Friday, December 31, 2010

Ending the Year

Well, the last few minutes of 2010 are upon us. I was trying to decide what to write about as my last post of 2010. I thought I would leave you with two important things I want to take with me into 2011.

One: I need to watch my expectations when it comes to other people. I tend to set them pretty high. The problem with that is if they don't live up to those expectations, it is frustrating for me. That frustration invariably spills over into my relationship with them. It wouldn't be as bad if they know what those expectation were. They usually don't. And that's not fair to them.

So for 2011 - Watch my expectations of others

Two: God is bigger than any problem. He's already working on the problem. I need to be patient and wait for Him. Simple to say. Not always easy to live out. He's Lord of all. Period. My feelings do not equal His power over and in the situation.

So, for 2011 - Remember Jesus is Lord above all. Period.

Are there any lessons from 2010 you are taking into 2011?

Be safe and be blessed this New Years Eve and in 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

18 years and counting....

18 years ago, I walked down the aisle of the church I'd attended since I was a little girl and became Mrs. Ricky Taylor.

It was my privilege to serve as matron of honor in my brother's wedding yesterday. As a special gift to me, my brother and my husband arranged for a special anniversary dance at his reception. Rick and I danced to the same song we danced to at our own reception 18 years ago. What a wonderful surprise!

18 years, 1 move across country, 2 teenagers and we are still together.

"Ricky, I love you. God bless and keep you safe and with me. Thank you for 18 years. Here's to 18 more!"

See everyone here next year! Be blessed!

December 18, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Crying Mom

Let me state the obvious: Mothering teenagers is a tough job sometimes. I don't know about you, but sometimes I want to go to my room, close the door and cry. Wait. I don't just want to do that. I actually do it!

To read the rest, head on over to  WRAL. Leave me a comment if you'd like :)

Be blessed!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December Craziness

This year I am not going crazy over shopping that's not done. Oh no. That would be too easy. I have new challenges this year.

Since I have two daughters in high school now, I get a double dose of finals and the standardized End of Course (EOC) exams. Since their school is on block scheduling, they do a whole year's worth of a subject in one semester. So my oldest has two EOC exams and then two regular finals. My youngest has 3 finals and two mid-terms because her combined History and English class is actually a year long course. Let's not mention the number of projects they've had over the last couple of weeks. I know you are wondering what this has to do with me. I'm the "scorekeeper" so to speak. You know:

"Why is the TV on when you have a project to work on?"
"Did you verify the date when that project is due,
because I could swear it's tomorrow and not Friday"
"You have a test tomorrow too??"
"No I won't log onto the main computer account, use the homework account"
 (the one that has Facebook, Twitter, Formspring and Tumblr blocked,
because really, you're supposed to be doing homework LOL)

And if my girls are up, I'm up. Blame my mother. She never left me up doing homework. She was always awake to provide moral support, sharpen pencils, type while I wrote or fix a snack for energy. I do the same for my girls. Can I just tell you, we've had a lot of late nights! Momma is tired of projects, tests and quizzes that I'm not directly involved in. I can't wait until next Thursday when the last exam is over.

Well.....actually I don't get a break then either. We're heading to Chicago to attend a family wedding. We just found out about it 2 months ago so this is a brand new wrinkle in our December schedule. My husband and I will also celebrate our 18th anniversary while we're there. Why? Because I refuse to deal with airport security on my anniversary. I'm just saying.  Then we'll head back and spend the 3 days we'll have left getting ourselves ready for Christmas.

I'm finding it harder to find a hiding place for my husband's main gift than actually shopping. He's told me he searches for it when I leave the house. Really honey?? How old are you? It helped a lot to do some of this year's shopping online (free shipping is my new BFF). But then I have to act like a stalker, waiting for the UPS guy. After all, I need to grab the box so no labels are seen. All I have to say about that is.....Really family?? Wait until Christmas!!

Did I mention that I'm a little over a month on a brand new job. I'm learning a ton but still, with all this other stuff going on, I'm a bit overwhelmed. Just a tad. Okay a couple of tads.

Anyway, how is your December coming along? All done shopping? Any wrinkles in your holiday schedule?

I have to go check on a child working on yet another project, so I'll leave you with this...

Be Blessed!!! And be a blessing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Introducing....Dallas Woodburn

Today I am pleased to introduce you to a fabulously accomplished young woman, Dallas Woodburn. Here's a short bio so you can get an idea of all Dallas has accomplished in her twenty-some years!

Dallas Woodburn, is the author of two collections of short stories and a forthcoming novel. Dallas wrote her first book at the tender age of ten. She has written more than 80 articles for national publications including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, CO-ED, Justine, and The Los Angeles Times, and she writes a regular column for Listen magazine. Dallas is the founder of the nonprofit organization “Write On! For Literacy” that has donated nearly 11,000 new books to disadvantaged children. Her latest endeavor is starting a publishing company, Write On! Books, that publishes the work of young writers. In addition, she hosts frequent writing contests, teaches writing camps for kids, and is coordinator of the Young Writers Program at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Dallas graduated summa cum laude last May from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship. Dallas has received the Jackie Kennedy Onassis/Jefferson Award, a Congressional Award Gold Medal, and a “Best of You” Award from Glamour Magazine.

