Giving away 55 books and a kindle!

I so want to win this myself but I can’t enter the 55 books and a kindle giveaway, but you can!  There are so many authors! Whoever wins this delightful package are going to find some good reads.

inspirational historic

It’s pretty easy to enter click the graphic or this link bit.ly/historical-inspy and you’ll be taken to a page to enter. Don’t wait! This ends at the end of the week.

So what are you waiting for? Go click! Go enter! 

Painting Brick

Painting the bricks behind my wood stove has been on my to-do list for way too long. Should I or should I not? Once you paint brick there’s no going back to the original color without sandblasting. That’s not something I ever envision happening in my family room.

My family room is long and has one big French door. This corner has always felt like it’s pulling the room into a dark hole.

Here’s a before shot–this corner seems to suck the light out of the room.

I’m not sure why I thought this would be a good project to start after a 13-mile bike ride. But for me when the urge to paint hits I must do it! I love to paint but it’s been a while since I’ve had the energy to tackle a project.

Step 1vacuumed the bricks first. Who knew so much dust and cat hair could make a home between bricks?

Vacuum the bricks first. Who knew so much dust and cat hair could make a home between bricks?

Who knew so much dust and cat hair could make a home between bricks? I might have if I ever took the time to clean the bricks. Hey, I have books to write, no judgment, please.

unpainted brick

I had some Benjamin Moore Marshmallow White left from painting part of this room  several years ago. I made a mix of half paint and half water. Then I removed my wedding ring, grabbed an old washcloth and said a prayer.

brick one coat of paint

This is with one coat. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Too busy.

painted brick Benjamin Moore

Done. I’m debating painting the mortar joints, but for now, I’m learning to enjoy it. It’s such a difference that it’s taking a bit of time to adjust.  I’ve lived in this house for over 20 years so when I come downstairs I expect to see the dark hole behind the stove. It’s refreshing to see  the light color!

This project was much easier than I thought it would be. I’d rate it a beginner, so easy that with guidance a child could do it.

*I’d recommend doing this on a day you don’t ride your bike 13-miles because it’s tiring to get up and down so many times.

Dreams Realized

Dreams Do Come True

 

Hosting a mini writer’s retreat can bring to the surface dreams of the past. This retreat was small–me and another writer/editor Jennifer Vander Klipp at my house. We were comparing when we knew we wanted to write and I remembered I actually had two of my first books hidden away.

handmade books

Check out that amazing binding I used. Reading through them would give any editor a headache because there is so much repetition and the grammar-oh my!

If You Wish Upon a Star was about bumping into a movie star and having him over for dinner. I was dreaming big time.

Tragedy Strikes is equally painful in the unfolding of love and death.

I’m not sure why I saved these but I’m glad that I did. I can see how my younger self truly wanted to write books, not just short stories–evident because they’re more than two pages long and bound.

After these two came many more written pages, then typed on a Royal typewriter my mother found somewhere, but I no longer have the stories or the typewriter.

Along the way, I learned how to use punctuation, how to write dialogue, and pull readers into the story. I’m still learning something new as writing for publication often changes.

Looking back, I had a dream. I didn’t know then how it would be realized, that I would be blessed with contracts with traditional publishers, that I’d get to hold a book not bound with rickrack in my hand.

I have to thank you–my readers, for helping me achieve this dream.  You’ve been a big part of this journey. I write and you pick up the stories and leave reviews. Thank you!

And if you’re considering writing a book check out these books.

Chopped or what are you making for dinner?

What’s for dinner? Don’t get Chopped

one pot cookbook meal

Street Fair Sausage and Potatoes

Sometimes, no make that most nights I have no idea what I’m going to cook for dinner. It’s not a lack of planning a menu but forgetting to take a major ingredient out of the freezer to thaw.

One night, I was in control of the remote ( a very rare occurrence)  and discovered the food channel. For once, they were speaking my language.

Chopped on foodnetwork was the name of the show. The contestants are given a basket of ingredients some of which most home cooks, chefs, or those of sound mind would never put together to make a dish. Bacon candy was one ingredient. Fascinating for me as I’m often flinging open cabinets searching for anything that will work and count as a real meal though I’ve never found bacon candy to use.

The more I watched I became convinced I could do this kind of cooking. Then it hit me.

Then it hit me. I would be chopped out of my kitchen (meaning I’d have to leave like a chef who didn’t do well on the show) because I don’t live in a chef’s world.

There isn’t fresh produce, cream, fresh herbs, fruit and spices to pick from in my house and no bacon candy. No wonder they can make magic out of strange foods.

My conclusion? Anyone can be a great chef if you have access to a fully stocked fridge and pantry just a few feet away. I’ll never be that kind of chef but I can whip up a grilled cheese sandwich or bacon and eggs in mere minutes. 

I’m going back to my tried and true cookbook. One Pot Cookbook even though it isn’t a gluten-free specific most of the meals, like the one above are easily adapted for my consumption.

I almost always have the ingredients or can substitute from the pantry, plus the food tastes great. Clean up is fast too.

