Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Abbott and Costello Bumps Into The Three Stooges Day

Abbott and Costello performing
Who's on First?

I love to watch Abbott and Costello. 

I'm not as big of a fan of the Three Stooges mostly because they can be cruel to each other. None the less, they are comedic.

THIS was a day when Abbott and Costello bumped into The Three Stooges. I mean, when you read what happened, you probably will say...nah--she embellished the story. 


This is for real.


1. Saturday night at the ACFW gala I was so excited about...well everything. Back at my sister's house--a mere 1.5 hour drive away, I looked for my phone to set the alarm for the next morning, but couldn't find it. I knew then...yep, I had left it at the gala. Only God could fix this problem. I FB my friends at the hotel Sunday morning. They checked their room and with security and found it! I had a small window of time to drive to the airport, get my phone, and drive back before the evening scheduled activities. I drove to the airport and was reunited with my phone.

So why? Well, I had managed to get lost three times traveling to and from the airport by this point. God knew I needed practice. Because of His awesome plan, I knew exactly where to go the day I was to depart and would have no one around to help me. 

2. Three days later, I left early to get to the airport AND allow a stop at the gas station. BUT I was in Dallas/Fort Worth area. I knew one way to the airport and needed a station close to the airport to fill my rental. I can do this....I thought. I exited the expressway in a shopping/hotel/restaurant district. There was NO gas station in sight. (really?) I drove along the service drive about four miles and was ecstatic to see one in the distance. Time ticked closer to my departure.

3. I put my card in the machine to pay for my gas. A notice flashed: See Cashier. (sigh.) Inside the store was a long line of customers buying pop and other products. When my turn came I told the cashier my pump number and said I was confused. He said your card was rejected. (Really? Can we say their computer wasn't working right? Nope. It had to be my card). He ran my card. "Seems to work fine," he said. I was polite.....mostly. "Yes, I know it works. Thank you."

4. Using cheaper sights to buy a plane ticket isn't always wise. The sight gave me 40 minutes from the time my first plane was set to land to the time my second plane would take off. This gave me 10 actual minutes to sprint across the airport. Yep, the two gates were on opposite sides of the airport. BUT God, knew I had been lax in keeping in shape. As I sped walk to the center of the airport, a cart appeared. "Are you going to terminal D?" I asked. The driver said, "Sure, hop in." He dropped me off at the terminal, and I ran through the terminal to the last gate as the last passengers were boarding the "already full flight."

5. That's when I realized I couldn't find my boarding pass. (Larry? Curly? Mo?) God had it covered. I went to the desk, probably looked rather disheveled and pathetic. The clerk took mercy on me and said, "No problem. I'll print you a new one." Bless his heart.

6. All seemed to go well. I boarded the shuttle bus after picking up my baggage and realized I'd lost the stub showing where my car was. (Good thing I had my head attached!) BUT God in his mercy had me take a picture of of the stub while in Dallas to share with my daughter in case she needed the car. I showed the picture to the driver and told him I was having one of those days. 

7. God knew I needed to share my adventures. The bus driver laughed the whole way back to my car. I stepped out, gave him a tip and thanked him. He said, wait. You might need this. He handed me my phone which had slipped out of my pocket onto the seat. (sigh) Have you seen those movies where a person steps off the airplane or rocket and kissed their home ground? I felt that way. NOW, all should go well. I was home.

8. My church was located between the airport and my home. 40 minutes to the church from the airport, 40 more minutes home. I chose to slip in choir practice. That's when I realized I'd forgotten to put my choir folder in the car. I walked into the choir room and confessed. The choir secretary smiled, "No problem," she said and handed me another folder.

9. I slept really well that night. LOL!!

Can you imagine what would have happened if God didn't have an ARMY of angels watching out for me that day?

Talk about being blessed to the max.


Your turn. How has Go blessed you lately?  C'mon...share. You know He's helped you in some way. Let us rejoice with you.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Kristi Ann Hunter-The Lure of Stories

Today we welcome author:
Kristi Ann Hunter

One commenter will win a copy of
Kristi's books:

 A Noble Masquerade

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. I'm so glad you joined us today. The most amazing thing happened. I totally enjoyed an acceptance speech for an award. Seriously! Kristi words after receiving her Genesis award had the entire audience laughing. She has such a gift. Today, Kristi shares how God led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:

The Lure of Stories

An author weaves a story, planting seeds in chapter three that won't bloom until chapter twenty-two. Sometimes we go where we set out to. Other times we ourselves are surprised, but we are always pulling together many seeming unrelated strings into a united picture.

