Thursday, December 6, 2007

Getting ready

The week after Thanksgiving, my husband and I decorated for Christmas, at home and at church. Within the week, the halls were decked with garland, trees, and manger scenes. At home, I added my Dickens Village, collection of Santas, and the quilt, post cards and ornaments passed down from our parents. I love the eye candy of Christmas! I'm excited to get it up and a little sad to take it down after New Year's.

But there's no time to rest on my laurels. I got the go ahead from my editor on the plan for my revisions of Distant Hearts and I'm back to work. When my eyes need a rest from the computer screen, I take a break and enjoy the decorations. I still have cards to send and gifts to buy, but I'm confident it'll all get done. It always does. :-)

Amid all the hustle and bustle, I'll take time not only to prepare my house, but also my heart for Jesus. I'll ponder the mystery of God coming to earth, pure and holy, born to save us from our sins. What a gift! No credit card needed. No long lines. No returns. All we have to do is accept Him.

God bless you this Christmas!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this holiday. The traditions. The warmth of having family gathered around a table, sharing not only some of our favorite foods, but voicing our gratitude for all the blessings God has given us. The list is long and too often taken for granted.

I hope your day is special. Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Good news!

My agent called a few days ago to say she'd sold my second book! My editor wants revisions so I have more work to do, but I'm thrilled Distant Hearts will be in print. Like all writers, I put my heart, soul, and endless hours into a book. Nothing is more gratifying than having an editor see that and take a chance on me.

The title of my first book, Courting Miss Adelaide, was my editor's idea and I love it's historical feel. I'm pondering title possibilities for this book. Maybe readers will give me some help when I put up the first chapter on my Web site. But whatever it will be called, I'm truly grateful Mary and Luke's story will find its way to bookstore shelves.

If you're a writer, I'm posting tomorrow on the Seekerville Blog. If you have a minute, come join us at



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Contest Discussion

If you're a writer and interested in contests, join the discussion with the Seekers, a talented, savvy group, at

Monday, October 29, 2007

The last couple of days have been beautiful. Temps in the 50s, but with very little wind and the bright sun, it feels far warmer. I love the colored leaves, the sense of appreciation swelling inside me because this glorious weather won't last and I know it. I bask in the rays, enjoying every borrowed moment.

Last night, fortified with chili and cornbread, we carved pumpkins at our daughter's. Actually the grand kids used this nifty serrated gizmo to trace patterns of a goofy smiley face and a friendly bat that soon emerged under their nimble fingers. We all dig through the slimy pulp, searching for seeds. They'll be washed and dried and roasted. But, that's for another day. As soon as dark falls, we lit the Jack 'O Lanterns. I smile. Who cannot? I'm a kid again. :-)

On the ride home, the moon is full, so beautiful I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for God's creation. Content, reliving memories, wondering where the time has gone. I think of my father, the ultimate pumpkin carver who never needed a pattern. My eyes grow moist. I'm a bit sad, but full of hope for the future. God is in Heaven. All is well with world.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I'm working on the third book in the series. Before I get too far into the process, I've got to make certain that two elements of my story are factual. That will require research on migrant workers and sugar beets production in 1899. I've been told that in the 1930s farmers used a special plow to bring the beets out of the ground, and migrant workers cut off the tops and bottoms as they gathered them from the fields. That tidbit gives me hope that similar procedures existed at the time of my story. One thing I do know--sugar beets, a source of sugar, were grown in the Midwest at the time of my story. I'll also need to make the migrant workers' dialogue sound authentic. The trick is to write a compelling story that doesn't overwhelm the reader with more information than he needs, yet gives enough history to make the story come alive. Contempory novels require research too so writers of all genres do more than put words on the page. But if we're not careful, we can get too caught up in research and never get the book written. As in most things in life, balance is important. I've learned to pray before I sit at the computer, asking God for wisdom and words. He hasn't let me down yet.