*** I found bacon candy lollipops!  I bet these would be yummy crumbled over sweet potatoes.  What do you think?

Did Last Year Get Away From You How to Track the Seasons

Last year slipped away from me. When Christmas arrived it was almost a surprise. I missed spring and summer. How did that happen? It used to be easy to know when to switch out holiday decor because I had little ones telling me. Now that I’m an empty nester I don’t decorate for every holiday.

Is time passing by too fast for you? 

Do you suppose this happens because the retail stores are muddling with our internal calendar? Before Holloween is over, Christmas trees are displayed and on January 2nd this year, my store had Valentine’s Day decor to purchase. 

 

This year I am stopping time! You can too!

The plan?

Decorate for each season. I don’t mean full-out window gels and wreaths on the door. I don’t have the time or money to purchase and make decorations that will also need to be stored.

The solution?

Find one place in your home that you pass by every day. It might be a shelf, a small spot on the kitchen counter or like me the fireplace mantle.

Yes, I have one. No, it doesn’t get changed except for Christmas.

Until now.

Winter Decor

I refuse to go through another year of catching up to the seasons. I have this stunning mantle. It is part of a log cabin from my home state of Missouri. This old log has seen a lot of seasons!

Winter decorating can be a challenge because it’s right after Christmas and the house looks so dull.

I wanted to have some sparkle to reflect the snow and ice of winter. I spray painted a few pinecones from our tree, let them dry, and then put them in this small vase. The rest of the decor on the mantle didn’t change. By adding this one piece, I know at a glance what season it is.

Next month I’ll be taking away this  piece and adding something red for Valentine’s Day.

So tell me in the comments, “Do you decorate for the seasons and holidays?”

 

Christmas is almost here!

One week until Christmas!

Does that sentence send you into a frenzy? Is panic setting in? 

Maybe you’re the person who had cards addressed and mailed the day after Thanksgiving? Your gifts were bought and wrapped before St. Nick’s?

I’ve been both of those personalities in the past.

There comes a time when your children grow up, move out and Christmas slows down. That’s where we are now. Sort of.

We’ve cut down on how much we spend on gifts after doing Dave Ramsey’s course and surprise everyone is okay with that. Which means I have much less to shop for and wrap. 

Because we have a two-year-old grandson we stuck to our tiny tree which means less decorating and more safety. Again, no one seemed to notice the lack of nutcrackers, stairs wrapped with garland or the table full of snowmen. 

Christmas Merry Christmas

What have I learned? 

I’m doing the same thing next year. There is no need to make myself insane with decorating, though I wish I could buy more for my kids. I most likely will always wish to shower them with presents. 

So from me to you, I wish you a Blessed Christmas, lots of family time and focus on Christ the newborn.  I’ll be back to writing posts in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Carol

Diana

12 Brides of Christmas Bestseller

UPDATE! WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED!

It’s true! The 12 Brides of Christmas is a bestseller again this month on the ECPA list.

ECPA Bestseller December

I’m so excited that I’m offering a free giveaway on 3 of my books!

 

Read more about this fun Christmas book here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection by Mary Connealy

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection

by Mary Connealy

Giveaway ends December 17, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Also making the CBA best seller, is Mind of Her Own! Read more about this book here

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mind of her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Mind of her Own

by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Giveaway ends December 17, 2015.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

We're Not Blended, We're Pureed by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

We’re Not Blended, We’re Pureed

by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Giveaway ends December 16, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 Read more about We’re Not Blended We’re Pureed a survivor’s guide to blended families here

Brokenness Lets His Light Shine

Has the light gone out of your holidays?

The Christmas lights sparkle but I do not. Holidays bring out the worst in me.  It’s hard to find the joy some years. This year I lost two more important people. Time seems to be going too fast and I can’t hang onto those who hold memories of my past. 

Sometimes it feels like I’m held together with glue, my life pieces are stuck together the best they can be but I’m not longer solid. I’m fragile.

I’m not alone. The older I get, the more friends I discover also struggle as I do this time of year.

What makes a difference in how you handle the downs of life? You need faith, not faith in anything, but faith in God, His Son and His Holy Spirit.

I’m thankful that my mother taught me from a young age how important faith is, and how it can pull you through the most difficult circumstances. The ugly kinds of problems that grab you by your ankles, and yanks you further into the darkness.

What happens when you call upon your belief in God? You are released from the darkness. The pain is still present because we live in the NOT YET time. But you’re able to pick up you feet, move forward, and find bits of joy in a grandson’s smile, a husband’s embrace, a mother’s voice on the phone.

God shows you how beautiful you shine though those broken pieces. What people see when they look at you is His light, His goodness and His mercy. For that reason rejoice in your brokenness.

glass reflections

Let His Light Shine

I had this post in mind and then I heard this song by Jason Gray. I pray that it touches you as it did me.

 

Holidays Cooking and Gifting

It’s that time!

Holidays, cooking and gifting!

12 Brides Giveaway

Do you like cooking the Thanksgiving and Christmas meal?

Do friends and family have you over for dinner or parties?

Do you delight in gifting hostess with something different?

