Author Jo Huddleston

Sweet Southern Romance

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Books and eBooks

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I wonder how many Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers were given and received at Christmas. I would guess a lot more people will be looking for books to read on their e-reader.

Did you balk the past few years about the success or failure of eBooks? Before Christmas online bookstores were selling more eBooks than paper books and probably the number of eBooks selling has grown since many folks gifted e-readers. So we probably should give some serious thought to eBooks. Whether or not we think eBooks are here to stay, they are going to change the reading habits of many readers.

Another change we’re seeing is regarding self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be a nasty word that established authors declared they would never do. Most self-publishing and eBooks are now both accepted and respected.

Have you read a self-published book? Did you know it was self-published before you started reading it? I recently read a book self published by the author with Amazon Digital Services. I didn’t see any errors, the cover was beautiful, and the book was bound well.

I keep up with best sellers in USA Today. Lately I’m seeing a scattering of eBooks on their list of the 50 top sellers. Until this year I’d never seen this. Most of the eBooks I see in the USA Today list are published by Amazon Digital Services.

Many published authors are now putting their out-of-print books back on the market via eBooks and also paper books through POD (publish on demand) companies. This probably is a good thing for the author and the reader, introducing new readers to the author’s work.

℮?So, did you get an e-reader for Christmas? Think it will change your reading habits?

Monday, December 26, 2011

'Twas the Day After...

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Christmas Day has come and gone. I hope everyone got the present they wished for. Did you?

When I don’t get THE gift I want, I usually buy it for myself during the after-Christmas sales. It’s always something inexpensive, but I wait to see if it’s under the tree before I purchase it.

Many things I wish for cannot be wrapped and placed under the tree: I wish the game of politics wasn’t so ruthless as is our daily dose of politicking. On a more serious note, I wish violence would be replaced by kindness; paying health care premiums guaranteed good health; words could adequately express the feeling of love; hearts couldn’t break; it didn’t get dark.

I wish responsibility wasn’t so heavy; the world was a kinder, gentler place; TV programming was more wholesome; good outweighed bad; children didn’t have to be sick; grandparents lived longer. I wish all good dreams came true.

I hope you could spend time with extended family during the holidays. Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and even funerals (in the South) are almost like family reunions. Times with extended family never lack for conversation and catching up on everybody.

We’re not told in the Bible Jesus’ exact birth date but I do hope your family did remember Him, if even silently, and said “Happy Birthday, Jesus.” He is the reason for the season.

 The magic message of Christmas is that God gives us so much more than we can possibly give back! He gave the world the greatest gift of all time. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)’”
                             –Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Learning to be a Bird and a Writer

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

The winner of You Can Have a Happy Family by Amanda Beth is Pat.

We have several baby birds around our house. The first time I saw them they were pecking at surfaces on the deck outside my kitchen window. I wondered how they learned at their early age to forage for food by pecking. Does the mother bird instruct them in bird talk? Does she teach them by imitation of what she does? How do they learn to be a bird?

Since elementary school when we learned that a sentence must contain a noun and a verb, we’ve been able to write. I wrote stories with this short and choppy sentence structure. And I’ve written ever since about one thing or another, never thinking of publication.

Making our writing ready for publication takes a bit more than putting nouns with verbs. How do we learn to become writers? Where do we find instruction?

In this digital age many opportunities are out there about learning the craft of writing. On my website I have a Writer’s Page, which has a list of “Writing Help Sites.” You can find nuggets of writing wisdom on a daily basis from my list and from others.

But before we immersed ourselves into the internet for information, there were books. Some of these books are as valuable to the writer today as they were years ago. Examples: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; and Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull. Newer books have come along that help writers; books by Randy Ingermanson and Donald Maas, for example.

Reading about learning to write is a must, but other things are required of the writer who wishes for their writing to be published. Writers’ conferences are invaluable. You can attend workshops at these conferences on just about any writing topic you want.  Writers can subscribe to magazines that have a total focus on writing: The Writer and Writer’s Digest. Joining a critique group, having interaction with other writers is a great step.

But while learning about how to write, leave yourself time to write. Write something every day, if only an email or an entry in your journal. Writers, God has given you the talent to write; and He may call you to write for the Christian marketplace. If you feel sure of that it will help you to stay the course, never lose your focus, and never quit.

You will get discouraged at times, but never give up. If God has called you to write for Him, that alone is enough to encourage you through the tough times.

Write it before them in a table, and note it in a book.” (Isaiah 30:8, KJV)

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gone With the Wind

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Near the end of each year I try to determine which are my five favorite novels. My list of five always contains Gone With the Wind.  Other titles may change from year to year, but Gone With the Wind never gets bumped from the list.

