout yesterday. I went out twice, and in addition walked for 20 minutes on my treadmill. Let me tell you, last night I hurt all over!!!

This morning I woke up feeling great...until I went outside to feed the feral cats and realized I had another three inches of snow on my once clear walk and drive. So, this time I used the snow shovel to clear the snow. Ugh!

Today the sun is shining beautifully, so even though it's only 11 degrees, the snow is melting from the roads. I'm so glad, because tomorrow morning I am planning on attending a writing workshop.

And, more good news, I now have my black nubuck Sketchers on my feet! Hurray!

Hope you all have found something to smile about today!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fooling the Good Morning Cat!

My cat, Wilbur, slept with us last night. He sleeps by our feet, but he is so alert to any movements when moring draws near. I woke early to go to the bathroom and slipped back under the covers to enjoy a few more warm moments before the light of day. But, Wilbur decided it was time to wake up. He began by pawing my back and "talking" to me. I remained very still and ignored him. So he walked across me. Believe me, he's HEAVY footed!!

Next, he walked up to my hands and began to rub against them to get me to pet his soft silky fur. Difficult to do, but I did remain very still. Then he put his paw on my nose and sniffed my face. I wanted to laugh...didn't give in.

So he walked to the foot of the bed and sat there staring at me. I cracked my eyelid to see if he might be laying down. No way. He was STARING at me, daring me to move.  It was a classic standoff to see who could hold out the longest.

I waited...and waited. Then I opened one eye and he knew! He hurried forward mewing and began sniffing my nose and rubbing against my hand again. When I didn't respond he stood on me! Then he walked to the other side and RAN back across me again.

I gave up. I can never fool the good morning cat!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sweet Romance Pitch Day

If you have a book you are wanting to get in front of an editor, tomorrow, January 20, 2011, you can pitch online to four different publishers! This is for sweet to sensual romance ONLY, no hot or spicy pitches allowed.

The publishers:
Muse It Up Publishing
Summerhouse Publishing
Astraea Press
Turquoise Morning Press

The event lasts all day! So polish up your pitches and sign up to join Sweeter Romantic Notions Yahoo group and join in the discussions. Go to

Feel free to ask questions about the publishers and meet the members of Sweeter Romantic Notions. The best part is that you can do so in your fuzzy pink slippers from the comfort of your own home. It's the best opportunity to pitch without having your voice quiver and your hands shake as you stare into the eyes of an editor or agent.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My New "Get Healthy" Regime

The steps I'm taking this year to get healthy:

  • I've been working on removing all carbonated beverages from my diet. Water is replacing the cold cans of diet cola I've been drinking for years. I haven't reached the NO carbonated beverages yet, but I've managed to get down to one every day or so.
  • The next major step is to stop eating after dinner. I've gotten into a habit of eating a package of whole wheat and cheddar crackers just before I go to sleep. The reason I'd started the habit is to make sure that my sugar level wouldn't drop and wake me.
  • Dinners are becoming more healthy as well. We eat only frozen or fresh vegetables, no canned vegetables.
  • We eat grilled fish at least once a week, sometimes twice. And with that we eat brown and long-grain wild rice.
  • I'm adding exercise to my day, but not excessively. A half-hour on the treadmill or on the Gazelle while watching television. And adding the Sketchers Shape-Ups to aid with all the steps I normally take, I'm hoping this will also help with the toning.
  • When I reach for a snack between meals, I am stopping to ask the FLAB question as seen on Dr. Oz show:  Am I...Frustrated, Lonely, Anxious, or Bored? If the answer is yes, nothing I eat will help!
So, are you on a diet or get healthy regime for 2011? If so, what are you doing?
I will give out another of my post it note holders to someone who comments on this blog post. (See picture on my 1/11/11 blog post.) I'll draw names next Tuesday and announce the winner here. I'm really excited to learn any new tips you might have which can help me on my goal!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Waiting on Sketchers in God's Time

