Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Creative Fever

I signed a contract on a proposal for The Cowboy's Miracle, which is to be part of Prism Book Group's Christmas Cowboys Series. I spent three days thinking and writing and daydreaming about the proposal. The idea consumed me while I was driving, loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, and especially when I sat down for a few minutes to crochet. The best term I can think of to describe this phenomenon is by calling it a creative fever. 

I'm not the first person use that term either. And it's not a terrible disease, it's actually fun. True, it's a big distraction, but it's certainly better than concentrating on mundane tasks. At any rate, I sent off the proposal and received a contract. I love publishing in this technological age. Everything is FAST. Of course, now I have to write the book, but I'm looking forward to it.

I just handed in the manuscript for Hoping for Joy, which is part of Prism Book Group's Love Is Series. Hoping for Joy will be released in December of this year. The Cowboy's Miracle will also be released in December. There will be plenty of editing to do in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Outside Blessings is already on prerelease at Smashwords. So if you have a few minutes surf on over to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/610444 and download a sample.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Old Maid, Do-Si-Do, and the Bottomless Cup of Love

 My Special Guest Today is ANITA KLUMPERS!
Read her own true love story below. 

By the time I was twenty-five my mother had given up on the hope that I would marry. She bought me pots and pans and Pfaltzgraf and flatware because, she reasoned, even single women need to live. And, Lord willing, I wouldn’t live with her and Daddy forever.

Dad wasn’t too concerned. After all, he hadn’t married Mom till he was in his early 40’s. And if God didn’t want me to wed, then I could follow in Cousin Angie’s footsteps and be a missionary in Africa.

The idea of a single life filled me with dread. Please, please, PLEASE God, don’t be equipping me to remain unmarried. I developed crushes. Friends tried setting me up with their relatives. I went out dancing with friends. To bars. After all, I was a nice Christian lady at a bar. Why couldn’t there be nice Christian guys there too? Maybe there were. I never met one.

A few months shy of my 27th birthday I decided I was tired of looking for potential mates. Although not at the point of picking up books on how to enjoy the gift of singleness, I figured it might be time to focus on my relationship with God. So, along with several wonderful single girlfriends I went to a spiritual winter retreat for young adults from a dozen churches across our state. Did I mention I’d determined not to check out every eligible young man also in attendance?

I meant it. So when I took note of a devastatingly handsome man with dark eyes and a dimpled chin sitting across the room, it wasn’t his good looks that got my attention. Arms crossed, looking bored, he was the only one sitting out the square dance mixer. In gracious and generous Christian-girl fashion I thought ‘Jerk,’ and went back to dancing my little size 9’s off and trying to remember my allemande left from my do-si-do right.

Later that night, after devotions, a group of us played cards. A game I didn’t know, called euchre. I’m a dab hand at Old Maid but this one had me flummoxed, and a group of generous friends tag-teamed trying to teach me to play. It was hilarious. Really hilarious.

Later that night a group of us went into town for coffee. The dark-eyed square-dance-boycotter came too. He sat across from me and told me he got a kick out of watching me laugh over euchre. He flirted just enough to make me feel interesting but not so much as to make himself look insincere or lecherous.

We went our separate ways after that weekend and didn’t meet up till early summer. It took him till late summer to ask me out and in the meantime one of my major crushes from the previous few years, a Christian marathon runner and photographer I’d met at work, finally returned my interest and began asking me out. After I lectured God about his timing I realized maybe He knew what He was doing. I had to make a decision between two attractive men (my daydream back in the days before I realized it would be painful) and I chose the right one.

Wouldn’t my story make a fine romance movie? Sort of an ‘At Long Last Love’ type of life? But now, three sons, four grandsons and countless prayers and tears and rejoicings later, I realize that my entire life has been filled with love.

From birth, before my birth, my parents loved me, and continued until their last breath on earth. Aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens meant extended love and the kind of safety net children long for but don’t always enjoy. Then there is my family in Christ. Brothers and sisters more than the sands on the shore, and wherever there are God’s children there is my family, and we love each other. We don’t always play well together, but the love is there.

My friends—oh, my friends! When I bemoan my limited practical skills and meager dose of common sense I remember my glorious friendships with some of the most godly, delightful, gracious, fault-overlooking women as can be found. I would rather have my friends than an artist’s eye, a singer’s silver tongue, or an athlete’s supple limbs.

On all this abundance of love God set a gem of a husband. He is as attractive, open, and affirming as when I first met him, and he still refuses to dance. Those three sons love me in spite of a plethora of faults and mistakes and my little grandsons still give me smooches in public.

Do I know I have been gifted far and above anything I could think or ask, much less deserve? You bet. But what if God had not seen fit to give me a husband, children, grandbabies? What if my parents had been cold, negligent, absent, and I didn’t have some sort of strange ability to find wonderful friends? Would I be any less blessed? No. Not a bit.

God loves me. God has loved me before I knew what love was. If I had never known human love, God’s love would be beyond the heights and depths and breadths of what I think I need. Jesus prayed for me the night before His death and prays for me today and the Spirit intercedes for me with sighs too deep for words and the Father’s love is vast beyond all measure. What wondrous love is this?!

Family, friends, husband and children have all hemmed me in love, and the love that comes from God is greater than these.

Check out Anita’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Elise Amberson’s husbands always die before she can get the marriage momentum going. At least this last one left her with lots of money. Now she can hang out with her dogs, avoid men, and try to keep off God’s radar.

But her dogs are behaving oddly, a pesky pastor can’t keep his hands off her soul, and God is backing her into a corner.

