Resurrection Day

Easter is filled with church, church, and more church at our house. In fact, my husband calls the day Resurrection Day and I like that better. I’ve tried to retrain myself to call it that, but old habits die hard.

Our Resurrection Day begins early since we have sunrise service at our church. It’s not quite sunrise, but service is usually at 7:00 am. Any other day, I would say seven stupid o’clock in the morning. But on Resurrection Day, I squelch my inner so not a morning person and just do it.

We live fifteen minutes from our church, so I don’t ride in with my husband. Since he’s the pastor, he leaves around 6:15 to get there before anyone else arrives. He’s a morning person and doesn’t bat an eye at the hour. I usually pin my hair up because it’s quicker than fixing it, but even with that shortcut, I have to get up at 5:30 to get there on time.

Sunrise Service on Resurrection Day, April 8, 2012If the weather is nice, we have our sunrise service outside. We set up folding chairs and watch God paint the sky in oranges, pinks, and yellows as the sun climbs higher in the sky. This picture and the one of the sky is from 2012, the last time we got to have service outside. My favorite and most memorable services were the outside ones. If it’s cold or rainy, we have service in the sanctuary by flickering candlelight.

The service consists of scripture from the original Resurrection Day and a devotion. This year, we have a ladies choir and we’re singing He Arose. Our pianist is bringing her keyboard in case we get to have services outside.

After the service, we gather in the fellowship hall and the men cook breakfast. We eat and visit – which we call fellowship. We are Baptist, so most of our gatherings turn into eatin’ meetin’s. Then we clean up and the people who live in town go home. The people who don’t, including us, stay at the church to talk and visit some more.

At 9:45, we have our regular devotion and then Sunday school class. Regular service is at 11:00. And we don’t skip it or shorten it because we got up early. After our regular service, we go home and crash. We doze off and on until 5:00 or so. Then we put ourselves back together, grab a cup of coffee and head back to church for our evening service.

Yep, our Easter/Resurrection Day consists of church, church, and more church. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate – He Arose.

Matthew 28:1-9

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Jammie Time

Several years ago, when I was still trying to get published, I saw a movie trailer about a writer. He worked in his bathrobe, slept onJohnny Depp in Secret Window47 his couch, never got dressed, and let his housekeeper take care of everything. All he did was write. I thought it was awesome. As the movie trailer continued, he had problems. Lots of problems. But the bathrobe and uncombed hair in pursuit of his passion–I got that.

Since I got published,  I do get dressed and function in the outside world. And I do take care of lots of other things besides writing. But because writing is my job–I get away with a lot of fun stuff.

1. Working in my jammies. First I was a hairdresser, then I worked at a bank, then in corporate offices. I had to show up looking presentable. But with writing, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and go to my computer. But don’t come to my house before 2:00. I won’t answer the door until I’m presentable.

2. Working my job around my family. During the school year, I write during the day. In the summer, I write after everyone’s in bed. When they’re around and awake, I focus on them.

3. Flexible hours. On most days, I send my family off to school and work, then write while they’re gone. But if there’s a school function in the middle of the day, a Christmas float to decorate, or a church member in the hospital, I can take the day off without worry.

4.Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed.

5. Making my characters do whatever I want them to. I’ve always thought I could solve a lot of problems if my friends and family would just take my advice. My characters listen to me and do what I say. It’s the ultimate control freak job.

6. Hearing voices and having imaginary friends. Oh the wonderful people who live in my head. And everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.

7. Meeting authors. I love going to the bookstore, scanning the names on book spines and counting how many I’ve met. They may not remember me, but I remember them. I’ve talked to Denise Hunter, hugged Lenora Worth, laughed with Mary Connealy, and rode in the elevator with Terri Blackstock—just to drop a few names.

8. Sleeping in fancy hotels with women I barely know. There for a while I was sleeping with someone new at every ACFW conference. The friendships I’ve made through our common pursuit of publication are priceless. Isn’t that nice alliteration?

9. Having writing buds who really get me. There are friends and then there are writing friends. Writing can be very lonely, but not with friends to share the valleys and summits, highs and lows, thrills and spills. When I have writing news—good or bad—I share it with my family, then my writing buds.

 10. Connecting with readers. Either in person or online. It’s exhilarating to know someone is actually reading what I write, enjoying it, and appreciating my efforts. Through books, God has blessed me with the ability to witness to more people than my mouth will ever meet.

