Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm it!

I've been tagged!

Kenda Turner and Janette Dolores passed this eleven question meme to me. Thank you ladies!

Here goes:

1) Book or movie, and why?

First choice - a good book to curl up with, particularly on a cold or rainy day. I enjoy a good movie too, like Pride and Prejudice or Anne of Green Gables. If a movie is well done, I don't mind if it's a little different from the book.

2) Real book or E-book?

I think I will always prefer books; there's something about holding them in my hand and turning real pages.  My husband has a Kindle, and one of these days I should hijack it and give it the old college try.

3) Funniest thing you've done in the last five years.

Around here, we are laughing all the time. So why am I drawing a blank on this? Hmm, well, the last time we cracked up as a family was while playing Telephone Pictionary. It's a game my daughter in law taught us, and it involves drawing pictures of interesting sentences, like, "The angry mouse ate a bacon cheeseburger while watching a movie." Long story short, it's a version of "Whisper Down the Lane", only with pictures. The results are hilarious.

4) How would your best friend describe you?

Is it cheating if you ask them? Loyal, smart, encouraging, a good listener, and definitely ready to get dollar menu at McD's or salads at Zaxby's at a moment's notice.

5) Do you put yourself into the books you read/write or movies you watch?

I put myself into the book I am writing, for I can relate to many of the main character's quirks and attributes. When books and movies make me cry, I guess I'm identifying there as well.

6) Favorite kind of car and why.

I drive a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and since it gets me where I am going, it tops the list of favorites. But if someone gave me a new 2012 model, that would become my new favorite. Just sayin'.

I also love the Ford Mustang. Affection for that car may have begun when I was a kid; my Dad had a 65 Mustang. I used to sit in the driver's seat on top of Dad's school books (he taught high school math) and pretend I was driving. So if someone showed up at my house with a gift wrapped Mustang, I would not refuse that either. 

7) What would your choice be - catered meal or barbeque out back?

As much as I love a barbeque with family and friends, I think a catered meal might be fun for a change. Filet Mignon would be nice. :) I also like Italian food, in case anyone is taking notes for birthday ideas.

8) What's your favorite season and why.

I love autumn. I enjoy the refreshing temperatures after the summer heat. The fall colors are a feast for the eyes, and I love walking and taking it all in. Several family members' birthdays and our wedding anniversary are in October too, so there are many reasons to celebrate this wonderful season.

9) What specific lesson have you learned - spiritual, educational, occupational?

"Don't ever give up." This is something I'm learning in each category. 

10) Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do when you get extra time?

Spend time with my husband, kids, and grandson. Read. Call a friend. 

11) What's one place you can be found at least once a week?

Do the grocery store and gas station count? :P

When it's not super cold or raining, I go to the park and walk. I walk 5 days a week when I can, either on our property (we have 5 acres) or at the park.

The original idea is to pass this tag on to eleven bloggers, but I decided to pass this on to all of you. If you have the time and interest, please feel free to share your answers on your blog. :)

P.S. Slightly Off Topic 

Coffeehouse for Writers workshops begin today, April 30. Classes include writing basics, historical fiction, blogging, writing for children, and much more. Check them out, if you hurry, there's still time to sign up!

What things would we be surprised to learn about you?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Scoops of Grace Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be a part of Jeanette Levellie's blog tour for her new book:

Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top

About the Book

What do drive-by diaper stores and God have in common? When is blabbing an acceptable habit? Why should you beware of moths and slugs?

In her entertaining, uplifting style, award-winning author and humorist Jeanette Levellie weaves 72 amusing stories with affirming Biblical truths. These soul- nourishing examples of God’s favor and grace will help you:
  • Laugh when you find cow patties instead of daisies in your field
  • Discover the bottomless heart of God
  • Grow in your acceptance of yourself and others
Welcome a vacation from stress as you discover the sweetness of Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.

You can purchase the book here.

About the Author                      

A spunky pastor’s wife of thirty-plus years, Jeanette Levellie authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column, God is Bigger, a popular feature in the Paris Beacon News since 2001. She has published stories in Guideposts anthologies, stories in Love is a Verb Devotional with Gary Chapman, articles in Christian and secular magazines, greeting card verses, and poems for calendars.

She is also a prolific speaker for both Christian and secular groups, and loves to make people laugh while sharing her love for God and life. Jeanette is the mother of two grown children, has three grandchildren, and is servant to four cats. She lives in Paris (not the French one), Illinois, with her husband, Kevin. Her hobbies include dining out, talking baby talk to her cats, avoiding housework, reading, and watching old classic movies.