Friday, October 12, 2007

Catching up

A good thing about a big writing related push is I get to let household chores slide. :-) My husband understands, helps out, but even he, a man with a servant's heart, has limits. So today I tackled that teetering basket of ironing, glad to finally get to it. While I pushed that iron around, I called an out-of-town friend who recently had a heart attack. She sounded great, just like always. But she'd had a wake up call. After we hung up, I thought how we never know what tomorrow, or even today, will bring. We want to make our lives count for God's kingdom, for those we love. I'm blessed to have this opportunity to write inspirational novels and hope that what I write will help readers in some way. But one thing I'm certain of--the writing has helped me. The way I have my characters handle their struggles comes from my personal relationship with God. The writing has enriched my life, brought me wonderful friends, and yes, added some pressure, too. But nothing good comes without a price. I'm reading If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. He reminds me that whatever we attempt when we dream big is a risk. Getting out of that boat, our safe, comfortable spot, takes courage. I'm learning God will give me exactly what I need if I begin. So whatever your dream, pray for guidance and strength, maybe even an idea or two. We're bound to fail, but God will pick us up. I'll spend a couple days catching up with chores and thanking God for His gift--the call to write and sit down once more to do what I must. With His help. One word at a time.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Finished with my revisions!

Whew, do I feel great! I just finished revising my second book per my editor's suggestions and I'm very pleased. And happy. And thanking God for the peace He gave me during the process. And hoping my editor will like the book as much as I do. Actually I may not be totally done. My critique partner will take a look at the last couple of chapters tomorrow and may have a few suggestions. More like several. :-) Either way, I'll mail the complete to my editor on Monday, meeting my goal.

And then I'll get back to book three that very same day. Poor Fannie and Luke surely must miss me. Since they can't take a step or speak a word without my permission. Oh, the power of a writer. ;-)

Besides finishing my revisions, I have other news. A group of very special writer friends and I have started a new blog. About half of us are published and the other half are very close. When we started chatting none of us had sold. We'll have lots to say about contests and the part they played in helping us reach our goal, along with whatever else is on our minds. If you're a writer looking for information on contests or a reader who enjoys hearing about the ups and downs of fifteen writers' journeys, then stop in at

Another fun spot to visit later this month is Steeple Hill's Harvest Festival on the Steeple Hill boards October 22-26 where you can chat with wonderful authors, play games, and win great prizes. Go to Community.

Hope to see you on both sites!

Blessings all!


Friday, September 28, 2007

Camy Tang on Historical Romances

Even though I write chick lit, I looooooooove reading historical romances. Something about being swept into another time, place, and culture is thrilling and exciting.

Janet, I know your historical romance, Courting Miss Adelaide, releases next year around September, right? Isn’t that a scrumptious title? I can’t wait to read it.

I got my hot little hands on an Advance Reader Copy of The Briton by Catherine Palmer, which is the launch book for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical line. I only read a few pages, but it’s totally awesome.

I have also started reading Just Jane by Nancy Moser, a novel of Jane Austen’s life. So cool! I love Jane Austen. I reread Persuasion every few months.

I think it was Jane Austen who got me hooked on Regency romances. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Salvation Army or Goodwill and browse their books section. I’ve found tons of old Regency romances—Signet, Fawcett, Zebra. All the “sweet” imprints that died a slow, painful death as the sexier historical romances grew more popular. Those sweet Regencies are so satisfying to me. Romance and elegance, all rolled in one!

I like Biblical fiction, too. I really enjoyed Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. She brought the ancient Israel culture alive for me. So did Randy Ingermanson in Premonition and Retribution.

And did I mention I love PIRATES??? I just finished The Restitution by M.L. Tyndall. That redeemed-bad-boy-hero is swoonworthy!

Aaah, I could talk about historical romances all day. Thanks for letting me indulge here on your blog, Janet!

Camy writes "romance with a kick of wasabi." Don't miss her debut novel, Sushi for One? It's a fabulous, fun romp!
Thanks Camy for stopping by! Janet

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ACFW photos

Conference buddies:

Front row: Julie Lessman, Carolyn Slaughter

Back row: Myra Johnson, Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti, Darlene Buchholz

Mortimer Literary Agency:

Cindy Hickey, Dineen Miller, Kelly Mortimer, Robin Miller, Pam Hillman, Janet Dean

American Christian Fiction Writers conference

I recently returned from Dallas, the site of the 2007 ACFW conference. I had a great time connecting with writer friends, clients of my agency and its owner, Kelly of Mortimer Literary, and Steeple Hill's Love Inspired authors. I attended excellent workshops and inspiring worship sessions with music, testimony and talk by James Scott Bell, our speaker. All the while building my craft and my faith muscles. No one understands a writer like a writer, even a caring husband who valiantly tries not to allow his eyes to glass over while I discuss the ups and downs of being a writer.

We drove to Dallas so I had lots of hours to work on the revisions of my second book. I'm home now, putting the changes suggested by my editor into my computer--rewriting, revising, working to make this book the best it can be. I'm expecting to need another week to get these finished and back in. Two at the most.

