Friday, November 11, 2011

11 Things About Me...

In honor of this fantastic date (11/11/11) I decided to fill you in on 11 things you probably didn't know about me. I'm not promising these will be super-interesting things, but they should be new information for most of you.

1. As you may have gathered from the picture above, I've met Billy Ray Cyrus. That isn't the interesting item though. The interesting item is that I wound up being interviewed for the "One on One With Billy Ray" special that aired on VH-1 circa 1994. Do you want my autograph now?

2. I played the Fairy Godmother in a 5th grade performance of Cinderella.

3. 22 years later, I was Cinderella for a 3 year old's birthday party.

4. My dog, Arnie, once belonged to comedian Henry Cho.

5. I save pennies that are older than 1983. This causes a slow down at the drive-thru because I look at every penny before I hand it over. I have my reasons, which I will save for another blog post down the road.

6. I would like to learn to play the fiddle.

7. I collect vintage aprons. My favorite is a Christmas apron that belonged to my great aunt. I'm still looking for a cool way to display them in my new house.

8. I once passed out at a Red Cross blood drive. But I wasn't there as a blood donor--just a volunteer to give refreshments to those donating. The kind people at the Red Cross told me I might need to find a different kind of volunteer opportunity.

9. I didn't see the ocean until I was 19.

10. I love ghost stories and stories about time travel. Someday I'd like to write one of each--or a combo of both.

11. The first time I got on an airplane, I was headed to Athens, Greece.

And there you have it! 11 things you didn't know about me. How about you? You don't have to list 11, but what is something that might surprise people about you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maybe it was Memphis

I am SO excited to share this news! I think I mentioned several months ago that I was writing a series set in Memphis. It was to release through the Heartsong Presents book club, with the first release--All Shook Up--releasing in January 2012.
Just after I wrote the first book and sent it off to my editor, I got terrible news. They were ending the line. I was so sad to hear the news, particularly because I loved the book and the characters and especially the idea of a book set in Memphis.

Last month when I was at a writing conference, I learned that they plan to continue the book club, at least for a few more months. Which means All Shook Up will release after all! I'm working now on the second book in the series, Can't Help Falling in Love.

I think readers will love these characters. They are funny and quirky and very Southern.

As far as I know, All Shook Up will still release in January. 2012 is a big year for me as far as books go:

All Shook Up in January
A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina in February
Can't Help Falling in Love in April
Rainbow's End in May
A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas in December

Looking at that release schedule makes me tired. But happy. :)

My next post will be all about home renovation. I'm making progress. Slowly but surely. I'm still not adjusted to life out in the country though. I stepped on a snake the other day. SERIOUSLY. Stepped right on it. It was a garden snake. That didn't keep me from screaming and carrying on. Poor thing was so terrified, he practically ran out of the yard.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LFY in Lancaster is on a Bestseller List!

These past weeks have been a blur of craziness. I moved into my new house and started working from home. Now I'm living among boxes and bags and general chaos.

This week I'm at the American Christian Fiction Writers  (ACFW) Conference in St. Louis and lets just say packing was a challenge. Since most of my stuff is still packed up, just finding things to wear that matched was difficult! (so if you're at ACFW and notice that I look unkempt...I blame the recent move!)

But in the midst of the hectic few weeks, I got some awesome news! Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is #15 on ECPA's Bestseller List for Christian Fiction.

I checked and double checked and sure enough--my name is really there! Check it out!

Thanks for allowing me to celebrate! Now its back to the conference, where I'll be meeting with my editors and my agent and soaking up as much writing instruction as possible. Each year that I've attended this conference, I've left with a renewed fire for writing. I'm already looking forward to getting back home and starting to work on my next project (A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas).

Next week I'll upload some pictures of the progress I'm making on the home renovation. I'm finding that it is the slowest process I've ever gone through. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

My new place
In case you missed my little announcement the other day, I may as well make it official. I bought my first home...but not in Memphis where I currently live. I'm headed back to my rural Arkansas roots--just outside of the city limits of my hometown.

I'm feeling pretty good about the decision...mixed with a little apprehension. I've been a city girl since I left home at 18--so living practically in the middle of a cornfield is going to take some getting used to. I talked about my decision to relocate the other day when I was a guest on Southern Belle View. You can read about it here.

After renting for 13 years, I'm way past ready to have a place to call my own. Which, of course, means a little renovating.

I'm going to try and blog about my home owning/relocating/renovating experience pretty regularly. I have an idea that the next few months are going to be like something straight out of a book...