It worked out for me to be a stay at home mom before I got published. We’d already given up my income, so anything I make now is just a bonus. My hat’s off to the published authors who have a full time job and still manage to write books. I honestly don’t know how they do it.

And to those still seeking publication–don’t give up. Keep writing. Persistence + Patience = Publication. I hope you get to work in your jammies someday soon.

We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s Wedding on the Rocks. Comment to enter – deadline Nov 30th.

Wedding On the Rocks Cover 1Jennifer Edwards is back home again…

When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange—the boy she left behind—whose life’s work is digging up the past?

Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T. rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly in-sync hearts.

Rodeo Queen Nostalgia

I’m celebrating my new release, Rodeo Queen by giving away two print copies. Answer the question at the end of the post or comment daily for the next twoWriting 1st book 1999 nostalgic weeks to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.

No, I was never a rodeo queen. But I’ve been feeling nostalgic about my latest release, Rodeo Queen. Why would my recently  released book make me feel nostalgic? Because it formed in my head as a teenager. It was the story that wouldn’t go away until I finally realized it was a book around 1996. Then it took me three more years to get a hand me down computer and write it.

That’s me in 1999 writing my first ever book about a interior decorator with a stalker and the private detective who protects her. My husband took the picture and it’s my favorite. I was so involved in my story, I didn’t even know he’d taken the picture until we got the film developed. Yep, back then the pictures actually got out of the camera and you didn’t know how they looked until you picked them up from Walmart. I love the picture because it reminds me how supportive he’s been of my writing–from day one. He didn’t complain that I was ignoring or neglecting him, he just took a picture of me doing what I love.

Back to the story, after fifty-two rejection letters on that first book, countless others on six more books–I stopped counting at 200–fourteen years, and seven published books later, that first book I ever wrote releases this month. Rodeo Queen is a reworked version of my first story.

The original version was set in rural Arkansas. Rodeo Queen is the 5th title in my Texas rodeo series and is set in Aubrey, the Fort Worth Stockyards historical district, and Medina, Texas. My heroine morphed into the owner of a blingy western clothing store and a rodeo queen–which lent itself well to the stalker angle. The hero became a Texas Ranger. And in the new version,they were high school sweethearts.

The Medina part was originally in there and it makes me nostalgic too. My hero and herione visit his grandfather’s ranch in Medina twice during the course of the story. The ranch is based on my father-in-law’s ranch in Medina, near San Antonio. My father-in-law passed away, but we still visit his wife–Texas mom–once a year.

I’ve heard countless authors say they have their first awful manuscripts moldering in a drawer, that they’ll never see the light of day, and they shouldn’t. I wasn’t willing to let my story die. I didn’t go back and try to fix that original manuscript with all the knowledge I’ve gained from countless writers’ meetings and conferences, I started from scratch.

Rodeo Queen by Shannon Taylor VannatterAnd I like the new version better. Readers often ask me which of my books is my favorite. I’ve never really been able to answer that question. It’s like picking your favorite child or pet. I love all of my books–otherwise I wouldn’t have written them.

But I think I’ll play favorites now–Rodeo Queen–hands down.

CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN

Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.

Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?

Remember to enter the drawing daily with each new post from all the inkspers. And if you can’t wait or don’t win, here are a few purchase links for your convenience 🙂

Christian Book

Harlequin

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Question of the day–for readers or writers. Have you ever had a story in your head that wouldn’t go away?

My Go To Gal

Agent. A word that once made me shudder for reasons I won’t go into here. For a long time, I went it alone. I signed contracts for six books without an agent. And put off getting one for as long as I could. But after the Heartsong Presents line changed hands and my editor didn’t make the transition, I decided it was time. Kicking and screaming and shuddering, I decided I’d have to start agent shopping. But they still scared me.

At the 2011 ACFW conference, I asked an author I’d met there who her agent was. She promptly took me to meet Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates. Karen wasn’t scary either as she gave me her business card. When I got home from the conference, I decided to bite the bullet. I picked four agencies, including Karen’s, who’d been around awhile and had good reputations to query.

While I waited on answers, I talked to another very nice agent I’d met at ACFW and talked to her on the phone several times. She didn’t scare me, but her client list was already pretty full. Two other agents were interested, but weren’t in love with the proposal I sent them. I wanted an agent who loved romance like I do.

Then I heard back from Karen. She loved my proposal, loved my writing, but her client list was also full. She asked if she could forward my work to her newest agent, Nalini Akolekar. I said, sure.