Though He is never surprised, God does similar things with our lives. He drops notions, experiences, and plans into our lives that we might think are leading to one thing, but turn out to combine into a new path that we never saw coming.

Sometimes He even turns us into writers.

Mary here: I like this. 

I have always loved stories. Whenever there was an option to do a creative version of a writing project in school, I took it. I've written short sequels to books, journals for characters or historic figures, and numerous other story related projects in the name of avoiding the traditional book report or research paper.

Mary here: really? I did that, too and ended up in trouble with my teacher for not following the instructions.

I learned early on that stories were a great way to work out my feelings. This is part of the reason my Barbies stayed accessible in my room long after the time when playing with them was considered embarrassing. We're talking high school, here.

That love of stories didn't lead me immediately down a creative path, though. Instead, I became a computer software engineer. A programmer. A business systems specialist. Armed with a computer science degree, I spent nearly a decade in corporate IT departments working with databases and shell scripts. It wouldn't seem this had anything to do with stories, but I spent a lot of time making sure the different pieces of information were flowing correctly through the computer programs. A bit like the way the plot of a story flows through a book.

Eventually the lure of stories drew me back again. After we decided that my staying home was best for our family, I tried my hand at independent film making doing short illustration videos for churches. While I am a decent editor, it was soon obvious my scriptwriting was the best part of the endeavor. I did learn a lot about visualizing what I wanted to say during that time, though.

All of this meant that when God finally led me to the written word and called me to write, my arsenal was ready. I knew how to organize a plot, how to visualize a scene, and how to hide the crazy little voices that come along with story creation. It isn't your average path to the call of the written word, but God knew what I was going to need in order to be effective at the mission He called me to.

He is the great author. The One who is weaving my story from a mass of seemingly unrelated strings. In the end, the picture will be a glorious tale that shows His power in molding the lives of those who let Him.

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. 

You can learn more about Kristi Ann Hunter at:


A Noble Masquerade
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love. 


Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Kristi's eBook:
A Noble Masquerade
here is how:
update: this is also open to International readers
(eBook if International, paperback for US winner)

leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog
AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email
AND/OR sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter

if you aren't already

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Kristi, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Hey all, Mary here, just wanted to let you know I have read this book and was so amazed at the quality of writing. Kristi weaves humor, a great story line, and this is one you're going to want to read.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Healthy Breakfast Idea-Even Finicky Eaters Enjoy

I went to the grocery store to pick up an item Saturday morning.

I know. I know. Big mistake.

The store was packed with weekly shoppers. The kiosk samplers blocked the aisles. Sales. Long lines. Yeah.

Any who. 

I happened past one particular kiosk. The gal had frozen strawberries and a few other ingredients. Little white paper cups held some pink liquid. I thought, I'll try it. I like strawberries. 

I'm a finicky eater and am only willing to try new foods that have ingredients I like. The yum factor hit pretty high, although I thought it was a bit too sweet. 

Here is what she used:

A juicer (I didn't have one)
Low fat vanilla yogurt
frozen strawberries

Huh. This looked like an easy way to use left over pieces of fruit before they go bad. I bought a ten dollar single server juicer (which I've been wanting for a long time), some fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, and dragon fruit, (the dragon fruit was my chefy daughter's idea). Frozen are just nasty.

Chefy daughter and I went to work when we got home. We cleaned a few strawberries, raspberries, and the dragon fruit and put them in the juicer. Once they liquified, we added a 1/2 cup yogurt. 

The combination made a strong, delicious berry smoothie that popped in my mouth. The flavors didn't need any sweetener. 

The extra bonus is: I can add any fruit I like or am willing to endure. The endured fruits can be masked by the flavors of ones I like and still give me the nutritional benefits.

Then I started thinking, maybe I could make a vege drink. I could use your ideas here. My first thoughts are to try fresh carrots, tomatoes, and hide some broccoli in there. I'll close my eyes when I add those. 