The pictures are from the conference.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Labor Day weekend

Life is often hectic. How fun at the end of summer to have an extra day to play. Hope you had time during the Labor Day weekend to read, work out or do your favorite thing. Maybe like us that's to hang out with family. Our kids and grandchildren joined us for the weekend celebrating birthdays. One of them was mine. The candles on the cake weren't a three-alarm fire. Yet. But life is whizzing by, a wonderful reminder to enjoy those special moments together. So we soaked up rays on the last day at the pool. Rooted for our college football team on the first game of the season. Watched the kiddies eyes light when they leveled a few bowling pins. My husband and I meandered through a crowded Art Fair and searched an antique mall for that perfect find, all my idea of a great time. Now it's time to get back to work on my novel. Refreshed. Ready to play with the people in my head.



Thursday, August 30, 2007

My cup overflows

Nothing blesses me more than celebrating our daughters' birthdays. They're grown-ups now, married with children of their own, but after Jesus, they're God's greatest gifts to us. All their lives they brought us joy and a fresh look at this world. They've opened new paths we'd never have traveled without them. Today is our younger daughter's birthday. I remember her as a baby--big-eyed, skin like silk, barely any hair and a tiny hand that curled around my index finger. She was precious then and she still is. Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Not exactly authentic but yummy lasagna

After our mini tour of Italy, I had a taste for lasagna so I made a pan tonight. If you're a purist, better stop reading because this lasagna uses store-bought sauce and uncooked noodles. I stopped making lasagna from scratch when our kids voted this quick and easy recipe to be their favorite. If easy sounds good to you, then read on. This recipe is to be made the night before the evening you want to serve it. To help you make a grocery list, the ingredients are in bold type. If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it. It's one of our favorites at family gatherings.

Lazy Day Overnight Lasagna

Brown meat and drain fat:
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef

Add to meat and simmer 15 minutes:
32 oz Prego spaghetti sauce. The jar is bigger so I add more.
1 cup water

Combine in bowl:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives. I skip.
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

In ungreased 9x13 pan layer:
1 1/2 cup meat sauce
1/2 of 8 oz. uncooked lasagna noodles
1/2 ricotta mixture
1/2 of 16 0z. mozzarella grated cheese
Repeat each layer.
Top with remaining meat sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan to cover.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 50-60 minutes. Cover and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Starting a New Book

Starting a new book is exciting and daunting. Luckily, I didn't have to start from scratch. Two of the secondary characters from my debut novel are the hero and heroine of this book so I know Fannie and James. Well, sort of. About as much as I know some of my neighbors. We wave, have an occasional conversation at the mailbox, but I have no real sense of what makes them tick.

To get to know James and Fannie, I'm spending time with them. You could say they've moved into my house. I'm meeting their families, discovering their dreams and fears, figuring out how they react, how they think. They're young. They have some growing up to do. And they will. I'll see to that. :-)

My job is to bring James and Fannie to life on the page so readers will care about them. I'll use conflict and crisis, dialogue and action to reveal their faith, stretch them and produce a fast-paced, entertaining read. Or so I hope. The process takes me awhile. My goal is four decent pages a day, twenty pages a week. With time off in December and for a writers' conference, I should type The End and have revisions done by the last of January.

Besides writing a new book, I'll be involved with the finishing touches on my debut novel to be released in September 2008. I can't wait to get the new title, to see the cover once the Art Department is finished. It promises to be an exciting year!

Whenever you can, stop back and see how my books and I are doing. If you have questions, ask. It'll be fun to share the process with you.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sorrento and Capri

This is a view of the lovely island of Capri off the coast of Italy. In ancient times Capri was part of the mainland. Caesar Augustus' son Tiberius ruled from Capri during the last years of his reign. Once a fishing village, Capri's economy now depends on the tourist trade. A volcano on the island erupts every 50 years or so but hasn't since the 40s. The speed the island's drivers took the steep road's hair-raising turns kept me gripping the seat and trying to look straight ahead, instead of at the sheer drop, but views at the top are spectacular.

Swimmers and boaters take turns to enter the caves dotting the water's edge near the Faraglioni Rock.

Hope you enjoyed this mini-photo tour of Italy. I enjoyed sharing the memories.



