Looking Ahead to 2017!

And a Few Ventures


A friend recently posted a meme in a Facebook group with this message:

2015 was practice.

2016 was warm-up.

2017 is game time!

In a way . . . somehow . . . this is my life.

The new year brings a major change. This spring I’ll be moving from my sister’s four-acre hobby farm –where I tended an alpaca herd, discovered newborn bunnies, witnessed my little papillon actually tree a raccoon (more than once), surprised a fox (and we were way too close to one another), dealt with more dead things than I ever have in my life, took a weaving class, and imagined three novels and a novella–to a home of my own near Tampa.

A new chapter is exciting, but closing the current one will not be easy. In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve become part of the local inspirational writing community, made new friends, and enjoyed Mid-South hospitality.

It’s hard to think about New Year’s resolutions when I don’t even know what “a day in my life” will look like.

But I am planning ventures (which just may be my 2017 Word of the Year).

Writing ventures include a second cozy mystery, a major revision to my unpublished novel When Memory Whispers, and a third still-to-be-decided project.

I’ve already started my travel ventures. I was in Tulsa over Christmas and, as you’re reading this, I’m headed to Arizona to hug my grandgirls. Who knows where else my vagabond feet will wander in the coming months?

(If venture is my 2017 Word of the Year, then a bicycle is my symbol.)

Let’s not forget hobby ventures.

I’ve been taking horse-riding lessons . . . on a pony. A TALL pony! Gabby probably won’t miss me as much as I’ll miss her but she’s given me the confidence to take a chance, try something scary, and live to talk about it. <said with a grin>

My weaving sample (woven on a table loom)

A weaving loom probably isn’t in my future, but I enjoyed the class I took.

A friend from church has promised to teach me to crochet an infinity scarf. I’ve already created the 72-inch chain she told me I needed.

An acting class might be fun–not because I have any talent, but because of the insights I’d gain about creating characters.

So many things to do. So many things to try.

Now it’s your turn. What ventures might 2017 hold for you?

Prize Packages: Misty Willow Novels & Cary Grant Classics

A Merry Christmas Giveaway!

Christmas is the time for giving and winter is the time for curling up with a good story–a contemporary romance or a classic movie. Here’s your opportunity to win one of two fun prize packages.

Where She Belongs Giveaway

Shelby and AJ quote lines from Cary Grant movies to each other. One of their favorites is An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr. But as Shelby says, you can’t watch this classic without watching Sleepless in Seattle, too.

This giveaway includes an autographed copy of Where She Belongs, the first novel in the Misty Willow Series, and DVD copies of An Affair to Remember (25th Anniversary Edition) plus Sleepless in Seattle (10th Anniversary Edition).

When Love Arrives Giveaway

Dani doesn’t want Brett to know she was secretly photographing him. So when they unexpectedly meet, she says her name is Regina Lampert–the name of Audrey Hepburn’s character in the Cary Grant classic Charade.

This giveaway includes an autographed copy of When Love Arrives, the second novel in the Misty Willow Series, and a DVD copy of Charade.

Thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Two winners will be selected in a random drawing. Contest is only open to those with U.S. mailing addresses.

Playing Games: Our Favorite Five Plus One

Holiday Traditions

I grew up in a game-playing family.

In the summer, we played hide-and-seek (and on our farm there were amazing places to hide) and a variation called, I have no idea why, W-Raw. Instead of trying to get to base, you avoided capture by the “it.” The winner was the last person “it” found. (Not sure I even have the spelling right. It could be W-Roll.)

In the winter, we played board games, lots of board games, including Masterpiece, Rook, Clue, Aggravation, Scrabble, Boggle, Yahtzee, Chinese checkers, Life . . . I am sure there were others. We seemed to get on game binges.

We also played cards: euchre, canasta, Tear the House Down, Tripoli, and various variations of rummy.

Naturally, I played games with my children–Bethany, Jillian, and Nate–especially during the holidays. I asked them to share their favorites and here’s the consensus of our favorite five in no particular order.

  • Hand and Foot
  • Risk/Lord of the Ring Risk
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Euchre

The fifth is one you’ve never heard of because the kids created it a few years ago: Donley-opoly! It’s a handmade, personalized game that includes family fun and foibles.

Plus One Bonus Game

Castle Panic!

I learned to play this cooperative gave this past Thanksgiving.

In this game, the players work together to defeat the monsters, openly discussing strategy and trading cards to keep the orcs, trolls, and goblins from knocking down the castle towers and walls.

Individual players also earn points so if all the monsters are defeated, there is a winner among the players.

We played several games, though, and found ourselves ignoring the individual points (unless someone did extremely well) because we were so focused on beating the monsters together.

Memorable Moments

Bethany and I once played Hand and Foot, which requires six decks of cards including the jokers, on an airplane. Thankfully no one was sitting in the middle seat because we had cards everywhere.

Nate and Jill’s husband Jacob played LOTR Risk when it first came out–moving from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room as other activities took over their spaces. We’ve played the game since and it’s never taken as long as it took the two of them that night. I’m not sure now what they were doing–perhaps making up their own rules.

Nate taught us to play Settlers of Catan. So annoying! He’s so good at it that he barely paid attention but won over and over and over again. We finally sent him away.

A group of us were playing Apple to Apple late one night when Jill’s younger daughter, a toddler, sleepily wandered in from her bedroom. She looked at all of us then made a beeline straight for my arms. Be still, my heart!

Your Turn

What are your favorite games? Or do you have other traditional activities when family and friends gather for the holidays?

Christmas Extravaganza: Giveaways by Inspirational Authors


spread-the-christmas-joy-k-cambronAuthor Kristy Cambron kicked off the month-long Spread the Christmas Joy giveaway last Thursday.

But it’s not too late to join in the fun as Emilie Hendryx hosts a different author every day throughout December on her Thinking Thoughts blog. All giveaways run through Monday, January 2.

spread-the-christmas-joy-d-millsHere’s your guide to catching up:

Kristy sways to the nostalgic music of Billie Holiday as she reminisces in “Christmas Yesteryears.” Enter to win a Joy to the World bookmark from her Etsy shop.

spread-the-christmas-joy-r-burkeDiAnn Mills wrote “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child,” a story of wonder–and maybe magic! She’s giving away a copy of her suspense thriller Deadly Encounter.

spread-the-christmas-joy-l-johnsonRalene Burke shares the story of her family’s mobile Christmas tree in “Joy in All Situations.” She’s giving away a copy of her novel Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior.

What did Liz Johnson learn from watching her four-year-old niece play Mary in her own version of the Christmas story? After you read “Choosing Mary,” enter the giveaway for Liz’s novel, Hazardous Holiday.

Riley Ackerman is today’s guest so visit Emilie’s blog to read her loving tribute in “A Grandmother’s Christmas.”

Then be sure to stop in on Thursday when it’s my turn. My post is “The Moments We Treasure” and I’m giving away a copy of Where Treasure Hides.

Merry Christmas!