Monday, December 31, 2012

You've Got Mail Monday



The holidays are almost over, so the inbound mail has slowed down a bit. Not a lot, but some. I've been thinking about next spring's garden, which sounds kind of silly because we have almost a foot of snow on the ground right now.


I blame the mailman for it. My Burpee and Gardener's Supply Company catalogs have already arrived. I also received a new catalog from Frontgate, which is where I bought the hubby's iPad caddy from. I can't afford much of what's in there, but it's still nice to look.

I also recently received a shipment of copies of my latest book, A Christmas Kindness, which I wrote under the pen name C. C. Gevry. Not sure if I'll keep the pen name going forward. Seems like it might be more of a pain than it's worth with separate websites and social media accounts that need tending to.

Other books that have come my way are The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien--thanks Patty, The Last of the Seals and Deadly Plunge by Greg Messel (I'm reading the first one now), and Iconic Spirits by Mark Spivak. It looks like this year is destined to be just as busy in the book review department. Most of my reviews appear at The Book Connection, so I hope you check us out there: http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/

Hope this last day of 2012 has been a good one for you. Thank you for your readership. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goal Setting for 2013



It's that time of year again. We reflect upon how we managed our goals for the year that is coming to an end and compile a list of goals for the new year. I have to admit that 2012 was overwhelming for me. I committed myself to a plethora of projects, started new blogs, released a new book, submitted a manuscript--which got accepted by Guardian Angel Publishing--and began looking for a job. The girls both took on new activities, which kept us all running:  the Lil Princess had soccer and violin and the Lil Diva opted for cheerleading and chorus.

I've spent the past week applying online for work, but honestly, since Christmas day I've been a total goof off. I just need some rest. But January 2nd will be here before we know it. The regular schedule will kick into gear and I'll need to get focused.

I've always been a goal-oriented person. I don't think I could accomplish half of what I do if I weren't. Here are a few of the goals I'm setting for myself in 2013:


  • Write one picture book a month for 12 x 12. This is a program coordinated by Julie Hedlund. You can find out more at http://www.juliehedlund.com/info/. I'm in the midst of choosing which ideas I want to work on.
  •  Finish Amelia's Mission by March and begin editing in April. This is dependent upon my work schedule. If I get a job, I might not be able to reach the deadline. I'm still willing to try it. I figure, if I can get a chapter written a week, I should make it. 
  • Consider consolidating blogs. In 2012, I started two new blogs, but with my reading time reduced, I haven't had the time to grow them the way I want. If that doesn't change by the end of March, then I will probably focus on my three main blogs and let the other ones die off. Doing this would increase my writing time, so it's not a total loss.
  • This is more like a resolution than a goal, but I want to catch up on book reviews. I found I overloaded myself way too much in 2012, so 2013 needs to be focused on reading the books I'm already promised to and not taking on any new requests--no matter how wonderful the book sounds. This will be my hardest task. I hate passing up any book that sounds good. 
  • On a personal level, I want to exercise three mornings a week for 20 minutes. 
  • I also want to begin riding my bike a couple times a week once the weather warms up.

This is a good place to start. I'll review my goals again in March to see where I'm at and make necessary adjustments.

Do you set goals for yourself? If you do, are you willing to share any with us?

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unexpected Christmas Hero Giveaway Winner


Congratulations goes out to Josie for winning a copy of Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias.

Thanks to all who participated. Look for more giveaways coming soon.

Making Bread


Check out the new toy my son and daughter-in-law bought me for Christmas. I haven't made bread in years, mainly because it takes forever. This bread maker will allow me to make bread in an hour. I can't wait to try it out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!



Hope you had a lovely Christmas. We got a dusting of snow, so the girls were happy to see a white Christmas. A storm is on the way for tomorrow, so we opted not to go to New York City.

Was Santa good to you? I received some lovely gifts, including two books: Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer's Life by Elizabeth MacLeod and Women and the American Civil War: An Annotated Bibliography by Theresa McDewitt. My son and his wife bought me a bread maker. That was a surprise. Now, I just need to figure out how to use it.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Kindness Book Blast Winner!



Congratulations goes out to Beverly, the winner of my book blast for A Christmas Kindness. She won a $25 Amazon gift card, a copy of A Christmas Kindness, and a copy of Little Shepherd.

Thanks to all of who participated in this book blast. Whether you were a blog host or entered the giveaway, I greatly appreciate your support.

Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season.


The Magic Warble Giveaway Winner!



Congratulations goes out to Tayet, who won a copy of The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox.

Thanks to all who participated. A new giveaway started today. Look in the right-hand sidebar for a direct link.

Free for All Friday: Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias


I have another copy of this powerful Christmas story to giveaway.

Never expecting to be homeless, Josie Meyers and her children are shocked when circumstances force them to live on the streets. Rick, a down-and-out disabled vet, befriends them, reawakening memories of a faith Josie had in childhood. But can she reconcile her once-held beliefs with her current situation? Will she and her children even survive long enough to try to rekindle Josie’s faith?

You can read how the cover of this book led to reuniting the man on the cover with his family at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8029271015.html

Enter to win a free copy of this book using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Sandy Hook Effect



Obviously, I'm still here. I saw this post on Facebook several times over the past few weeks, and I thought it might help lighten the heavy load of what I wanted to talk about today.

The tragic events that transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT last Friday have captured worldwide attention. The senseless loss of life, especially when the majority of the victims were small children, leaves one wondering how we move forward. Do we need stricter gun control laws? Should armed police officers be posted in every school? How can we better manage care for the mentally ill?