Friday, August 10, 2007


Pompeii was a prosperous Roman harbor city destroyed by a volcano eruption nearly 2,000 years ago. Citizens and slaves were killed by toxic gases. New Pompeii was built over the ashes, which became like stone. The volcano changed the landscape and it's no longer on the sea. In the 1600s a farmer found something that led to excavations, revealing a well-preserved city with a remarkable degree of civilization. Buildings had central heating, plumbing, hot water. The city had fountains, spas and shops for carry-out food because only the rich had kitchens. The Temple of Apollo, amphitheater and government buildings stood on the square. Rooms were decorated with frescoes.

Next is Capri and Sorrento, one of our favorite spots.



Monday, August 6, 2007

We loved Assisi

Assisi, the town of St. Francis, is a beautiful medieval town in the region of Umbria. It's built on a mountain, surrounded by walls and paved with narrow cobblestone streets. The stone used in construction of the town makes it look pink. To see the city, we climbed first to the basilica and its lower and upper levels. St. Francis tomb is in the lower level. Pottery, lace and sweet shops line the main street. Quaint narrow alleys and flights of steep stairs captivated us as we climbed. Midway to the top, we arrived at the town square with its fountain and Roman temple that's now a church. We kept climbing. At the very top sits a medieval castle.

Legend has it that St. Francis talked to a wolf that was killing people and got the wolf to leave. Today Assisi attracts religious groups of all kinds. Old buildings hold convents and monks wear brown robes tied with a three-knotted rope. One knot each for obedience, poverty and chastity.

Olive oil, white dry wine and Truffles preserved in oil are some of the agricultural products of Umbria.

The sound of horses' hooves echoing on the cobblestones pulled us away from breakfast to watch a horse race.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Life in Italy

A friend asked if I knew the realities of living in a big city like Rome. Our tour didn't go off the beaten path, but we did learn about some issues facing citizens in Italy.

Our guide complained of high prices, which doubled, even tripled, when the Euro replaced the Lira, and of high taxes. Because of this high cost of living, both parents often work. The extended family helps care for the children. Tuscany and Northern Italy are the richest regions. Sicily is a poor area. The average salary after taxes in Italy is $1200 a month. Medical care for families earning $15,000. or less is free. Surgeries, emergencies, and chronic conditions are free. That explains one reason for high taxes. Italy is tough on drunk drivers. Police spot check drivers on Friday and Saturday nights. Driving under the influence means the loss of license.

On a lighter note, Italian men marry late. They love their mother's cooking so stay at home putting off marriage. Population growth is zero, but the country's immigrants have lots of children. Italians are less patriotic to their country--founded in 1865--than to their particular region or Parish. Italians don't like rules and look for ways to get around them. But do abide by smoking ordinances. I was dismayed by the enormous amount of graffiti we saw in Rome and Florence, marring these beautiful cities. The cobblestone streets are narrow and crowded with small cars. Parking is haphazard. Motocyclists zoom in and out of traffic. I didn't envy our bus driver's job.

More later,


Monday, July 30, 2007


We took a Gondola ride, along with several others from our tour. The soloist and accordion player sat in our boat. Before the Black Plague, Gondolas used to be colorful, but were painted black to mourn the loss of life. A Gondolier must first be a Venetian, and then a son of a Gondolier so the job is passed down from son to son. Though they also must pass a test to obtain a license. We were told the world of Gondoliers is a tough world. Lots of fights.

Venice is built on a Lagoon. Wooden posts were driven into the marsh and over the ages the wood petrified to stone. Flooding depends on the tides. Lots of leaning towers in Venice.

To control frequent fires from the hot ovens of the glass blowers, Venetian glass factories were sent to the nearby Island of Moreno.

The quality of this picture is terrible, but the glass blower is working on a Moreno vase. Glass blowing is a dying art. Venetian glass is made of minerals and is hard, with no lead. Beautiful.

Tomorrow onto Assisi, one of my favorite spots.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Isalo Bella, an Island in Lake Maggiore at the foot of the Alps in the northern lake district of Italy. We toured the lovely home on the island.

Hydrangeas were huge and plentiful in northern Italy's moderate climate.

Tomorrow Venice. Hope you'll come back!

Milan's Gothic style Cathedral was built of white marble. Construction began in 1386, but the facade was only finished in 1809, finally completed in 1897. Napoleon was crowned Emperor here.

The ceiling of an arch outside Milan's Duomo looks like a painting, but it's a mosaic, created with tiny pieces of glass or stone. The detail is amazing.