My best friend has been wearing Sketchers Shape-ups for several months. She's been suffering from foot pain, and these shoes alleviate the agony she's been suffering. My friend is the most frugal person I've ever met, and she never purchases anything at full price. I admitted I couldn't afford to pay so much for a pair of shoes, so she would tell me whenever she noticed a sale.
On Saturday we had lunch together. She excitedly told me the shoes were on sale at a local department store and she had a 30% off coupon which she'd let me use. The shoes, with all the discounts, would be at half-price. So, I ventured with her to give them a try. Once I put them on, I fell in love! And, they had a black nubuck style which I felt I could wear most anywhere. So, I purchased the shoes. I brought them home and quickly put them on and showed my hubby. Then I came downstairs and watched the video that came with them. But, after a short time, the shoes began to pinch at my bunion. Unfortunately, they didn't have "wide" width, which I usually purchase. So, I reluctantly put them back in the box to exchange for a larger size. The store didn't have a size to fit me, but they ordered them. Now, I'm waiting on my Sketchers to arrive.
I'm not very good at being patient, especially when I'm waiting for something I really want. God knows this as He knows all things about me. He gives me situations all the time which call for me to be patient. Just like any loving Father, he spends time teaching me life's lessons. When I forget to be still and listen, He reminds me, gently but firmly. I've learned to be still and ask the question "What does God want me to see in this?" The answer is always there. And, daily I'm reminded that everything is in God's time, not mine.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Perils of Salt and the Wonders of Chili

I know! I know better! I should NEVER eat salty food products. But, sometimes the cravings get intense and I just can't resist.

Last night we had pulled pork sandwiches and, of course, one must offer potato chips with those sandwiches. Believe me, it's true. You can't eat just one! My mouth savored each bite. I closed my eyes in ecstasy as they slowly made their way down my esophagus into the stomach. And I'd reach for another. I didn't overindulge..I mean, I didn't scarf down half the bag, but still I suffer the consequences.

I woke this morning with my fingers swollen and stiff. Water retention is not a pretty, nor a healthy thing. I suppose it's a reminder to me of why I don't eat potato chips. *sigh*

Tonight, back to healthy eating...and those chips are hitting the trash can. Do you realize how hard it is to type when your fingers have turned into small sausages? Trust me, it's not a pretty picture.

I hope you all have something fun planned for your weekend. I'm planning on having lunch with my best friend tomorrow, and I think my hubby is cooking tomorrow. He only makes one thing...chili. And, he makes killer chili, so I'm looking forward to a night of not having to cook! Hubby began making chili when I was working and kept bugging him about never having a meal waiting for me. He surprised me with a pot of chili one night and ever since, he's been the one who makes it. Unlike me, who tosses everything in and lets it cook for a while, he makes a big production. He dices everything just right, adds the ingredients in a particular order, including his "secret" ingredient (which I know is brown sugar, shh!) and taste tests all day long while it simmers. Mmmm. I can smell it now and almost taste it. I've tried to get him to try cooking other things, but he says he will stick to what he knows...chili. *sigh* In the winter months, I can count on not cooking at least one day a month.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Not Catching a Feral Cat...and The Winner from Tuesday's Blog

First, the winner of the notepads and holder from my Tuesday blog commenters is....


Now about that feral cat...

One of our neighbors was feeding a beautiful calico long-haired cat, allowing it to sleep in her garage. I'm assuming it was a feral at the time. Anyway, she moved away a year ago and the cat migrated to our yard to hang out with the ferals we feed. All of our ferals have been neutered or spayed and have been given rabies shots. I need to catch this newest female and have her spayed, but she's very smart. She stays just an arm's reach away from me. And, since she's not a true member of the "clan" I've been caring for over the past four years, she hangs back until they have finished eating before she eats. That's the background.

I had an appointment with the spay/neuter clinic for today, so I knew I needed to catch her early. Last night I took out two large cans of cat food, hoping that would lure her to join the other cats and I'd be able to grab her while she was distracted with food. Ha! Not that cat. She didn't even seem interested.  The cats hang out under our deck, where we have a warm shelter house, water, and feeding trays. I have to duck to get under the deck. So, when I tried to get close to the new feral, she would move to the other side of the area. I'd walk all the way around with the plate of food and she'd move to the front side again. Back and forth we went for over a half-hour before I gave up. This morning, I was out in the dark, dressed in warm clothes to battle the zero temps and snow only to have the same results. She's pretty clever in avoiding my touch while still not frightened enough to run away.