My heart breaks for those families who are spending time saying goodbye to loved ones during a season meant to be marked by peace and joy. As a parent, I can imagine some of what these people are going through, but I cannot even begin to comprehend how an entire community will heal from this vicious attack.

I blogged today at Christian Children's Authors about anxiety. After Sandy Hook I was anxious when my children returned to school on Monday. My husband and I weren't sure how our school district would handle discussing--or not discussing--what happened that day with the students. The Lil Diva (11) had a field trip to Boston, and my mind raced considering all the possibilities of what "might" happen to her while she was away. When I dropped the Lil Princess (9) off at school Monday for her violin lessons (an hour before school was actually in session), I made sure to watch her every step of the way, and make sure the door was closed and locked behind her before I pulled away in  my truck. Before last Friday, the door was usually wedged open so the students could come in without having to ring the buzzer. And while I always waited to make sure she was inside, I needed to watch that door fully close and know it was locked before I could leave her.


The Lil Diva usually calls me when she's on the way home, so I can pick her up at the bus stop. She hadn't remembered to charge her cell phone, so she couldn't call me Tuesday afternoon. I only made it through about 10 minutes of waiting before I called a friend looking for her. I used to complain that she wouldn't walk home the three-quarters of a mile each afternoon. Now, I would rather pick her up. Once I see her, I know she's okay.


If this is how I feel, not even directly impacted by what happened in Newtown, how much greater must the anxiety be for the people of that community and the surrounding areas? How do the victims' classmates and the remaining teachers ever get their lives back to some semblance of normal? I feel the same way when I hear of children being abducted. It's a wonder we don't all lock ourselves in our houses and pray nothing bad ever happens to us.

It's only knowing God is in control that keeps me from being a nervous wreck. And honestly, it's still tough to give my worries up to God and feel comfortable with the kids being away. That's part of how the Sandy Hook Massacre has changed me. One week ago, I was happily preparing for Christmas, and now I feel guilty if I play Christmas music. How can I experience joy when these families are suffering so greatly?

In time, a long time from now, we might remember what life was like before we heard of Sandy Hook. For now, we must do our best to help the victims' families and pray our leaders will work together to prevent such tragedies in the future.







Thursday, December 20, 2012

TV Movie Review: Naughty or Nice (2012)


Pardon the lack of a photo for this review. This is a new release from the Hallmark Channel, and I didn't feel comfortable swiping a photo off their website. You can see photos from this movie at http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/naughtyornice .

Hilarie Burton plays Krissy Kringle, an ad executive who lives on Candy Cane Lane. Having worked her tail off to get new business for her company, she doesn't have time to worry about participating in the neighborhood's house decorating contest. When she is unexpectedly fired by her boss, Helen (Michelle Hurd), she's also not in the mood for the misdirected pile of mail intended for Kris Kringle.

As she's plowing through Santa Claus's mail, she discovers a package that contains his "Naughty or Nice" book, which he had left behind while visiting a child. She soon discovers the book is magical and allows her to see the bad deeds of those around her. But when the naughty list hits too close to home, it causes problems between Krissy and her long-time boyfriend, Lance (Matt Dallas) and one of her neighbors.

This is a fabulous movie. While funny, dramatic, and romantic all in one, the subtle theme behind this movie is the danger of jumping to conclusions. Krissy makes a lot of mistakes along the way, but eventually turns things around.

It was great to see Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross together again as Krissy's parents, Carol and Walter Kringle. I loved them on Family Ties, and it was like no time had passed for the actors as they fell into that sweet, loving chemistry they portrayed when they were the Keatons.

My favorite character, however, is Marco (Gabriel Tigerman). Once Krissy loses her job, her mother secures her a place at the local mall working as an elf in the gift wrapping area, which is where she meets Marco, who's also playing an elf. I was wondering where they were going to take their relationship, but you'll just have to see the movie to find out. You can catch is again on Saturday, December 29th at 6 PM Eastern. I'm hoping they will release this one on DVD, because I would buy it tomorrow.


Release Date: 24 November 2012 (USA)

I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

TV Movie Review: Trading Christmas (2011)

Based upon Debbie Macomber's novel originally titled, When Christmas Comes, this 2011 seasonal tale provides the viewer with romance, humor, and tender moments.

Emily Springer (Faith Ford) has been a widow for three years, but she's still trapped in the past. Upset when she learns her daughter Heather (Emma Lahana), who is in college in Boston, won't be coming home for Christmas, she calls her best friend Faith (Gabrielle Miller) in California for sympathy.

Charles Johnson (Tom Cavanagh), a Scrooge-type college professor and writer, lives in Boston, not far from his brother Ray (Gil Bellows). Charles's publisher is pushing him to make edits to his latest book before the deadline, but he's experiencing the worst writer's block of his life. He needs somewhere quiet where he can concentrate without distractions.

Emily decides to surprise her daughter in Boston. So, she and Charles swap houses for the holidays. Imagine Emily's surprise when she discovers that Heather has taken off to Arizona with her boyfriend Jason (Andrew Francis). Meanwhile, Faith, who feels bad for her friend being all alone for Christmas, makes plans to travel to Emily's to spend Christmas with her, not realizing she isn't there.

Trading Christmas is the perfect blend of sweet romance and humor. Emily and Charles are both out of their elements when they travel to opposite sides of the country during the Christmas season. Emily meets Ray. Charles meets Faith. Heather, who is so excited to do something different for Christmas, realizes she misses all the things she does with her mother.