Might I suggest you enter the rafflecopter below?

The 12 Brides of Christmas makes an excellent hostess gift or gift yourself! Twelve short stories about Christmas brides in the 1800s. Go ahead and order a few to give away, the authors would be delighted–hey you’d be gifting us if you did!

Make sure you enter below for a chance to win the ultimate hostess gift or keep it for yourself! What can you win?

 

Christmas in the post-War United States

So while we’re still six weeks out from Christmas 2015, the authors of The 12 Brides of Christmas are sponsoring a raffle!

Over the next twelve days, we’ll give you an opportunity to win TWO books:

12 daysWhat better way to prepare for the Christmas celebration, than to have one book to read for fun and one to concoct treats for your family!

The two books are not connected except for the title, so you’ll be moving from 12 Brides on the American frontier to 12 Days of recipes to try yourself.

What can be better?
We’re giving away four sets of the two books through Rafflecopter.

You have 24 different opportunities to toss in your name for a chance to win.

The raffle runs from today, November 6 to Tuesday, November 17 at midnight–12 days away.

Just sign up through the form:

Each author newsletter you sign up for counts as one opportunity to win. (12 authors x one each newsletter = 12 opportunities)

Each of the 12 days, we’ll post a new Tweet. If you’re on Twitter, retweeting that tweet will give you another opportunity.

12 days x 12 tweets = 12 more opportunities to win the two books.

Winners will be announced here on Friday, November 20, on the 12 Brides Facebook page, and by email.

My first attempt at fancy, schmancy christmas ...

Winner should receive their two books well in time for . . . their own 12 days of Christmas!

Join us, starting here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Questions? Make a comment.
Here are descriptions of the two books.

The 12 Brides of Christmas:

Christmas is the time for love, and twelve historical women are on their way to the altar, whether they know it or not. In settings across the heartland of America, readers will experience heartfelt gifts, old-fashioned Christmas traditions, sweet romance, and inspiring faith from twelve acclaimed Christian authors.

The twelve stories center on festivities, nutcrackers, stars, trees, creches, gifts, gingerbread and fruitcakes; they also are festive, advent-related, snowbound, evergreen and my favorite, yuletide.

All set in the mid and western United States, they cover the country from Illinois to Mississippi to Arizona to Wyoming and everywhere in between in the 19th century.

For detailed descriptions of the individual stories, see the 12 Brides of Christmas webpage here.

The 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook:

Wonderfully unique, The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook: 2015 will delight taste buds and make your Christmas even merrier! Featuring tasty recipes organized into fun categories including:

Appetizers on a Platter; Beverages a-Blending; Breads a-Rising

Breakfast Dishes a-Baking; Candies a-Boiling; Cookies a-Cooling

Desserts a-Delighting; Kids a-Cooking; Main Dishes a-Mixing

Salads a-Crunching; Sides a Steaming and Soups a-Simmering

With easy entertaining tips and ideas, this sure-to-be-a-favorite cookbook is overflowing with fantastic recipe ideas for the entire holiday season and beyond!

Merry Christmas!

Tweetables

Raffle: 12 Days of Christmas; Brides and a Cookbook Click to Tweet

Christmas brides and cooking: what could be better? A raffle! Click to Tweet

Celebrate Christmas raffle: two books, romance and food! Click to Tweet

 

 

Books or TV?

Books or TV which is winning

Books and TV have been facing off since the first black and white set made it’s appearance.

The appeal of stories playing out in front of you in color, black and white, or 3D have the ability to pull you in creating an experience you don’t get with a book.

Or do you? Books themselves are 3D. The covers are full of color unless you are reading on a Kindle Paperwhite, then they are black and white.

Books have story lines that can run through several books just like the TV show you must catch every week.

Do you need those commercial breaks to make popcorn? No problem, books have chapters where you can stop and run to the kitchen or even *gasp* take the book with you and read while the popcorn pops.

Both have value if used correctly. There are great shows on TV if you can find them. Recently, we watched a documentary about how brick making impacted St. Louis in the 1800s. I like Elementry even though there is violence, the characters are intriguing and there is a mystery to be solved, watching for clues is a good mental exercise. And what about all those awesome HGTV shows? My husband would prefer I not watch that channel!

Still do I need to watch all of them? Probably not, that’s why I’m choosing to read more at night. I’ve become jaded when it comes to TV. I’m tired of  violence that doesn’t have a reason or the good guy doesn’t stand out as a grand example. I’m over TV shows that try to shock with nudity, language and gender issues.

That leaves little to watch. Blackish,  Last Man Standing , old movies and reruns of TV shows from earlier days. This summer we watched a lot of baseball, now hockey will fill the screen several times a week.

.

I asked friends of mine would they rather read or watch TV in the evening. All of them said they read, but often the TV is on in the background because family members are watching and they want to be with them. That happens at my house too. When commercials come on I stop reading and talk to my husband. 

Tell me in the comments are you a reader, watcher or both?

other news:

I’m over the moon with excitement that Mind of Her Own made the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) Bestseller List for November.

CBA November list