I can't use a trap because I wouldn't be able to keep the already neutered/spayed cats out. So, I'm thinking the only thing I can do is buy a net and try to snare her that way. I'm sure it will freak her out, maybe traumatize her, but I see no alternative. If I don't get her caught, I'm sure she'll find a wandering male somewhere in the neighborhood and return with a litter of kittens in the spring. *sigh*

If anyone has any ideas, I'd sure love to hear them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Theory on Why Men Read Magazines in the Bathroom

I finally figured it out. For years I've watched men in my workplace walk to the men's room with the morning newspaper or a magazine. I've seen my husband do the same. And my boys when they were growing up. This phenomenon is shown on television, in the movies, and in pictures...even Norman Rockwell.

So, why? Here's my theory.

Every time I go into my bathroom, my eyes go to the floor. I stare at the carpet and see things. I see fairies, butterflies, men's faces, women's faces, animals...and even sometimes scary creatures! If there's no carpet, I find things in wallpaper, or in the design of the tiles. I swear it's true!

Now, men wouldn't understand this at all. It would probably make them question their sanity, their macho personalities. So, they take something to distract themselves from falling into the creative trip of looking at "things" hidden in their surroundings. My hubby now has a handheld Solitaire game to keep himself occupied.

I think I prefer letting my creative imagination search for hidden treasures.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow, ARC Winners, The Bachelor, Castle, Prize Offer

Now that title says a lot about what this blog is today!

A big thank you to those who visited the Blog Studio yesterday to chat with my dear friend and spectular author, Maggie Toussaint. The winners of the two free ARC's (Advanced Reader Copy) of her upcoming release, ON THE NICKEL, are:


Here in my midwestern town we are expecting 3-5 inches of the snow that is spreading eastward. These are the times when I wish I had purchased a gas snow blower with an electric start. I'm using an "old" (believe me this is really old) snowblower with an electric cord. It works fine if I can just get into a good pattern and not spend all my time trying to avoid catching the cord! It's always a battle, and usually the cord wins.

So how about those new year's resolutions? Did any of you make a commitment? Have you broken it yet? This year I didn't set any because I hate breaking promises to myself. *sigh* I do have this constant ongoing resolution to lose some weight and get healthier. I've started by eliminating the carbonated beverages. I'm drinking water, lots of water. I also have a reclining bicycle, a Gazelle, and a treadmill. The treadmill makes a great place to dry sweaters, the bicycle seat stores my Snuggie for when I watch television, and the Gazelle just sits and stares at the television waiting for someone to notice. Last night I peddled while watching The Bachelor.

Anyone else watch The Bachelor? I suppose being a hopeless romantic, I'm always looking for the guy to really find the love of his life. This time Brad seems changed, so I hope he goes for an honest and nonflambouyant woman. I also watch Castle faithfully. I love the "almost" relationship between Rick Castle and Kate Beckett.

All right, I've asked quite a few questions today. Let's see who is willing to share their thoughts and answers. I have a prize to give away to someone today.  It's a nice sticky note holder with a calendar, regular sticky note pad and five colored sticky note markers. The holder closes and can be carried with you or sits nicely on a desk. I'll choose one winner from all the comments today.

Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Author Interview with Maggie Toussaint

The blog studio curtain opens and Carol Ann walks on stage. "Good morning!" The audience applauds and yells "Good morning!"

CAROL ANN:  I'm so thrilled to have a wonderful author with me today. Author Maggie Toussaint is published in mystery and romance. Her recent release, MUDDY WATERS, is a romantic suspense where danger stalks friends turned lovers as they search for hidden treasure. Her debut release, HOUSE OF LIES, won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Her other titles include SEEING RED, NO SECOND CHANCE, and IN FOR A PENNY. Two mysteries are contracted: ON THE NICKEL (March 2011) and DEATH, ISLAND STYLE (2012). Maggie’s an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. Visit her at,, and 

The band begins playing Jimmy Buffet's song, "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

CAROL ANN: (Yelling above the music) Please welcome Maggie Toussaint!!
The curtain opens and Maggie dances onstage singing.

CAROL ANN:  (Laughing) Maggie, why is the band playing that particular song?

MAGGIE: I'm on a diet and on this diet, I don't get much red meat, and I could really use a burger right now.