THEN I thought. I could take the yogurt and fruit idea and make an awesome toping over shortcake for a dessert.

And the vege drink, made a little thicker, could be a sauce over meat OR...

Wow the ideas are popping in my mind. 

All because I bought a $10 juicer.

I get it. You've already thought of one, two, or more of these ideas. All right, then, share other ones you've tried. Even if you don't have one, and maybe haven't tried juicing, perhaps you've thought of ideas we could both try.

I have a new toy and I'm excited to play with it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Rick Barry

Today we welcome author:
Rick Barry

One commenter will win a copy of
Rick's book:

 The Methuselah Project

Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. I first met Rick Barry at a writer's conference in Chicago several years ago. He read his short story to our critique group. I knew then that any book he would have published would be better than fantastic. I was intrigued. I was spellbound. His story was unique and amazing. When I heard his first book was due to be released--update: The Methuselah Project just hit store shelves, I asked him to come visit us. I asked Rick to share how God had lead him on his writing journey. This is what he said:

Whims, Hobbies, and Ministry

Hi Mary, and all the friends visiting your blog!

You asked me to share my writer’s journey. I can honestly say that this journey consists of many mistakes and many rejections. But let’s start at the beginning—as a reader.

In grade school I enjoyed different types of stories in each grade. In third grade I wanted only Western/Native American stories. In fourth grade I lived for underwater SCUBA adventures. By fifth grade I grew to love The Hardy Boys. By sixth grade I graduated to sci-fi and outer space.

However, it was in fifth grade that I seriously considered writing a genuine story of my own. Dublin Elementary in Union Lake, Michigan, encouraged kids to enter the Young Authors Contest.  All the kids in my class were doing it. (I don’t believe Mrs. Monetta gave us an option!) The Apollo program was in full swing, so I crafted a little tale about three astronauts in a Saturn V rocket. My little book with its aluminum-foil cover finished first in fifth grade. The next step was a regional competition, where some other budding writer knocked me out of the running. What a disappointment…

Before long, I was itching to try a harder story. A whole book. Maybe a mystery similar to the Hardy Boys? With great confidence I sat at Dad’s desk with a ream of paper. I concocted names for two boys and wrote Paragraph #1. It was magnificent! In white-hot creativity, I printed Paragraph #2! Suddenly my No. 2 pencil screeched to a halt. I had no idea what should happen next. Not even a glimmer of mystery to solve.

“I guess I’m not really a writer after all,” I concluded. To hide my failure, I wadded up that sheet of paper and buried it in the bottom of the waste can.

Fast forward to my sophomore year in college. Spring break arrived, and I noticed an ad for a writing contest in a Christian magazine. For fun, I penned an article and mailed it in. No, I didn’t win, but the editor offered to buy my article anyway. When the magazine came out with my byline, I could hardly believe it. My own name in a magazine. I was published!

My appetite whetted, I began writing and submitting more articles. Often only rejection slips arrived. But checks also came back, which spurred me on. Never realizing I should specialize in just one type of writing, I tackled every interesting idea that popped into my head: non-fiction articles, Christian devotionals for adults, short fiction for adults, and even short fiction for teens and middle-graders. (To this day I create unusual fiction for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine for kids.)

Still, I recalled that my fifth-grade self had failed at novels. Dare I try again? Tolkien is a literary hero, so I created a fantasy world and developed a tale called Kiriath’s Quest, which is still in print. Being a World War 2 buff, next I contemplated a story about an American airman trapped alone behind German lines. That inspiration developed into Gunner’s Run, which has been amazingly popular for a wide range of ages from 12 to an 89-year-old veteran who assumed I must be his age if I know about all the things he remembered!

For my latest novel, The Methuselah Project, I yearned to try something unique. So, I blended history (a WW2 fighter pilot named Roger Greene), suspense (he gets captured and must escape), a light sprinkle of sci-fi (German scientists use him as a guinea pig in a secret experiment), plus romance (Katherine Mueller helps Roger without realizing what’s happened to him), then wrapped it all in a Christian worldview.

The resulting adventure was definitely different for Christian publishing, but I personally loved it. Better, Literary agent Linda Glaz loved it too. She offered representation and began shopping it to publishers. Kregel in Grand Rapids caught the vision for Roger Greene’s story and wrote up a contract.

