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!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Amy Clipston

Today we welcome author:
Amy Clipston

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

 A Gift of Love
A Season of Love
Two winners will be chosen!!
Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. I'm so glad you joined us today. I was touched by Amy's story about her kidney donation. She told me a bit of what is in her book, "A Gift of Love". Such a calling. Such a gift. Today, Amy expands what she told me by sharing with you how God lead her on her writing journey--the fruit of God inspired circumstances. This is what she said:

A Leap of Faith

I always wrote for fun as a child. While in elementary school I carried notebooks and filled them with silly stories that I shared with only one friend. In junior high and high school, my stories turned into fan fiction based on my favorite television shows or movies. Back then writing was a stress-reliever and a fun hobby.

When I entered college, both my time and my muse dissolved, and I didn’t find the passion for writing again until I was married and had my first son. I stopped writing fan fiction and I started writing romance novels. After attending a meeting for a local chapter of Romance Writers of America, I realized I no longer wanted to write as a hobby and instead pursue the dream of seeing my name on the cover of a book. I quickly landed a contract with a literary agent, but my romance novels did not sell as easily as I’d hoped.

My agent tried to place seven of my romance novels. She emailed me one day and suggested I try writing Christian fiction. I’d been a Christian since I was little and always had a strong faith, but I’d never tried to write Christian fiction.

I prayed about it and researched Christian fiction. My heart led me to Amish fiction. At first, I was afraid to write Amish fiction because it was so far out of my comfort zone. After all, I believed I was supposed to write romance novels! When I thought about writing Amish fiction, I feared I wasn’t good enough. I kept praying, however, and an idea of a book, which eventually became A Gift of Grace, gripped me.

I quickly put together a proposal, including the first three chapters of the book and blurbs for two books to follow in the series. Amazingly, after trying to sell romance books for nearly two years, I sold an Amish book on proposal to Zondervan Publishing, even though the first book wasn’t completed yet.

Was God’s hand in my writing?  Absolutely! He guided my heart in the decision to not only write Christian fiction, but also to write stories about the Amish.

Doors opened for me. A friend invited me to contact her mother, who had an Amish friend in Pennsylvania. The friend, (whom I will call “Ruth” to protect her identity), opened her home to me and has since become a dear friend. She helps me with research for my books. God had led me to Ruth.

Thanks to Ruth, I learned a lot about the Amish cultural. I also learned a lot about myself. Ruth has made me want to be a better Christian, wife, and mother. I admire the quiet and patient way she interacts with her children and also the humble way in which she makes God the center of her life. I respect the Amish culture and how members of the community are focused on God and family. I look forward to visiting Ruth at least once every year, and I find a renewed faith in God every time I sit and talk with her.

My books have also deepened my relationship with God. When I work on a story, I pray often and ask God to guide my words and make them pleasing to Him. I’ve received emails from readers who’ve told me they have felt God in my books. I’m humbled that He has used my books to touch others.

When I received my first book contract with Zondervan Publishing, my husband was facing a second kidney transplant. Our family was in an emotional and financial turmoil as we faced his kidney disease. I’m so grateful God led me to write my first Amish series because the books carried us through a very tough time. The Lord provided for us during this time of need.

Mary here- Amy wrote this compelling story of not only her husband’s need but also her special gift to another person in her book, “A Gift of Love”.

I’m grateful God led me to write Christian fiction. I’m also grateful for the wonderful friends I’ve made because of my books—both authors and readers alike. My Amish books have been a tremendous blessing in my life, and I’m grateful that God called me to take a leap of faith and write them.


Click HERE to see or buy
 The Gift of Love
Amy Clipston is the award winning and bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Kauffman Amish Bakery series and the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. An advocate for organ and blood donation, Amy donated a kidney in 2011 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through her donation, her husband received a second kidney transplant. Amy and her husband matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. Amy’s memoir, A Gift of Love, details their journey through her husband’s kidney transplants. She hopes her story inspires others to become organ and blood donors. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled, rotten cats. 

You can learn more about Amy Clipston at:

Click HERE to see or buy
A Season of Love

A Season of Love

In the fifth and final novel of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, three young women are about to change their lives. Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized in the Amish faith and is courting Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel. When Lindsay’s sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it’s not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized in the Amish faith. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man. A Season of Love is filled with surprising twists that will grip you to the very last words.


Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Amy's books:
A Gift of Love and A Season of Love
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, Amy, 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!

Some of us haven't read Amish stories. After reading Amy's experience with her new Amish friend, "Ruth" and what Ruth has taught her, I'm curious. You, too? What would you like to learn about the Amish?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day - Did I Do Enough?

Photo by Mary Vee

Someone special is coming to your office or home. You rush about cleaning, preparing appropriate items (the project for the office situation, a meal for the home), and yourself. The person is due to arrive any minute.

You look around and probably say, " Oh no, I forgot to--"

Strangely enough, that one item you noticed at the last second stands out to you like a neon sign. You're convinced the guest sees it also. I mean why not? It's as clear as a red stain on white carpeting!

To make matters worse, you didn't hear the last thing the guest said because thoughts of the undone inundated your mind. Should you ask them to repeat it, or try to figure it out contextually?

Good grief!!

On this wild and wacky note...Happy Labor Day to you!

Whether your career has you raising children and endlessly cleaning your home, or you're a business person filling out form 207/J for the forty millionth time, this is your day to rest.

Do some thing fun. (Go ahead, ignore the dust on top of the piano, I did and we survived for another day)

What would you like to do? 
Must be realistic.
Must be in your financial means.
Must take 24 hours or less.
Must be different from your ordinary work day
Must be something that can, at least once, make you laugh or smile.
Must be able to overlook mistakes (spilled drink, missed phone call, etc)

Let's see what ideas we can think of... 
I'll start:
Sit outside and watch the sky
Draw a picture (this is not just for kids, yah know. Michaelangelo did it.)
Play an instrument
Read a book
Skype a friend
Look at old photo books
Make a special dessert. (try chocolate lava cake...it's a fun surprise inside the cake)
Browse through your memory box (we call them treasure boxes. Inside a 8x8x8 inch box are the things I have kept since I was a kid.)
Watch a movie.
Go fishing
Take a hike
Ride a bike
Take photos of your favorite ...(flowers, pets, children, etc.)

So....what will you do today? Let me know in the comment area. That way, others can see your idea and say, "Oh yeah. That's a good idea!"

Have fun!!