Monthly Archives: February 2012

Worst review ever?

[This is embarrassing.  The post is supposed to be amusing.  Some readers have sent my notes about how sorry they are that someone gave me a bad review.  Not so!  I was attempting to write humor.  Please laugh.]

“This book does not disappoint.”    I read lots of reviews at on-line books stores.  Every time I see “Does not disappoint,” I wonder if there is less enthusiastic praise than that.  Yes, there are many worse reviews.  “This book made me throw up” is one I hope never to see.   Another is, “I hated this book so much I ground it up, made it into hamburgers, and poisoned my neighbors’ barking dog with it.”

But if you want to recommend a book, please find a way to express your  view in words that sound like a compliment.  When I read the “does-not-disappoint” comment on a review site, it brings to mind images and scenarios like these:

“When my table wobbled, I shoved this book under a leg.  It did not disappoint.”

“I used this book to kill an ant and it did not disappoint.”

“A friend recommended this book to cure my insomnia.  It did not disappoint.”

I mean, really, is this what you, as a reader, mean to suggest?   “It does not disappoint” is like using the old Texas saying “Reading this book was better than a poke in the eye.”  Not high praise.

Do you ever post a review?  Have you read any reviews that you thought were really good or bad?

The new face of Fabio

Here I am at a romance readers’ social February 25, 2012,  at the library in Pflugerville, TX.  Patrice Sarath stands on the left and April Kihlstrom on the right in her Regency gown.     Sadly, my eyes are closed.  Oddly, I seem to be doing something unspeakable to the cardboard figure of Fabio.   I really wasn’t.   I was holding him up so he wouldn’t fall over.

I can’t remember whose face the librarian had placed over Fabio’s.  Any one recognize him?

Hey–It’s Saturday!

The longer I blog, the more I realize the need to organize!  Because I’m dyslexic, organization is difficult for me, something I have to force on myself and my untidy mind.  I’ll blog about that later.

Here’s how I plan to organize the blog.   There will always be something new on Tuesday and Thursday.  Every week, I’ll blog and will also welcome a few guests.   However, if I don’t have a guest blogger, I’ll have a short article such as Philosophy from the Funnies or My Confessions.   On weekends, I’ll add a little extra.  Perhaps I’ll tell you what’s coming up or introduce a guest or tell you what’s new on my website or  just say, “Hi.  Glad you droppped by.”

And I am glad you dropped by and glad everytime you drop by.  Leave me a message.  I love to hear from you.  Ask me a question.  Maybe I’ll blog on it.  Leave your favorite church or family recipe.  I may choose it to put in my newsletter or the website.

Just because he’s so cute, here’s a picture of Scooter the Wonder Cat attacking an orange toy.

Small towns, A Rich Setting but How to Belong?

Joining us today is Lyn Cote who writes wonderful inspirational about small towns.  Lyn, you’re on.

I love to write stories set in small towns. This is strange because it’s only in the last eight years that I’ve lived in a small town. I grew up near a big city in a suburb of nearly 90,000 and then raised my children in Iowa in a city of over 100,000.

Recently I uploaded the last book in my Northern Intrigue series onto Kindle. I wrote the romantic suspense series about a decade ago. I decided it was time to update them (technology changes so fast, doesn’t it?) and I like how I write now so wanted to add a little of “my now style.”

This series is set in a north woods tight knit rural community which I named, Steadfast. I have a curmudgeonly newspaper editor, a bitter old woman who causes as much trouble as she can for everyone and an unidentified baby, saved from a car just before it explodes. And that’s just in the first book, Winter’s Secret–Romance and mystery in a small Wisconsin town during a record-breaking snowy winter.”

To download a free copy, go to  and enter this code CT33W      You don’t have an ereader? Then you can download a PDF copy to read on your computer or print a copy for yourself. The coupon is only good Feb 23-24. Use it and pass it on to your friends! I set the series in Wisconsin because that is where I live now. And though I’ve lived in this small tourist town in the Lakeland area of far north of Wisconsin for eight years, I don’t really feel I’m a part of the town. Why? Because though my husband’s family spent time here and owned property here since WWII, I didn’t raise children here. I think that makes the difference. Somehow children knit a family into a community.

Do you think that’s true or not? And why is it true or false?”

If you’d like to get in touch with Lyn:    Twitter  @LynCote   OR

When I was born, my mother gave the dog away

When I was born, my mother gave the dog away.

It was a Scottie but I  know nothing more about this dog.  I was very young at the time.   I have wondered, once I was old enough to understand, how my older brother and sister might have reacted to trading in a pet for a little sister.  I never asked.

After that, our family had few pets and none with fur.  My sister had a turtle named Tillie Mae Turtle and a parakeet named Budgie.   Neither were very cuddly and both died young.