Visit Jeanette on her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at

My Review 

One of the things I like about Jeanette Levellie is that she can laugh at herself. She's not perfect, and she's the first to admit it. This book is packed full of her real life adventures, the happy and silly, the grouchy, and the downright challenging moments we all can relate to.  Her friendly and engaging stories illustrate the wonderful spiritual parallels that we all trip over each day. She encourages us to laugh (yes, at ourselves), learn, and to sometimes stretch out of our comfort zone. 

I am fairly sure that there is something that most everyone can relate to within these pages. Jen shares vignettes of her life - her marriage, children, friends, neighbors, and yes, even a run in with the law. More importantly though, we get to experience Jen’s feelings, convictions, and faith in God, not in a preachy or condescending manner, but with friendly, soothing, and encouraging words.  

Jen’s writing has flavor of the very best kind. It’s a combination of humor, grace, wisdom, and authenticity.  Growing in faith Jen’s way, I think, is a lot more fun than just gritting our teeth and muddling through.  I highly recommend treating yourself to looking at life with Two Scoops of Grace!

Jeanette’s Giveaways

You can win one of ten free downloads of Jen's debut humor devotional, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top for your eReader. Here are the very simple rules:

For each share of this post link on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, you will receive one entry.

For each Like on Jeanette’s Author Page or Two Scoops Book Page on Facebook, or follow on her Twitter page or blog, you will receive one entry. If you already like and/or follow Jen, mention that and it will be counted.

Please send Jen ONE comment at the end of this post to tell her how many times you shared, liked, or followed, so she can give you the correct amount of entries. Jen reserves the right to verify all information, and disqualify anyone from the drawing who falsifies information. (Do not leave comments here to be entered, you MUST go to Jeanette’s blog post for the giveaway.)

Contest starts April 10 and ends midnight, May 10, 2012. Jeanette will announce the winners in a blog post Sunday, May 13, 2012.

….and a $100 Gift Card Drawing~~~WOWZA!!!

After you have read/reviewed Two Scoops, check out Jen's blog at for a contest to win a $100 gift card by answering ten easy questions about the book! After receiving your entry, your name will go into the hat for a $100 gift card to one of the following places (your choice): Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A, Wal-Mart, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or Ruby Tuesday. This giveaway will run until August 10, 2012 so there is PLENTY of time for you to enter!

The author sent me the above book for review purposes. She will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Jeanette Levellie. The entire blog tour can be found here.

I encourage you to pick up Jen's book or stop at her blog if you have a minute. I know she'd love to see you!

What exciting weekend plans do you have? Have a great one!


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Whale of a Tale

I read a good story this weekend. It had action, suspense, and great illustrations. The characters were not terribly complex, but likable and interesting. Setting didn't have a prominent role, but it complimented the story nicely. The main character overcame a formidable obstacle, and I'm happy to report there was a happy ending.

Want to hear more about the story? Good!

The main character was a whale who decided that she wanted to jump into a small pond just for fun. Trouble is, once there, she can't get out and back home, so she needs help from her friends. Her friends included a small mouse, who, when called upon for help, told the whale that he was busy, but could be there to help in two minutes. Additional characters included another whale, and a large circus mouse, who had been shot out of a cannon prior to arriving at the pond to help.

Yes, I know, not your standard historical fiction type I usually go for, right?

Well, the motivation for reading this story was a bit different. You see, my four year old grandson is the author. He dictated it to my daughter in law, and then illustrated it. I know I'm biased, but it's the cutest and best story I've read in a while. :) 

Reflecting on this little tale has me thinking about good story elements. Characters, plot, setting - what an interesting mix! It takes a sharp and talented writer to blend these ingredients well, don't you think?

Which story elements are your favorites? Do you like strong characters? Amazing settings? A grand and memorable plot? A busy mouse that can come help in two minutes? :D

Have you read any new author's work lately?

Hope you can stop by on Thursday when I join Jeanette Levellie's blog tour celebrating her new book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top. It should be fun!

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Your Writing Tight?


The most valuable of all talents 

is that of never using 

two words when one will do. 

Thomas Jefferson

This is one of my favorite writing quotes. I think of it as the bumper sticker for word economy. 

If, as Jefferson suggests, we examine our writing, looking for places where one word will replace two, can we sharpen our prose?

I think so, and I've long believed that crisp writing makes a great statement. Tight writing is also a must to meet word counts. Weeding out unnecessary words and phrases helps communicate without clutter and fluff.

Here are a few ways I eliminate the dreaded "clutter and fluff":

1) Ditch excess modifiers and hedging words. Words like very, really, quite, fairly, kind of, and truly don't add as much "oomph" as we think. When removed, the result is cleaner, and nothing is compromised. 

2) Remove empty phrases. Trim out phrases like there seems to be, in order to, needless to say, on account of, and what I mean is for a clear, crisp statement. 