I may have about twenty years on her, but Dallas has been very active, giving back to the writing community as well as educating and entertaining readers with her words! Now I'd like to let Dallas tell you a bit more about herself. She's really someone we all need to know.

What drove you to start writing—and publishing—at such a young age?

I feel so blessed that I discovered what I love to do at such a young age. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and I published my first book, There’s a Huge Pimple on My Nose, when I was in fifth grade. Pimple is proof that with a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of support, a small idea can snowball into something bigger than you ever dreamed. My snowball began as a snowflake when I applied for and received a $50 grant from my elementary school to write, publish and sell a collection of my short stories and poems. I proposed using the profits to repay my grant, so the school could offer an extra one the following year. My first printing, done at a Kinkos copy shop, was modest: twenty-five staple-bound forty-page books. Actually, they were more like thick pamphlets, but no matter – to me, they were the most beautiful books I had ever laid eyes upon. I swear, J.K. Rowling wasn’t more proud of her first Harry Potter hardcover edition.

My fellow students and teachers acted as if Pimple was at the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List. The first twenty-five copies promptly sold in a couple of days. Can you imagine what a turbo-boost this was to a fifth-grader’s self-esteem? I was pursuing my dream, but I wasn’t pursuing it alone – my family and friends and teachers were right there with me. So I went back to Kinkos, ordered twenty-five more books – and soon sold all those as well. After three more trips to Kinkos, I searched out a publishing business and ordered a few hundred glossy-covered, glue-bound, professional-looking Pimples. My little forty-page dream evolved from a snowball into a blizzard, with newspaper and radio interviews; appearances at literacy events all around California; even a “Dallas Woodburn Day” at the Santa Barbara Book Fair. I still have to pinch myself, but Pimple has sold more than 2,600 copies, enabling me to repay two school grants and found Write On! For Literacy.

Looking back, I was fortunate to dive into this career at such an early age because I wasn't afraid or self-conscious about my writing. I think as we get older, we tend to lose that child-like pride and confidence in ourselves and our work. But I wasn't afraid of rejection, so I sent my book out to anyone and everyone I thought might read it. Sure, I didn't hear back from a lot of them. But I did score reviews in The Los Angeles Times, Girls' Life Magazine, Cosmo Girl Magazine, and others. Many terrific doors were opened for me because I wasn't afraid to hear the word "no."

Tell us about how your early experiences shaped your writing.

 It’s funny, but looking back it’s difficult for me to remember a time before I loved to write! I learned to read when I was four years old, and I gobbled up books. Like many kids, I made up stories; I was compelled to write my stories down. I think this was largely due to the fact that my dad is a writer. Every night, my parents would read me bedtime stories, and every morning I would come downstairs and see my dad writing. As a result, I was very aware that someone had written the books I so loved to read. And I decided that I wanted to be someone who writes books for other people to enjoy.

My dad is the first person who reads my work – his feedback and encouragement are invaluable. I remember when I was little, he would let me type out stories on his computer once he had filed his column for the day – how special that was! I am incredibly blessed that my parents and teachers were so encouraging of my love of writing from a very young age. Also, when I was in the first and second grade I was lucky to have an amazing teacher, Diane Sather, who encouraged my love for writing. I remember she had me read one of my stories to the class. I got such a burst of joy from sharing what I had written with others. It never crossed my mind to just write for myself.

What are your aspirations as an author? Where would you like your writing to go?

 My dream career is to be a novelist, short-story writer, professor of Creative Writing at a university, and to continue expanding Write On! For Literacy. I hope to never stop growing and challenging myself, as a writer and as a person. This August I am beginning the M.F.A. program in Fiction Writing at Purdue University, and I know I will learn and grow a lot during my three years there. Right now, I have one completed novel manuscript and I have started to write another novel, which I’m in the early exciting stages of – writing and waiting to see where the story will lead me. I’m having fun working on play scripts and submitting them to festivals. I hope with my writing I can inspire people and make them think. I love to hear from people who have read my work and been touched by something I have written. I believe writing can connect people and foster understanding, and that is what I hope to do in my career.

What is special to your writing process? Is there something unique you do to get the juices flowing?

 I try to write every single day – I am most productive and happy when I have an established routine. Even if I don’t feel like writing, I tell myself to write for just fifteen or twenty minutes, and usually by the end of that time I am in the groove and write for longer. My goal is to write 1,000 words every day. I am a night owl, so it is not unusual to find me at my computer writing after midnight, when the world is quiet and I am alone with my thoughts.

 Do you ever experience blocks, or are you one of those lucky people who never have them? If you do get stuck sometimes, what do you do to get out of it?