The tour made a brief stop in Laguana, Switzerland on our way to Lake Maggoire. Long enough to get a snack and shop for watches. Pretty spot.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


My husband "holding up" the tower of Pisa. Luckily someone else came along and took over or we'd still be there. ;-) During construction the builder realized he had a problem. Construction was delayed 100 years. The last two stories lean to the opposite side to balance the weight. The tower has been worked on in recent times. Beside the tower is the Cathedral, beyond that--out of view--the Baptistry. Ancient walls surround Pisa square.

Beautiful Florence as seen from a hillside. The first bridge, Ponte Vecchio, over the River Arno holds gold and silversmith shops that date to the 16th Century. Michelangelo's tomb and his magnificent sculpture of David are in Florence.

Tomorrow takes us to Milan, a brief stop in Switzerland, then on to Lake Maggoire.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Reliving our trip to Italy

Our first stop--fabulous Rome. St. Peter's Basilica, art in the Vatican Museum, and Sistine Chapel awed us with their beauty! Michelangelo was a genius. What a shame he died in poverty.

Thinking of the countless Christians and gladiators who met their death's there, the Coliseum both fascinated and repelled me.

My husband and I toss imaginary coins into Trevi Fountain. We're too cheap to throw costly Euros. The kids aren't ours. Wish I knew how to crop photos.

Tomorrow, we'll "move on" to Pisa and Florence in beautiful Tuscany.
Hope you can make the trip!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Typing The End.

I've been working on a book to follow Orphaned Hearts, my inspirational historical to be released in September 2008 by Steeple Hill. Typing The End brought such a feeling of satisfaction and of relief and of hope. Satisfaction to have given Mary and Luke the happy ending they deserved. Relief that I've accomplished my goal without tearing out my hair. And hope that my editor at Steeple Hill will love and want to buy the book. I can't control the latter. All I can do is to write the best book I know how. Luckily, while I wait to hear, I have lots to keep me occupied.

My husband and I are taking a trip to Italy. I'm angsting over which clothes will fit in the suitcase without tipping the fifty pound limit. And how few shoes I will be able to take. And what liquids are permitted in my carry on. I'm a nervous flier whose never flown over the ocean, nor taken such a long flight so I'm saying my prayers and trying to ignore that part of the trip. Wish I could remember who said it, but somewhere I read: Courage--Fear that's said its prayers. Isn't that so true? Life has its scary moments. Sadly some are not "what ifs," but "what is." In the little and the big things we must cope with, aren't we thankful as believers to have the ear of God? To know He's with us through it all? That The End of our journey will be an eternal, happy one?

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, April 13, 2007


We arrived home from Florida the night before Easter Sunday to a bare refigerator and two months of stuff to put away. After two days on the road and unpacking and laundry to do, I knew I'd have no time or energy to prepare for Easter dinner, so we'd ordered a grocery store prepared meal. Sunday morning we received a huge blessing as we worshipped with our home church, sang the old hymns and focused on the greatest gift to man--Jesus, our Saviour. I left church full of gratitude, heading home to the meal my husband had picked up before church. Though I was skeptical, the food was good, but the menu was, well, different. We had enough spiral ham to feed 20. Enough baked beans and rolls to feed almost that many. (Is baked beans traditional Easter fare for someone?) Rice broccoli casserole to serve maybe eight. The mashed potatoes served four not-so-generous helpings. Oh, yes and gravy. Lots of gravy. And an apple pie for dessert. Now that makes four starches, an odd menu indeed, but I added a leafy salad and we all left the table with full bellies and light hearts, glad for the lack of preparation and cleanup. I usually knock myself out cooking for holidays. I may have to rethink that. :-) This Easter dinner taught me that it's not the food, but the family gathered around the table that fills my cup to overflowing. God bless.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

My husband is retired and we spent two months in Florida. We had a wonderful, relaxing time with beautiful weather after the first two cool weeks. We played golf, ate lots of delicious seafood, walked the white sand and soaked up some rays, took in the Circus and played with Mickey and the grandkids. We watched the egrets and ibis fish and looked for "our" alligator in the pond out back. We witnessed dozens of vultures feasting on a dead gator floating in a nearby lake. Most days, with the doors thrown open to the balmy breezes, I managed to write. Then we came home to...well, not such beautiful weather--a mix of snow, sleet, drizzle and fog-- and mounds of dirty clothes, but oh, it's great to be home again! And spring is in the air. Honest. I can feel it.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Welcome to My Blog

This is my first post on my new blog. I hope to make it a warm and welcoming place, filled with tips about home and hearth, with a dose of faith. I'll also give you a peek at the fun I have creating people and their stories. I hope you come back soon!