I’ve of course read the novel but I am so glad they made a movie of it. Many parts of the novel/movie are unforgettable: Rhett carrying Scarlett up the broad staircase; Bonnie riding her pony and her resulting death; Atlanta burning; and of course the last words of the movie—frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a ****.

One other scene in the movie is indelibly stamped on my mind. It’s when Scarlett has returned to Tara, her dad having passed away. She reaches down and takes a fist full of red Georgia dirt and stands with a beginning sunset outlining her, fist full of dirt raised skyward. It’s here her bone-deep determination exposes itself as never before. Even though the Civil War has stripped her and Tara  of all their majestic splendor, her resolve doesn’t waver. She will rebuild Tara.

As we might say today, Scarlett was at the end of her rope. At our graduation  practice my high school principal gave us seniors one piece of advice; I’ll never forget his words or his serious demeanor when he spoke. He said when we got out of school and into life and ever felt like we were at the end our rope, just tie a knot and hang on. We thought his advice was amusing then, but, oh so appropriate as we've grown older.

Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope? What did you do? Did you somehow pull your determination up from your inner self  as Scarlett did? Or did you shrink back and hope for things to get better?

It’s easy to have a positive attitude in a positive environment. I’d like to encourage  you to keep positive thoughts even when you face “the end of your rope.” I want you to reach your potential and be the greatest you that you can be. Think on all the good in your life instead of  always thinking on your past mistakes. The only use of thinking on past mistakes is to help us not to repeat them. Our past is gone; let it stay there.

This Bible verse always helps me to get up and out of the dumps:

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
(Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Win This Book!

­Thursday Thoughts on Writing and Reading

When you leave a comment on THIS post by midnight Sunday, December 18, you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of the book I review below.

You Can Have a Happy Family by Amanda Beth

Amanda Beth passionately desires to see individuals and families transformed through the power of God. Her teachings on marriage and spiritual growth can be found on her website ( and her blog ( Amanda and her husband, Jason, live in Michigan with their four children.

From the back cover of the book
"YOU can’t perfect your family. Amanda Beth can’t perfect your family. NO ONE can perfect your family. But there is hope…GOD CAN!

Join Amanda on her journey to find contentment. She takes you through her personal testimony and reveals the steps God taught her that freed her from insecurity, strife, distrust, resentment, and chaos in her marriage.

She shares with you how to enjoy your family while waiting on God to restore, transform, and perfect you, your marriage, and your children. This book is a guide to a total FAMILY makeover.

As a mom of four children ages one to ten, Amanda understands the struggles of raising a family today. She shares her own struggles along with testimonies and needs of real families. And she helps you apply true Biblical solutions to the problems that marriages and families face today.

God only needs ONE willing heart to change a whole family. Let that heart by yours!"

From Jo:

This powerful faith-based book is a must read for every family. It grabbed me on the first page and didn’t let go till I had turned the last page. I wish it were required reading for every couple about to be married. As the back cover says, GOD CAN…a thought to carry with you every day.

I thank Amanda for giving me a copy of You Can Have a Happy Family, which one of you could win. Remember to leave a comment on THIS blog by midnight Sunday, December 18 to be eligible for a drawing of a copy of this book. You must be 18 years old and a resident of the U.S. to be eligible for this drawing. Neither I nor my family members are eligible to enter. Winner will be announced on my next Monday blog.

Till next time...keep on smiling.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are We in the Future?

Monday Musings on This 'N That

Kaye Dacus is a favorite blogger of mine. She posted an article from Ladies' Home Journal, "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years" by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. Mr. Watkins made his twenty-nine predictions in 1900. Some of them are almost bizarre, some have come true, but some have not.

Before I read thoroughly enough to realize that these predictions were made in 1900, I got excited about a few of them. I wouldn’t be here is a  hundred years but just the thought of some of the things that might happen caused me to share these predictions.

But, you know, let’s look at some of the twenty-nine things I really wish would have happened.

Exciting Prediction #1: “No Mosquitoes nor Flies” Mr.Watkins backed up this prediction by saying that Boards of Health would destroy all mosquito breeding grounds and the extinction of horses and their stables would reduce the flies.

Exciting Prediction #2: “There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated.” That’s good news to my ears. You know I’m afraid of snakes. So, no wild animals, no snakes. Now if the roach bug could become extinct!!! I read once where a Southern gentleman kills the bugs (not the ladies). In the South we rarely have winters cold enough to kill off the bugs. That’s the biggest thing that bugs (pun intended) me about living in the South.