 One of the best things for me to do when I am facing writer’s block is to step back from the story and get away from the computer a bit. I love to go volunteer at schools and teach writing activities to kids. This is one of my favorite activities – it gives me great joy and fulfillment. Whenever I am feeling discouraged or creatively drained, going to schools and speaking to students inevitably recharges my batteries and gets me excited about writing again. So much energy and enthusiasm! It’s contagious!

I also frequently post tips for busting through writer’s block on my blog,

What are the negative aspects of the writing life, if any?

Rejection is something that ever author has to deal with. As a writer, I joke that I could wallpaper all four of my bedroom walls with all the rejection letters I have received from editors! The important thing is not to take it personally. For whatever reason, you or your writing just wasn’t a right fit for that publication at this specific time. That doesn’t mean that they won’t love the next piece you send to them! When I get a rejection letter, I first read the comments to see if there is any advice I can glean or ways I can improve for next time. Then, I submit my story or essay or article somewhere else. It took me more than a year to find my literary agent. A year of rejection, rejection, rejection – until finally, I found my perfect match. My agent understands my writing and has faith in my career. I just had to have the patience and perseverance to find her!

What is the one piece of advice you’d give writers just starting out?

Write every day, read as much as you can, and enjoy the process! As John Wooden says, “The journey is better than the inn.” In addition, publishing my books has taught me not to be afraid to take risks, and to take the initiative when you have an idea and make it happen yourself rather than letting fear and doubt make you wait. Because, why wait? Take small steps towards your dreams, and small steps can snowball into amazingly big opportunities!

What else do you do?

I love to run, hike, cook, travel, and spend time with my family and friends. I also founded a nonprofit organization called "Write On! For Literacy" in 2001 to encourage kids to discover confidence, joy, a means of self-expression and connection through reading and writing. I spend a lot of time volunteering, teaching writing workshops in schools and working with young writers. My website features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. I also hold an annual Holiday Book Drive to collect and distribute new books to disadvantaged kids who don’t have many, if any, books of their own. We’ve donated more than 11,000 books the past eight years.

Every year I teach a Summer Writing Camp in my hometown of Ventura, California, for kids ages 8-18. The goal is for students to have FUN while also learning how to improve central components of their writing, including dialogue, characterization, plot and setting, through various writing exercises. Many students are initially intimidated about writing and shy to share their work, but by the end of camp they are much more confident in not only their writing skills, but in all aspects of themselves. I look forward to Summer Writing Camp all year long! The students blow me away with their creativity, wisdom, and respect for each other. I am fortunate to have a handful of students who have been with me since the inaugural camp three years ago and have come back ever summer, and it has been such a joy to watch them grow.

I have found that often when students are more receptive to exploring the world through reading and writing, they become more passionate about learning as a whole. Throughout the year, I frequently volunteer at schools to teach writing activities to kids. This is one of the most fulfilling things to me. Whenever I am feeling discouraged or creatively drained, going to schools and speaking to students inevitably recharges my batteries and gets me excited about writing again. So much energy and enthusiasm! It’s contagious!

See, I told you Dallas was someone we all should know! I am privileged to introduce her to you all. To learn more about Dallas, visit the links below.

Tomorrow, be sure to stop by Robert Medak's blog to learn more about another busy and prodcutive author, Kevin McNamee
Dallas Woodburn Links:

I would love to hear from readers –email me at I also have a blog, where I frequently post writing tips, advice, inspiration, interviews, contests, and more: And the Write On! website is

My second collection of short stories, 3 a.m., is available on 3 AM

Follow me on Twitter at and Facebook at Join the Write On! Facebook group at Write On! Facebook Group Page

Monday, November 15, 2010

My New Normal

This week marks the start of my "new normal".  I resigned from my old job 5 weeks ago. I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah for new hire training for my new job. My mom flew out here to help my husband with the girls while I was gone. Sorry, but he's just not a good homework taskmaster. My mom is a master at it! I learned from the best. And he won't cook two dinners every night either to accommodate our vegetarian daughter. But mom would.

When I returned from new hire training, my mom, my husband and I setup my "office". You see, I'm now working from home everyday. Mom stuck around for a week to ease my transition. Let me tell you, I loved not having to cook or clean for a week. Well actually it was two weeks if you include my week in Salt Lake! I love that woman. I wonder if she'll let me rent her out? My friends keep begging me! LOL

Mom left on Saturday. And so began my new normal. This is my first week working from home with no one else in the house during the day. It was kinda weird today. Working from home is quite different than I expected. But I enjoy it. I do miss all my friends from the old job. Thank goodness for IM and Skype! I'll have to make time to join them for lunch very soon.

I've had to start leaving notes downstairs that read, "Quiet, I'm on a conference call!" so the girls don't walk in and yell, "MOOOOM!". My girls love having me physically here when they get home. I think I'm like Linus' safety blanket to them. You know what? I'm good with that.

I'm rediscovering working while listening to music, because my house is just too quiet during the day. I'm used to loud laughter, loud conference calls and well you know, noise! I used to only listen when I was upset or frustrated and needed something to soothe my nerves. Now I listen for fun and comfort.

