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Summer Vacation: A Pool and a Pudding Pop

When I was a teen, I couldn’t wait for summer vacation. I would daydream about all the exciting things we would do. In my fantasies, there would be a summer romance, parties, plenty of pool time, shopping and fun! It would never be boring.

 

Twizzlers
So far my summer vacation has consisted of a LOT of Twizzlers!

 

The reality of summer vacation? Well, the summer romance factor was low, like dead, most years. And parties? Few and far between. To be honest, summer vacay never turned out the way I’d fantasized, but looking back, I was blessed with something even better. FREE TIME!! I had hours of free time.

I would walk the mile to our library and come home with a stack of books. I got paid to clean the house for my mom (I know, I was  blessed!!), and the neighbors would have me babysit once a week or so, which took care of shopping/fun money. We had an above ground pool, and I never minded cleaning it. I knew it was a luxury!

We always seemed to have pudding pops in the freezer. Do you remember those? We would get a multi-pack with chocolate, vanilla, and swirl. They were yummy!

My friend would come over and we’d make brownies (and eat half the batter), lay out in the sun, act like goofballs, and talk about how great it was going to be when we grew up.

Now I’m grown up, and you know what? I fantasize about summer vacation. Give me a pool, a book, and a pudding pop. I’ll be the happiest woman in Ohio! Forget the parties, summer romance (although, I’m blessed with that every year with my hubby!) and excitement. I just want free time!

What are your grown-up daydreams regarding summer? 

Have a terrific weekend!!

May Milestones

I’m sitting in my living room, smiling at the beautiful sunshine spilling on green lawns as robins flit from tree to tree. Our neighborhood looks fresh, happy. We had cool weather and showers this week, and I’m hoping it warms up around here this weekend.

 

Cupcake

 

As many of you on Facebook know, our son was confirmed at our church last week. After three years of Bible instruction, he’s moving on to a new phase in his faith. This fall he’ll be in high school, and I can’t help shaking my head at where my little boy went. He towers over me now!

 

And to make matters worse (or better?), our daughter is wrapping up her senior year in high school. She has prom tomorrow, just finished her final season of track, is knee-deep in major school projects, and will be graduating in a few short weeks. My heart just did that weird compression thing it’s been doing since Christmas. I’m so proud of her, but come on, where did her little pigtails, Dragon Tails pajamas and Barbie collection go? Alas, she’s taller than me too.

 

To keep us on our toes, we’ve been tackling a few house projects and juggling my son’s baseball schedule. I’ve been snatching ten minutes here and there to read novels by friends. Those moments of escaping into fictional worlds have been helping me keep my cool. If I didn’t have a distraction, I would obsess over the million and one details still not completed.

 

Yep, May is bringing many, many joys to us this year. And I, for one, will need a full box of Kleenex. Beaming through the tears. I’m thankful our children are maturing into wonderful adults, and I’m reflecting on my role as a mom. They’ll always need me, and I’ll always need them. I’m blessed to have a deep pocket full of memories, and I plan on diving in often. With my tissues handy. 🙂

 

Are you looking forward to anything this May?

 

The American Christian Fiction Writers Foundation (ACFW) raises money every year to provide scholarships to writers attending the ACFW national conference. Their silent auction is taking place this week, and there are tons of great items to bid on! I donated a Fiction Platform Building package with a social media evaluation and tips on how to maximize time and effort. If you’re interested, click HERE for the package details. The link to the silent auction is HERE.

ACFW Foundation Silent Auction

Jill Kemerer’s Silent Auction Fiction Platform Package

 

Have a happy Mother’s Day and a lovely weekend!!

80’s Commercials Fun 2 with The Jills

I am so excited to have the fabulous other half of The Jills here today! Last year Jill Lynn joined me for a chat about International Coffee commercials. If you missed it, you can catch it at “Chatting with the Jills: Coffee Commercials.” Since Jill Lynn is celebrating her new release (in stores NOW!!), Her Texas Family, we knew we had to go big for this one! We recently rated a few classic 80’s commercials, “80’s commercial fun with the Jills,” over on her blog. Here is part 2!