The very next day, I received an e-mail from Nalini offering a contract. I shuddered all day, made a list of questions to ask her, and set up a time for her to call me the next day. When she called, her voice was so soothing. The first question I asked her was how to say her name: A cola car. Then she asked me how to say mine: Van Adder.

I learned that though Nalini was new as an agent, she’d been in the industry working in other positions for a number of years. She encouraged me to contact her clients. After we talked, I did and they sang Nalini’s praises. I talked to Nalini two more times and tried to explain why I was so hesitant to sign with her. I ended up spilling my guts about every bad thing that had happened to me during my hard knocks journey to publication. Okay, not everything, I didn’t want her to think I was a whiny bag.

She calmly listened and instead of thinking I was delusional or whiny, she was sympathetic and told me she understood. That I should take my time, but she hoped I’d sign with her. I took my time and prayed about it. A few weeks later, I signed the contract. And I’ve never regretted the decision.

Nalini checks with me regularly to see how my deadlines are coming and if I have any problems. She congratulates me on Facebook when my books release. And when I have difficulties or hair-pulling issues, she does a lot of hand holding on the phone with her soothing voice.

Several months ago, another past hard knock came up while writing one of my contracted books that could have messed up everything. I had to tell Nalini the rest of my story. She didn’t chastise me for not telling her up front, held my hand, and handled the situation smoothly. When it was over, she told me in her soothing voice that I’d seen enough of the ugly side of the industry and she wanted to help turn things around for me

As I near completion of my current contract, she e-mailed me a few months ago and said she wanted to set up a time to call me and talk about my next project. I knew she wouldn’t like what I had to say. I have this French guy who’s been bugging me for years. But his book is a longer length and I only have three chapters written. Since I’ve only had category length books published, the trade length publishers want a completed manuscript.

In the wake of one of the longer length publishers cutting their fiction line, I knew Nalini would want me to stick with shorter books for now. And wait for the industry to get better, then worry about my French guy. But it’s not just the French guy. I’m long-winded which makes it a challenge for me to write short books.

She called and I told her I want to spend Sept. – Dec. finishing my French guy’s story. In her soothing voice, she said, “Okay, just don’t wait too long before getting another proposal out.” Before we ended the call, I heeded her wisdom and decided to put together another proposal for a short book and send it out, then concentrate on my French guy. That way, I don’t fade away while I get this French guy out of my head. And if the industry improves, I’ll have a completed longer book.

And she’s right. Since then, another trade length publisher bit the dust. For now, I need to stick to where my bread is buttered–in the shorter length realm.

Not only does Nalini know the industry, I’ve never failed to feel better after I talk to her.

Shannon Too

When the topic of sister’s came up, I was at a loss for a moment. I’m an only child. No sisters. Or brothers. So, I have to go way back for this post. Bear with me.

Shortly before I was born, my parents planned to move to Michigan. Mama knew a woman with a daughter named Shannon. She asked the woman if she’d mind Mama naming me Shannon since me and the other Shannon would probably never know each other.

Twelve years later, we moved back to Arkansas. Seven years later, I married the other Shannon’s brother. Though we look nothing alike, our shared name has confused many over the years. Long ago, I went to my boss’ bank to cash my check because it was closer than my bank. The teller told me she couldn’t cash the check unless Shannon was there. For a long time, our butane deliverer thought my husband and his sister lived in our house. And now, even though her name hasn’t been Vannatter in a really long time, people think my sister-in-law writes books.

For the first few years my husband and I were married, Shannon and I had a good time together. We embarked on exercise plans, went to see a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton concert, and turned her hair every color under the sun—including Bozo orange. Relax, I was a hairdresser and she’d turned her hair green trying to do it on her own. I had to get it to orange to get the green out. In the end, it turned out a nice natural looking dark brown. Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.

But then she married a man from Memphis and moved there. Then they moved to Mississippi. During those years, we went to visit each place once. She came here about once a month, but there was never enough time to really enjoy being sisters-in-law.

Last year, she moved back. At first, I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I was used to not having her around. And I run in fifteen directions most of the time with book deadlines on top of everything else. But it finally hit me, my sister-in-law is back and I need to make time for her.

So far, we’ve entertained her grandson and my son on a road trip with my mother-in-law. We’ve gone flea-marketing and shopping. She and my mother-in-law brought our son to visit, when my husband was in the hospital. Together, his sister and I went to pick him up after his release. We’ve stayed after church and just talked.

