Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blogging Hiatus - Hibernation


Due to my schedule and obligations and the holiday all coalescing and reaching critical mass, I'll be taking a blogging break.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year full of growth and new ways to honor and glorify God.

After the first of the year, hopefully I'll be back with some cool news. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kindle

When e-readers first emerged, I was anti. I mean, I'm a card carrying bibliophile. I love the look, feel, smell, and everything else about books.

I've been known to rearrange a bookshelf, just to have a reason to touch all the books. When a person on TV is being interviewed sitting in front of a bookshelf, I ignore the interview and try to figure out the titles of the books behind them. 

And, I wanted to wait to see which ebook reader came out tops in the race. After all, who wants to be the only kid on the block with a Beta player, when VHS rules the world, right? 

Then I had the opportunity to get a Kindle for free. Yep, for free. A bank in my town was running an offer. Open a checking account at their bank, park $50 bucks at their bank for six months, and BAM! Free Kindle.

So I did. I figured, what do I have to lose?

Two days after opening the account, I was holding my Kindle in my hot little hands. That was about a month ago. 

First thing I did was go out and get a zippy red cover for it and a book light.

Then I came home and downloaded some free books, and then some books I paid for. 

Then I started reading. Oh, my! I thought it would take me a little bit of time to adjust to reading on the little screen, but after only a couple of minutes, I was engrossed in the story and forgot I was reading on a Kindle. 

So, what have I gleaned from this experience?

1. It's still all about the story. Regardless of format, as long as the story world sucks me in, I'm a happy girl.

2. If I am any indication, people who have e-readers will buy more books than those who don't. It's probably psychological, but I found the purchase process much easier than going to a brick and mortar store and forking over moola and carrying a book out of the store, and, can you say instant gratification? I ordered a book online, and BAM! it was Whisper-synced to my Kindle in seconds.

3. I need to stop being afraid of ebooks. I was afraid I wouldn't receive the same gratification, the same excitement, the same fulfillment from an ebook. What I learned is, my emotions can be touched by lots of different media. I cry at movies, tap my toes to great movies, and great writing grabs my attention whether on paper or on my e-reader.

How about you? Do you have a e-reader? Are you a fan? 

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Friday Five

This is the Rochester Area Homeschool Defenders posing (weirdly) with their second place trophy from the Coulee Region Tip Off Tournament held in West Salem, Wisconsin. My son is in third from the left on the back row. What a fun bunch of boys.

This week's Friday Five is:

Five things I love about the Homeschool Basketball Season.

1. Watching the players develop their skills, both at basketball and at becoming men and women of God.

2. The camaraderie and memories made.

3. Hanging with the Defender moms and the way we all cheer for each others' kids.

4. Seeing my son's confidence, ball handling, and interpersonal skills grow.

5. The hours every week I spend in the church library writing while practice is going on. Sure helps with the word count.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Goals. Yikes.

Today's picture has nothing to do with the post. I just think it's hilarious. My son and I found it at the garden center this year and I snapped a picture. Whenever I see it, I think "Dum-dum want gum-gum." (Raise your hand if you know where that line is from.)

Actually, today's post is about goals, NaNo and otherwise.

You probably noticed that I didn't reach my 50K word goal for November. I did write 30K words, so the month wasn't a total loss, but it wasn't where I wanted it to be.

And I have no excuses. I just didn't get it done. I started out well, but didn't finish up the way I wanted to.

I felt out of sorts for most of November. Unsettled, edgy, sad. I felt like I was dancing as fast as I could, but I wasn't getting any of the stuff that I wanted to done. Unsure of the cause of these feelings, I couldn't seem to pinpoint how to change.

The farther behind I fell in the NaNo count, the more apathetic I grew. Reading books on my new Kindle was more appealing than writing on my WIP. Watching DVD's of Castle appealed more than writing on my WIP. Pretty much EVERYTHING seemed better than my WIP. And I couldn't decipher why I felt apathetic towards something that normally brings me great joy.

Then the calendar flipped over to December. Here we are, a week into the last month of the year, and suddenly, I'm feeling mentally better, emotionally more stable, physically...well, that's about the same. :) I started writing again. I've averaged 2500 words a day this week, and I'm back to dreaming about my story, daydreaming and night dreaming. Things feel right when I am writing.

So, goals for December. Trying to be realistic but juxtaposing a busy Christmas season, basketball games (we have 10 this month,) end of year bookkeeping, and having my lovely daughter home from college with the fact that this WIP needs to be a completed and edited manuscript by February 1st.

1. Write as much as I can, especially before Heather comes home.

2. Edit my crit partner's manuscript and return it to her.

3. Read my other crit partner's debut novel for an endorsement. (I only got to read the first few chapters of this one before she submitted it, so now I get to see how the story will turn out.)

4. End of year bookkeeping responsibilities.

5. Keep our noses to the grindstone on the homeschooling so we don't fall behind during this whirlwind month.

6. Remember to enjoy my family, my church, my friends, the pretty snow, etc.


How about you? Have you ever felt apathetic towards something that normally gives you joy? How did you pull yourself out of it?