It’s all more than a rich, beautiful young woman should have to bear. But when someone begins targeting Elise, she’ll have to figure out why before she becomes the late Widow Amberson.

 Available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1nIiqWm.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Great Speckled Pancakes

I always make pancakes from scratch--no mix for me. I have a favorite recipe for oatmeal flour pancakes and another one for buttermilk pancakes. However, my top pick for the heartiest, tastiest pancake of all is the one for the recipe I found in The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook by Jean Hewitt. (1971)

The original recipe calls for dry milk, which I never have on hand. It also lists brown sugar as optional, but I love brown sugar, so for me it's not optional.

Give these a try next time you make pancakes. I'm sure you will enjoy them, too.


1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 yellow cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 cups milk

1. Sift the dry ingredients together.

2. Beat in the eggs, milk, and oil.

3. Ladle the mixture onto a hot, oiled griddle. Cook until bubbles form on the top side, which indicates that the bottom is browned. Then flip the pancake and cook the other side.

Yield: About one dozen pancakes.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How to Write a Book

Everyone has an idea for a great book. However, there are a number of people who think that's all they need--just that one fantastic idea. What they do not seem to realize is that someone has to put all the words together before that book can be sent off to a publisher or self-published.

A considerable amount of time is required to put all the words together for a book. It takes sitting at a computer for hours and hours and hours typing in the sentences. It isn't magic.

I have been approached by more than a few individuals who think I can put their book together for them. I don't do that. I use up what spare time I have available in putting my own books together. Writing takes a lot of patience. Then, though I may proclaim my book finished, my editor certainly will not, and I will have to go through all the edits and fix each and every one. Getting a book published can be a tedious process.

There are many helpful references available to anyone who wants to write a book. If you have an incredible idea for a book, you better get started on it right now. Type out a bunch of sentences and then a bunch of paragraphs until you have perhaps 60,000 words or more.

Make sure you have a decent plot along with memorable characters. Realize that there are millions of other books available on the market and while yours is action-packed and suspenseful, the odds of you becoming incredibly wealthy overnight are rather slim.

In fact, you should definitely keep your day job.

Still, it can be very rewarding to see your book in print. If you have the drive, go for it. If you want to get your book published, don't give up. Tap out the words on the keyboard of your computer.

When your book is finally finished, send it off to a publisher or an agent. If you intend to self-publish, make sure you hire an editor to read through it. Then write another book because that is the life of a writer. If one of your books does land you a contract or sells well, it helps to have another book waiting in the wings.

Don't worry that someone will steal your idea. Those of us who are writers have plenty of our own ideas. Besides, there are really only a limited number of plots in this world.

What makes every book unique is the voice of the author.

Okay? Now get to work. :^)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

No Cookouts Anytime Soon

This is our patio on the morning after the blizzard of 2016. We won't be having a cookout anytime soon. It's going to take some time for all the snow to melt. Unless we get more on top of what we've already received, which could happen. After all, it is January.

We were fortunate that we did not lose power during the storm, and we are on high ground so we don't have to worry about flooding. We were worried about our roof because a recent storm caused a few shingles to lift and we had water dripping into our living room. However, the roofer's fix seems to have held and we were delighted about that.

I spent the blizzard finishing a baby blanket I started, prompted by my crocheting friend. I also converted an old VHS tape to a DVD. I spent too much time on the internet looking at everyone else's snow pictures as well as the flooding along the coastal areas of NJ.

I shoveled snow. It was wicked outside, but we figured we better make at least one pass to get rid of what had already fallen before the rest of it came down during the night. Fortunately, we have a wonderful neighbor with a huge snowblower who helped us clear away a great deal of the white stuff. Otherwise, we'd still be out there.

I made my favorite pancakes for supper. Daughter #1 decided we deserved wine to go with them after all the shoveling. I didn't get much writing done. Listening to the wind made me too tense!

Were you in the path of the blizzard? How did you spend those hours while the storm raged outside?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Through the Reeds

One warm day last week, hubby and I went to one of the local parks for a walk. I spotted an old rotted stairway leading down to a rock dam. On one side of the dam, a thick stand of phragmites grew with a path beaten down by many feet. My curiosity got the better of me and I had to see where the path led. Would it end at the other side of the rock dam?

The phragmites were tall, making me feel short. A red-winged blackbird flew overhead, scolding me. I enjoyed the somewhat magical sensation of being hidden inside the reeds.

There are many analogies for walking along on an unknown path. For many writers, it is easy to equate  such a path to the process of writing a novel. You can't see very far ahead and you may not be sure where the next turn will lead, but it's that sense of adventure that makes writing so much fun.

Abruptly, I came to the end of my little sojourn. A broken down spillway blocked my progress. If I was more daring, I would have tried stepping over the mossy stones. But I'm not as spry as I used to be so I turned around and returned to the old stairway through my magical path. It was a short exploit, but delightful nevertheless.

Monday, January 18, 2016

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP--Available at Kindle Unlimited!

Currently, the digital edition of THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is available only through Kindle Unlimited. If you enjoy a book set in the wintertime, a marriage of convenience, a meddling ghost, and evil paranormal circumstances you should enjoy this story. One reviewer said, "The story is full of twists and turns and keeps the reader turning pages to the end." Another Kindle customer said, "The writing is fresh and original, an excellent read." One more said, "A fantastic story, with an even more imaginative ending."

An excerpt is available here: http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2013/10/sunday-scenes-company-you-keep.html
Or watch the video!

Don't forget to get your Kindle Unlimited edition while it's still available!