 

Without further ado…

80’s Commercial Fun Part 2

Burger King commercial

 

Jill K. – My review: Feel the heat! This commercial screams “summer” for so many reasons. The shirtless beefcake tanning on a street corner (who doesn’t set their lawn chair on the sidewalk near a building?). The gaggle of bikini-clad ladies kicking amidst mist. The flashing, twirling street light that says so much more than “Walk” or “Don’t Walk.” The gals eating big bites of Whoppers and spraying their faces with a hose. Jill, I thought I was the only one who sprayed my face with a hose while eating a burger. Not so! Alas, I wish the lady with ketchup—or wait, is that lipstick?—all over her face would have used the hose, too. I had to deduct points for that, but overall a solid 8.3 on the cheese scale!

 

Jill L. – My review: I don’t even know where to begin! I’m laughing. And a little confused. I feel like that’s a theme with me and 80’s commercials! What is up with my confusion? It could be the fast pace. The jerky camera motions. The fact that they flash from one scene to another so fast that I feel like I’m on a ride. Or, as Jill pointed out, the man trying to get his tan on (with so much frustration!) on the street corner. This feels more like a music video to me. And yet, I was kind of jamming to it. I agree with you, Jill, on the spraying themselves while eating a burger. It’s a strange combination. And was there a man in the shower with a burger? That’s craziness. Why would you mess with the possibility of ruining food?? I can tell you one thing, I wouldn’t want to work at that drive through. That looks like a busy job. Overall, I was going to give this one a solid 8 on the cheese scale, but the kicking legs and general excitement it opened with has forced me up to an 8.5.

 

 

Sears commercial:

 

Jill K. – My review: Cheryl Tiegs!! Aaahhh! I always thought she would shop at Sears. And Cindy Crawford, too. But I digress… Okay, the girl got the BIG boombox! Woohoo! And dads with wigs can buy tools! Then the entire family swings through the store just in time for Grandma to almost have a stroke when the lamp turns on MERELY BY TOUCHING IT!! Yes, there IS more for your life at Sears! An 8.6!!

Jill L. – My review: Right away I know I want to be the woman in the opening. She’s fab. (And I just found out from Jill she’s Cheryl Tiegs.) How did they get Winnie the Pooh to star in this commercial?? That’s impressive. The winner of this commercial has to be the Grandma with the lamp. Snort!! That was hilarious. And she’s so pleased about the discovery of the touchable lamp! But the main question I have is, who is the boy whose hair she tousles in the opening? Does she just go around doing that to people? And he doesn’t look too bothered by the whole thing. He almost looks like he’s a character in High School Musical, about to spring into song and dance. The cheese factor is rocking on this one! I give it a 9!

 

Ben Gay commercial:

 

Jill K. – My review: Man, I feel bad that this lady has arthritis. The playground lulled me into a sense of security, but then, wait—is the box of Ben Gay glowing?? And the tube is too?? Don’t do it, lady!! It’s radioactive! You WILL be the cause of the zombie apocalypse. That “glorious warming power” will destroy the entire population! For the love!!! I have to give this a 5.2. It should come with a warning!

 

Jill L. – Oh, my word. This stuff GLOWS. Isn’t anyone else concerned about this?? I see Jill is. I think people should listen to The Jills. The Jills care about you. We don’t want your hand to start glowing neon yellow. Also, on another note, my kids do not kiss my cheek when I tie their shoe for them. I realize it’s a grandma, but I definitely think that boy is an actor. This commercial should come with instructions like Jill said! This is a 6 for me.

 

***

 

Jill Lynn, how did they get Winnie the Pooh to star in the Sears commercial? Someone must have pulled some strings, that’s for sure. And I have to admit, my kids never kissed my cheek when I tied their shoes either. Usually they ran away from me as fast as they could… Hmm… That might say something about my parenting! Haha!! Thanks for being my guest today, and congratulations on another terrific book!!

 

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Her Texas Family

 

Her Texas Family:

Falling for the Single Dad
Moving to a small Texas town, Lucy Grayson is looking to live life on her own terms. When she agrees to take a job in Doctor Graham Redmond’s office, the two instantly clash. The same can’t be said for the widower’s daughter. They quickly form a bond when Lucy begins teaching the little girl to dance. Graham soon realizes how good Lucy is for his daughter—and for him. Yet his late wife’s parents don’t agree. Their ultimatum to choose between them or Lucy fills Graham with despair. He can’t let his daughter lose her grandparents…but he also can’t lose the woman who could complete their family.
Her Texas Family is in stores now and available online.