CAROL ANN: It's still morning, but now you've made me crave a juicy cheeseburger, too! Have a seat. I'm so thrilled to have you here today.

MAGGIE: I'm happy to be hear, too. I hear it's going to snow later today.

CAROL ANN: Yes, AGAIN. I'm not relishing the next few months of winter here in mid-Ohio. I love to look at it, but I sure do hate shoveling. But, enough about me. I want the audience to know more about you. Besides books, do you have any collections?

MAGGIE: I collect angels, a practice I started years ago. I am drawn to cherub-styled angels, the ones that have a child-like form with the wisdom of ages stamped across their faces. Living far from home for twenty-some-odd years, I began my collection to honor relatives who passed away. I come from a large family, and through time, my angels spilled into every room of our house. They are a source of comfort and represent (to me at least) a timeless connection with family members.

CAROL ANN: Maggie, I have to confess I learned about this collection several years ago when we did an interview. The way you started this collection to honor relatives who passed away became a part of the book I'm now writing.  Just goes to prove that writers never know when they are going to pick up a bit of information that will later appear in a book. Okay, now  pretend that you are in a restaurant having lunch, when a reporter shoves a microphone at you and you have one minute to tell the world something very important. What would you say?

MAGGIE:  Omigosh! After wasting ten seconds on being stunned and asking if it was a joke, I’d waste another ten sorting through the Ten Commandments and other truths I’ve lived by. Then I’d talk very fast.

“Life is a journey with new delights and challenges around every bend. Treat others as you would like to be treated and live each day to the fullest. Work hard but play too. And while you’re relaxing consider reading for the sheer fun of it. My books ensure a happily ever after while challenging you to solve the who-dun-it before the end of the story. Check out my books at”

CAROL ANN:  (Laughing) Now that's some fast talking! I hope your writing comes as easily and flows as quickly. Have you ever experienced writer’s block?

MAGGIE: I sure hope I don’t jinx myself, but so far, I haven’t gotten blocked. I’ve had times where I wrote myself in a corner, and I had to backtrack to pick up a viable story thread. Those times were disappointing but have become less frequent as I better understand the finer points of story events and pacing. If I have a slow day where my word count doesn’t meet my daily goal, I push through it and keep writing even if it seems like drivel. I’m always amazed at how editing can lift something mediocre into prose that soars.

CAROL ANN: Who can make you laugh?

MAGGIE:  Growing up and in early adulthood, my favorite commedian was Bill Cosby. I love the way he thinks. I’ve since enjoyed listening to other commedian, but my sense of humor is slightly offbeat. Sometimes a phrase or a person’s expression or an outfit strikes me as funny, and I can’t stop laughing. My husband much prefers watching movies at home where I can laugh at will. He understands me, most of the time, God bless him.

CAROL ANN: 6. Are you an introvert or an extravert? How does that play into your writing life?

MAGGIE:  Definitely an introvert but I can fake the other for short periods of time. I’m assertive and confident when speaking in public, so that part is good. What folks don’t see is that for an hour’s workshop I give, I put in tons of time up front to prep (as everyone would do) but then I need several hours by myself to be human again. I’m a miserable puppy if I don’t get that solo recharge time.

Being an introvert helps with writing. I don’t mind the long hours alone – they energize me. Many people need the chaos of a coffeeshop to compose, but I need a quiet place where my imagination can take flight. The other stuff is a distraction to me, like static on a radio frequency.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’ve got the inside track to writing nirvana. I’m just fortunate enough to know myself and to optimize my writing experience.

CAROL ANN: That's a wonderful thing. Each writer must learn what works for them and then make that a daily practice. Thanks for sharing that with us. Now for a more serious question. If you knew you only had 30 days to live, what would you do with the remaining days?

MAGGIE: I’d visit friends and family members and spend meaningful time with them. I’d search online for the perfect angel and gift individual angels to each loved one.

CAROL ANN: Wow, that's beautiful. Many people would think of all the things they hadn't done and want to cram them in, but family is so important and life sometimes keeps us from spending quality time with loved ones. Right audience?


CAROL ANN:  Do you have any phobias? Afraid of heights, spiders?