We’re planning to have lunch soon and maybe we’ll set up a date for me to turn her hair orange just for old-time’s sake.

This time spent together made me realize, I missed her. Who could I possibly have more in common with than my husband’s sister? We both love the same man.

Now its your turn. Every time you share one of your sister stories in the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of  When Love Calls for  yourself and a matching copy for a sister. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.

BOOKS THAT LOVED ME

You could say that books have been a very important part of my life for a long time.

Apparently, my favorite book as a baby was “Brave Cowboy Bill.” From that, I went on to “Good Morning Farm,” and many, many others.

As a preteen, I read the requisite Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, throw in a little “Meg” and “Donna Parker” for good series fodder, and of course the “Little House” books.

That was during my pioneer phase.

I outgrew the phase, but never the books. “The Long Winter” is one I still re-read when I need a good blizzard-fix.

But the first book I can remember clamoring for? “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.”

It was third grade. My mom had talked all my life about that book that she read in elementary school that was simply her favorite.

“The Five Little Peppers” became my Holy Grail. In third grade, we FINALLY got to go beyond the picture book section of the K-12 library at our school. Our elderly librarian (OK, I don’t know just HOW old she was, but I thought she was ancient – especially when I found out she’d taught both my PARENTS, too) helped me find the chapter book and promptly told me that I couldn’t read that.

Couldn’t? or SHOULDN’T? Would it not interest me? Was I incapable?

I made it my goal in life, at that moment (picture brown curls, hands on hips, chin sticking out in determination) to READ THAT BOOK.

So I stubbornly held my ground. And I checked it out.

AND I READ IT.

And loved it.

I learned that day (well, a few days later, after I’d read it) that I loved stories of families long ago. This was even before my pioneer phase. It spurred me on to read those stories of a family that lived, loved, worked, and suffered together.

It’s one of the things I give thanks for every day. Books that teach children and adults what it is to love one another. To work side-by-side. To suffer consequences when things go wrong, and to come out on the other side loving one another even more.

That’s why I’m thankful for books.

Read “The Five Little Peppers.” And “Pollyanna” . . . and “Little Women” . . . and . . .

Redeemed

Anyone who knows me knows I love Francine Rivers. Okay, so we’ve never actually met. I’ve heard she’s a lovely woman. What I really love is her writing. Her characters are multi-dimensional, full of passion, “real.” But while I have been deeply touched by many of her stories (especially Mark of the Lion), the one that continues to stay with me is her first inspirational book, “Redeeming Love.

As an ABA author, she was multi-published, award-winning with a solid career. But then God got hold of her and, well…we know what happens when God moves in our lives. “Redeeming Love” tells the story of Michael Hosea, a pioneer farmer in 1850 and Sarah, the woman God calls him to marry. One minor detail – she’s a prostitute going by the name “Angel.”

This epic story draws you in to not just the battle between them, but the battle they each have with God. Michael strives to serve God faithfully and obediently, even if the calling to love and accept “Angel” kills him. Angel believes God is an angry, vindictive, hateful creature that stole all that mattered to her. Both have much to learn on their journey together.

Based on the Old Testament story of the prophet Hosea and his wayward wife, Gomer, it’s a story of sin, obedience, deliverance and redemption. It’s my story and all of humanity’s, as well. And I believe that’s why this book continues to resonate within me.

The first time I read “Redeeming Love” I was convinced Michael and Sarah were real people. Their stories were that vivid. I’ve read it about 800 million more times and still find something new every time – a new way to create a deeper character, a better method for creating tension, the importance of secondary characters.

I have much to learn about the craft of writing. I have even more to learn about the God who loves me, calls me to obedience, delivers me from my daily (minute by minute?) bad decisions and choices, and redeems me with an everlasting love.

I’m thankful for the amazing writers who have gone before me, sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise to help me to the next level, and who write amazing characters and storylines that never grow old. I’m thankful for a God who puts these people in my path.

Did I mention I love Francine Rivers?

Jairus' Daughter

21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh
unto the sea.

22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,

23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.

24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

I can’t focus on this scripture without mentioning what happened before this. There was no rest for Jesus that day. He’d already calmed a storm and cast out demons, then journeyed across the sea. Again. Why? Because the people asked him to leave. Only the demoniac Jesus had returned to his right mind was grateful.