While I felt the opening of the movie was a bit jumbled, moving from Washington to Boston to California, once each character was settled in their part of the country, the storyline flowed nicely. Faith Ford and Gil Bellows, and Tom Cavanagh and Gabrielle Miller had excellent chemistry as they interacted with each other. You couldn't help but root for them to get together. The storyline with Heather and Jason really isn't much. Heather's decision not to come home is the reason everything played out the way it did, but she's not vital to the story otherwise. When the movie switched to college in Boston or where she and Jason were in Arizona, it felt like they were just putting the characters in there so you wouldn't forget about them.

Placing a grump like Charles, who doesn't like Christmas, in a town--and specifically a house--where Christmas is unleashed full-throttle, is hilarious. Cavanagh plays this grouchy, anti-social, nervous guy to a tee. His banter with the character of Faith is great. He's not too keen on women. She's not too keen on men. It makes for some funny conversations. It's touching to watch Emily and Ray get to know each other. Their lives are so different, even how they grew up. And, yet, they are perfect for each other.

The ending of Trading Christmas was sweet and predictable, but you come to expect that of a Hallmark movie. You can catch this one on Saturday, December 22nd at 2 AM Eastern on Hallmark Channel if you would like to see it. Like many of these movies, it's also available on DVD.

Release Date: 26 November 2011 (USA)
Run time: 88 minutes


I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WSJ Wednesday - 2012 Books of the Year



This weekend's edition of The Wall Street Journal included their annual Books of the Year lists. Broken down into fiction and nonfiction categories, each list contains 10 titles. There is also a separate list for business books. The back page of this special section contains best-selling books for week ended December 9th.

There are a few things I found interesting about this section. The first is that I never seem to read any of these          popular titles. The only one that appears on the best-selling list that we even own is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney. Is it the same for you or do you end up reading a lot of popular books each year?

The best-selling books lists include e-books. Should this surprise me? No, but it does a bit. I didn't grow up with e-books. Even my girls (11 and 9) prefer to read a printed book over one off my Kindle, though I've never attempted to persuade them toward liking one over the other. My youngest probably enjoys e-books the most. Kids in her school (2nd and 3rd graders only) still prefer to read printed, but upon occasion you'll see an electronic device in the classroom. Their inclusion on the lists reminds us that publishing is changing.

As a writer, these lists are also discouraging in a way. Well-known names fill them: Bill O'Reilly, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Janet Evanovich to name a few. Where does that leave room for the rest of us? Is it any wonder self-publishing and e-books have taken off the way they have? How many of us have built-in platforms like O'Reilly? How long does an author wait to find representation and have a real shot at making the lists?

I'm going to save this special Books section and see if I can make time to read at least a few books from the lists.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - December 18th


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


The McFarland Trial sensitized the public and the medical profession to the inherent inequities with the insanity defense. A compassionate society tempers retribution with reason.

~ page 88, The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Kindness Book Blast - Amazon Gift Card & Book Giveaway



Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Inspiration Behind A Christmas Kindness

How is it that children have the ability to reach out and help others in ways adults don't always think to do?

One year, our oldest daughter--then only eight--went door-to-door in our neighborhood collecting money for Toys for Tots. Coordinated by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, this program collects new, unwrapped toys each year and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in our communities. This summer, my girls ran a lemonade stand so they could bring money to a local animal shelter.

Why don't I think of doing such things? I guess it's easier to write a check and send it in the mail. But what effort is involved in that? My children make it personal, and much more meaningful, by giving something of themselves.

With A Christmas Kindness, I hope to capture the generosity of a child's heart--the way they look at the world as a place of endless opportunities to make a difference.

May you be blessed this holiday season.

Cheryl Malandrinos, writing as C. C. Gevry, is a children’s author and editor. She is a member of SCBWI. A Christmas Kindness is her first book with 4RV Publishing. Visit her online at http://ccgevry.com.


Pump Up Your Book and C. C. Gevry are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

 $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD


 1 COPY OF A CHRISTMAS KINDNESS

 +

1 COPY OF LITTLE SHEPHERD




ENTER TO WIN!

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, then after they visit your blog, they are directed to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.

This promotion will run from December 17th - December 21st. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email, and announced on December 24th.

Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win.

Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.

What a great way to not only win these fabulous prizes, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!


A Christmas Kindness Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 17th



a Rafflecopter giveaway


If the form doesn't work, you can enter at: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/12/13/pump-up-your-book-presents-a-christmas-kindness-book-blast-25-amazon-gc-free-books/


Sunday, December 16, 2012

TV Movie Review: Farewell Mr. Kringle (2010)



This heartwarming tale of the season is a must see. Christine Taylor stars as Annabelle Wahl, a jaded journalist who is sent on an assignment to cover the 50th anniversary of Mistletoe's own Kris Kringle. After being widowed on Christmas Eve, Annabelle doesn't celebrate Christmas. She begs to get out of this assignment, but her editor and friend, Zoe Marsden (Vivica Fox), insists she blog about her experiences in Mistletoe for the next month.

The town and its people are overwhelming to a classy girl from the city. She can't stand their quaint ways, and she thinks the way they have embraced John Wilson's decision to be Kris Kringle (William Morgan Sheppard) is a bit too quirky, going so far as to rename the town and all its streets to holiday names. But when she hears Kris's story from the townsfolk and learns of all the good he's done, she's eager to interview him.

Slowly the town of Mistletoe works it's magic on Annabelle. But meeting Mark Stafford (Christopher Wiehl)  throws her for a loop. A former cutthroat divorce attorney, he returned to his home town and now owns the local bed and breakfast. Still hurting from the loss of her husband, Annabelle isn't sure she's ready to open her heart again.