Exciting Prediction #3: “Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself.” Double wow! I do not swallow pills easily. When I was in elementary school and needed to take a pill, Daddy would take me into the furnace room (why that room I don’t know), tell me to open my mouth wide, and he would throw the pill into my throat. It’s a wonder one of the pills didn’t go into my lungs and I might not be here today.

These predictions were right on: “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance.”/ “Man will see around the world.”/“Telephones around the world.” All done now by internet and wireless phones.

Take a look at all these predictions made in 1900 and see how far off and how close to the truth the items were. You can read them here  I'd love your comments on these predictions.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thick or Thin?

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Recently I propped up my bed pillows to read some before sleep. The book I planned to read was by a best-selling author and I’d read all his previous books. When I lifted his new book to read I realized it was quite heavy. I thumbed through the pages then I realized the book was well over 400 pages.

I couldn’t picture myself spending the time it would take me to read this thick book. I’m a slow but thorough reader and I could imagine that reading this book would probably take me weeks. The last book of this size that I read was Gone With the Wind. I was in my twenties then with fewer responsibilities than now and thus more time for reading.

So what did I do? I put the book aside without reading even the first page. Reading the first page I knew would cause me to read page two..then page three…. I didn’t want to make a commitment to reading the total book.

On the other hand when I read a skinny book that has many fewer pages than 400 I sometimes wonder if I spent my money wisely. Skinny books can draw me into them just as a 400-page one does. Around 200-250 pages is ideal for me. I do make exceptions, but not to 400 pages.

My lesson here for me is not to bring home a book simply because I know and have read the author before. I learned that I should look to the last page and see if that number pleases me. I must consider my slow and thorough reading ability and do the best I can when reading any book.

"Do what you can with what you have where you are.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Does it make any difference to you how many pages in a book?

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stuff or Truth?

Stuff or Truth?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That
(a day late...sorry)

Yesterday’s newspaper contained more retail flyers than it did news sections. Side by side, the stack of flyers was more than twice as thick as the actual newspaper. All the stores have extended their shopping hours, opening earlier and closing later than before Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, did you shop on “black Friday”? Or on cyber Monday? I read about and realize that on the day after Thanksgiving some stores had super bargains—but super enough to pitch a tent on Monday to be the first in the store on Friday? But, you know what, yesterday’s flyers showed the same stores still have most of those black Friday super bargains.

In this economy when we’re all supposed to be in a bind financially or not employed, people sure are spending money. Or, rather they are spending plastic—credit cards. It wouldn’t surprise me if it may take some shoppers all  next year to pay for what they buy between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We’ve been buying things this way for a while but it seems this year folks are behaving more materialistic than before. So, shoppers are frantic and racking up staggering debt on stuff.

Well and good if that’s what floats your boat. But it’s so, so obvious that the true meaning of Christmas is again pushed to the end of the line by those who love things more. They behave as if they don’t remember, or maybe never knew, the real meaning of Christmas. That saddens my heart.

Instead of buying Christmas presents for everybody, each of the adults in our little family draws a name of one person to purchase a gift for and we also set a maximum cost to spend. Of course, we all give the children presents. But once they’re out of high school and have a job, their name goes into the hat for Christmas giving. This way we don’t over emphasize buying and giving so much as on the real history of Christmas. We each make a list of several things we’d like to receive so the person who selected our name with have a choice of what to buy as long as they don’t overspend our set maximum cost.

As we compile our wish lists for Christmas, may we remember the words of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: “The magic message of Christmas is that God gives us so much more than we can possibly give back! He gave the world the greatest gift of all time. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6).’”

I hope all of you will have an enjoyable Christmas season of parties, shopping, opening presents, and decorating the tree. And I also hope you receive a gift that will bring a smile to your face and you’ll think of the truth of the season.

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hang in There

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I’ve been told that from Thanksgiving through February publishing houses are not a busy place. No hurrying and waiting,  not many phones ringing, and just plain unproductive. I can understand this happening during the holidays and until January 2. I’ve been told that January and February are good times to submit to publishers and agents. I guess so, since publishing all but shuts down during that time (so I’ve been told).

If the lull between Thanksgiving and February truly happens then the equation I come up with is that it takes three-four more months writers have to wait. If I were asked by an unpublished author for one bit of advice for their writing career I would answer flat out: you have to be patient and not get discouraged.

A writer spends months, maybe years, to complete and polish a novel, submit it to an agent or publisher, and then wait to receive a response. Any response, good or bad, just please let me hear from  you.

This situation in publishing is akin to going to the doctor. You sign in at the front desk, giving your name and your appointment time. You take a seat expecting to be called back shortly because you came in at your appointment time. But then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Sometimes your’re told the doctor had an emergency at the hospital and will return soon. And, hey, you know what? If it were me having an emergency at the hospital I’d sure appreciate the doctor checking on me instead of coming by after his office hours. I honestly would.