Amazon: http://goo.gl/rtV4j5
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/uZND5G

 

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Jill Lynn
Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, and an author of inspirational romance (as Jill Lynn). Her latest release, Her Texas Family, is in stores now. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. She’s a fan of laughter, thrift stores, boots and chocolate. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and at Jill-Lynn.com.

 

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Okay, your turn! Rate the commercials on a cheese factor of 1-10!

Have a terrific day!

Digital Release Day and Character Casting

RT 4 Stars

Yippee! Her Small-Town Romance releases as an ebook today! I had so much fun writing this book. Set in spring/early summer in fictional Lake Endwell, Michigan, Her Small-Town Romance follows Bryan Sheffield as he’s faced with a dilemma. His divorce years ago emotionally scarred him, and he’s sworn off dating and marriage. But the new girl in town needs his help overcoming her fear of the woods. Add a rambunctious Saint Bernard, a meddling aunt, and a secret he’s keeping from his family–Bryan’s life just got tossed like a Caesar salad.

Here’s the Pinterest board I created for the book:

Follow Jill’s board Her Small-Town Romance: Lake Endwell Book 3 on Pinterest.

 

I cast a blonde Theo James as Bryan, and Jade could only be Isla Fischer. What a cute couple! I love finding pictures to represent different parts of the book. Teeny, the Saint Bernard, is captured perfectly on a couch. She’s so huggable. 🙂

 

Her Small-Town Romance

 

Finding Her Way Home 

Cozy Lake Endwell, Michigan, seems the perfect place for Jade Emerson’s new T-shirt shop—and perhaps a fresh start. After a lifetime of letdowns, she is finally ready to face the future on her own. So when local wilderness guide Bryan Sheffield offers to help Jade overcome a past trauma, she warns him they will remain strictly business. But soon, with the help of Bryan’s big, complicated family and a boisterous St. Bernard named Teeny, Jade’s frozen heart begins to thaw. Now Jade wonders if she can return the favor, bringing a little happiness to a man who has long kept his own sorrow under wraps…

Interested in purchasing Her Small-Town Romance? All the purchase links are found HERE. Paperbacks are available in stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Barnes & Noble, Meijers, Books A Million, and grocery stores or you can order one online.

 

Do you usually read ebooks or paperbacks? I read both!

 

Have a terrific day!

 

Friday Roundup or What I Didn’t Get Done This Week!

I’m late posting this. Why? Well, I’ve been a little manic this week. Every day brought a new surprise that couldn’t be set aside and involved time-consuming attention. The weather was all over the place too. Early in the week it was warm and sunny, but yesterday brought snow and an accompanying snow day.

Snow Day

 

Instead of checking off my anticipated writing goals, I set them aside to finish new ones. I didn’t mind. I love my job!

Other things I didn’t get done?

  • The stack of magazines on my end table are still sitting there unread.
  • My bathroom still hasn’t been cleaned.
  • The book I ordered from the library hasn’t been opened.
  • The exercise DVDs I was going to do Tuesday and Thursday weren’t touched either!
  • The appointments I needed to schedule? Pushed to next week’s to-do list.
  • My twice-a-month coffee date with myself to brainstorm story ideas and bask in motivation articles? Nope. Didn’t happen.

 

But…my daughter and I worked on some must-do upcoming college tasks, I turned in two work items, my son picked out classes for high school next year and I ordered a pizza for lunch yesterday ‘cuz that’s fun! All-in-all, a good week!

 

Do you ever have weeks where everything turns upside down? How do you deal with it?

Have a fantastic weekend, and don’t forget to sign up to win Belle Calhoune’s latest, Alaskan Reunion!! Easy entry options are below!

 

 

Pork Chops, Brainstorming, and Weird Weather

This week was odd. Snow and cold temperatures ruled early in the week, but–get this–today it’s supposed to be sixty degrees. So weird!

I was as off kilter as the weather. The kids didn’t have school on Monday, and all my normal Monday stuff got switched around. On Tuesday I forgot to get pork chops out of the freezer to thaw, so I improvised with brats and mac & cheese.

My kids were happy about the pork chop situation. They claim I make them too often. *sure*

 

Pork Chops
Picture courtesy of MorgueFile. Sadly, my pork chops did not look this delicious.