Despite the adjustments I have to make, I don't think I'd trade this for the world. I love the new company.  It differs greatly from my old company. Thank goodness! The new company has high expectations of me but you know what? I'm okay with it. They aren't unrealistic expectations.

I'm looking forward to adapting to the new normal that is now my life. I don't always love change. It's often difficult and scary. But sometimes change is good. In my life, this time around, change is great!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Introducing......Kevin McNamee

Kevin McNamee

How appropriate with the spooky holiday of the year just around the corner that I'd be introducing you to Kevin McNamee! Not that he's spooky or anything :) His latest writings are though!

Who is he you ask?

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet. Kevin’s poetry has recently appeared in a poetry collection, An Eyeball in My Garden.

He also has several children’s picture books published including, If I Could Be Anything, The Sister Exchange, Lightning Strikes, and The Soggy Town of Hilltop.

Other book titles coming soon by Kevin include Papa’s Suns, What Is That Thing?, My Brother, the Frog, and more.

Kevin, please tell us about the poetry collection you are involved with.

I have two poems included in, An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems. It is a collection of forty four spookalicious poems written by fourteen terrifyingly talented poets. It has everything from the humorous, to the creepy, to the absolutely sinister, this collection is designed to tickle your funny bone and then perhaps, gnaw right through it.

What is your favorite poem from the collection?

I would have to say that I’m partial to the Winking Wot. It’s a fun poem about a completely new monster and Johann Olander really did an excellent job creating the look for this creature.

Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?

“Our Neighborhood” comes from my own memories of trick-or-treating. We would go around knocking on the doors of various oddball neighbors and receive some questionably edible or otherwise bogus treats. To this day, I still shudder at the memories of hard butterscotch candies left over from the Civil War being thrown into my bag along with some loose, fossilized candy corn.

For “The Gargoyle”, my day job frequently takes me into New York City. There’s no shortage of interesting architecture there including buildings with gargoyles perched on the ledges. But this poem is written from the gargoyle’s point of view as he looks down at the city.

How long have you been a poet?

I guess I’ve been a poet since the 1st grade. I remember writing a poem about the Easter Bunny that was displayed on a bulletin board outside the class room. I liked seeing my poem on display, where it could be read by everyone in the school. It was something I was proud of. I think maybe that’s what led to me to pursue publication after I became serious about writing. A book can reach a much wider audience than a bulletin board. And, I still like to see my work on display.

Do you write varied forms of poetry for children?

Although, I have dabbled with haiku and other non-rhyming formats, rhyming poetry seems to hold my interest the most. I also write both prose and rhyming picture books. I have four picture books published so far and three of them rhyme. So I guess that’s why I lean towards rhyming work, I enjoy it and I’ve had some success at it.

How are you personally promoting this book?

I’m doing a lot of online promotion right now. I’ve written about the book on my blog and have been promoting it on Facebook. I will be doing a book reading and charity auction of my books in Tuckahoe, NY on October 22. The details are on my Facebook page.

I also have a background in technology, so I developed an interest in creating online games that are based on my books. I created a game inspired by An Eyeball in My Garden. It doesn’t use any of the book’s graphics, but I think it’s a fun little game just the same.

Where can people find you?

I can always be found online at and I’ve launched a website with games and activities based on my books at where you can see some of my online game handiwork including the Eyeball in My Garden game.

I also have a blog at and will post additional author events there.

Anything else that you would like to share?

Just that, An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems, is available from Marshall Cavendish,, Barnes & Noble, or your local book store. This would be a great book for your favorite trick or treater.

Be sure to check out my poems, Our Neighborhood and The Gargoyle.

If you want to learn more about another interesting writer, visit Kari Wolfe at  tomorrow (10/21). Kari will be spotlighting author Darcia Helle.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Wild Card Tour - Judgement Day

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)
***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion/Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***


WANDA DYSON lives on a working horse farm, boarding and keeping a menagerie of critters. After writing three critically-acclaimed suspense novels, Wanda was asked to co-author the true story of Tina Zahn, Why I Jumped, a non-fiction work for which both Wanda and Tina appeared on Oprah. Wanda is a licensed Christian counselor who specializes in helping women recover from depression, anxiety, rejection, and the long-term effects of sexual and physical assault.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074754
ISBN-13: 978-1400074754:



Friday, April 3. Baltimore, MD

Running away from home had sounded like the best idea ever when she was planning it, but now that sixteen-year-old Britney Abbott was tired, hungry, and out of money, it felt more like the biggest mistake of her life. She climbed down off the bus, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and wondered where she was going to sleep for the night.

If only her mother hadn’t married that jerk. He was so strict. According to Ronnie, Britney couldn’t date, couldn’t stay over at a friend’s for the night, and she had to be in the house no later than seven every evening. None of her friends had to live like that.