So, as a writer waiting to hear from a publisher, try to keep positive thoughts. I agree that’s difficult. But the publisher may be just finishing all the work required for another manuscript and ours is next in the pile. And when the publisher opens our manuscript we should be grateful if he gives it as much attention as he did the previous one.

While we’re waiting, and even if you receive a rejection, a good step would be to start your next book and continue learning the craft of writing. I hope you’re patient and positive. Neither can hurt you and might help you in the long run.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes
                             off your goal.”—Henry Ford

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Could It Be Alvin?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

I’d seen him many times. He got around with deft agility. And did he move fast. I thought he was the only one around. I’d watch him move from one safe spot to another and then he’d disappear into a small hole near the deck steps. His name could have been Alvin because he was a chipmunk. (No, that's not my hand.)


Then one day I saw him scampering in my yard and he had a friend with him—another chipmunk. The real Alvin on screen had two buddies. I wondered if my Alvin had more than this one buddy. I’ve only seen two of them together at the same  time. Of course they could be twins—the stripes on their backs are identical. I know they are in the rodent family, but they really are cute.

At my kitchen window one day I saw a sizable cat with a chipmunk in its mouth. I hurried outside screaming at the mean cat and waving my arms. I suppose I was scary enough that the cat froze and his mouth dropped open. The unharmed chipmunk plopped to the ground and dashed away to safety.

We also have squirrels scooting around in our trees. And stray dogs and cats. And sometimes a snake (see my November 7 blog post). I’ve often thought where all these little creatures go when it gets really cold. Another puzzle to me is how birds in trees survive strong winds.

Jesus says He takes care of the birds and flowers and we are much more valuable to Him (Luke 12:22-28 NIV). You know how I feel about worrying. In these Bible verses Jesus admonishes us not to worry because doing so cannot add one hour to our life. Watching the little chipmunks in their hustle and bustle reminds me of these verses and makes me smile to know Jesus takes care of their necessities and also mine.

How do those little bird feet hang onto the tree limb when the winds come?

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! –Luke 12:24 NIV

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Prayer

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

The winner of last Thursday’s book giveaway for a copy of I Called Him Dancer by G. Edward Snipes is Ginger. Thanks for all your comments and for following my blog. More giveaways soon.

Considering that today is Thanksgiving Day in America and staying in line with this blog’s Thursday theme of reading and writing, please allow me to quote from one of my books. Following is an entry from Amen and Good Night, God: A Book of Evening Prayers on the topic of thanksgiving:

I praise you for the miracles of today. I'm thankful for your many blessings. Help me to be positive, not grumbling daily or taking for granted your many good provisions. You can do more for me than I could even imagine! May I never forget to offer you praise and thanksgiving.
Amen and Good Night,God  

The book, Amen and Good Night, God: A Book of Evening Prayers, is available in paperback AND eBook formats here.  

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, November 21, 2011

From Pretty to Ugly

Monday Musings on This 'N That

Last Wednesday as I walked across the parking lot toward my doctor’s office I calmly said to my husband, “This feels like tornado weather.” It was not windy, the sky was blue; but when you’ve been unfortunate to have been near a tornado you can just tell. When leaving the doctor’s office it began to sprinkle rain and began a downpour just as we got into the car. We drove from the parking lot and around the corner when rain hit us in sheets. We pulled off into another parking lot to wait out the rain.

Then’s when I heard the weather sirens that give us warnings of bad weather. Two minutes later our car literally rocked from side to side. So glad we were not driving on the streets. We couldn’t get a radio station on the car, so I started calling family members to find out what was coming our way.

What we found out was we were smack in the middle of a tornado warning. When the rain slowed and the sky lightened, we started our way home. No visible damage anywhere; just autumn leaves everywhere except on the trees.

The closer we got to home, the worse it appeared. It was ugly: trees were down across the street, allowing  only one-way traffic and other trees had fallen across house roofs. Two roofs were completely gone. Most of our street was blocked because of trees and downed wires, but we finally circled around and arrived home safely. The tornado was on the ground for 27 miles and its path came about two blocks from our house.

It appears the only damage we have is on our lower level patio—the glass-top table is no longer and the patio umbrella is turned over. We haven’t checked the roof for missing shingles but we don’t see any fallen trees on us. We have no electrical power—my laptop is running on battery and I can’t get internet service because of the outage.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
How true of all our days. Making plans is another one of those things we so easily take for granted. I’m blessed my family is safe and I’ve heard of no fatalities.