It wasn’t until both my brother and sister had headed off to college that I got a cat.  It seems there existed a correlation between number of people in the house and having a pet.    With that cat, Hercules, I realized an important concept:  kids need pets.

In spite of fond memories to the contrary, childhood isn’t all running in the sunshine and going on family picnics.  There are some rough moments, some difficult adjustments which a child can’t or doesn’t want to share with parents or siblings or even friends.   But a pet, you can tell everything to a pet.  When a classmate says something hateful, a kid can cry into the fur.  When a kid is constantly chosen last for every team, a dog will lick the tears away.   When a child is sad, a pet listens and loves.

Oh, I know a pet means more work for parents, but I believe strongly that cat I got in middle school helped me get through high school.  I still remember his lying on my chest and purring when I needed a friend.    And I know allergies and living situations may make that impossible, but, if at all possible,  I believe children need pets to love and to love them.

What do you think?


I have a confession to make . . .

I don’t like to spend money.  No, the problem goes even deeper.  More than just Scotch or parsimonious or frugal, I’m downright—an ugly word is coming up–cheap.   As the clichés go, I can squeeze a dollar until it screams.   See that picture below of the person burning a dollar?   That is not me!  I take gentle care of every bill.

How cheap am I?

I’m currently using a lipstick which is such a  terrible color it makes me look as if I have jaundice .  When I brush it on, it feels as if I’ve smeared grease on my lips.  In addition, that terrible blobby substance leaves hideous, oily magenta  stains on anything within five inches.  I keep using it because the tube cost nearly nine dollars.

I’ve used room spray that smells only slightly better than the odor it’s meant to mask and throws my sinuses into spasms.  I can’t stop using it.  I still have half a can left. 

Most days, you’ll see a bottle of something—hand lotion, laundry detergent, ketchup—on the counter with another bottle of the same substance on top of it upside down, the contents dripping into the first container.  I like to believe I’m saving the world one drip-drop at a time.

Do any of you take such drastic measures to save money?  Funny or helpful, give me your tips here.  AND, if they’re sound, I’ll use them either in my next newsletter or my website ( and mention your name.  I’m looking for these tips because the people who populate Butternut Creek are a thrifty lot and Adam doesn’t have two pennies to rub together.  .




Love and Hope and writer Missy Tippens

The first guest on my blog is Missy Tippens whose new book  A House Full of Hope is available from Love Inspired right now!   She and I met on a writers’ site sxi or seven years ago and have cheered each other on and cheered each other up along the path to publication.    I’m delighted she’s visiting here today.

Missy, tell us about yourself.

I’m a wife and mom of three—one in college, two in high school. And when I’m not being a mom, I write. In life before kids, I was a clinical microbiologist. I also spent a few years teaching as an adjunct instructor at our local technical college.

You have a book available now.  What’s it about?

A House Full of Hope is the second book set in my fictional town of Corinthia, Georgia. I love creating small towns. I’ve lived in cities/towns of varying size all around the Atlanta area, and I draw on the best characteristics of each. I love a town where people know each other, where they support each other, and yes, where they sometimes get in each others’ business. In this story, former bad boy Mark Ryker returns to the town he fled during high school seeking   redemption. Only, he’s not prepared to run into pretty widowed mom of four, Hannah Hughes, the sister of his high school girlfriend. Hannah blames Mark for destroying her family, and she has no intention of ever forgiving him, no matter how much he’s changed or how hard he tries. But he’s so good with her kids…and they get attached to him—Hannah included…

How did you start writing?

I started writing when my middle child was a baby. I had been put on bed rest while pregnant with him, and while stuck on the couch, I read book after book. I decided I wanted to try to write one. Once he was born and we got our first computer, I jumped right in, typing with one hand, nursing him in the other. I wrote what I read at the time, secular romance novels. But as I started to plot a future book, a writer friend told me it sounded like an inspirational romance. I had no idea that’s where God was leading me. But I started to read more of them and joined the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA. I had found my niche!

Do you believe being a minister’s wife has been a help in writing?  How do congregations feel about your books?

I don’t think being a clergy spouse has necessarily helped my writing. But my church family (at all the churches we’ve been since I started writing) has definitely loved and supported me along the journey. They prayed for me as I was struggling through nearly 12 years before finally publishing. And they cheered for me when I finally got the call! They’ve even been wonderful to encourage me by reading my books. What a gift!

What are your writing secrets?

I wish I knew some writing secrets! I guess the main piece of advice I’d offer is to never give up. Like I mentioned, it took about 12 years of writing, re-writing, submitting, entering contests and getting rejections before I finally sold a full-length novel. If you have a dream of seeing your name on a cover, then be persistent. Keep learning and practicing. In fact, I still take several online writing classes a year. I know I’ll always need to improve!

What are you reading now?