The Methuselah Project released two weeks ago, a full month ahead of schedule. Yet, I praise the Lord for 5-star reviews that are already popping onto Amazon. No book appeals to everyone, yet readers are already asking, “Will there be a sequel?” Praise God!

Speaking of the Lord, let me finish by saying that what began as a whim, then became a hobby, is now a ministry. I’m convinced God has given me a spirit of creativity, and He means for me to glorify Him with that gift. For Christian authors, writing can be a literal act of worship—an act in which we take talent God has given us, use it to design a literary creation, and then return it to Him for His glory. Amen.


Rick Barry is the author of Gunner's Run, another World War II novel, Kiriath's Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and visits Eastern Europe every summer to assist in Christian camps for children and teens. Rick and his wife Pam have two grown children and three lively grandsons. They live near Indianapolis.

You can learn more about Rick Barry at:
Facebook | Twitter  
 Website | Blog

During World War II, German scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Shot down over Nazi Germany in 1943, Roger Greene becomes both a prisoner and an unwilling guinea pig in a bizarre experiment. Seventy years later, Roger still appears as youthful as the day he crash-landed—and he’s still a prisoner. Nearly insane from his long captivity, Roger finds his only hope in an old Bible.

Not until our present time does Roger finally escape from the secret society running the Methuselah Project. When he does, the modern world has become a fast-paced, perplexing place. His only option is to accept the help of Katherine Mueller—crack shot, go-getter, and attractive to boot. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? And can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?


Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Rick's book:
The Methuselah Project
here is how:

leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog
AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email
AND/OR sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter

if you aren't already

US only

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Rick, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

How has a childhood dream come true for you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Good, Bad, and Hilarious Stuck in Our Heads

Photo Courtesy
Every once in a while, we need to dig up a moments from the past and laugh. You'd be surprised what is still stuck in your head. With a little prodding, you'll come up with something like I just did:

Every Sunday afternoon...okay it wasn't every single one, but most of them, Dad played board or card games with my sisters and me. His philosophy-never give the win to his daughters. 

He was an accountant, and had a sharp mathematical-logical mind, which put him in the winning circle...let me count...yep, every single time.

One game we played was hearts. With three girls bent on beating Dad, he still found a way to shoot the moon. Shooting the moon meant he managed to get ALL the points. Points were ALWAYS bad, EXCEPT when a player received ALL the points--shooting the moon. The result? All other players received all the points and the one who shot the moon received Zero. Zip. Nada. Ack! How did he do that?

The unknown benefit to us? We became tenacious. Victims ready to challenge him again the next Sunday afternoon. We banded together and plotted a strategy. He accepted the challenge and won the game--YET AGAIN. We wrestled him on the floor afterwards. Yep, you guessed it. He won that game, too, by tickling our feet.

Have you noticed all the great life qualities he taught us? Strategy. Banding together. Tenacity. Never Give Up. Laughter. Losing a game was okay because you could try again. Just as equally, winning isn't a given, etc.

Did he consciously do that? Probably not. It's part of the parenting thing that God helps us do.

Digging back in the cobwebs in my mind part 2:

This weekend our guest will be a historical author. But not completely. This author adds in plenty of the unexpected, and with such a convincing flair, to his writing.

I received a copy of his book, quite by surprise. Typically, I set a new book on my bookstand and get to it as soon as I can. You too? Well, this book demanded my immediate attention. Dishes could wait. Just read one chapter, it called.

I met the author, Rick Barry, at my first writer's conference on Wheaton College's campus in Chicago more than ten years ago. Sessions started early in the morning and often went past midnight, (I love the in-depth, workaholic conferences). The truth is, there were several clusters who just couldn't stop working on stories, mine was one. 

Our critique group met in the assigned room after the evening session for over an hour. The custodian, after turning off several building lights and noticing we didn't leave, kicked us out. Rather than calling it a night, the fifteen or so of us went to a community lounge in one of the dorm buildings and kept working.

Rick read a short story he wanted to submit to a publisher. His plot hooked me from the first sentence and the ending caught me completely off guard. Years later, I still remember that story and am just as impressed with his writing. Yep, this is our guest this weekend!