Please cherish each day, whether rain or shine.

Till next time … keeping on smiling.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Many Books

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Leave a comment on THIS blog post by midnight, Sunday, November 20, to be eligible to win a copy of I Called Him Dancer by G. Edward Snipes. Please remember to give your email address so that I can contact you if you should win.

Is there a difference between the reading habits of readers who don’t write and readers who do write?

Probably most readers who write for publication  (even when reading for pleasure) will have their internal editor turned on whether aware of it or not. They will tend to see grammar errors, punctuation errors, spelling errors, etc. right away. Catching those errors are ingrained in a writer’s mind because they must read their own writing with their editor hat on.

Readers who do not write for publication, probably don’t concern themselves with actually hunting down those errors. I wonder which group is more apt to enjoy reading a book.

Which group do you think would be more likely to read more books? I don’t have any statistics on that topic; it would be interesting to know.

How many books do you read in a year? One a week, one a month, or more or less? Writers who write for publication are often faced with deadlines to get pages to their publisher. That takes a big chunk of their time. There will be intervals between those deadlines and writers do read.

In my e-newsletter I ask readers to share their five favorite books (you can subscribe to the newsletter from my website). My list sometimes changes from year to year.

So, how many books do you read a year? Would you like to share the titles of your five favorite books? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. It would put a smile on my face.

"I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right."  Billy Graham

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Monday Musings On This’N That

The leaves are falling and the trees are almost bare, their naked limbs reaching…  I would suspect they are reaching for a better season for their purpose on this earth. A season of shrubbery budding and bright green leaves to once more adorn them. It’s a long time till spring and these bare trees and not-so-pretty bushes must wait…they have no choice.

Do you ever find yourself in a similar place…waiting? We all wait at times in our lives. What we wait for is important to us. Are you patient, knowing you have no other choice? Or do you lose your patience, your life filled with strife and stress from the waiting?

Impatience will gain us nothing but fretting and worrying. Impatience will not cause whatever you are waiting for to appear sooner than it’s supposed to. Can you recall a time when you were forced to be patient and it was worth the wait when what you desired came to be? If so, share it with us in the comments section below.

Who or what makes your life complicated by causing you to wait? Waiting is not easy. It’s usually downright nerve-racking. Impatience is a close cousin to worry; neither will gain us anything. The secret to being happy while you are patient is to wait with hope.

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.”
—Alexandre Dumas, French playwright

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning to Write

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

NOTE: The winner of the book giveaway last Thursday is JENNIFER. I'll be having some more contests for stay tuned.

When you’re just starting out on your writing career, where do you turn for direction or instruction? Where do you find materials that will get your writing wheels turning?

Well, when I started writing I didn’t look any place for direction. I just wrote…don’t try this at home. I wrote a few short stories and sent them to some women’s magazines where I’d been reading the stories they printed. I think I was just trying to write like what I had read in those magazines. I had no doubt they would be published. Nope, they were all rejected.

After those rejections, which hurt oh so badly, I decided I’d go to a bookstore that sold magazines that might be helpful. I found sections of magazines on most any topic you could imagine. To my pleasant surprise they had two magazines for writers. I bought one of each—Writer's Digest and The Writer--and consumed their contents.

I was overwhelmed to learn what I didn’t know: writers met together at conferences, books were available about how to write, and there were market guides to help writers. I stepped back and wondered about what I was attempting to do. Why didn’t Good Housekeeping use my story in their magazine? Why didn’t  Ladies Home Journal like my writing? I really wanted some answers. I couldn’t ignore a feeling deep inside that maybe, just maybe, sending my stories to those publications was not what I should have done. This nagging feeling wouldn’t stop and I had to seriously confront it. I was finally convinced that God was telling me that’s not where He wanted my writing to be.

The first article I submitted to a Christian publication was accepted! How’s that for God getting my attention? I started going to Christian writers’ conferences, attending all the workshops I could work into the schedule, and meeting other Christian writers. Well, you probably know the rest of the story: I was published in many different magazines and devotionals, wrote an inspirational newspaper column in a secular venue where I was allowed to quote scripture, and had three nonfiction books traditionally published.

So, when you begin your writing career look to resources for help: writers’ magazines, writers’ conferences, books on the writing craft, and other writers. From personal experience, I suggest that you do not venture into anything until you know what God has in mind for you.

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Which Is The Good Snake?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

What’s your favorite snake? What … you don’t have a favorite snake? And so many to pick one from … there’s the copperhead, rattle snake, water moccasin, black snake, chicken snake, and many more, I’m sure.