3) Don't be redundant. When phrases like free gift, past history, honest truth, and end result are pared down to gift, history, truth, and result we've heeded Mr. Jefferson's advice, haven't we?

Does Jefferson's quote strike any chords with you? What methods do you employ to tighten your writing? 

Happy weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, April 16, 2012

If Everybody Did

Have you ever read the children's book called If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover? If not, it's a delightful tale that shows what happens if everyone decided to do things like leave muddy footprints in the house, or squeeze the cat too tightly, or leave toys on the stairs. The results are humorously illustrated in this little treasure, carrying, of course, the bigger message that our actions affect those around us.

I came across this book while organizing bookshelves recently and it set my mental wheels going. What is it with us writers, anyway - are our brains ever still? :) I immediately thought about how this principle applied to the writing life.

What if writers:

Didn't heed the call to write?

Never encouraged a newbie writer?

Never assisted a fellow scribe?

Didn't persevere through writer's block?

Failed to battle and press through doubt and insecurities?

Didn't practice their skills?

Never took the time to learn something new?

Would the world be a different place?

Oh my, yes. I'm thinking it would be.

To live without the awesome support of resources and other writers...  

What do you think? What aspect of the writing life are you most grateful for? Which ones could you live without? Have you ever thought about how your actions as a writer affect others?

Blessings for your journey,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday's This and That

It's been a while since I've posted This and That on a Thursday, so thought I'd share a few goodies. Hope one or two strikes your fancy!

Links for Writers

The Non Fiction Writers Conference is an online event scheduled for May 16-18, 2012. Workshops will be given by Dan Poynter, Mark Coker, Peter Bowerman, Dana Lynn Smith, Stephanie Chandler and other notable writers. To register, go here.

The OC  Christian Writer's Conference will be held May 18-20, 2012 in Newport Beach, CA. Speakers include BJ Taylor, Alice Crider, Bill Belew, Bill Myers, and more. For info, click here. They also sponsor several writing contests, including fiction, book proposals, and memoirs. Visit their site for details.  

Doe Branch Ink sponsors week long writing retreats in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Each week features a different speaker with workshops for writers of every level. For current retreat listings, click here.

Have you been to Word Hippo? If not, you must! This nifty site has a synonym and antonym search, a translation feature, definitions, and rhyming words. Fun stuff!

Grammar Revolution bills itself as "Grammar the Easy Way". It offers tips and  exercises, sentence diagramming help, grammar games, cool quotes, and more. They say, "Learning grammar can be fun." See if you agree!

Quick Review
This is my recent review of Carol Alexander's ebooklet for homeschoolers, Lessons from the Hen House.  Please feel free to pass this on to any homeschooling friends. :)

This handy guide is a wonderful resource for homeschool families! Its user-friendly content is divided into segments that address each age group – elementary, intermediate, and upper levels. The activities are further broken down by subject and include math, language, science, art, geography, and home economics. 

Carol not only offers advice on how to make the most of the guide, but also offers ideas to take studies further if there is time and interest. Her practical approach and friendly style immediately set you at ease, making you feel as though you have someone cheering you on through the process.  Links and pictures are sprinkled throughout the guide, and the resource section at the end includes a recommended book and magazine list and hatchery info. I think that this guide could be used even if you do not own chickens, for the ideas are varied and doable with or without them.

Lessons from the Hen House is exactly the type of resource I liked to use during our homeschooling years. It offers ideas that can be used immediately with little to no prep time, and can be used with one student, a family, and/or a homeschool, 4H, or other group. 

Come across any good links or reviews lately? Ever been to Word Hippo? :)

Taking a break next week, so will see you back on April 16th.

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's in a Blog Name?

Ever think about a blog's name? I do; I often wonder how they originated. Some are obvious. Others, obscure, perhaps significant only to the blogger, and then readers once they get acquainted with the theme. Search engine optimization or marketing are other possible factors. I wonder, though, if many blog owners simply look for a clever or memorable title. What do you think?

My blog title came from my AOL Instant Messenger name. I decided to use it for the blog, since the main theme was writing. In hindsight, perhaps I could have given it more thought, but I was so green at blogging I was just happy to be up and running.

Thinking about this brings Shakespeare's words to mind:

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

How important is a good blog name? Would our blogs be as "sweet" if they carried another name? Or would we be missing the mark by miles if we chose the wrong one? Do we need a good name to draw followers in? Or will they come, even if our blog names are not remarkably clever?

Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips shares his thoughts about good blog names here. He encourages us to make it relevant and memorable. Good food for thought. 

Do you think a blog's name makes or breaks its success? How did you choose yours?

Blogoversary Giveaway Winner has chosen the winner - congratulations to Rhonda Schrock! Thanks to all for celebrating with me!

Happy writing,

Image credit: Stock Exchange