Your turn. 
Dig through the cobwebs in your memory
 and tell us a crazy, fun, interesting happening.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Networking Adventures in Dallas

One of the most important things we can do is network.

Networking is the core to:
*spreading the Gospel
*keeping up to date with our family
*learning our trade
*selling a product

and not only that, God knew we would be lonely if we didn't network.

I have been in Dallas this week, and will be for half of next week, speaking to K-12 classes in a school and attending the ACFW Gala event.

Today, I'm sharing with you some of the fun pics taken by the teachers.

8th Grade English-Mary Vee

All the students indicated they enjoyed the presentation.

I taught the students how to write stellar stories--How to turn a blank piece of paper into meaningful black ink. 

10th Grade English-Mary Vee
  "Every story has..." and so went the lesson for twenty minutes. Included was a reading from my story. The manuscript I am hoping to pitch to an agent Saturday night.

I also gave them a way to remember the lesson: The Kit Kat bar. What a savory way to keep a story in your mind long after you've finished the story. This is what I asked the students to remember as they wrote stories for the coming national school writing competition.

1st Grade, Mary Vee

For the younger ones, I read my children's mystery story that was published in a magazine. 

The children and teens made extra efforts to find me in the halls after my visit to their class.

"We loved your story, Mrs. Vee." said younger students.

5th Grade Language Arts-Mary Vee

I read a portion of my young adult story to the older students.

"Can we buy your book, Mrs. Vee?" said the older students.

When I said it hadn't been published yet, they groaned. "But, I need to know what happens next. When will it be published?"

Thats when I explained the long process of getting an agent, waiting for a publisher to accept the manuscript then waiting for the publication. "It's not a fast process, sorry."

High School English-Mary Vee

"But we need to know what happens next. Please?"

I smiled. Their begging was actually encouraging. So I said, "Well, what we really need here is for you to help me pray that God will encourage an agent to accept my work."

I've had such a wonderful time.

Would you pray, too? I would like to have a few minutes with an agent tomorrow (Saturday) before or after the Gala to present my story.

Thank you!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Passing One Great Opportunity To Accept Another




I can't get enough. 

From Florida to Arizona to Alaska and now to Dallas. Imagine those geographical settings. Hot, cold, sunny, rainy, snowy, city, rural, and mountains. This has been the year for travel. Each trip a-mazing.

Today as I fly to Dallas, I'm hoping I've remember everything. I'm fidgety in my cramped airplane seat flipping pages of some book that I'm not really reading. My mind is like a hunted animal searching for a topic to hide in until the plane lands. I'm nervous. Not about flying.  


Some of you may know about the ACFW conference this week. 

Because of a unique opportunity, I will not be attending the sessions, although I couldn't resist getting a ticket to attend the big gala on Saturday to visit with writing friends.

So what is the big news?

There is a K-12 school in Dallas that has invited me to be their speaker, volunteer, DEAR time reader, observer, get-to-know the students, for a whole week. I will be able to speak to the high school, junior high, and upper elementary classes. My job: help them to prepare for the national story writing contest. I will also read to the lower elementary and share basic mechanics of story writing with these little ones.

Talk about a dream trip!

I am a young adult suspense/mystery/adventure writer. These students are my main reading audience. 

This is my first speaking gig with my reading audience. 

I feel like a fledgling ready to soar out of the nest!

These are the two posters I am bringing with me to tell about my stories:

The first is a young adult suspense story, currently titled: Sifted Through Time. Inspired by my work with the homeless in various settings: Sixteen-year-old Liz didn't expect her parents to ever disappear. Neither did she expect to trust homeless girls for her survival. 

This is a story of second chances. There is a saying "We have but one life." This implies we can't start over.

Because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we all have an opportunity to start over....if we believe.

The second is a picture book for 3-8 year olds. Inspired during my trip to Alaska, and memories of going to the zoo, Little Horned Puffin and other Pacific Sea creatures see how they can make the humans do silly things. 

So, what do you think?

I'll be sharing updates soon. Both of my time with the students and the ACFW Gala.

I have added a place where you can sign up for my newsletter in the right column. News about the road to publication and giveaways. I currently plan to send the first issue November. A month of Thanksgiving.  Take a minute and sign up. Thanks!!!

This post has been brought to you by the one word:  So-excited-about-God's-blessings!