Last Saturday night her mom and Ronnie went out to dinner, leaving her home alone with the usual litany of instructions: You cannot have anyone over. You will do your homework. You will be in bed by ten. You will not spend the evening on the phone with your friends. And you will not—I repeat, not—leave this house; I am going to call and if you aren’t here to answer the phone, you will be grounded for a month.

Fifteen minutes after they left, Ronnie-the-Predictable called. She answered the phone. An hour and a half later, she was gone.

She looked around at the crowds dispersing in several directions. The smell of diesel fuel overwhelmed her empty stomach and it growled in protest. Everything looked the way she felt— worn-out, dirty, and depressed.

“Hey, you okay?” A girl stood against the wall near the exit from the bus station. Torn jeans, pink T-shirt, high top sneakers, leather jacket, and numerous rings and studs from ear to nose to lip.

“Yeah, I’m cool.”

“You look hungry. I was just going over to Mickey D’s. You wanna come?”

“No money.”

“It’s okay. I think I can buy you a hamburger and some fries.”

Britney was hungry enough to be tempted and wary enough to wonder why the girl would make such an offer. “Me?”

“Yeah.” The girl walked over. “My name’s Kathi. I came to Washington about five months ago. A friend of mine was supposed to be on the bus but either her parents caught her trying to run away or she changed her mind.”

“You’re a runaway?”

Kathi laughed as she shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket. “Look around, girl. There are lots of us. We come to DC to get away. Some stay, some move on to Chicago or New York.”

Britney felt relieved to know she wasn’t alone. “Okay. I’ll take a hamburger. Thanks.”

Kathi linked her arm in Britney’s and led her down the street toward the Golden Arches. “What’s your name?”


“Well, let’s get you something to eat and then you can crash at my place.”

They chatted as they ate their food and drank their sodas, and with each passing minute, Britney liked Kathi more. She might look a little tough, but Britney supposed that living on the streets, you had to be. Her appearance aside, Kathi seemed friendly and generous.

They were about a block past McDonald’s when a woozy feeling interrupted their conversation. When she stumbled, Kathi steadied her. “You okay?”

“Just lightheaded.”

“Tired, more than likely. It’s not far to my place.”

But Britney’s body felt heavier with each step. She struggled to stay awake. She had never felt this way before in her entire life. Not even after staying up for two straight days studying for a math test.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“We’re almost there,” Kathi told her. “Just down this way.”

Britney didn’t like the dark alley or the dark van parked there with the motor running, but she couldn’t find the strength to resist Kathi’s pull on her arm.

As they passed the van, the side door opened and a man

stepped out. “Too bad she’s such a looker.”

“Yeah, well,” Kathi replied. “You get what I can find.”

The man picked up Britney and tossed her into the van. Britney tried to call out, tried to resist, but she could no longer control her arms or legs. She could only lie there and let the fear grow and build until the scream inside felt like an explosion in her head.

The man duct-taped her arms and legs. Then he placed a piece over her mouth. “Don’t worry, kid. This will be over real soon.”


Wednesday, April 15. Outside Washington DC

Suzanne Kidwell shoved her tape recorder in the cop’s face, smiling up at him as if he were the hero in her own personal story. “We have two girls missing now and both were students at Longview High. Are you looking at the faculty and staff at the school?”

The officer puffed a bit, squaring his shoulders and thrusting out his chest as he hiked up his utility belt. “You have to understand that we haven’t finished our investigation, but I can tell you that we found pornography on the principal’s computer. I’d say we’re just hours away from arresting him.”

She lightly traced a glossy red nail down his forearm. “I knew I came to the right man. You have that air of authority and competence. And I’ll bet you were the one who sent those detectives in the right direction too.”

He dropped his head in one of those “aw shucks, ma’am” moves. “Well, I did tell them that he had been arrested about ten years ago for assault.”

“And they made a man like that the principal. What is this world coming to?” Before he could comment, she hit him with another question. “Has he told you yet what he did with the girls?”

“Not yet. He’s still insisting he’s innocent, but it’s just a matter of time before we get a confession out of him.”

“Thank you so much, Officer. You’re a hero. Those girls would be dead without you.”

He blushed hard as she hurried off, lobbing him another dazzling smile as she calculated her timetable. It was nearly four and she had to be ready and on the air at six, scooping every other network in the city.

At the station, she ran up the stairs to the second floor and jogged down to Frank’s office. “Is he in?” she asked his secretary.

“Sure. Go on in.”

If there was a dark spot anywhere in her job at all, it was Frank Dawson. The man delighted in hassling her. Professional jealousy, no doubt. She knocked on his doorjamb. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Like Frank, the room was heavy on shine and light on substance. Awards and diplomas covered all the walls. Pictures of Frank with politicians, presidents, and the wealthy, beautiful, and powerful were displayed prominently on all the bookshelves. His desk dominated the center of the room, covered in paperwork, tapes, and files.


Suzanne took a deep breath, clutched her notes, and strode into his office. “You know the two local girls that went missing recently?”

He glanced up at the clock, a subtle reminder that she should be getting dressed and into makeup. “I think so.”

