Woe! It’s Wednesday: Back from Texas

We had a blast!

Although I didn’t come home a Golden Heart® winner, I am and will always be a certifGolden Heart ® finalist. And I have the certificate to prove it!  Even if someone says there was a mistake and it’s not really mine, they’ll have to take from my cold dead fingers.

Some of the many highlights:




  • Red heart   Meeting my favorite authors, Nora Roberts and Kristan Higgins at the Literacy fundraiser book signing Wednesday evening. This is me and Nora. I loved hearing her talk the next day. My takeaway: “Quit whining and write. Quit f—ing around and write. Quit making excuses and write.”

Red heart   Enjoying San Antonio. The Riverwalk and the Alamo were amazing! We got a special treat when we happened to be driving past the Alamo after dark onealamo evening. I was amazed at the self-less sacrifice of the men who fought to defend the fort from General Santa Anna’s troops.



Red heart  The Riverwalk is an area of shops, restaurants, and hotels that line the banks of the San Antonio River. Stud Muffin spent several days walking the paths and he took a riverboat tour. I was able to join him for a second tour and then we had dinner and walked around a bit. It was hot. And humid. I’d love to go back. Anytime except July or August though.

Red heart   food 2The amazing restaurants. We enjoyed Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Italian cuisines. Apparently San Antonio also has a large German population but we didn’t get to try any German fare. Next time! The picture on the left is my green chile enchilada from the Texican menu at the Republic of Texas restaurant. Yumm!

We also made it a point to go for a late lunch at a place we’d recently seen on the Food Network’s coveDiners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The Cove is part of a car wash and laundromat  and was amazing. We shared a sweet potato hash and a portabella mushroom burger. The place was HUGE. We couldn’t remember what we’d seen Guy Fieri and the owner Lisa making on the show until after we ordered. We’ll have to go back to try the lamb burger.

All in all, we had a great trip! Thank you so much for all the support, prayers, and encouragement along the way.

What about you? Any road trips this summer? What was a highlight?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: The Big Time

Just about the time this posts, Stud Muffin and I should be pulling into San Antonio for the Romance Writers of America national conference.

toesI think I’ve mentioned that I’m a finalist in the Golden Heart ® contest.


God willing, we’ve had a good trip, no breakdowns. I’m writing this in faith and hope because right now the car is still in the garage, my dress is still at the seamstress’s, and my mind is still in a fog.

I’ve been to writing conferences before, so I kinda-sorta think I know what to expect. But the emails have been flying furiously and I’m having all kinds of doubts and differing ideas.

I bought a portable phone-recharger, in case I run out of battery power during the day.

I’ve downloaded the RWA® app, so I can plug in my meetings and appointments and the workshops I don’t want to miss.

I missed the deadline to pre-order the conference recordings. Guess I didn’t need them after all. Or at least not at the bargain price.

I bought a fan to keep in the hotel bathroom so I can hopefully do my hair and makeup and stay cool enough that everything doesn’t melt off as soon as I finish.

I’ve gotten my last pedicure and added gold hearts to my toes.

I’m as ready as I can be.

Onward to San Antonio!


Spotlight Thursday: Sara Tompkins

It’s Thursday, so there must be another Golden Heart® finalist to meet!

Sara Tompkins Author PhotoI caught Sara Tompkins in the midst of a ballet recital rehearsal and packing up her household. More on that in just a sec.

Welcome, Sara!

Please tell us a bit about your Golden Heart® Inspirational finalist manuscript. Is this your first time entering?

Better Than a Movie features a young legal assistant who aspires to become a litigator. She’s obsessed with movies and has carefully scripted her life to ensure a happy Hollywood ending. Things go off script, though, when her irrepressible teenage niece comes to live with her and she falls for her niece’s shy school counselor. The manuscript is about learning to let God write the script of our lives. This is my first time entering the Golden Heart® contest and the second writing contest I’ve ever entered. I submitted the manuscript on a last minute whim, with no expectation of winning!

Sounds like a fun premise. Now, on to the important question: chocolate or peanut butter?

My friends tell me I am the only woman in America who doesn’t love chocolate. My ten-old-daughter doesn’t either, so maybe it’s a genetic aversion! Peanut butter and apples, though? Yum.

You know, I’ve heard of people who don’t like chocolate but I thought it was an urban myth. What’s your day job?

I’m an attorney and have spent most of my career working with refugees. I’ve done stints at various refugee resettlement organizations and spent a few years at the State Department. I’m really passionate about helping persecuted people, particularly those resettling in the United States. I’m also passionate about my two school-aged kiddos, though, and recently left my busy career to focus on them. It’s hard for a mommy who is scooting off to the Middle East to drive the soccer carpool!

I’ve always loved great escapist fiction, especially after the grim stories of war and displacement I’d face at work. There’s nothing like some yummy chick lit to redeem a hard day. In a flash of insanity, I decided to write my own novel. It turned into a little adventure story I used to affectionately call, Sara Attempts to Write a Book and Wonders Most Days What She Was Thinking. Critiquing a novel is so much easier than actually writing one, isn’t it? Man, has the process been humbling! But I love it.