I read just about everything, and that often includes inspirationals. I love them and stay pretty busy reading titles that my writer friends have written. I also love women’s fiction and young adult novels.   I’m finishing one of Janet Dean’s Love Inspired Historicals and I’m also reading a young adult novel by Sarah Dessen. Next on my list is Sarah’s Key that I’ll be reading for my book club. Oh, and in bits and snatches, I’ve been reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Today is Valentine’s Day.  What is your advice for people in love?

Hmmm, let’s see. I’ll be married 26 years in June, so I guess I might have a little wisdom to offer. I’d say communication is key. It’s something I continually have to work on. Be honest and share how you really feel. Speak up and tell your loved one what you need. Don’t expect him/her to read your mind! And pray that God will help you love that person better.

So good to have you drop by.  Hope you’ll come back and keep us up-to-date on what you’re writing.

Jane, thank you for having me today! And happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Bio:   Missy Tippens, 2006 Golden Heart finalist, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been finalists for the Booksellers Best, ACFW Carol Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.   Visit Missy at

What happens on February 13 when it’s not a Friday?

President Abraham Lincoln was born on Febuary 12,

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, February 14th AND Love Inspired writer Missy Tippens will be guest blogging right here.

So, what happened on this day in history?  Thanks to   here are a few of the events that took place on February 13.

1633 – Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for trial before Inquisition for professing belief that earth revolves around the Sun

1837 – Riot in New York due to a combination of poverty and increase in the cost of flour

1861 – US President Abraham Lincoln1861 – Abraham Lincoln declared president 1866

1867 – Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube” waltz premieres in Vienna

1907 – English suffragettes storm British Parliament & 60 women are arrested

1945 – Allied planes bomb Dresden Germany; 135,000 die

1972 – “Grease” opens on Broadway

1981 – A series of sewer explosions destroys more than two miles of streets in Louisville, Kentucky.  I used this one because we lived in Louisville at the time and I remember this.

1996 – Rock musical “Rent,” by Jonathan Larson, opens off-Broadway

2000 – The last original “Peanuts” comic strip appears in newspapers one day after Charles M. Schulz dies.

Happy February 13th!


What’s coming up

Tuesday, Valentine’s Day,  I’m delighted to welcome my first interview on the blog.  Missy Tippens and I’ve been on-line friends for seven years.  She writes for Love Inspired and has a terrific new book available now!

On Thursday, I’m going to confess one of my deepest secrets. one that only my husband knows.  One I share with no one.  I’m cheap.  Not just frugal or stingy.  Cheap.  If you drop by the blog and give me a good, acceptable way to save money, I might include that on my web site or in a newsletter.  Adam Jordan, the hero of the Butternut Creek series, has very little money.  He could use your help stretching every dollar.

Anne Frank and The Magic of Words

Words have always fascinated me.  From childhood, I’ve read voraciously.  I’ve taken courses on linguistics, and, in the classes I teach, I bore my students endlessly by showing them the history of words and how words are formed.

Words!  They are amazing.  The words I’m typing now have never before been put together in this way.  Even more amazing:  when you read these words at sometime in the future, you’ll know exactly what I was thinking at this moment.

It’s magic.

The most exciting example of the power of words I’ve been part of was from 1985-87, when I taught English in a school for pregnant teenagers.  The majority of the students were African-American, most lived in poverty and many had struggled in school.  But, with the coming of a baby, each courageous young woman came to this program to complete her education and give her child a better life.

In tenth-grade English, I taught The Diary of Anne Frank.  We’d read Shakespeare, Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom they enjoyed, but they really loved this play.  Even those who couldn’t read—and there were several–listened, spellbound.  The story of a Jewish girl who lived in the 1940’s and who hid from the Nazis in a tiny attic room spoke to my students like nothing else we’d read.

Through her words, Anne Frank, isolated in her ghetto created by prejudice, reached out over forty-five years, fromAmsterdamto these minority students shut up in a ghetto inLouisville,Kentucky.  My students understood Anne Frank and were astonished to discover that another young woman had suffered from the prejudice that surrounded them.  Anne Frank became one of them and they joined her in that attic.

This is what storytelling is:  reaching out over the years and through the differences and divisions between people to touch emotions and open the reader to new ideas.

And we are the storytellers, the ones who transmit the heritage, who transport our readers beyond the barriers of time and place, who deal with the truths of our experiences, who share and interpret the struggles we all face.

As writers, we are magicians.  We create worlds that have never existed before and populate them with characters that  spring from our imaginations.  We fiddle with our creation’s lives.  They get sick, suffer, fall in love–all with a few keystrokes on our computers.

The words we write make people we’ve never met laugh and cry and think and sometimes get angry.  What tremendous power words have.  What an amazing, awesome craft this is.  To be magicians.  To work miracles.