“Well, I’ve been doing some digging and they have a suspect.”

“And this is your business exactly why?”

“Because I scooped everyone else. I talked to one of the officers working the case and he told me that they have a suspect, they’re interrogating him now, and they expect to announce his arrest momentarily.”

“And what does this have to do with me?”

She stared at him for a long moment. “I want to go on the air with this late-breaking news.”

He scratched his chin. “Your show is already scheduled, Suzanne. Corruption in the horse industry.”

“I know that, and I can still do that. I just need five minutes at the end of the show to cover this. We’ve got the scoop! How can we not run with it?”

Waving a hand, he said, “Fine. Go with it. I sure hope you have all the facts.”

“I have them straight from the mouth of the police. How much more do you want?”

“Fine. Do it.”

Grinning, she rushed back down to wardrobe and makeup in record time, entering the studio with mere minutes to spare.

Suzanne looked over at one of the assistants. “Where’s my microphone?”

As someone rushed to get her miked up, the director walked in. “We have a job to do, people; let’s get to it. We’re on the air in two.”

She straightened her jacket as the assistant adjusted the small microphone clipped to her lapel. “It’s fine. Move.”

The cameraman finished the countdown with his fingers. Three…two…one. She fixed her expression.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” Suzanne turned slightly. “I’m Suzanne Kidwell. And this is Judgment Day.”

Suzanne took a deep breath while the station ran the introduction, taking a moment to straighten the notes in front of her and sip her water.

When the director pointed at her, she launched into the ongoing corruption and abuses endangering horse owners.

The camera shifted for a closeup. “And before I close tonight, I want to give you a late-breaking report. Just like you, I’ve been horrified by the tragic disappearance of teens here in the tristate area. But what made me truly sit up and take notice was that within the last two weeks, two young girls—seventeen-year-old Jennifer Link and sixteen-year-old Britney Abbott—were reported as runaways. Same neighborhood, same school, both runaways?

“Now maybe that could happen, but I was skeptical. I did some digging. And I’m happy to report that the police have arrested Peter Fryer, the principal of Longview High School.”

Suzanne changed her expression from a touch of sorrow mixed with concern to outrage. “I spoke to the lead officer and he told me that evidence against the principal included child pornography on Fryer’s computer. In spite of being arrested ten years ago for assault, Peter Fryer was hired on as the principal of Longview just four years ago. He is still denying any involvement, but the police assured me they have their man. I will keep you posted.”

She angled her body. “As long as people out there who betray our trust, there will be Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell. Good night, America. I’ll see you next week.”

As soon as she got the signal that she was clear, she pulled off her mike and stood up, grabbing her water as left the studio.

She rushed down the hall, and when she reached her office, she sank down into her chair and kicked off her shoes. She barely had time to curl her toes in the carpet before her phone rang.

She picked it up. “Great job, Suzanne.” It was Frank.

“Thanks, boss. I knew you’d be happy.”

“The phones are ringing off the hook. The other stations are scrambling to catch up to us.”

Smiling, she leaned back. “They’ll be eating our dust for a while now.”

“You’ll stay on this?”

“All the way to conviction.”

This book started out like "BAM","BOOM", "POW".  Wanda had me hooked from the very first page and never lost me! There were many twists and turns but I never got lost. Intrigued, yes, but never lost. I hate to have to back track to figure out what's going on. This book never had that problem. I loved how Wanda  brought to light so many different issues in this book. I want my daughters to read it for the runaway angle alone!

Word of advice: Pay attention to those first three chapters. There's a convergence of roads later. I know it doesn't seem like there would be, but there is. And BOY does it knock you for a loop! Truly an action-packed suspense story. This is my first Wanda Dyson book, but certainly will not be my last!

Creative Communication

Enjoy a picture of how I creatively communicated with my children about the constant mess in our living room, dining room and downstairs bath.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Tune Tuesday 9/28/2010

I heard this song on the way to work this morning. Tears flowed at the simple, honest truth of it. There are no words I can or want to add. Just listen. And know. Be Blessed ~ Mari

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Want You To Meet....Darcia Helle

Hi everyone! Today I am featuring author Darcia Helle.

Darcía grew up in Massachusetts but has lived in the Tampa Bay area of Florida since 2002. She is married and has two sons. An animal lover, Darcía has two very spoiled dogs and two equally spoiled cats. She is a suspense author who has six books under her belt, Enemies and Playmates, Hit List, No Justice, Beyond Salvation, Miami Snow and The Cutting Edge.  Her latest, The Cutting Edge, is a suspense novel that mostly takes place in a salon. Darcia herself worked in a salon for 15 years. Alas, no murders there, so she had to make the killing part up :) But isn't that what authors do best anyway?

Here is a short snippet from the book:

My name is Skye Summers. I'm a hairstylist and I can't stop fantasizing about killing my clients. Not all of them, of course. I only want to kill the ones who irritate me, which, if I'm being honest, is most of them. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They're bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX.