Wow, your passion comes through! I agree, nothing works like a little chick lit to escape the heaviness of life. Although of course, for most of us, it’s chick lit and chocolate. Winking smile  Tell us a bit about yourself. Family, hobbies, etc.

Right now my life is in transition. My husband just accepted a job at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, and we are moving our two kids and two naughty dachshunds from Washington D.C. to California. Goodbye Capitol Hill, hello Hollywood!

I spent a few days in the D.C. area in September 2011 and wondered how I would have survived an August there with the humidity. I’m betting LA weather will be a lovely revelation for you. Who are your favorite authors? Your go-tos for fiction?

I love a lot of authors and genres, but some books I’ve enjoyed recently are Me Before You, The Husband’s Secret, My Name is Russell Fink, and The Rosie Project.

Oh, I loved The Husband’s Secret, too! Are you coming to San Antonio this summer and what are you looking forward to most? What are you wearing to the awards banquet?

I am coming to San Antonio! I’ve never been to a writing conference in my life, large or small, so it should be an adventure the size of Texas. Just thinking about a dress stresses me out! Did you have to ask about that? Seriously, Carrie, I’m sending you my therapy bill. This conference is in Texas. Aren’t blue jeans permissible? I mentioned to two of my girlfriends who happen to have a style blog — thestylelobby.com — that I think this is a dress-up affair, and they quickly jumped into gear advising me to “rent the runway” or something of that sort. I’ll let them pick out a dress because goodness knows I have no clue what to choose.

I clicked through and looked at the blog. I think you’re in good hands! What did you do/think when you got “the call” on March 26th?

When I got the call about the Golden Heart® contest I almost hung up on the caller. I thought she was trying to sell me a time share when she said I’d won something. Not kidding. I forgot I even entered. That’s how little I thought of my chances!

Sheesh, the rest of us were sitting by phone like Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. What are you currently working on?

My husband and I stayed with our two girls and two doggies at a dog-friendly hotel in the Midwest last winter. I thought the location would make a great setting for a novel. I love the idea of a bunch of very different dogs with very different owners all trapped in an Illinois hotel during a snow storm. It’s still in the development stage, but think uptight D.C. girl who dislikes dogs and warm-hearted hotel employee who rescues dogs in his spare time.

Oh, I would totally read that!

Thanks for stopping by, Sara. I look forward to meeting you for real in San Antonio and best of luck to you!

Thanks Carrie!

Author Spotlight Thursday: Kristi Ann Hunter, 2014 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist

KAHunterHeadshotBigOver the next few weeks, I’ll be spotlighting my fellow Inspirational category finalists. First up is Kristi Ann Hunter from Georgia. Welcome Kristi!

Tell me about your GH Finalist manuscript. Is this your first time entering and/or finaling?

My GH finaling manuscript, My Lord Valet, is a Regency romance set in 1813 England. It deals with spies, families, and an embarrassing childhood crush that never quite died. This is my second time entering the Golden Heart, but my first time finaling. Last year they didn’t have the Inspirational category, so I entered the Historical.

Chocolate or peanut butter?

BOTH! Love me some peanut butter M&Ms.

What’s your day job?

Mom to my kids and a bit of a personal assistant for my hubs.

Tell me a bit about yourself. Family, hobbies, etc.

I have three young kids that keep life more than interesting. My husband is a bi-vocational youth minister (he works a full-time job in addition to part time at the church). That keeps us busy, but I love working in ministry with him. When I’m not living out of our mini-van I enjoy over-analyzing television shows, crocheting, and messing around on my computer.

Who are your favorite authors? Your go-tos for fiction?

I read a wide variety of authors. I have everything from Karen Witemeyer and Julia Quinn, but they have some good company on my shelf. Robin McKinley, Lindi Peterson, Laurie Alice Eakes, Patty Smith Hall, and Trish Perry take up a good bit of space as well. While certain authors get my first attention, it usually matters more if the story catches my interest.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere. Seriously, we don’t get to vacation much. We do take an annual trip to the lake (Lake Blackshear) with my whole family and that is a lot of fun and very relaxing.

Are you coming to San Antonio this summer and what are you looking forward to most?

Sadly, no, I won’t be in San Antonio. I’ll be on that annual trip to the lake, which might take a little of the relaxation out of it. 😉 I’ll be anxiously waiting by my phone for my friends to text me the results from the gala.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Gee, I don’t know. I would NOT be a Bradford Pear. Those are the worst trees ever.

I don’t know what kind of tree it is, actually, but there’s a style of tree my husband likes to photograph a lot. I’d want to be that. The limbs are always in interesting angles and twists. They make great sun flares when he takes pictures through the leaves. I like them because he can go back and photograph the same tree and it is recognizable but then not the same. I want to be a tree like that.

What did you do/think when you got “the call” (that you are a finalist) on March 26th?

Danced around my house squealing, then proceeded to be ticked off at all my friends and family because none of them were answering their phones.

What are you currently working on?

This questionnaire. 😉

I actually have two projects going at the moment. One is another Regency. The other is a contemporary. Having two projects going at a time allows me to step away from a problem area but still keep my brain engaged in writing. This is the first time I’ve had two projects going from different time periods though, so that’s interesting.

Thanks, Kristi! And God’s blessing on you and your work.