This is a fabulous movie. A classic Hallmark Channel movie that includes drama and romance, Farewell Mr. Kringle is a must see this holiday season. You'll definitely need a tissue or two while you watch this one. Little did Annabelle know when she arrived in Mistletoe that she and Kris Kringle share a hardship: both of them lost their spouses close to Christmas.

Watching Mark and Annabelle's relationship unfold is so touching. Both have reasons not to open up their hearts, but Mark is willing to do it if she is. Annabelle is just harder to convince.

Between the small town feel of Mistletoe, the celebration of Christmas, and the romance, you really can't go wrong with this one. All the characters were delightful. Make sure you catch this one on Hallmark Channel on Friday, December 21 at 4 PM Eastern.


Release Date: 4 December 2010 (USA)

I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.




TV Movie Review: Once Upon A Christmas (2000)

Kathy Ireland stars as the daughter of Santa Claus in this family tale of the season.

Santa is unhappy that so many families are on the naughty list, so he's going to cancel Christmas and take off on vacation with Mrs. Claus. This leaves his oldest daughter, Rudolfa (Mary Donnelly-Haskell) in charge, and she plans to change Christmas in drastic ways. Kristin Claus (Ireland) can't let that happen, so her father tells her if she can bring one family from the naughty list onto the nice list, he'll come back.

That won't be easy. The Morgan family consists of a widowed, work-aholic father played by John Dye, and two spoiled, bratty kids who have chased off every nanny they've ever had. There's also Uncle Johnny (Wayne Thomas Yorke) who's living off the family and has no plans to get a job any time soon.

When I looked up this movie to write my review, I was surprised they produced a sequel (Twice Upon A Christmas). I had a few challenges with the plot of this one. While it all works out in the end and you discover Santa's true intentions, the early minutes of the movie show a Santa that is not discouraged over how the world is changing, but one who is ready to blow off all the good kids who deserve presents so he can take a vacation. I'm not sure that's the kind of movie I want my children to see, even if Santa is redeemed. I also didn't care for the fact that Santa has an evil daughter and some naughty elves who help Rudolfa carry out her plan to ruin Christmas.

The main characters of this movie were portrayed a bit stereotypical for my taste. Bill Morgan (Dye) buried himself in his work after the death of his wife, and has lost sight of what is important. To make up for his absence, he's spoiled his kids, Kyle (James Kirk) and Brittany (Kirsten Prout), lavishing them with gifts they don't even play with. Kristen Claus (Ireland) is so good that one can't even consider she would jaywalk. And if I were to be totally honest, Uncle Johnny creeped me out a bit. The only character I truly loved was the Tooth Fairy played by Liz Torres. She was hilarious.

Once Upon A Christmas has potential. If they rounded out the characters a little bit; made Santa more sympathetic; tossed the evil daughter, and made Kristen more believable, it could work. Proust did a great job in the role of Brittany, and I was glad to see her finally come around.

Though this movie really wasn't for me, the ending was superb. I wish the rest of the movie had been like the ending. I would have truly enjoyed it. This will replay on Thursday December 27th at 2 AM and 4 PM Eastern if you would like to catch it.


Runtime: 90 minutes

I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.


TV Movie Review: The Case for Christmas (2011)



Could someone actually sue Santa Claus? That's what happens in this 2011 Hallmark Channel movie starring Dean Cain and Rachel Blanchard.

Young attorney Michael Sherman (Cain) is at the courthouse looking for clients when he finds a man claiming to be Kris Kringle (George Buza). After being charmed by Michael's daughter, Lily (Helen Colliander), Kris asks Michael to represent him in a class action suit being brought against him by Braxton Bennett (Barry Flatman), a rich entrepreneur. Bennett is suing Santa for emotional distress because he didn't bring him the presents he asked for, and he's found others who claim to have the same problem.

Widower Sherman has student loans to pay, so he's certainly not about to turn down a case, but Santa Claus? This guy certainly must be off his rocker. Lauren (Blanchard), a good friend of Michael's deceased wife, and Lily think Kris is the real deal.

It's hard not to like a movie with Dean Cain in it. He's such a versatile actor, who brings great depth and emotion to all his characters, whether he's playing Superman (Lois & Clark), Joseph Smith (September Dawn), or a toy maker living on a ranch (The Three Gifts). The Case of Christmas is definitely a feel-good seasonal tale. Cain plays emotionally detached Michael Sherman well and makes him believable and sympathetic. Colliander's Lily is also a star. Not only adorable, her wonder and awe of Kris Kringle and her quick belief of who he is and what he can do add a great deal to the movie.

I have to admit, however, that Blanchard's character lacked chemistry for me. Lauren is pining away for Michael, and when Kris asks her why she hasn't told him she's in love with him, her plain answer is that he would never be interested in a girl like her. Yet, she can believe Kris is the real Santa Claus without missing a beat. Blanchard delivers her lines, but until she gets angry at Michael I don't feel any emotion behind them. I didn't even sense the connection between Lauren and Michael at the end. It's  like the writers made the decision that the movie had to have a romance storyline in it, whether it would work or not. Personally, I felt it would have been better without the romance.

What I do think is hilarious is the sub-story of problems with the equipment at the North Pole. Kris has to keep disappearing to go back home to fix the machine. When he does, he leaves his right hand man, Charlie Elfkin (Dylan Roberts) to help Michael with the case. Charlie is an annoying guy with a huge appetite, leading to many funny moments. Bennett and his attorney, Dina (Krista Bridges), also add several funny scenes.

Overall, this is a cute seasonal movie. The combination of serious and funny was good, but I wouldn't have minded if the movie was more drama and less comedy. It should run again on Sunday, December 23 at 10 AM Eastern if you want to catch it.