Last Saturday was the first day to have electricity and water at the new house, and I spent several hours working. Thankfully, I have some amazing people in my life who are willing to help me.

I tore out carpet from 3 rooms. Okay, I did 2 rooms and then had to ask for help with the third. :) Tearing out carpet isn't as simple as I thought it would be. And I'm probably going to say this a lot over the next few months, but it looks SO EASY on HGTV and DIY Network--and in reality it was totally not. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and didn't have much to show for it except for three heaping piles of carpet and a lot of mosquito bites.

But my dad and I have a plan and hopefully at least 1 room will be ready by the time moving day actually rolls around in a few weeks.

Here are some pics of my fun day of flooring. Now if I could only decide what I want to do instead of carpet...

Before: carpet in one of the bedrooms
After: concrete floor that is waiting on me to figure out what to put down!
Later this week, I'm going on a mission to find new faucets and a new toilet. I admit, I've never purchased or even shopped for any of those things before. And then I have to decide what to do about those concrete floors. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Running to Stand Still

Me and two of my best friends...about to see U2 in Chicago
As usual, I'm a day late...okay, several days late. But don't hold it against me! I've been super-busy. Can you believe I've written 3 books and 1 novella this year? I can't. The past few months have flown past in a blur of deadlines.

I've managed to squeeze in a little fun. I went with some of my best friends to see U2 in Chicago over the 4th of July. What. A. Night. Our seats were amazing. My friend, Kelly, and I went to see them in Germany when we were 21. Although a few (ha!) years have passed since then, I think we felt 21 again.

But after the quick trip to Chicago, it was back to Memphis and back to work and writing and a seemingly endless heatwave. (remind me of that in January when I'm complaining about the cold...)

I'm thrilled to announce that Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has officially released! In honor of the new release, I'd like to give away a copy!

Tell me what's been your favorite thing about Summer 2011 so far--and leave your name and email address. I'll choose a winner on Monday, August 8.

Oh...and I'm making a little announcement today over at Southern Belle View. It means a fun new feature will be coming to my blog. My newest adventure is sure to be entertaining for you and life-changing for me! I'll be talking more about it next week!

Happy Weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Celebrating Fun Contract News!

I know, I know. My blog skills stink.

Never mind that one of my New Year's resolutions was to blog regularly. Like three times a week. And here it is, nearly mid-March and I've posted ONCE in 2011.

That Beck song just jumped into my head. (I'm a loser, baby...)

But I'm not really a loser. I've been busy. Very busy. Super busy. Unbelievably busy.

Excuses, right?

To make up for my lack of blog posts, I want to share a bit of FANTASTIC news. So fantastic that I feel the need to use all caps, which is the typing equivalent of shouting from the rooftop.

I've signed a few new book contracts over the past few months. And while a few people know about them, I haven't really made an "official" announcement.

Until now.

So here goes:

Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania will be releasing in just a few short months (July) from Summerside Press! (remember when I said I was very busy, super busy...well, I've been busy writing this book!)

For those of you who read Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio, you will (hopefully) be thrilled to know that we get to peek in on how Emma and Abby are doing today. And even better, Love Finds You in Lancaster County, PA, revolves around Lydia Ann--you might remember her as being Emma and Abby's widowed cousin. Here's a blurb:

Starting over in Lancaster, Amish-born Lydia Ann soon finds a second chance at love with woodworker Simon Zook. But will his secret cause her even more heartbreak? And when her friend---Southern belle Caroline---starts a low-key romance with reporter Michael Landis, the paparazzi suddenly start stalking her again. Is he to blame?

All Shook Up, the first in a three book Heartsong series is (I believe) scheduled to release in January 2012. I'm SO excited about this series because it is set in Memphis! Here's a blurb:

Wedding planner and Memphis native Suzanne Simpson finds love with writer Nick Taggert after a chance meeting during Elvis Week at Graceland. But Suzanne’s past mistakes and Nick’s penchant for keeping secrets may prove to be more than their relationship can withstand.

A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina part of a new line from Barbour, will release in February 2012. And if you read Love is Grand and remember the elderly sisters, Mary and Mavis, you'll be happy to know they make a guest appearance in this book! I loved them so much I just had to include them. Here's a blurb:

An estranged couple, an impending hurricane, and a motley crew of stranded tourists come together for a wedding like no other.