MAGGIE: I share a certain phobia with Indiana Jones. Snakes bug the heck out of me. One of my favorite shows on TV is “Survivor,” and they are forever showing snakes slinking around. **shudder** I know snakes hold a valuable niche in our ecosystem, but I don’t need to see them.

Another odd thing about me is my vertigo. I wasn’t thinking about spatial disorientation when we crammed a kazillion people in the elevator of the Eiffel Tower (and I’m a tad claustrophobic too), but when we stepped outside, I could not go near the edge. I felt like the world was jumping and wavy and if I stepped near the edge I would be sucked into the void and plummet to my death. I caught the next elevator back down. Fortunately, there was a crepe stand nearby, and I immediately felt better.

CAROL ANN:  Thank goodness for food! Which goes along with your choice of a theme song for the day. (BOTH LAUGH ALONG WITH THE AUDIENCE)

CAROL ANN:  We’ve all had one of those “embarrassing moments.” Would you share one of yours with us?

MAGGIE:  Gosh, I tend to block that stuff from memory. But in the spirit of the interview, I will reveal one faux pas.

Long ago in a land far away, I joined my husband for an upscale Christmas party. It was a big deal because this was the first time I would be meeting his new boss. I shopped for weeks to find an outfit that fit into our tight budget that didn’t scream “unsophisticated idiot,” I made an effort with makeup and hair, and I believe I was even wearing jewelry and nail polish – any one of these things would ordinarily be a Big Deal for me. My kids were little, and I bathed them ahead of time, fixed their dinner, picked up the babysitter, rented a movie – well, you get the picture. By the time we arrived at the Christmas party, I was running on fumes.

It was cold that night and of course my sophisticated outfit wasn’t warm. I hurried over to the fireplace, where as luck would have it, stood my husband’s new boss. I think he had high blood pressure or something, because his face was bright red. He had very dark features and dark clothing and was about two inches shorter than me.

Before I even knew who he was, I said the first thing that popped into my head, “You look just like a little devil.”

Yikes! I avoided that man for the duration of my husband’s career with that company, and I also learned to filter my thoughts through my head instead of my tongue.


CAROL ANN: Have your phobias, collections, or embarrassing moments come to play in any of your books?

MAGGIE:  Absolutely. What good’s a strong emotion if you don’t extrapolate it? In Muddy Waters, my most recent release, Roxie’s aunt has an angel collection. Roxie also has a moment where she is alone at night and finds her house unlocked. I translated my irrational fear of snakes into that moment of terrorified flight.

CAROL ANN:  One last question.  Do you have a tattoo?

MAGGIE:  I flirted with the idea of a tattoo, but ultimately I decided against it. Needles are involved, and needles are not my friends. If they could make the tattooing process so that it was as painless as getting your hair colored at the beauty shop, I’d be a candidate. Maybe I’d select a cherub or a heart, something tiny and in a discrete place. Until then, I’m content to be a tattoo virgin.

CAROL ANN:  Maggie, our time is up, but I want to leave our audience with the information on your books and also where they can learn more about you. Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me here in the Blog Studio. Audience you can learn more about Maggie by visiting her at,, and

MAGGIE:  My pleasure, Carol Ann! Also, I would like to give away two advance reader's copies of my upcoming book "On the Nickle" to commenters on this blog. Here's a bit about the book.


Mama’s strange behavior jolts accountant Cleopatra Jones from her whirl of late summer activities with her daughters, her pregnant Saint Bernard, and her new boyfriend. When Cleo overhears the heated argument between Mama and her church-lady rival, Erica Hodges, she realizes Mama is out of control. The police report Erica files about Mama’s threats add to Cleo’s growing unease.

Two days later, Erica is dead, the victim of a hit and run. Though Erica’s reputation of arrogance, bossiness, and rudeness is well-deserved, she is descended from the town’s founder and the mayor pressures the police to obtain justice for the town’s leading citizen.

To Cleo’s horror, there’s a person-sized dent in Mama’s gray Olds. Mama denies killing Erica but refuses to account for her whereabouts that night. Mama’s secrets are maddening, but are they deadly?

CAROL ANN:  That is so nice of you! Okay, people, here is your chance to get a copy of that book before it can be purchased in the stores! All you need to do is leave a comment and Maggie will pick two lucky commenters! And, below is some info about her another of Maggie's wonderful books which you can purchase through her publisher or through Amazon.