When my son was young we were at Silver Springs, Florida and he wanted to go into the snake show. AND he wanted to sit on the front row, which we did! The first thing in the show was a person who brought out a huge snake, holding it in his hands, and walking along the front row to allow spectators to feel of the snake. My son did; I did. Not once thinking that the snake could turn his head and BITE someone if it wanted to. It didn’t.

Anyway, that’s the only snake I’ve touched and don’t plan to touch another one. Returning home one day I noticed a very small snake lying just outside the garage doors. I got out of the car, reached for a hoe standing in the corner, and set out to kill that little snake. I raised the hoe above my head and slammed it down near the snake’s head. When the hoe hit the concrete beneath the snake it bounced back up almost as high as I had it when I started my killing spree! Good thing it was a little snake or it would have had time to bite me before I could bring down the hoe to hit it again.

Okay, then, what’s my favorite snake? A good snake; and a good snake is a dead one. Take a look at this one my son found inside our garage a few days ago. I’m glad he found it instead of me; I might still be running.

My son used the same hoe and chopped the snake two or three times. He googled it and determined it was a garter snake; not poisnous. But still the only good snake is a dead snake in my book.

Till next time … keep on smiling (and don’t bring any snakes to my house!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Win This Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by midnight Sunday, November 6, you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of the book I review below.

Save The Date by Jenny B. Jones

Jenny B. Jones is the two-time Carol award-winning author of Just Between You and Me and the Charmed Live series.

From the back cover of the book:
When the funding for Lucy's non-profit job is pulled she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair, former professional football star and heir to Sinclair Enterprises—the primary donor to Lucy’s non-profit organization.

Both Lucy and Alex have something the other desperately wants.

Alex has it all except…except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancĂ©e in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart—and her future—on the line.

Save the Date is a spunky romance that will have readers laughing out loud as this dubious pair try to save their careers, their dreams…and maybe even a date.

From Jo:
Jones includes enough humorous situations to make you smile or maybe even laugh out loud. Her characters are real and memorable She describes her settings so well you'll feel you're right there with Lucy as the plot unfolds. I couldn't find enough time to get back to this book and continue reading.

Leave a comment below by midnight Sunday, November 6, to be eligible to win a copy of Save the Date.
Please be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I can contact you should you be the winner. For better security from scammers you may leave your email address as (an example): jo(at)gmail(dot)com.

Till next time ... keep on smiling. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who Schedules?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter. Which is your favorite season of the year?

Let’s talk a bit about the seasons. Here in the South we just about skipped any spring weather and just jumped into hot, hot summer. There was hardly any nice spring days to sit outside. It just turned hot.

Now it looks we’ve jumped into winter without a fall to watch the beautiful colors of the leaves. We had a 30 degree drop from one day at 80+ degrees to the next day at 50+ degrees.

I’ll  never understand who schedules college football games. We start our football season in August. The first few games are in mid-day when it’s 85-90 degrees. Then when the cool weather comes, the games are at night and that’s a chilly three hours to sit watching a game. But then it’s been suggested the reason for the football  games' starting times is for following the TV scheduling. Schools will play when they get the chance to be on TV where they will receive more money, whenever the time. So I guess it is true that you can “follow the money” and find most answers to your questions.

I  know, I know, I’m as big a football fan as anyone. But, really. Do they think of the fans or the money when scheduling game times? It’s just another thing I can’t do anything about. They never ask me when making all these decisions. Wonder why?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where’s You Place?

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing
How do you mark the place you stopped reading before you put the book aside?

Some may use:

the receipt  from where they bought the book.
a finger nail file (yes, I did that once when it was the closest thing to grab).
a tissue (yes, I’ve seen that done).
bookmarks they’ve picked up at the library or bookstore.
bookmarks that authors have at book signings.
a business card (done that too).

And (boo, hiss!) some may turn down the top corner of the page where they want to start when they can get back to read the book again. I can’t imagine someone doing that to a book they own; but I’ve seen plenty turned-down corners on library books. That’s not being respectful to the book or the author.

And (boo, hiss!) another thing some do is lay the opened book with print down. I worked in the library in junior high and the librarian would really give a sermon to those who did that. It breaks the spine of the book—that part of the book you see when they’re all lined up on a bookshelf.

I’m on Debbie Macomber’s mailing list. Yearly she sends a long letter and includes a bookmark—shiny on both sides with plenty of information about her books. A friend cross stitched my initials on a bookmark. So I do have a nice supply of beautiful bookmarks. It's difficult to even think about throwing any of then away.