 

Wednesday was a pull-my-hair-out writing day. I hated everything I wrote, and each sentence felt like I was pulling feathers out of a pillow one-by-one. In other words, they took forever. And, yep, I forgot to get those stinking pork chops out again! Tacos to the rescue…

Once again, the kids weren’t crying about no pork chops. Shocker.

Yesterday was lovely, though. I popped those pork chops in my slow cooker with potatoes, carrots, and a can of cream of mushroom soup in the morning. I had a date with three writing friends to chat and brainstorm all morning. We got a lot done! I’m excited to flesh out a future novel from their suggestions. Love it!

The kids were less than enthused about the pork chop situation…oh well.

I had about 257 extra errands and appointments this week, but I’m almost done with them. Maybe next week will  be more normal. I don’t know! Guess I’ll find out.

How was your week?

Have a fab weekend!

The Inside Scoop with Mary Alford: Writer Wednesday

Today Mary Alford is  graciously answering questions about her writing life. Mary writes for Love Inspired Suspense, and her new book, Rocky Mountain Pursuit, is available in stores and online. Don’t worry, I have all the links and book info below!

Let’s get to it.

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH MARY ALFORD

1. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

 

For me, becoming a writer kind of evolved from being an avid reader. I can’t remember exactly when I first started reading, but when I did, I realized I couldn’t put a book down. The stories drew me in and transported me to wonderful places. I was a true bookworm.

Early on, I discovered Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Mysteries and loved them. Then a few years later, I was introduced to Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and I was hooked on the romantic suspense genre. I loved the mystery and the drama along with the love stories these two iconic women blended into their books. I couldn’t wait to get to the last page to see how the book turned out.

That’s when I first knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book when I was a tween, (it’s tucked away in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day).

But for me, the dream of becoming a published author came much later. Although I continued to create stories in my head, it wasn’t until 2012 when I entered the So You Think You Can Write contest hosted by Love Inspired Suspense and sold Forgotten Past. It still seems surreal. It was a dream come true for me.

 

2. What is unique about your process?

 

I’ve always been a seat of my pants writer, although I’m trying to be more organized.

My writing process goes something like this. I’ll see or read about something that sparks my imagination and gives me an idea for a book. From there, I let the story play out in my head for a bit and then I sit down with my laptop to put words on the page. I don’t care how well planned out you have the book, staring at a blank page for the first time can be intimidating. And it never fails, the story I had in my mind doesn’t quite come to life exactly as planned, but that’s okay. I figure my characters have their own idea of how they want their story to end.

 

3. What inspired your book?

 

I love spy stories. I think if I had chosen another career path in life it would have been a spy. I love the danger and intrigue, the life and death decisions spies are forced to make. Then there’s the romance… Living life on the edge has a way of clearing away the clutter in life. It shows you what’s really important.

Rocky Mountain Pursuit is about a former spy who is forced to live under an alias because some very bad people are trying to kill him. When Reyna Peterson, the widow of his former comrade comes to him for help, Jase Bradford doesn’t hesitate to assist, even though it means risking his life and blowing his cover. Jase is a true man of valor.

 

4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

 

The hardest to do at times. Keep writing and don’t give up. If you are really a writer, then you can’t help but write. Every author I know was rejected before they became published. Some many times. If you give up, you’ll never know what might have been.

*

Mary, I’m nodding at how fabulous authors hooked you on a genre. For me it was Jodi Thomas and Stephanie Laurens, both historical romance authors. I still love reading historical romance, but I don’t write it! I think it’s really cool you’d be a spy if you weren’t a writer. Something tells me you practice on your downtime. Am I right? *wink, wink* Thank you so much for being my guest!

 

*

 

The Inside Scoop with Mary Alford

 

IDENTITY: CONFIDENTIAL

Everyone believes agent Jase Bradford is dead—everyone but Reyna Peterson. Only he can protect her now that someone wants the information her CIA husband died to secure. As the one member of their spy team not killed, Jase must remain in the shadows. Yet when Reyna leads the enemy right to his mountain refuge and blows his cover, Jase risks his life for hers. As his best friend’s beautiful widow scales the walls around his heart, whether out of loyalty or love, he makes it his duty to secure her safety. But when their pursuers trap them in the snowy Colorado mountains, will it become his final mission?

Interested in purchasing Rocky Mountain Pursuit?

Buy from Harlequin!

Buy from Amazon!

