Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why Wallpaper, You Ask?

I thought it would be fun to hang wallpaper. After that first strip, I realized I would never have a career in wallpapering. Ever.

It's hard work. Lining up the design and making sure the seam doesn't show is not an easy task. Needless to say, this wallpaper will be on our walls for at least twenty years. Yes, you read twenty!

Prepping the walls

It's sort of hard to tell, and I have more to do, but it's getting there!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marcia's Words on Writing - Part 3

This is the final installment of the three-part interview with Marcia Gruver. Be sure to grab a copy of her book, Diamond Duo. We appreciate Marcia and her talent and look forward to the next book in the series.

Tell us about your first contract.

Each year, at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, Barbour Publishing awards first contracts to lucky recipients. In 2007, they thrilled me out of my skin by awarding me the first three-book contact ever awarded at the ACFW conference. I’m trying very hard to live up to the confidence Barbour has placed in me.

Has being a published novelist differed from your expectations?
Yes. I’ve discovered that when you do it right, it’s actually work.

Do you plot your novels out or are you a so-called seat-of-the-pants writer?
I used to fly by my seat from start to finish. My first experience with working a plan came after discovering Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method for plotting a novel. After working through Karen S. Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days, I’m a born-again plotter. These days, I don’t think I’d do it any other way. I sort of like knowing where I’m going when I sit down to write.

Describe the place you write in most often.
Awhile back, my hubby spent far too much on a desktop computer for me. We set it up on a big desk in my office and attached all the geeky peripherals we could find. Um…I use it to play PC games. For some reason, I prefer to curl up in the corner of the sofa squinting at my laptop.

Has being a writer brought you closer to God and if so, how?
Not really closer. More in tune, maybe? I just know there’s no step in the writing/marketing process that I could pull off without His guiding hand. That teaches you to report on a regular basis for your marching orders.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
The first draft. Once you’ve developed characters, tweaked the plot, and come up with a satisfying ending, that’s when the fun starts. You can let your fingers fly while you flesh out the story. At this stage is when the surprises come. One of your characters gets a mind of their own and takes off in a direction you didn’t have the vision or the foresight to predict. Or your heroine gets sassy and insists on having her way on some minor detail that winds up the most important scene in the book. I love this part. The first draft is when the magic happens.

How have your life experiences helped you as a writer?
I believe all of life’s experiences are fertile fodder for fiction. Try saying that three times really fast.

I’ve traveled some bumpy roads in my time. I was a hippie in the 60’s, a yippie in the 70’s, a groupie in the 80’s, and a yuppie in the 90’s. Who else but a bona fide baby boomer can say that? At the dawn of this new century, I’m just a droopy—with a passel of kids and grandkids. I long to impart to them the nuggets of wisdom old granny picked up along the way, but since none of them will listen, I’m wrapping fictional stories around the lessons I’ve learned and slipping them to the rascals. Like hiding spinach in applesauce. Not to compare God’s grace to a slimy green vegetable, but the truth is both of them are good for you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Little Bit About Marcia - Part 2

Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is.
Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.

In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha?
Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.

When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose?
Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.

What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase?
That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place.

Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.

If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you?
I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.

Check back tomorrow for the Part 3 of the interview. Marcia will tell us all about her writing adventures!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A look at Marcia Gruver's New Historical, Diamond Duo

Marcia Gruver's new book, Diamond Duo hit the shelves this month, ready to fly off at record speed. This, 'I don't want to put it down,' novel takes us back to 1877 Jefferson, Texas. Just add to the mix a young girl in love, a mysterious new woman with the keys to wooing a man, and a town that finds a murderer in its midst.

I heard about Marcia's book through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), a group I am proud to be in. I've had the privilege to read the well researched book, Diamond Duo, and had a tough time putting it down. I did have to sleep, so it sat on the nightstand for a short time.

Marcia's received an ample amount of praise for her work, and it is well deserved.

Her keen sense of storytelling comes to life in the first book of the Texas Fortunes Trilogy. Her descriptions of the land lead a reader to feel the rain pattering against their heads and the dirt shifting beneath their feet. Marcia makes it easy to get caught up in the characters lives, while sitting on the edge of the couch, hoping for the best and waiting to experience the outcome. I found myself sharing in the bond between two best friends, getting caught up in newcomer Annie's life, and knowing the reasons why Bertha loved her Thaddeus.

Order a copy today from the link on the left, and I know you'll get caught up in a great story.

Here's a little bit more about her:

Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

A Moment With Marcia

Tell us about Diamond Duo.