Release Date: 19 November 2011 (USA)
Runtime: 87 minutes

I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Events at Sandy Hook a Tragedy, Not a Political Debate



A nation's hearts are saddened by news of the horrible tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday. As these events have unfolded, one tries to make sense of a senseless act.

While my heart cries for the families torn apart by this tragedy, I'm also disturbed people on Facebook and  some politicians are turning this event into a political debate. Whether one believes administrators and educators carrying concealed weapons could have subdued Adam Lanza, or that stronger gun control laws could have prevented Lanza from killing 27 people (20 of them children) before turning a gun on himself, aren't they missing the point?

Shouldn't all our thoughts and prayers be focused on the people affected by the massacre at Sandy Hook? Shouldn't we direct our attention to how we can help? My God, 28 people lost their lives. An entire community has been thrust into mourning. An entire nation is searching for answers.

There will be time for political debates. There will be plenty of time for lobbyists to grease the hands of politicians. The time to help those affected by this tragedy, however, is limited. We are going to go on with our lives. We're going to celebrate the holidays with our families that are still intact. But every family who lost someone on Friday will continue to grieve.

How do you get these children and teachers to ever feel safe going back to that school again? How does a town of 27,000 people find a way to heal? They need us now and in the months ahead. I pray we can focus on the people instead of the politics.

The town of Newtown has set up a Sandy Hook Support Fund. You can visit the town's website to find out how you can donate: http://www.newtown-ct.gov


Friday, December 14, 2012

TV Movie Review: Fallen Angel (2003)

Another tear-jerker from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection, Fallen Angel is a superb seasonal movie.

A tense relationship with his father forced Terry McQuinn (Gary Sinise) to leave Maine and never look back. Now a successful L.A. attorney, he returns after the death of his father to settle the estate. Terry has no plans to stay in Rosepoint, but when he learns that Katherine Wentworth (Joely Richardson), who he met when he was only a boy, wants Serenity Cottage opened for Christmas, he decides to help get it ready for her.

As Terry's past and present collide, he is drawn to Katherine and her young daughter, and his once fulfilling life in L.A. doesn't seem so satisfying any more.

Oh, my goodness, what a great movie this is. Sinise is a fabulous actor who can play rough and bitter guys like Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, a hero fighting evil in The Stand, and a romantic lead in this touching 2003 movie that will make you laugh and cry.

Sinise and Richardson had such chemistry in this movie. And because the character of Terry has memories of their first meeting that Katherine doesn't have--for reasons I can't reveal or it will ruin the movie for you--the viewer watches Terry's struggle unfold. Should he help her reconnect with the past? Should he let the memories stay hidden?

This movie started with backstory. We first meet Terry McQuinn at the age of nine. His mother is deceased and he lives with his detached father in Rosepoint. His father is the caretaker for the cottages inhabited by wealthy residents who visit Maine, so he's working a lot of the time. After a tragedy that takes place around Christmas that year, his father never allows Terry to join him at work again, and the chasm between them widens.

We then see Terry again at 18, graduating from high school. It's at this point he decides to leave Rosepoint and his father behind. So, the first half hour of the movie pretty much sets the stage for the rest of it. I felt the short scene between Terry and his dad at age 18 could have been left out, but perhaps the viewer needed to see that tension explode and push Terry to the edge so that his return to Maine was more meaningful.

Despite the title, there are no angels in this movie. It's a term used by one of the characters to describe the homeless people who lean across car hoods to get warmth from recently shut off engines. That's another tidbit I can't explain, but I thought it should be clear there are no heavenly spirits involved in this one.

Hopefully you can catch this movie on Hallmark Channel next week. It's supposed to air at 2 AM Eastern on Monday the 17th and 6 PM Eastern on Thursday the 27th.

Release Date: 23 November 2003 (USA)
Runtime: 120 minutes


I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Free for All Friday: The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox Giveaway


How did Friday creep up on us so fast? Only 10 more shopping days until Christmas. Thankfully, I'm pretty much done. I even wrapped about half of the gifts. Once I get to the grocery store for the final time, I'll feel like I am in good shape. I can't stand grocery shopping.

Today we have not one, not two, but three e-copies of a book up for grabs. The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox is a middle grade fantasy novel. Here's the synopsis:

Dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and an evil queen – all these and more can be found in The Magic Warble, an enchanting tale of adventure and friendship.

Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and the evil Queen Sentiz.

In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she’s honored as “the chosen one” the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz’s control. But it’s not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the famous “Magic Warble” in its final resting place. And she must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen’s “zelbocks” before she reaches her destination. Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, as well as an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart.

I wrote up a First Chapter Review of the book at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. This is what I had to say:

KEEP READING: Yes. This isn’t a genre I read often, but I like to expand my horizons from time to time. The author has created a character that young people can easily relate to in Kristina. Though the first chapter is short, the reader gets an idea who Kristina is, what she likes, what she doesn’t like, and who is important in her life. Nicely done.

Read more reviews!

What a great book! When my elementary aged daughter saw the cover art with the faerie on it, she was immediately interested in reading it, so I let her read it first. She loved this chapter book full of wondrous adventures, and said she would like to read it again.
--The Freebie Fairy

I just finished reading The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox and it is a fabulous story...Anyone that likes a good fantasy story will fall into the pages of this wonderful book and go on a journey that will stay with them after they turn the last page. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Black Shard.
--The DMS

This book was magical.
--Jennifer Zuna, Amazon reviewer


Now's your chance to pick up a free electronic version of the book. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

TV Movie Review: A Season for Miracles (1999)

Miracles, romance, and family blend together in this heartwarming tale of the season.