 

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Mary Alford

About MARY  ~

Mary Alford was inspired to become a writer after reading romantic suspense greats Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Soon creating characters and throwing them into dangerous situations that test their faith came naturally for Mary. In 2012 Mary entered the Speed Dating contest hosted by Love Inspired Suspense and later received “the call”. Writing for Love Inspired Suspense has been a dream come true for Mary. Visit Mary’s website!

 

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So…would you make a great spy? Why or why not?

(I’d be a terrible spy. I’m no good at lying, and my eyes give EVERYTHING away!!)

Thanks so much for stopping by!

 

 

A Pet Peeve About New Recipes

My wonderful husband bought me The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime for Christmas. Have I mentioned how much I love that man? Yes, this was #1 on my Christmas list, because I just love Ree Drummond’s Food Network show, The Pioneer Woman.

 

The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime

 

Her cookbooks are much more than recipe collections. They’re full of stunning pictures, step-by-step instructions with photos and personal tidbits. Plus, her food is scrumptious!

My husband went through the book at my request to let me know which recipes looked good. I laughed when he finished. He basically told me to start at page one and work my way through. I’m on board with that!

This January I’ve tried six recipes, and they’ve all been hits. Monday I decided to attempt a Chinese dish. The only problem? I didn’t have over half the ingredients on the list. Some of them sounded quite foreign. This fact alone is a big enough pet peeve of mine that I considered skipping the recipe. However, I powered ahead and scoured the grocery store for:

  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Fresh ginger
  • Sherry
  • Oyster sauce

I had no problem finding most of the items, but the last one–the oyster sauce–was nowhere to be found. Tired, I headed home and put everything away, but about an hour before I was set to start cooking, I decided to go back to the grocery store for another look.

Nope. No oyster sauce. They were all out.

Naturally, I Googled a suitable replacement. I decided to substitute the oyster sauce with hoisin sauce, but I halved it after reading that the flavor can be overpowering.

The dish, Cashew Chicken, was a big hit! I would link the recipe, but it isn’t listed on her website. I’ll definitely be making it again. And this time, I’ll already have most of the ingredients. Score!

 

What pet peeve keeps you from doing something?

Have a terrific weekend!!

I Left the House!

Okay, today’s title probably seems sarcastic, kind of like the meme going around about not needing to say you see snow because we all have eyes, but for real, this isn’t snarky. I tend to hibernate in the winter. Sure, I get groceries and run an errand or two, but more often than not, I’m snuggled up in my cozy home, working on a writing project.

Yesterday I finished my to-do list early, and I knew. It was time. Time to zip up my winter coat, slip on my Isotoner gloves, and swipe some lipstick on.

I left the house!!

I’m embarrassed to admit I had no idea where to go. I knew I wanted to brainstorm story ideas. A coffee shop would be ideal. But which one? Panera, Starbucks, the cute and trendy Parker, or the also trendy The Flying Joe? Decisions, decisions. I had to drop stuff off at the Post Office first, and I still hadn’t decided where to go when I hopped back in my car.

Finally, I just started driving. Remembered Starbucks gift cards hiding in my wallet, and it was a done deal. We have a Starbucks in our Barnes & Noble, but I preferred a more intimate setting. I headed to one of the stand-alone stores. As soon as I entered, I let out a happy sigh. The lighting was just right, the big pictures on the walls and the dark wood floors gave it the vibe I was looking for.

After an hour of brainstorming, people watching, and cappuccino sipping, I packed up my stuff and left. It felt good to be out. Felt great to soak in a different location. And I got a ton of ideas for stories and books. What’s not to love about that!

Do you hibernate? Do you ever steal an hour to enjoy coffee in a shop by yourself?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Television Recommendations Needed!

I’m in a television rut. College football is over. I don’t enjoy watching basketball, and I have no clue what to watch. The only show I’m viewing regularly is Married At First Sight, which is very entertaining. But it only comes on once a week…so what should I watch? Here’s a little tidbit if you’re interested.

 

 

I’ve watched parts of SupergirlIt’s pretty good. I need to remember when it comes on.

Oh, I like Fresh Off the Boat, but again, I’m hit or miss on when it actually airs.

You all know my obsession with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, and I can’t wait until it comes back in August. Only eight months away! Haha!

So what shows are can’t miss for you? I’m open to suggestions. Winter gets so boring. I’d love to anticipate a good series!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

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