Bertha Maye Biddie’s in love. Trouble is, she’s not sure the object of her affection feels the same. He seems to be interested, but something’s holding him back. So when opportunity rides into Jefferson on the northbound train out of Marshall, young Bertha leaps at the chance to learn a few tricks. A charming, charismatic stranger offers to take Bertha under her wing and teach her the art of wooing a man. But when the woman is unable to keep her promise, Bertha realizes their chance meeting held far more eternal significance.

Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from?
On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”

On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.

A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.

While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?

How did you become interested in the real life murder of Annie Monroe?
It’s hard to visit historic Jefferson, Texas without tripping over Annie’s story. Diamond Bessie has become a tourist attraction, and the locals seem more than eager to tell the account. The shops abound with books on the topic, one penned by Jefferson historian, Fred McKenzie. Every year, during Jefferson’s annual Pilgrimage Festival, the residents perform in a play entitled “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.” The play is derived from court transcripts, and it’s really quite an event!

You have several themes woven into Diamond Duo. Could share them with us?
Young Bertha Biddie schemes to win the affections of Thaddeus Bloom, a man bound by honor to his father’s dream. She gets a lesson on honor herself when God asks her to risk her future with Thad to help a stranger.

Thad learns the importance of listening to his mama the hard way, but wonders if it’s fair to expect him to sacrifice his happiness in obedience to his father’s plans for his life.

Sarah King is used to better treatment from her fellow man regardless of race, but forgets her husband deserves the same regard. Her unbridled temper and acrid tongue threaten to drive him away, until the pure heart of a tragic stranger teaches Sarah a lesson in colorblind acceptance.

In Diamond Duo, Bertha feels solely responsible for leading Annie Monroe out of her lifestyle and into a believer’s world. Have you ever had a similar experience in your life?
I think every Christian feels a strong compulsion to share God’s grace once they’ve had a taste. If you think about it, given the Great Commission, we’re all solely responsible for leading those in our paths to God.

How do you research a historical project for accuracy?
Actually, I begin most of my research on Amazon.com. They have books on every imaginable topic. No, I don’t own shares of stock, but I should by now.

After I pore over written material to get a visual of the period, I plan a visit to the area where the book is set. For my Texas Fortunes Series, I spent a week in Jefferson, Texas researching Diamond Duo, book one. Book two was easy. I live just a few miles from Humble Texas, the setting for Chasing Charity. My family all work in the oil patch and have for generations. My contractor husband is currently on a job in South Texas, so I was fortunate to spend several months in Carrizo Springs researching book three, Emmy’s Equal. There’s no substitute for walking the streets, exploring the sites, haunting the libraries, and talking to the locals. However, I’ve discovered the little details that provide historical accuracy need constant verification. I do my best, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get all the facts right. I use the Internet some, but you have to be careful with information gleaned from the web. Not every source can be trusted.

You have so many wonderful and unique characters in Diamond Duo. Which of the characters do you identify with and why?
This question makes me smile. I’ve been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha Maye Biddie—a free-spirited rebel with an aversion to shoes. I think that’s me on the inside.

Can you tell us about your next book?
Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, picks up in Humble, Texas, several years after Diamond Duo ends. Charity Bloom, Bertha’s daughter, stands at the altar watching her best friend flee the church on the heels of her departing fiancĂ©. This is the final straw for Charity, who is distressed by the many changes taking place in her life and in her hometown, most notably the devastation wrought after oil is discovered near Humble. Imagine Charity’s surprise when one of the men responsible comes to her rescue, and she finds her heart torn between two suitors—the handsome roughneck and the deceitful rogue who broke her heart.

Check back tomorrow for the next part of the interview.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween is coming...

Halloween is such a fun time for kids. As Jerry Seinfeld says, "Get candy, get candy, get candy!" It wasn't that long ago my sister and I hit the houses in the neighborhood to fill up our pillow cases with lots of junk. Then we returned home and our parents whittled the load down to about one cereal bowl full of the stuff. I know they were weeding out the items that might not be safe (thanks - I see that now), but all that hard work footin' it through the streets of our neighborhood to get the goods, all down the tubes. Actually, it was all worth it!

Now that I have kids, Halloween is even more fun. I can dress up the kids in the cutest costumes, step back and watch as they follow the same fun path. Then back home to whittle through their stuff. I have to secretly admit that some of it has to be tested by me later that night - it's very important, you know. But, it's great to watch them have so much fun, too.