How do you mark your place when you must close a book and return later? Don’t tell me you turn down the corner of the page—please, just don’t tell me.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Before and After

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Many years ago we built a two-leveled deck on the back of our house. The wood used for the project was “treated” wood. However, we didn’t waterproof the finished deck. Years of Southern sun, rain, and even a little snow have taken their toll on the deck.

Our son is using a pressure washer to blast the ugliness off our deck. It appears it will be at least a two-week project. But I wanted to share some pictures with you as the project has progressed. He moved everything (of which some were also pretty ugly; maybe time for new outdoor furniture?) off the upper level down to the lower level before he started on the upper level. Below are “before” and “after” photos. I hope you can see the stark difference of improvement of the wood.



 Many places, not only did the pressure washer remove the discolored surface of the wood, but raised splinters from beneath the outside layer of the wood, which will require sanding for our comfortable use. After all that I hope we will waterproof this time.

This reminds me of how we may look to God. But when we turn our lives over to Him He will remove all the goop and splinters and show how we really look on the inside. If we leave our religion  in the church house on Sunday and don’t live it the rest of the week, we need to let God do some pressure washing on us. Didn’t  mean to do a sermon when I started this blog post but the analogy was so apparent, I couldn’t resist. So, happy pressure washing.

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
 - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Till next time …keep on smiling.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who's You?

Thursday Thought on Reading and Writing

I love to read blog posts by Kaye Dacus. She makes me smile, laugh, think, and wonder. She sometimes shares pictures of celebrities she chooses to be characters in her books. On her blog post of October 13, Kaye Dacus asked this question: What actor/actress would you choose to portray you in a movie based on the story of your life?

Rene Russo

Diane Keaton

My answer to that question was:
Rene Russo because she’s who I want to look like—that gorgeous copper-red hair she had in The Thomas Crown Affair. But then Diane Keaton because I love the personality she portrays on screen. Sorry that’s more than one, but put them together and that’s my pick.

So how would you answer that question? Please leave you answer in the comment section.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Pallet?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That
What do you think of when you hear the word pallet? Do you think of those portable platforms for handling, storing, or moving materials and packages? They’re flat,wooden, and you see them sometimes in grocery stores when items are being placed on the store’s shelves. Behind WalMart you can always see stacks of empty ones. They’re really unattractive but useful to warehouses and stores.

When I hear the word pallet I think of beautiful quilts. My grandmother raised eleven children and as adults when even a few of them would visit her at the same time, beds were usually for grown-ups and the pallets were for her grandchildren. But these pallets were made by layering beautiful quilts on the floor to make it as comfortable as possible for those who slept there. And then you got another quilt for cover.
Ladies in the family or community would gather to hand-stitch quilts. Most of my grandmother’s quilts were made of pieces from outgrown clothes. And when finished, the patterns of the quilts were breathtaking. I have one an aunt made that has butterflies patterned all over it. Another one was made for my son and brown ponies cover it.

Some hand sewn quilts have very intricate patterns. Some are hung on walls as decorative art. When I remember my youth I never forget the times I’ve slept on a pallet on the floor. More fun to a kid than a bed anytime.

You ever slept on a  pallet?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

eBook Frenzy

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I've jumped on the band wagon of eBooks and e-readers! I’ve published two of my out-of-print books into eBooks: Amen and Good Morning, God and Amen and Good Night, God. Both books are now listed for sale at $0.99 (the lowest price they allow) at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I am not a techie and don’t have much ability with technical procedures. But the talk was that it was easy to put out an eBook. A Kindle (an Amazon product) was the big kid on the block so I thought I’d start this adventure with them. After reading all the instructions to convert by books into Kindle books, I had second thoughts. Several places recommended starting with eBooks at an online company called Smashwords (at that time Smashwords was publishing in all eBook format except Kindle).Their instructions were less technical but still I couldn’t see myself doing this.

But Mark Coker, the boss man at Smashwords has a list of people who will do the formatting and book covers for you. All I had to do was send my book manuscripts in a Word document and they would convert them into the correct format that I could submit to Smashwords. Yay! I could do that. So I chose Bryan Coker (email him here) to do my formatting and Miss Mae (email her here) to do my books’ covers. They were so patient with me and we got everything ready for me to submit to Smashwords.

Next, I wanted to try to get my books into Kindle format. I wanted help again and I found Ellen Maze (email her here) who formatted my books’ Word documents into Kindle and Nook (Barnes & Noble) specifications. Ellen does covers but I already had covers. I would highly recommend Bryan Coker, Miss Mae, and Ellen Maze if you want help making an eBook. If you contact them, you may use my name if you’d like.That won't get you a nickel but they will know where you heard of them. Each of them had reasonable rates for their services.

