Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Starting Over

As of two weeks ago, this is where my everyday job will be. I resigned from the realtor world, with a gut-load of sadness. I was lucky enough to work with three of the most wonderful ladies that I could have ever wished for in a work place. They were my family away from home. I miss seeing them everyday and their friendship, their different moods and the days of stress, smooth sailing days, the fast paced days, the pull-your hair out days, the fun, the laughter, the bubble gun we consumed, the constant ringing phone, FMLS uploads, GMLS glitches, and the tears when we supported each other through difficult phases of our lives. I still want to answer my home phone with Thank you for calling Weichert Preferred...

This is a picture of my home office. It has a wonderful view of the trees outside, along with chipmunks, birds, bunnies and lately three wild kittens. It's right off the breakfast room, so we are planning on some French doors for privacy and walling off the arches that lead into the dining room eventually. The TV is too distracting for me. But it's hard not listening to The O'Reilly Factor or Shaun Hannity on Fox. The paintings on the side of my desk are a few that I've painted.
Since quitting my job I have finished a chapter on my second book, done a review, submitted an proposal to an agent, and had my laptop repaired, including more memory installed. Now if I can just get it to recognize the other computer to retrieve my documents, I'll be happy. Not bad for just getting back into the groove and a fresh start. Once school begins, I'll start my critique group back up again since my writing buds have school age children. We took a month off because of summer conflicts, but I really look forward to reading their submissions, not to mention their feedback and support for me.
I had a nice distraction this weekend with a visit from my daughter and grandchildren, but now, if I can quit watching the hummingbirds, I'll get back to writing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Review of Bygones

This is the first in the Sommerfeld trilogy and a wonderful story of widow Marie Koeppler, the rediscovery of her Mennonite faith that she abandon long ago, with the awakening love of her ex-beau, Henry Braun. When her Aunt dies, Henry brings news that Marie’s daughter, Beth, has inherited her Aunt’s home and café, but she can only claim it if Beth lives there for six months.

Her daughter bristle’s at the thought of going to Sommerfeld for six months to live in what she considers a backward lifestyle with no modern conveniences. However, her fiancé convinces her that she should go and stay in order to buy their antiques, then use the money from the sale of her Aunt’s home and café to start their own business.

Marie is not so keen to go because of her tearful past, and the way in which her family disowned her when she left the Sommerfeld community to marry her first husband. Marie decides that she will do whatever it takes to help her daughter start her life with a good future, including hiding the truth.

Will the community still shun Marie, or will her family see her true heart and mend the distance between them? This compelling story, written in Kim’s beautiful style of the gentle Mennonite community with a Kansas backdrop, gave me new insight to the Mennonite faith and customs.
This is an engaging romance and I look forward to the 2nd in the trilogy. Kim’s stories just keep getting better!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

International Christian Retailers Show in Atlanta

All this week, the ICRS is having their vendor show in Atlanta at the GA World Congress Center. I didn’t have a badge to get into the show since I’m not published and I do not own a bookstore, but I did have the privilege to meet up with some of my writer friends that did attend for book signings and we had dinner on Monday night at Steak and Ale. The picture of me was taken with Tamela Hancock Murray, agent for Hartline Literary Agency and Kim Vogel Sawyer, whose books I have reviewed. It was a very enjoyable visit over dinner, once we were finally seated. I met with Tamela at my agent interview at the Denver Conference a few years ago, but this was my first time to actually met Kim, though I had seen her from a distance at other conferences. Both ladies are so warm and friendly. Brandilyn was my mentor for the Denver conference. Others that were at the dinner, Chip McGregor, Terry Burns, Brandilyn Collins, Amy Wallace, Tricia Goyer and Sharon Hinck. There were many others, but I didn’t know everyone there, so I won’t even attempt to list them all. What is so cool is that only other writers understand a writer’s mind, so there is a great commonality among us. Chip McGregor who has his own literary agency, stood up and gave a toast to those that had book signings,and to those that have a new book coming out soon. They were antics at my table once Brandilyn joined us. She never takes herself too seriously, which makes it fun for everyone to poke fun at her and she likewise. Maybe that’s why she makes a good MC at the ACFW conferences. Brandilyn gave me her latest suspense book, Coral Moon of the Kanner Lake Series. I can’t wait to read it. Tricia gave me her latest book about the Spanish Civil War, Valley of Betrayal and you know I love historicals. It was a fabulous start for my week to be among these folks and get encouragement and support that they so freely give. When we got ready to leave I asked if anyone needed a lift to their hotel and met a lovely young woman, Julie Dearyan. We enjoyed her short visit in the car with us and made a new friend.
Thanks Amy for taking care of the details and making this all possible! :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Real Freedom

I saw on the Foxnews that the last survivor of the flag raising at Iwo Jima died and was given a nice memorial. Such a price so many paid for our freedom and the privilege to live in the USA. I am sooo grateful. I’ll write more about that kind of freedom another day, but tonight I am thinking of freedom in another way altogether.

My beautiful sister, Gail Kathleen, died 12 years ago today, and we buried her on the 4th of July. I spent all afternoon today looking at family photos trying to find the perfect one of her, and decided this was my favorite even though she was just 17. Though only 58 when she died from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she accomplished what she was placed on this earth for. She raised 3 beautiful, intelligent children, and took great care of my dear mother. She had a green thumb and grew beautiful flowers and she taught me to sew. I was crazy about her and thought she was incredibly beautiful with her green eyes and black hair. She made the best cup of coffee and pot of red beans and rice this side of the Mississippi, as well as sweet ice tea and cold slaw. Her pecan pie was this side of Heaven. She was fun to shop with and chat with about the days events over coffee on a wintry afternoon while stew simmered on her stovetop. Her home was warm and inviting, and she always had her stereo on playing gospel music or Tijuana Brass. She loved music and that loved was passed down to her daughter.

The best gift Gail ever gave me was the gift of Jesus Christ. My mother taught me about God, how he cared for me and read the Bible, so I believed in Christ when I was 9 yrs. old. But it was only when I was 17, did I realize while spending time with Gail that I came to understand what that really meant. Gail loved the Lord and told me that Christ died for me, and that when I died, if I believed in what He had done on the cross, then I would live eternally with Him and my loved ones in Heaven and never die. I was attending a little country church during that time, and after reading much scripture for myself, a great joy burst in my heart when I read, “For God so Loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in Him, would have everlasting life.” That’s it! The truth was very simple. Soon I was baptized and started on this wonderful journey of being a believer, or Christian, as some would say. Gail was the one that lead me to my faith.

Now, I was incredibly sad when she died so quickly after receiving the “cancer” news and surgery, but I believe it was the gift of peace from the Holy Spirit that kept me from crumbling at that gravesite and of course, the prayers of my praying friends. Her Freedom came in the wee morning hours of a terrible thunderstorm of which she had feared all her life. How ironic that God would send his Angels to carry her home to Heaven at that exact time, exemplifying to her that she would never have to fear anything again with no more suffering, but one day a new body! We celebrated that 4th of July after her funeral by doing what she loved—going down to the beach on Hwy 90 in Gulfport to watch the fireworks. How appropriate to celebrate her life and freedom with the freedom that we cherish today as fireworks exploded against the inky black sky!