A Season of Miracles is a typical Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. It has conflict. It has a family in trouble. It features small town America and its nosy neighbors. But most of all, it touches the heart from beginning to end.

This movie stars Carla Gugino as Emilie Thompson, the aunt to Alanna (Mae Whitman) and J.T. (Evan Sabara). After Emilie's sister (Laura Dern) overdoses again, the children are threatened with foster care. Not wanting her niece and nephew to be separated, Emilie runs off with them and arrives in the little town of Bethlehem. With guidance from an angel, portrayed by Academy Award® winner Patty Duke, Emilie and the children take over an abandoned Victorian home across from an angel statue in the town square.

Nosy neighbors assume Emilie is the niece of Miriam Pierce, who owned the house and left it to her niece when she passed away. When her car breaks down and Emilie must find a job to pay for the repairs, she pretends to be Miriam's niece so that the children have a warm place to stay until they can move on. She doesn't count on falling in love with Police Captain Nathan Blair (David Conrad) or on the blessing of many friends who help her while in town. Can David's love convince her to stay in Bethlehem? What will happen if her secret is found out?

A Season of Miracles is one of the sweetest movies I've ever seen. I didn't know that it was based upon the book, Season for Miracles by Marilyn Pappano. According to the reviews of the book on Amazon, many were disappointed the book wasn't as good as the movie. That's a change. I still think I'll order a used copy or see if my library has one available.

David Conrad plays the honest, caring Nathan to a tee. As the story unfolds, you can't help but like him. You want this situation to work out for all of them. The viewer gets a chance to see the kids come out of their shell the longer they stay in Bethlehem and have what resembles a normal life. Toward the end, when Alanna is sitting before the judge (Lynn Redgrave) and sharing some of what her life was like when she was with her mother, it was almost impossible not to cry.

You have to suspend a little bit of reality when you watch this movie. Not because of how the angel helps guide these people along, but because I just don't see how in real life this truly would have worked out in any good way. That said, if you get a chance to watch this movie on Hallmark Channel this month, it will be time well spent.

Release Date: 12 December 1999 (USA)
Runtime: 100 minutes

I recorded this movie on my DVR off the Hallmark Channel. This movie contains my honest opinions, for which I haven't been compensated in any way.

Movie Review: Argo (2012)

If you only see one movie this year, make it Argo

Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck stars and directs this movie about the covert rescue of six Americans hiding out in the home of  the Canadian ambassador when militants storm the United States Embassy in Iran, taking 52 American hostages.

Based on real events, this dramatic thriller takes place in November 1979. Tony Mendez (Affleck), the CIA's top "exfiltration" specialist is tasked with coming up with a viable plan to get the six Americans in hiding out of Iran safely. His plan: to enter Iran under the ruse of scouting locations for a sci-fi adventure movie, where he will hook up with the six Americans and play them off as his production crew. For this, he'll need the help of Executive Producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman), along with support of his superior Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston).

From the opening moments of this movie to the time the credits rolled, I was one hundred percent captivated. While still young when the historical events took place, I recall television news footage of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Though my husband remembered this rescue, and how the Canadian government was given full credit for it to hide our government's involvement, and therefore, not further stress Iranian-American relations, I only recall the failed rescue attempt that resulted in the loss of American serviceman, an Iranian civilian, and two aircraft.

This is a powerful, action-packed movie. As politics, espionage, and danger mingle, the stakes rise higher and higher. You get a glimpse into what these militants were all about. How much they despised America's support of the Shah of Iran, and the lengths to which they were willing to go to keep the de facto Iranian government in power. You witness the deep desire in the CIA to see these Americans come home alive, and how desires can often be influenced by politics.

There isn't a dull moment in Argo. You are glued to your seat the entire time. I don't think anyone left the movie theater for 120 minutes. All the actors portrayed their parts well. You felt their fear. You felt the danger. You felt every emotion dripping from each of these actors. I was totally enthralled. I don't say this about many current movies, but I would love to see this one again.


Release Date: 12 October 2012 (USA)
Run time: 120 minutes
Rating: R for language and violence

I paid to watch this movie in the theater. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NEW Healthy Choice Baked Entrées



As a member of Crowdtap, I applied to participate in a sample of NEW Healthy Choice Baked Entrées. I received a $1.00 OFF coupon to sample one of six varieties.

I haven't had anything with sausage in it for a while, so I opted to try the Italian Sausage Pasta Bake. It was yummy! Just the right portion, it featured whole grain rotini pasta with Italian sausage, tossed in a garlic marinara sauce that was topped with mozzarella cheese.

Since I cook with garlic on a regular basis, I expected to love the flavor, and I did. We switched to whole grain pasta a few years ago. I like that it is healthier for you than regular pasta. What I have always enjoyed about Healthy Choice dinners is their lower sodium content than other frozen entrees. This provided me a quick and easy meal that tasted close to homemade. I'll definitely be buying this and other varieties soon.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - December 11th


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I did not believe in ghosts. Or rather, until this day, I had not done so, and whatever stories I had heard of them I had, like most rational, sensible young men, dismissed as nothing more than stories indeed.

~ Page 65, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Monday, December 10, 2012

You've Got Mail Monday



I can't even keep up with my mailbox, lately. That's why I haven't posted about all the neat things that have arrived. Let's just say, my office is so full of boxes right now, I might need shovel to make a path to my desk.

The girls have been good, though. They haven't bugged about or poked or prodded through the packages. They did, however, ask that question parents never want to hear this time of year, "Is Santa real?"