We started a new tradition this year of going to the pumpkin patch. We had a great time running through the pumpkins. Ethan thought it would be fun to lick them all. Licking everything is important to him! Gotta watch the kid. John loved picking out the biggest one he could carry. We had a blast!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No More Naps...

Okay, this photo has nothing to do with the post, but it's just so pretty.

It reminds me of traveling through the Rockies of Colorado. I spent most of the drives with my mouth open, because the scenery is always spectacular.

On to the napping post:

I have finally come to grips with the fact that my four-year-old (who will be five next Tuesday) is no longer taking naps. I love the quiet time, but I have to admit I love to hear the little songs, ramblings, counting and noises that go on in his room while he is laying in bed.

Today he is setting a record, because he hasn't tried to get out of bed...yet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Clearwater, Florida

We ran down here just to snap a few shots and play on the nearby playground!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yea, I love the Fall!

I love this time of year! Although Florida is much warmer than Colorado, and the leaves stay green pretty much year round - I still love it.

Knowing the holidays are right around the corner gets me so excited. My kids are now at the age where they will both enjoy going to the pumpkin patch (and hopefully sit on Santa's lap, unlike last year).

I am thrilled that breaking out the sweaters are just around the corner (maybe I will be able to wear two this year down here in the warm climate)!

I love to see the raindrops pitter patter on the windowsill. It's such a warm, cozy feeling.

I hope you have as many great memories about this time of year as I do. We're sure planning to make many more in the months to come!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gorgeous Colorado Book Chosen for Giveaway at Democratic Convention

Colorado's Governor Ritter has chosen Colorado Scenic Byways: Taking the Other Road, Susan J. Tweit's latest collaboration with photographer Jim Steinberg, as his "personal gift" for the 30 Democratic governors attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, as well as Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their families.

The two-volume set of books details the sights and stories of Colorado's twenty-five byway routes, from the ruler-straight roads crossing the expansive plains to the oft-overlooked foothills, and from the Jeep trails ascending to nosebleed heights in the high peaks to the vivid canyon country of western Colorado. Colorado Scenic Byways is due to be released in September, when Tweit and Steinberg will criss-cross the state doing book-signings. (Check www.coloradoscenicbyways.com/ for a signing near you.) Tweit says the duo is "thrilled" by the Governor's choice.

Be sure to check the following link for Susan's appearances in the month of September. http://susanjtweit.com

Susan, a member of Women Writing the West, is the author of a range of books on wildlife and landscapes, among many other subjects. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines including, Audubon Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and the Los Angeles Times.

Susan has received a host of awards including the USDA Award of Merit, the Best Trade Book (Pieces of Light) from the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association, and the Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children (City Foxes), among many others.

Susan's host of anthologies, feature articles, essays and books can be found in libraries, bookstores and newspapers. While you're out and about, you might just spot her giving talks and readings at the Denver Botanical Gardens, museums, and universities throughout Colorado and many other states.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Multi-tasker Moves On

We continued to worry about our little squirrel, that we named Tuesday. He still seemed sick. He wobbled, looked a little sad and walked slow.

So, we took Tuesday down to the Humane Society where he could get some medicine and some tender loving care from the vet.

We were sad to see him go, but we're betting that today he is doing much better!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Tiny Multi-takser

We had to giggle this morning. A tiny baby squirrel made it's way over to the dog's water bowl and had a hard time keeping himself out of it.

He would climb up the side, lean over to drink and his weight propelled him the rest of the way. The smart little critter decided to take advantage and just finish drinking while he was in the bowl! Multi-tasking at it's finest.

The boys and I cheered him on, again and again! Of course, being boys, it was their duty to scream as loud as possible.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ahhh... the Comforts of Home

It feels strange to be home. I have been away for months working. I told my husband I wasn't sure what to do with myself when I got there.

But, I have already figured it out. First I am going to relax on the sofa, then relax on the back porch, then maybe, just maybe I will relax in the swing in the backyard. Yea, that's just about right!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Going Home

I have never been more ready to go home. I have been working away from home for over a year, with about two weeks at home in that time. My husband asked me where I wanted to go for vacation. My answer? Home.

My last day on this job down here, on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, is Wednesday. I am so ready. My wonderful boss is giving me several weeks off before the next job starts. I am also happy to get away from the disgusting pincher bugs. They are everywhere. I had one in my shoe today. YUK. I think their somewhat technical name is earwig. I am not even going to capitalize their name. They just don't deserve it.