As soon as he got to the other shore, a crowd awaited him. Jairus fell at his feet, begging Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus immediately went with him only to be thronged by the crowd.

I’ve wished so many times that I could have lived back when Jesus walked the earth. Me—put aside my love for electricity, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing? Yes.

I like to think I’d have been one of the ones who fell at Jesus’ feet. Who would have sold everything to follow him. Who would have railed and mourned when they killed him. Who would have been waiting for his resurrection because he’d said it was so.

But would I have? Or would I have been frightened by the Gadarene’s healing? Would I have been one of the people praying Jesus to depart from my coasts? Would I have been in the press thronging him, getting in his way, and distracting him from Jairus’ daughter. Not because I knew who he was, but because I’d heard of his miracles and needed one.

The people living then didn’t know who Jesus was. They were looking for the Messiah, but they expected a king not a carpenter. Some didn’t recognize him. Even the disciples didn’t understand the big picture.

Would I have recognized him? Or would I have fallen asleep in the garden instead of watching? Would I have denied him like Peter? Would I have been one in the crowd crying for the release of Barabbas? Would I have doubted him like Thomas?

Knowing my short-comings and how I often fall at Jesus’ feet only after I’ve tried everything else, I think I’m glad I didn’t live back then.

Charity–Love Put into Action

I Corinthians, 13: 4, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind;” KJV

Charity is love in action. Love in action is kind. To me, being kind in marriage is to think of the other person’s feelings. When I’m tired, stressed, or have a headache, it’s easy to take my discomfort or displeasure out on my husband. I mean, he’s not going anywhere. Even more reason to be kind. God gave me someone who sticks with me through thick and thin. He deserves my kindness.

If my husband is having a bad day or a problem at work, I try to support him, think of his feelings, and help get him through it. Now that he’s a full time pastor, at least he has fewer irritants. We have so much more together time and family time. A blessing, but it’s even easier to take our frustrations out on each other since we spend more time together.

Kindness is a good rule for life in general. Maybe the lady behind you at the grocery store with ten items in her cart scowled at you. You figure because your cart is loaded down and it takes too long for the cashier to ring up your items, even though your cart was half unloaded before the scowling lady got behind you. But consider what her life might be like. Maybe she has three kids at home and only enough money to pay for the ten items in her cart.

I learned this lesson of putting myself in other’s shoes a few years ago. I traveled with several people to a convention. One lady bragged about everything she and her children had done for the entire hour and a half long drive. After we dropped her off on the way home, I commented, “Is it just me or did she invent everything and if she didn’t, her kids did?”

A kinder lady than I, replied, “Maybe she has low self esteem, so she tries to build herself up in other’s eyes.”

Knocked me off my high horse. I felt about an inch tall. But I learned my lesson.

My son consistently complains about a kid in his life. The child experienced a life altering incident several years ago. When my son complains, I remind him what the other child has been through and ask him how he’d feel if that happened to him. Yes the child probably needs a spanking and nobody does it. Instead, they coddle because of what happened, but my son can still be kind.

So the next time, your spouse comes home railing about his or her day, the guy behind you lays down on his horn because you didn’t put the pedal to the metal as soon as the light changed, or the bank puts your deposit in the wrong account, try putting yourself in the other person’s place. Aren’t you glad you don’t have your spouse’s job? Maybe the guy behind you is taking his wife to the hospital because she’s in labor. Maybe the bank clerk is distracted because her sick child is with the babysitter instead of Mommy. Or maybe they’re just grumpy. Even so, love in action is kindness.

The Best Laid Plans

Our Christmas season is even more stressful and hectic than usual this year. My husband is transitioning from bi-vocational pastor to full time pastor. This transition affects our finances, our lifestyle, and his mental peace. It’s scary to put your finances in the control of a hundred people. Christians are just people. Humans. Our finances are in the control of a hundred humans. Yes, I earn a little with my books now, but publishing is very inconsistent. My income would get us on food stamps fast.

This was our plan. We had some spendable money in savings. Grant needed time off after leaving the dental lab where he’s been a technician for 26 years. We planned for him to have two weeks between his last day at the lab and his first day at the church. Two weeks with spendable money. At the time, since Heartsong Presents was ending in December, I didn’t have any deadlines. We were going to relax, spend some time together, and enjoy ourselves.