Summer Nelson’s life is spinning out of control. She and her husband, Luke, have been separated for three months—and as far as she can tell, there’s no hope of reconciliation. Summer feels like a complete failure. To make matters even worse, her once-successful wedding planning business is on the verge of going under—thanks to an overactive hurricane season.

Luke Nelson has always been taught that history repeats itself, so he isn’t surprised that his marriage is on the rocks. After all, he’s no different than the other men in his family—and successful relationships have always eluded the Nelson men. Luke knows that walking out on Summer was the biggest mistake of his life—but he has no idea how to fix it.

As a hurricane churns toward them, Summer and Luke find themselves trapped together at the location of one of Summer’s weddings. Can they reconcile their differences and come through the storm a strengthened couple? Or will the stress of a crisis further tear them apart?

Rainbow's End, a novella anthology I'm doing with Valerie Comer, Nicole O'Dell, and Cara Putman that should be out sometime next Spring. I'm so excited about working on this one!

Treasure seekers unite at the Rainbow's End geocache hunt along Lake of the Ozarks, but some soon discover more challenges than they expected. Can Lyssa discover life and love exist even in the midst of ministry? Can Hadley let go of her insecurities and raise her expectations? Can Reagan step out of her comfort zone, making life-changing decisions on her own? Can Madison let down her guard and learn to listen to her heart? Join them as they seek to uncover life's true treasures.

Beneath the Surface (my story in the anthology)--When Madison Wallace’s sister signs the two of them up to participate in the Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt, Madison is less than thrilled. She isn’t the most outdoorsy girl in the world, so spending two months traipsing around the Ozarks isn’t her idea of fun. Especially when her sister has to back out at the last minute. Grant Simmons loves the outdoors. He jumps at the chance to participate in the treasure hunt with his grandfather, but when the elderly man’s health takes a turn for the worse, Grant is without a partner. When Madison and Grant find themselves teamed up for the treasure hunt, their differences quickly rise to the surface. Will Madison be able to break through Grant’s walls and get him to open up? Can Grant look past Madison’s polished exterior to see that beneath the surface is a heart of gold? If these polar opposites can find common ground, they might find a love worth treasuring.

Well...what do you think? Do any of those sound like books that will go in your "to read" pile? I hope so! I'll be talking about each of these projects more individually--especially when I get to share the covers with you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010...I Barely Knew You

Is it just me, or does time seem to be going faster than it used to? I can't believe it is already 2011!

The past year has been full of some very good and very bad moments. I guess every year is that way, but this one has been more so than normal for me.

First the bad:

My family dealt with some tough losses this year. My grandparents each lost a sibling, and then in August, my grandfather was killed in an accident. There is a hole in my family that will never be filled, so the months since August have been ones of adjustment. Christmas was hard--even with 28 people in attendance, their house still seemed empty somehow.

But there were some good times, too. A few of my highlights from 2010 include:

1. Traveling to St. Louis, Indianapolis, Lancaster, Gettysburg, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Although each trip was for work (research or conferences) I still managed to squeeze in some play time as well. :)

2. I had 2 books release in 2010--Love is Monumental and Love is Grand.

3. Speaking in chapel during Homecoming at Freed-Hardeman University was such an honor. Definitely on my highlight reel of the year.

4. I completed 4 5Ks in 2010, and although I ran each of them fairly slowly, I'm still happy to have finished!

5. In 2010, I had some really fun times with my friends and family. Some of the highlights: concerts (Miranda Lambert and Sugarland); shows at the Orpheum (Jersey Boys, Chicago, South Pacific, and Wicked); and lots of laughter and get togethers. 

But enough reflecting...I guess it's time now to make some plans for 2011!

Hopefully these goals aren't too lofty:

1. Complete a proposal for a new series I've been pondering. And actually send it in. :)

2. In addition to running in several 5Ks in 2011, I REALLY plan on training to run in the St. Jude Half Marathon. I have almost a year to get ready for it.

3. In 2011, I want to go on a non-research related vacation. The kind where I get to read, shop, eat, and hopefully have my toes in the sand.

4. I need to update my website/blog. I've had this on my list forever. When I say "update" I don't just mean add a few pages. I mean re-design.

5. And even though I could go on and on about my goals and plans for 2011, I'll stop with this one...In 2011, I want to get rid of stuff. I mean really, really simplify. And I am a pack rat. I have collected a LOT over my 34 years on earth. This will be a big project, but one I am determined to finally tackle.

How about you? What was your highlight of 2010? Or your biggest goal for 2011?


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