In the book publishing business everyone is talking about eBooks. More and more people are purchasing e-readers. The “experts” are predicting and speculating how the future of book publishing will be affected by all this; but most of them agree that eBooks will bring a change. According to Amazon, et al it’s already changed. This eBook thing has really caught on.

Converting an out-of-print book into an eBook and converting a novel you have written that’s never been published are on two different ends in this eBook spectrum. This is a great opportunity for authors who have out-of-print books, which have already had a thorough edit at the publishing house that originally released the books. If I wanted to convert a book manuscript that I had written but it hadn’t been published and therefore had not been professionally edited, I would hire a professional editor to give it an edit before I started any formatting for an eBook.

If you read either of my two eBooks and like them, I’d appreciate it if you’d write a review of the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or on both. Thanks in advance.

Have you ventured into the eBook waters? Is so, how was your experience in doing that? Think you would do it again?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your Greatest Victory and Mine

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

What was your greatest personal victory? Did it happen in high school, in college, in a relationship at any age? Is it something that might not seem huge, but was very important and meaningful to you? If you think your personal victory would seem silly and trivial to others it may be a highlight in your life and therefore not at all trivial or silly to you.

I’ll tell you about something I considered a personal victory to me if you’ll tell me yours. After reading this, do you promise to comment and let us in on your big moment? Promise?

Okay, here it is for me. In high school I was on the girls’ basketball team. Getting selected for the team was of itself a fete. Got issued a uniform—shiny gold in color with big numbers on the back of the shirt. My own number twenty-four!

I had transferred into this high school in the middle of my sophomore year—yes, yet another move of 8 from K-12—in the middle of basketball season. I started playing with the team in my junior year. On the court my specialty was the two-handed jump shot from where the 3-point shots are made today. But then it was only a 2-point shot and I sometimes shot beyond where the 3-point circle is today. And my shots touched nothing but net; I never banked any off the backboard. (No, that's not me in the photo.)

I’m trying to stay humble here, really. But I rarely missed those shots when the other teams’ defense was such that I could get clear. I made them from the top of the key and beyond; from the corners; well, from just about anywhere. BUT I sat on the bench more than I stayed on the court. See, this shot was all I had going for me. I was not aggressive enough to go in and shoot from under the goal.

Anyway, one night I sat on the bench watching the game and trying to learn. Our cheerleaders and fans sat on the opposite side of the gym. Then I heard it. They were chanting my name: “We want Stoney! We want Stoney!” (My maiden name was Stone.) They kept the chanting going till coach put me in.

That night people wanted ME to get into the game! Me, who sat on the bench. Me, who had hardly any self-confidence at that time in my life! I made more shots that night than ever before. My teammates set up screens for me so I could shoot without an opponent in my face. I can still hear the chanting; me going to the scorer’s table and checking in; and then me running onto the court. My shots were flawless.

See, all that may sound silly and unimportant to you, but to me, a high school girl, it was like being crowned Miss America.

So, now it’s you turn to share a little about your greatest personal victory. You promised, didn't you?

Till next time … keep on smiling. 
If you have trouble leaving a comment please let me know by sending me an email from here

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writers Write for Readers

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Most readers have their favorite authors. When a new book comes out that one of my favorite authors has written, I don’t even read a review of the book or read the book’s back cover print. Only one time have I been disappointed by doing so. Recently I started reading a book by a writer whose other books had been political thrillers; by the time I got to Chapter Two I honestly thought I was reading a Nicholas Sparks (whom I also like) book. The author had radically changed genres and I was disappointed. I wanted to read a political thriller and got a romance.

Readers don’t want their authors to change genres on them. Writers who write in more than one genre will usually use a pseudonym/pen name for each category in which they write. Romance author Nora Roberts also writes under three other names. You’re probably familiar with her thriller/mystery novels that she writes under the name of J.D. Robb (I’m not giving away any secrets—it’s on Wikipedia.) By doing this, her readers know which kind of book they’re getting when they select Nora Roberts or J.D. Robb.

Not many writers are as prolific in publishing novels as is Nora Roberts. But she has done a wise thing in separating her writing categories by using a different name for each.

Writers, have you ever tried to shift categories in your writing and still use the same name? If so, have you received letters from readers saying you had confused them by doing this? As writers we must have our audience in mind at all times. If we skip around in all areas of writing using the same name, we will confuse and perhaps even lose readers. Reader loyalty is a precious commodity to a writer and we should do nothing to jeopardize that connection. So if you feel compelled to write in different areas, remember your readers and use a different name for each category in which you write.

If not for readers, authors would languish and fade away not to be read again, at least not much. Readers (and I am one) want consistency from their favorite authors. It is compelling for writers to remember that.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.