A blurb for Muddy Waters:

Roxie Whitaker is struggling to make her grandmother’s real estate business a success. When her coastal home is burglarized, her rosy worldview dims. Altanta security expert Sloan Harding distracts her from her torubles, but is Mossy Bog’s former bad boy serious about her?

Never one to shy away from muddy waters, Sloan is determined to find his alleged missing inheritance. Sparks fly as he enters into a business arrangement with Roxie to oversee the restoration of his childhood home. With her help, Sloan resurrects old secrets while a dangerous predator stalks them.

When passion meets danger, will love win the day?

Buy Muddy Waters as print or ebook: Kindle and Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Good to the Last Drop! by guest blogger Delia Latham

Let’s talk about anointing oil.

No, I’m not kidding. I was given permission to talk about whatever I choose on this post today, so…I want to discuss anointing oil.

In Destiny’s Dream, the first book in my Solomon’s Gate series, the heroine is a firm believer in the power of this amazing additive to heartfelt, genuine prayer. At the end of every day in the dating agency, she kneels at her desk to pray over that day’s applications—to ask God’s guidance in pairing two hearts. Before taking her petitions to the throne, however, she anoints each application with oil.

This is not a new thing. A crucial part of biblical history, anointing oil played important roles in the lives of the children of Israel. God gave specific instructions as to ingredients and use. He provided different “recipes” for different purposes. Certain rituals were connected with its use, and God expected strict adherence to His instructions in regard to those rituals. Once His conditions were met, however, anointing oil became a powerful connection between His children and Himself.

It still is.

In the Old Testament, this medium—referred to as “holy anointing oil,” was used for a variety of purposes. It played a part in preparing the dead for burial; priests were anointed at certain times, by pouring oil over their heads. An anointed priest was considered to be wearing “the crown of the anointing oil of his God”; kings were anointed prior to taking the throne; the tabernacle and the vessels within it were anointed to make them holy. In the New Testament, it didn’t see quite so many uses, but it was still a common practice under certain circumstances: in preparation for burial, when welcoming important guests, and when praying for healing of the sick.

It’s as if the very aroma of the oil wafts its way to Heaven, reaches God’s nostrils and draws His attention to the need being addressed. As if making the extra effort of applying oil earns some kind of heavenly “brownie point,” if I may be so inelegant. It gives God a heads-up. “Hey, Dad…it’s me. Your kid. I’ve got a situation here, and I sure could use Your help.”

He smells the oil, and his ears perk up. His senses go on all-alert. His heart swells with love. The natural instinct of a protective, caring, loving Dad rises up within Him. The Creator of the Universe charges in, in full battle array, to defend…protect…heal…whatever the need is. He’s on it.

Through Destiny’s story, God opened my eyes to the power of anointing with oil. He used a fictional heroine in a made-up story set in a non-existent California town to give me the key to very real, as-yet-untold riches.

I grew up in a Christian environment. From a very young age, I watched my pastor anoint the sick with oil before he prayed over them. But I never thought about why he did that. Some members of our congregation used to anoint the doors and windows of their homes when they moved into them, to invite in God’s presence and drive out anything unholy that might be lurking within. I had heard about this practice, but I didn’t inquire into the purpose behind the gesture. I failed to grasp the tremendous power being harnessed and put into action right before my eyes.

Have you considered the possibilities God has opened up for you? Are you adding this amazing “secret” ingredient to your prayers?

As for me, Destiny May taught me to pray more effectively. She showed me the unlimited heights that can be reached, the miracles that can be wrought through the power of prayer coupled with anointing oil.

Try it. It’s good to the last drop!

Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?
Apparently it is for Destiny May. Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting when he shows up late to her mother’s “going away party.” When it turns out he’s not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings. Spending time with a handsome stranger who makes her laugh is more therapeutic than fighting with her overbearing family.

Clay finds Destiny beautiful, charming...and intelligent. So why is she stubbornly determined to open a Christian dating service? Clay has little respect for such a frivolous profession, and doesn’t think the small, conservative town of Castle Creek will welcome such a progressive business. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.

Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses, and Destiny may be the one thing Clay can’t escape...if he even wants to.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Wading into 2011

Maybe I should have said trudging instead of wading. In any event, it's been a slow and heavy-footed entrance into this new year. I believe all the sadness from December 2009 transferred into a depression for me in December 2010. I'm slowly pulling myself back into the world, pushing aside the darkness. Yesterday, I began a 3-month stint volunteering at the welcome/reception desk at church. How can I not smile seeing the eager faces of the pre-schoolers walking through that door to their classes? I'd give most anything to have their energy!
I'm also back with keeping myself to a daily writing goal. The weather man is predicting a long and cold winter, so I need to get back on schedule to keep from being bored while I'm unable to get outside. Well, except for *shudder* shoveling snow. So, far 2011 has brought no snow. Is that a record? Three days and no snow?
I've been enjoying my Kindle so much. I've downloaded some great books and rewarded myself by reading AFTER I finish my writing goal. Rewards work so well with me. And, chocolate doesn't do it because I just obsess over savoring one chocolate only to gorge myself. Totally unproductive to weight loss!
Tomorrow, I've got Delia Latham as my guest blogger. She sent me a copy of the first book in her Solomon's Gate series, DESTINY'S DREAM, to read. The book is available in both print and in ebook. The story opens on a sad note introducing Destiny and how she's given up her job and any social activities to care for her dying mother. Though she has a brother and sister, they provide very little support as they are busy with their own families. But, now Destiny's mother has passed, and she's struggling with how to move on with her life. I didn't feel sad for long, because the next scene had me smiling when a stranger walks in and sits beside Destiny. After several negative remarks about the woman in the casket, it becomes obvious that he's come to the wrong funeral!
Delia Latham takes us on a journey of love laced with humor, suspense, and even an angel. I highly recommend this entertaining book to anyone who believes in dreams and love, both earthly and heavenly!
So, please stop by tomorrow and meet Delia!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Letting Go and Letting God...

I've struggled very hard recently with turning a burden over to God. As my husband's health has deteriorated over the past year, I've seen him turn his focus inward. His life revolves around how he's feeling every moment of the day. He is constantly looking at his Oximeter to check his oxygen level and his pulse rate, even when he's not struggling. He gets out of breath easily...doing even the simplest things like walking across the floor. It hurts me to watch the decline.
Mostly, it hurts me to watch him focusing on the decline so closely. He doesn't look for things to raise his spirits, or for activities that can engage his mind, or make him smile. Instead, he sits in a chair, occasionally looking at television and every five to ten minutes checking his Oximeter.
He talks constantly about what he's feeling at the moment.
He reads his paper, while keeping his focus on that Oximeter.
He doesn't seem interested in getting cleaned up or changing clothes. And he never feels like going out of the house, though he has portable oxygen.
He's always been an active person and thrives in being in contact with other people, but now he's become a self-inflicted hermit.
I've tried talking to him, tried making suggestions, even went so far as to hide the Oximeter at one time. I've prayed with him and for him.
I don't know what else to do. I can't bear to sit and watch him, and I can't change his attitude. I've talked to God and asked for His guidance, for His intervention, and I've asked God to take over the burden. I know I have to let go and let God, but it is so difficult to know that I cannot change things, nor can I control the outcome. This is entirely in God's hands.
So, I cry, and I hide my tears, suffering in silence while my world is crashing.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy 2011

I've been neglecting my blog due to some health issues and hospital stays for my husband, a nasty cold that I battled over the Christmas holiday, and just enjoying Christmas in general. I'm always blessed by the candlight service on Christmas Eve. The one thing I miss is having little children gathered around the tree on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. But we were blessed with visits from our children and grandchildren over the days preceding Christmas.
We spent a quiet evening alone on New Year's Eve. Both hubby and I are still on medication, so we decided not to host our annual New Year's Eve gathering with some of our kids. I had downloaded a new book into my Kindle and spent most of the last two days reading while hubby watched football.
Now that a new year has arrived, it's time to get back in the swing of writing every day. That includes finishing the Say Goodbye manuscript and also using my blog as a daily journal.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and a safe and happy transition from 2010 into 2011.
On Tuesday, I'll be posting a review of "Destiny's Dream", by Delia Latham. And on Wednesday, Delia will be joining us as a guest blogger.
Hope to see you then!