Back to the vacation discussion. Realistically, who can pass up a vacation? Not me. So, we will go again. This time to Gatlinburg. I love the mountains. Although they aren't as high or jagged as my precious Colorado Rockies, they are beautiful. I love staying in a cabin and just doing fun things around town.

Well, back to work. For now.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


In case you came to my blog in the past five minutes, you would have seen the changes. Dots. But, the new dots kept cutting off my shelfari and we can't have that.

So, back to the comfort and workable zone!

Time for a New Look

Just thought I would be different and change the look of the blog. Knowing me, I will change it back. It's hard to get out of my comfort zone, even on a blog!

I am almost finished with my current job (I work for a company that builds natural gas pipelines). I have been working in the West Palm Beach area since April and I am very ready to go home. I will be thrilled to be able to sit around and be lazy for about six weeks.

I wish I could go to the ACFW conference this year, but it will have to wait until next year. My husband promised me two things if I went and worked for another year - the ACFW conference and...(drum roll please)... grass! That's right, grass. I want to be able to go out in the backyard with the wiggly worm boys and roll around in the grass. Ah, that will be the life.

Here are the little squirts playing in the puddles. Life is good.

This kid loves water! We have to work hard to keep him from drinking water out of puddles, the bathtub, rainwater on the chairs...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

He is There

"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there."

Proverbs 139: 7-8

We are reassured over and over of the Lord's presence throughout God's word. Not just for a fleeting moment, or when we open our heart in prayer. When we wake, He is there. When we are typing away at the keyboard, He is there. When we have hit rock bottom, He is there.

Why do I forget that fact? The Lord of lords is RIGHT THERE, waiting for me to turn over every need to Him. He wants us to fall on Him, not just for a few things here and there, but to turn everything over to Him.

His word is so beautiful. I never tire of reading passages. I just feel a release of pressure, tension, and fear rise out of me when I sit down to read it. There are promises of protection and assurance laced throughout. Where else is that available?

When I need it most, He is there. Thank you Lord for your presence.

Friday, May 2, 2008

No Phones ? That's Okay With Me

I work for a company that builds natural gas pipelines, and we travel from place to place. We are currently in the West Palm Beach area, and in the continuing process of setting up the temporary office. This time around, we are having to wait for quite a long time to get our land lines.

I used to have the belief that without phones we are lost, out-of-touch, useless. This time around, I must admit, I am enjoying every minute of silence. Less hassle, problems, and more time to work. It's wonderful. I told my boss I was completely content without a phone and if he chose not to get them, I was okay with that.

It's back to basics!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cooking Up Some Western Books

Her footsteps meeting the creaky sidewalks of Tombstone took Sherry Monahan back in time. Back to the 1880s, where the West roared through town, in a place the Apache's once roamed. A streak of silver and a man named Ed Schieffelin brought the town into existence and ultimately into western history.

With the passion of a writer and
a hunger for tastes of the Old West, Monahan dove in and published her first book, Taste of Tombstone: A Hearty Helping of History, in 1998. In 2008 the book sports a new cover and a few new updated items to sniff out. Inside the pages, she travels back in time to a place that was rough and tumble, but had a slice of refinement in it's French cuisine and fresh oysters. She shares what shaped the town, from it's wild cowboys, gunfights and taverns to it's local - more refined - inhabitants. She even adds a few recipes from the same era.

Sherry's research has taken her to new places, which includes consulting on a western movie and working on several series for The History Channel, including Wild West Tech. She writes a feature column for the Tombstone Times and is a contributing editor for True West Magazine.

Check out Sherry's freelance work along with her other books about the Old West, a bit of western history and some recipes to try at home. You can learn all about this Women Writing the West member at www.wildwestinfo.com.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Starting School for the First Time...

This week starts a new era in my oldest son's life. At four, he will be starting preschool tomorrow.

I must admit, my emotions have been out there on my sleeve. I am excited for this time in his life. New friends, new teacher, and the best part - a new playground. Yet, I feel the first twinges of him growing up and not needing Mom as much as he used to.

As we took the "preliminary" walk through the school, we peeked into the classroom. It was naptime, and kids were scattered around the room sleeping soundly on their mats. He silently surveyed the room and said, "But I need you in there, Mommy." I so desperately wanted to grab his hand and tell him that I would love to spend the day in there with him. But, I didn't. I told him that he would do great without me and at the end of the day I would be waiting for him with open arms - and I will. I will listen without fail to stories of new friends, crafts, and what life is like out there on the playground.

He will be fine. I will be on the sidelines, wiping tears of joy now and again, as I cheer him on in his new adventures.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.