We planned a trip to Texas for Thanksgiving. In Rodeo Dust, my hero’s ranch is in Aubrey and he rodeos at the Fort Worth Stockyards. We decided to stop in both places for book signings. It was perfect timing since Aubrey was having Christmas on Main—a festival with booths, crafts, and lots of people milling about. Aubrey’s city secretary got all excited and put my signing in several newspapers. It was during the day, so I could be at Fort Worth that night. Then we’d go on to San Antonio to see family. We wouldn’t have to worry about funds and we’d do some Christmas shopping when we got back.

Reality turned into a mixture of good and bad:

  • Heartsong Presents extended the line.
  • My car went kaput. The bill $1200.00.
  • The booksigning in Fort Worth didn’t come together.
  • Grant ended up with three checkless weeks off instead of two.

I’d cried over my two seemingly dead books, so miraculously having them resurrected was a blessing. Suddenly, I had a deadline, plus edits. But I had to work during Grant’s time off.

Our spendable money had dwindled. At least we had the money to get my car fixed, but we had to limp to Aubrey since it had already been in several newspapers that I was coming. We couldn’t afford to go on to San Antonio.

In the two weeks after we got back, we couldn’t Christmas shop or even eat out much.

How it turned out:

elf at Moms on Main in front of my poster

It was an awesome day in Aubrey. Nancy Downes, the city secretary had outdone herself with a 4′ by 8′ poster of me and the book. It was much bigger than it looks in the picture. The people treated me like royalty. My signing was in Moms on Main, the restaurant where my characters eat after church in books 2 and 3 of the rodeo series. I got to eat a yummy Philly Cheese Steak sandwich there and see where the peanut festival is held, which is in all three books.

For Rodeo Dust, I’d written blindly, since I’d never been to Aubrey, so Nancy critiqued my scenes to make sure I had Aubrey right. It was great meeting her and the Murrays who own Moms. They bought 30 copies of Rodeo Dust to sell in their restaurant and a small Christian bookstore bought copies also. In the end, I sold 58 books, some at full price and some for resale.

Though I sold books, the trip cost way more than I made. But the research was priceless. Actually being in Aubrey was so worth the trip. I can capture so much more for book 2 and 3 since I’ve actually been there. The Christmas tree decorated with American flags at the top of this post was in Moms. It’s definitely going in book 3.

The family member we were going to see in San Antonio ended up in the hospital during the very time we’d planned to be there for our visit. It would have been nice to be with her in the hospital, but it wouldn’t have been a very good visit. She’s fine, but still tired and sore, so having company would have been an added stress once she got home.

My contact from the Stockyards e-mailed me the week we got back. She’s missed my e-mail, but said I was welcome any time. Oh the irony.

We spent the two and a half weeks after the Texas trip with me working and Grant bored. But every year, our son gets a week out at Thanksgiving. With Grant off work, we got to share it as a family this year. And I worked after they were in bed at night, so I enjoyed the week with them both.

An added bonus, Saturday was the annual Christmas parade where we live. Our church always enters a float.

Jesus' throne in Heaven from our church float

In 2009, our huge, 8′ by 16′ King James Bible won second place. In 2010, our blue lit city of Bethlehem won 1st place. This year, we had a live nativity in blue lights on one end. An empty cross, Roman soldiers and mourners in the middle with red spotlights. Then a red carpet leading up golden stairs guarded by sword wielding angels at the foot of the throne where Jesus sat. We won first place again. Our prayer is always that we touched souls with our message. The banner along the side of the float said, “Believest thou this?”

Our horizon isn’t any less hectic. Grant went to the church today for his first week as full time pastor. I still have half a book to write by January 16th. I’m trying to get the first draft done by the 20th when our son gets out of school for Christmas break.

  • Tonight is our church association pastors and wives dinner.
  • Tomorrow night is our ladie’s prayer group Christmas party.
  • Wednesday night is church.
  • Thursday night, we’re loading up in the church van to drive 45 miles and see a live nativity and city of Bethlehem.
  • Friday, my family is going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. Our 7 year tradition.
  • Saturday, my guys are going with the church to Branson to see The Miracle of Christmas. I’m going 45 miles to a book signing I’d already committed to before the church trip came up.

So things aren’t perfect in Arkansas this year. But life is good. We’ve prayed for Grant to go full time at the church for several years and never dreamed it would happen this soon. I have two more books coming out in 2012. We should have more family time since Grant only has one job. And in the end, we have to put our finances, stresses, and peace on God’s shoulders and trust Him to handle it all for us.