I also want to kill my husband's ex-girlfriend. She's not a client but she tops my list. Eighteen years ago, she gave birth to his daughter and she has tormented him ever since. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.

Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly want to find out if she uses those shears! Doesn't that little sample make you wonder what influences Darcia's writing? Let's see what Darcia has to say about that.
Your writing style is unique and powerful. Who have been some of your chief literary influences?
Darcia: "I have always had a strong need to understand human nature. My characters are what drive the plot in my stories. Writing is a way for me to explore what a person would do in any given situation. That, more than anything else, is what influences my writing style.

As for author influence, every author I’ve ever read has inspired me in some way. I love authors who use unique phrasing and/or who have the ability to capture the essence of a character. As a writer, I read differently than I used to. Now I pay more attention to writing style, what I like, what I don’t like, and why. Even an author I don’t enjoy will inspire me by reminding me to avoid those same mistakes in my own writing."

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?

Darcia:  "I always wrote, though, for some reason, I didn’t think of writing as a career option. When I was young, I would create elaborate fantasy worlds in my head, though I never thought of turning them into books. I actually wanted to be a psychologist but wound up going to cosmetology school and working in my mother’s hair salon. I would write short stories for my kids when they were young and lots of poetry. I eventually got my B.S. in natural health and wrote health-related articles for various websites. Then one day, I sat down with an idea in my head that wouldn’t go away and that idea turned into my first book."

 If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? Why?

Darcia: "I'd love to say that I'd be a singer. My music addiction rivals my book addiction. But my voice is truly horrible, so I don't see that as an option. Maybe I'd be a professional book reviewer. I can't imagine anything better than getting paid to do what I love!"

Well that's a tiny glimpse into Darcia and her writing. Thanks to Darcia for allowing me to feature her on my blog today! To find out more about her and to purchase her books, please visit the links below.

Darcia's Website: or (same site)

Darcia's Blog:



Darcia's Amazon Author Page:

Darcia's Smashwords Page:

If you want to learn more about another interesting writer, visit Kari Wolfe at  tomorrow (9/23). Kari will be spotlighting author Marvin Wilson, aka The Old Silly.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Tune Tuesday


Is this thing on?

Hey everybody. Well, it's been a while since I posted. All I can say is that I've been going through it. I'm not sure what God is up to, but it is definitely stretching and challenging me beyond ANYTHING I've been through before, including my husband's unemployment. Anyway, I thought I'd share today a song that has helped me hold onto my sanity, remember who's in charge and that He can completely be trusted! I need to remember that when all I can and do see is destruction, roadblocks, challenges and loss.

He can be trusted. Everyday. In everything. Good, bad, ugly. He can be trusted. Do you trust Him?

Be blessed my friends.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Forgot to Share

I just realized I forgot to share with you my latest blog post on's Go Ask Mom blog. I have been blessed to be able to blog once a month on parenting teenagers. I'm no expert. But I think other moms of teens like reading about another mom's journey. I feel quite privileged.

So....stop by, take a read and comment if it resonates with you in some way.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Look; The Skin You're In

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Skin You’re In: Discovering True Beauty

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)

***Special thanks to Pam Mettler of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***


Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310719992
ISBN-13: 978-0310719991

Press the browse button to view the first chapter:

I loved this book. I am partial to non-fiction books that read like the author is sitting down having a conversation with me. Nancy writes just like that, which will really appeal to teen readers. I enjoyed the way she gave very practical advice on hygiene, make-up, skin care and fashion, all the while intertwining Bible stories and verses throughout. While providing all of this, she gave girls the tools they need to boost their self-esteem, whether they realize it or not. That's what I call good writing and reading!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Your New Summer Best Friend

Ahhh summer. Vacations, pools, sun..... And mosquitos! Besides humidity, mosquitos are the next worse thing.

But fear not! I found a solution to their itchy bites. It's your new summer best friend.



Do. Not. Laugh.

It works because it has both an analgesic and an anesthetic in it. When I say it works, I mean my bites stopped itching within 1 minute. No itch cream I've tried has ever been able to accomplish that.

Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Until next blessed

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My If Onlys......

I can remember when my girls were babies. One adored the baby swing and would have joyfully lived her life in it. The other hated it and would grab the legs to shake herself free.

Now that my babies are 15 and 13, I'm reflective on things I would have done differently.

Knowing what I know now, here's what I would have changed:

To read the rest, hop on over to's GoAskMom blog where I am the guest blogger for the day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Moment I Knew...

I read a lot of writers and editors blogs. I belong to several writers groups online. I subscribe to writers magazines. I've been published in an anthology. My first devotional book was released in March. All that would seem to hint that I'm an author wouldn't it? Well, I haven't felt like one lately. I suffer with several chronic conditions, one of which is fibromyalgia. It's the one I despise the most. It takes the most from me. But, it helped me gain some recently.

Since we moved to North Carolina, for the most part, it's remained in remission. However, for the past two months, it's been raging on and off. Actually, more on than off. So my writing went into deep deep hiding. Did I mention deep? Actually a lot of things "went into hiding" but it was my lack of writing that really affected me.