In addition to the multitude of packages that have arrived via USPS, UPS, and FedEx, I wanted to point out two things. One is Gary's Gray World by Ryan J. Cunningham. Ryan is touring with this book in January, and I'll be reviewing it at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. The Children's Spring/Summer 2013 catalog from Chronicle Books also came in the mail last week.  I haven't browsed through it yet, but I visited their website recently and found the most hilarious book.


I watched the trailer for this one, and though I don't have much of a sense of humor, I really want to buy this book. Now, if I could justify spending $13 on myself after all the Christmas shopping I've done, I would be in business.

Hope your holiday preparations are going well.

The Alchemists Academy Blog Tour & Book Blast



The Alchemists Academy Book 1: Stones to Ashes by Kailin Gow



What do you learn here...at the Academy? Wirt asks. Magic? The responsibility to use your powers responsibly? Uh...something like that, his roommate Spencer said. More like how to rule worlds. Wirt, is used to being shuffled from foster home to foster home, adopting a devil-may-care attitude toward the world along the way. Now he s in a school he can t escape, learning to develop his latent magical abilities, for what use, he doesn't know...to save his world or to destroy it...

Purchase


Excerpt from Stones to Ashes

Wirt screwed his eyes shut, wishing fervently that he was somewhere, anywhere else. Right now, being back with Joan and Peter was looking an awful lot more appetizing. First, though, he had to find some way to get out of here…

Wirt doubled up as his stomach suddenly cramped. For a moment, he though he had been hit, but that hypothesis went by the wayside as the feeling spread to every muscle in his body at once. As far as Wirt knew, and thanks to some of his earlier misadventures he did know, not even three people could manage to hit you everywhere simultaneously. Wirt forced his eyes open, and then quickly shut them again, because the golden radiance surrounding him was simply too bright to look though. Around him, the gasps of the three bullies were clearly audible.

“He’s glowing, Rich. Why is he glowing?”

“How should I know? Look, just grab him.”

“You grab him. He could be radioactive or something, the way he’s glowing.”

“Oh, so it’s all right for me to grab radiation boy, is it?”

The sounds of a scuffle came to Wirt, but they were quickly replaced by silence. He didn’t really care, because by now the unpleasant sensation running through his body had reached unbearable levels, feeling as though every scrap of him were being pulled in a different direction.

As suddenly as it had come, the sensation passed. Wirt had to concentrate just to breathe, and he stood like that for long seconds. He didn’t dare open his eyes, at least until it occurred to him that the three older boys might still be there waiting to hit him. That made his eyes snap open so quickly that for a second he couldn’t make sense of anything around him. When he did, Wirt took a step back, and that itself was surprising enough, given that there should have been a chain link fence in the way. Instead, he was standing in the middle of a field, with no sign of any fences anywhere in sight.




The Alchemists Academy Book 2: Elemental Explosions by Kailin Gow



A new student has entered The Alchemists Academy, and he brings with him an explosive power that threatens the Academy and the legend of Merlin. Wirt thought he was the only bad boy at the Academy, but he was wrong. Not only is Roland Black worse than Wirt, but a new teacher had replaced one of their beloved teachers, and she has more planned for Wirt and his friends than just lesson plans. Alana, his crush has grown prettier, and now he is rivals for her attention with not only his best friend Spencer, but newcomer Roland, as well. On top of that, it is their second year, and the year where all the students must pass a test to move on to the Elite Class at the Academy. The Elite Class is the only class in the third year at the Academy, and the students who fail will be sent home, others will face something even deadlier.



Purchase


Excerpt from Elemental Explosions

The moment didn’t last long, and Wirt opened his gift in a shower of wrapping paper. His parents looked on, those same smiles present on their faces. He looked down into the box, only to see that it was empty. Or not quite empty. Inside was a square of paper, on which careful handwriting stood out clearly. Wirt picked it up and read the words “Merry Christmas, beloved son. You cannot see, taste, or smell your gift, but you will know it when you feel it.”

“What?” Wirt asked. “I don’t understand. Is this some sort of riddle?”

His dream mother and father didn’t say anything. They just smiled and stared at the box in a way that suggested that Wirt was missing something. Not knowing what else to do, Wirt reached down into it, searching it by feel in case there was something at the bottom that he might not have noticed.

There was. Wirt yelped as something closed around his wrist, and tried to yank his arm back. It didn’t move, and as Wirt looked down, he saw dark fingers clasped on his arm. They weren’t just dark-skinned; they were absolutely black, as though carved from onyx or jet. They were as implacable as stone too, refusing to relinquish their grip as Wirt tried to jerk away.

“Help me,” he said to his parents, but they just shook their heads sadly, staring in that way parents had that told you that whatever was happening was for your own good.

The arm pulled at Wirt, and it pulled with far more strength than Wirt had ever experienced. He tried his best to brace himself against it, but slowly, inexorably, the hand drew him towards the box. That swirled with darkness now, and Wirt got the feeling that it was suddenly far deeper than it had been a moment ago.

He found out as the hand dragged him in, though how he fit into the box, Wirt wasn’t sure. He only knew that he fell. Only after a second or two, he wasn’t falling. He was walking along a tunnel instead. The walls were of natural earth, while huge tree roots showed up at intervals like roof beams and standing stones lined the walls, marks on them seeming to tell a story that Wirt could not understand.


Author Kailin Gow

Kailin Gow is the award-winning, international bestselling author of over 80 distinct books.

Kailin Gow is also the President of a media company, a media personality, and has been writing full-time since she was first published. Holding a Masters in communications management and leadership positions in Fortune 500 corporations, she puts her leadership abilities, her experience, and desire to help others into her fiction books. As a result, she has written the forthcoming, Finding the Heroine in You book which is also a national tour. She is a mother and spends whatever spare time she has volunteering at the Red Cross, Battered Women's Shelters, and other organizations.

Currently her Frost Series is in development for a major international MMO Game, and she has over 14,000 and growing Frosters on her facebook fan page.


Links:




Tour Schedule




Book Blast $50 Giveaway Details

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/31/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it for the first person you follow and leave the others blank.


Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.




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Friday, December 7, 2012

Pandora the Curious (Goddess Girls) Book Blast

The Goddess Girls series, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.
  • Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa! 
  • Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld. 
  • Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love. 
  • Artemis the Brave She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave. 
  • Athena the Wise Zeus says Heracles has to do twelve tasks or he'll get kicked out of MOA! Although she's not sure it's wise, Athena agrees to help out. 
  • Aphrodite the Diva Isis claims she's the goddess of love? Ha! But to keep the title all to herself, Aphrodite has to find the perfect match for Pygmalion, the most annoying boy ever. 
  • Artemis the Loyal It’s time for the annual Olympic Games, and Artemis and her friends are not happy. It’s boys only. Not fair! 
  • Medusa the Mean Medusa wants to be more like her two sisters and the other kids at Mount Olympus Academy -- immortal. Is that too much to ask? 
  • The Girl Games (Goddess Girls Super Special) Listen in on what all four goddess girls are thinking as Mount Olympus Academy hosts visitors from many lands--including an adorable kitten!The first-ever standalone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series! 
  • Pandora the Curious One of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy, Pandora is famous for her mega quizzical nature--not that she thinks there's anything wrong with curiosity of course!
  • Pheme the Gossip (Apr. 3, 2013) 
  • Persephone the Daring (Aug. 7, 2013) 
The Goddess Girls




Author Suzanne Williams



Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children's choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 - 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 - 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.







Author Joan Holub



I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children's books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job.



I illustrated my first published children's book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts -- Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee!



Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children's books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.









Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/16/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it when you follow Joan and leave the others blank.



Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.





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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reviewing 2012



I'm a big fan of setting goals and writing to-do lists. It's the only way I can accomplish all I have to do. This time of year, I sit back and reflect on how I've done. I'm also starting to put together goals for 2013.

Personal Goals


  • Going Green - I wanted to make more of an effort this year to reduce our family's carbon foot print. My goal was to cut our trash down to two bags a week, in addition to changing cleaning products around the house. How did we do? Not a total failure. I donated more and recycled more than usual. I hit the two bag goal some weeks, but most of the time it was three bags. I switched from chemical disinfecting wipes, but the horrible smell was a deterrent. I ended up going back to my usual brand. I have, however, stopped using some of those disposable wipes for cleaning and instead use washable towels.
  • Participate in reading challenges - I decided to participate this year in four reading challenges at The Book Connection. I completed the 2012 EBOOK CHALLENGE, but will fall short on all the others. Because I was so busy this year, my reading time was greatly reduced. I usually catch up while we are in North Carolina, but since the family joined us for a good portion of the vacation, and because the hubby came down with pink eye and couldn't drive much going home, I didn't read the ten or so books I normally do. I've still managed to read 118 books between my two main blogs: The Book Connection and The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. This is around 50 less than in 2011 and around 55 less than in 2010. My hope is to catch up in 2013, so I can open my blogs up to new requests again.
  • Blog five days a week - Well, I wanted to, but with running so many blogs, it's just not possible to make sure I blog here or there every week day. I would actually like to expand the reach of my Christian book blog, but that will all depend on whether or not I find a job outside my home.
  • Eat healthier - Ha, ha, ha. I keep saying it. I know I need to do it. I just don't like it. I'm getting older, and eating a more balanced diet will be important to me staying healthy. I guess it's just too easy to snack too often when I'm home by myself. I still plan to work on this goal next year.
  • Exercise more - Here's another funny one. I hate exercise, but right now I can't stand to look at my body in a mirror. I'm only out of shape in the middle, and I'm not even considered overweight, but I am 20 pounds heavier than I used to be. I'm hoping Santa will bring me an exercise bike to get started.
Professional Goals

  • Seek representation - Being represented by an agent is one of my dreams. I love the small presses that I've dealt with so far, but I want to move forward in my career. I met with an agent this year at a writers conference, even though I knew she didn't represent Christian children's fiction. I still feel it's good experience to talk to an agent face-to-face. I couldn't afford to travel to a Christian writers conference, so I chose the local one I usually attend. I'm praying I'll be able to swing at least one Christian writers conference next year. In the meantime, I'll start sending out more email and snail mail queries in 2013.
  • Submit two manuscripts - I submitted one, which is now under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. It will be my second book with them, but my third children's book when it is released. No date on that yet, but hopefully my new book, A Christmas Kindness, will be out soon.
  • Finish Amelia's Mission - I love this historical middle grade novel I've been working on, but research became an obstacle. There are fourteen rough chapters completed, but I didn't get any further. The good news is that I think I've finally performed the right type of research to bring the rest of the story to life. Maybe I'll be able to complete the first draft in 2013. 
  • Find a job - If this were 1987 or 1997, I would have three job offers by now. When I decided to stop working on book tours to concentrate on finding a job outside the home, I knew it would be tough. I've been home for nine years, and while I've kept up my skills, working for someone else is very different than working for another person. It's hard to give up a flexible schedule. I'm not sure what 2013 looks like in this area, but hopefully God will guide me in the right direction.

What were your goals for 2012? How did you do?