I've read in so many places that "true" writers write because they have to, are compelled to. The only thing I felt compelled to do was nothing, absolutely nothing. I had no desire to write. That scared me. Was I a fraud? Was I not a true writer? Say it isn't so!

Okay, it isn't so. One day last week I took my personal laptop to work. During lunch I sat outside under a shade tree and opened up Word, hoping for something, anything. Tada! The words just flowed. I can't say I've written every day since then, but I've written more in the last week than in the past two months.

Honestly, after using all my energy to make it to work and back home, there's no way I could put together truly cohesive thoughts. I guess I could have tried, but honestly, it wasn't worth it to me. Am I still worried that I might not be a "real" writer?  Nope. My perspective has changed. When I'm in a fibro flare, if I can write, great. If I can't, that's fine too. I will not feel guilty because neither of those scenarios changes reality. The reality is that I am a writer. Period.

I felt truly energized when I wrote that one day at lunch. Every time I've written since then, I've felt energized. There are no forced words. They just leap on the page. I think that says it all for me. I've had my health imposed break. That's over. Now back to what I've been doing all my life, writing. That makes me happy.

Be blessed everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Guest Today - Fellow VBT Author Marvin D. Wilson

My guest post today is from Marvin D. Wilson. He calls himself "The Old Silly".  Don't be fooled. Marvin has a lot he can teach young writers (and older ones like myself.). Marvin has three books to his credit and is also an editor. I'd call him "The Wise One". So let's get to know "The Old Silly" a little better. And please, utilize the links at the end of his post to purchase his books and visit his blog. Enjoy!!

Mari, thank you so much for having me on your blog today. It’s a pleasure to share with your readers. Today I thought it would be interesting for your readership to get a glimpse, a sneak preview of my new novel, Beware the Devil’s Hug, slated to be released later this summer or early Fall. So here is the Prologue in Parts One and Two. Enjoy, all, please leave any comments/feedback, and I will stop in occasionally to answer any questions and interact with y’all.
Oh – before getting into the Prologue, here is the short adblurb for the book, giving you some idea what it is all about...

What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a radical terrorist Muslim want to befriend and love a Christian and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace – nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

Ok ... now on with the short preview-

Prologue – Part One
In a dim, small room with no walls was a lit candle, its tiny flame flickering. On a sturdy wooden table it sat, perched in its pewter holder like a glimmering, waxed, miniature monolithic Cyclops. One sat on one side of the table, Eye sat on the other. Shadows were cast in all directions, but appeared nowhere around this boundless microcosm. 
One said, “You sure you want to do this?”
One knows everything, right? So Eye said, “No doubt.”
One said, “Incarnation hurts. There is carnal pleasure, yes, but there will be pain. The whole trip, and especially the exodus, most cases.”
Eye knew that. “Tell me some thing Eye does not know.”
One said, “There is no thing you do not know.”
“Then why does Eye not see all of It?”
“Because your focus has been upon your self.”
“Get out of here.”
“No, you get out of here … if that’s what you desire. Have your self a good look around.”
One laughed and disappeared.
Eye went to Terra.
Prologue - Part Two

Ali raised his rifle to shoot. As he was about to pull the trigger, he heard a voice from behind.
“Wait—take me.”
Ali whirled round and saw The Old Man, sitting cross-legged on the floor, his hands clasped together in a prayerful pose of petition. He glared at The Old Man and said, “What is this? Who are you and how did you get in here?”
The Old Man wagged his hand in the air. “That is of no significance. I am here to ask to take this man’s place. Please—kill me instead.”
Ali regarded The Old Man for a moment. He lowered his rifle. “And why … why should I do this?”
The Old Man shrugged, raised an open palm and nodded toward the rifleman’s captive Christian. “He is a young man, his entire life ahead of him, and has done nothing to deserve such a fate. I am old, and have lived my long life to the fullest. In the Qur’an it says to kill an innocent being is to kill the entire human race. He is innocent, a good man. I, my friend, have made many mistakes, committed many sins in my life. It would be best, for all concerned, if you were to shoot me for your cause rather than him.”
Ali looked deep into The Old Man’s eyes, clucked his tongue and gave a slow nod. “Very well. You are a brave man. If you wish, I will honor you with a final request before I take your life. Do you have one?”
The Old Man paused, then smiled. “Yes. Just one.”
“And that is?”
“I can ask anything of you?”
Ali looked down and checked his rifle absently, fiddled with the chamber. “Anything within reason, old man, other than sparing both yours and this other man’s life.” He looked back up at The Old Man. “So—out with it. What is your last wish?”
The Old Man stood and held his arms out wide. “Let me hug you.”

Marvin D Wilson is the author of three previous books, I Romanced the stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), Owen Fiddler, and Between the Storm and the Rainbow. Marvin, known in the world of Bloggydom as “The Old Silly, has a popular blog, The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog, at Marvin is an editor with All Things That Matter Press and also does freelance editing.