On a happier note, Casey Herringshaw wrote a lovely review of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas this week that brought tears to my eyes. You can find the review on Casey's blog: http://enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com/2011/12/write-on-erica-vetsch-brides-portrait.html

AND, my dear friend Keli Gwyn got her first peek at the beautiful cover art for her debut novel! You can see it on her FB Reader's Group page. "Like" the page and get a gander of another in the series of "Destination Romances" from Barbour Publishing. http://www.facebook.com/KeliGwynReadersGroup

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pretty New Cover Art

This past week I received the cover art for two of my novels. The one on the right is for Maggie and the Maverick - Large Print Edition. I LOVE IT! Romantic and cowboy-ish, and it matches the cover art for the first book in the series so beautifully.

I've been blessed to have Thorndike Press pick up three of my titles for Large Print editions. I know one of the drawbacks of the Heartsongs is that the print is rather small. Thanks to Thorndike Press, readers who need larger print books can enjoy some Heartsong titles.
And this is the new cover art for my upcoming Heartsong release Stars In Her Eyes. This is the third book in my Martin City, Colorado series. Books one and two are Before the Dawn and Light to my Path.


Should he marry to please his church or follow his heart? Pastor Silas Hamilton has always been of the opinion that when he meets the woman God intends for him to marry, he’ll know her immediately. And so far, she hasn’t appeared, despite the determined machinations of one particular mother in his congregation.

And then it happens. Walking along the creek one day, he rescues a young woman from a near-fall into the water…and though they part ways without exchanging names, her fascinating gray eyes and the mysterious connection he felt with her remain foremost in his mind.

It isn’t until later, when he attends a play at the newly opened theater in town that he realizes his dreams have been caught up in the lovely Willow Starr—an actress bound for the bright lights of New York City.

But can a pastor love an actress? Would an actress abandon the stage for life in Martin City? And what about that mother, determined to claim the pastor for her daughter?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogging Hiatus

I'll be on a blogging hiatus this week (and possibly next) as I scramble to get more words added to my WIP and get the turkey cookin' and eatin' done.

I hope you and yours have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Week, that you get lots of turkey, laughter, and that whoever you are rooting for in football wins (except the Packers.)

Marji Laine was kind enough to host me for an interview on her uber-cool blog today, so I hope you can click on the link and go see her cool bloggosphere digs. http://marjilaine.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Friday Five - Log Cabin Blog Hop

As part of the ongoing Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop, this week's Friday Five is:

Five Minnesota Christmas Recipes.

1. Gingerbread Cookies (as made by my heroine, Beth Sorensen, in Christmas Service)


Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.

2. Krumkake - A Norwegian Cookie - You need a special Krumkake iron to make these.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring, optional

Directions

  1. Heat krumkake iron on stove over medium heat. You can also use an electric krumkake or pizzelle iron.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well using a spoon. Pour in the milk, flour, vanilla, and butter flavoring; mix well.
  3. Place a teaspoon of the batter on the preheated iron, and press together. Cook until browned, about 30 seconds per side, depending on the heat. Remove from the iron and quickly roll up around a stick or around a cone before they harden.

3. Lefse - Norwegian Potato Pancake that is soooo Yummy! (Note, this recipe calls for a potato ricer. You can also use a Lefse rolling pin, pictured on the left here.)

Ingredients

  • 10 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Place into a large bowl. Beat butter, cream, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potatoes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir flour into the potato mixture. Pull off pieces of the dough and form into walnut size balls. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse balls to 1/8 inch thickness.
  3. Cook on a hot (400 degree F/200 C) griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve.


4. Fruit Cake It CAN be yummy, if done right.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups candied pineapple chunks
  • 3 cups golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups candied cherries
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 2 ounces candied orange peel
  • 2 ounces candied citron peel
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 4 cups pecans, chopped
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Chop pineapple, raisins, and cherries. Combine chopped fruit with currants, orange peel, and citron; soak in orange juice overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Place a small pan of water in the oven. Line one 5x9 inch loaf pan and two 3x8 inch loaf pans with parchment or doubled waxed paper.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioner's sugar. Stir in beaten egg yolks. Stir in fruit, juice, and pecans. Mix in sifted flour.
  4. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to peaks. Fold into batter. Fill pans 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until golden brown, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

5. Wassail I love this hot, spicy drink on a cold December evening.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a slow-cooker or a large pot over low heat, combine apple cider, orange juice and lemon juice. Season with cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. If using a slow cooker, allow to simmer all day. Serve hot.
  2. I like to mellow this out by adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream. :)

Please join the Blog Tour Hop for Log Cabin Christmas with Kelly Eileen Hake tomorrow. Remember, comments enter you to win a copy of Log Cabin Christmas, autographed by all NINE of the contributing authors. Details about the contest can be found HERE. There are only a couple of days left to the blog tour, so don't delay if you want to be entered in the drawing!




Do you have a favorite Christmas recipe or food tradition?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Blog Award!!


So, earlier this month, I was blessed to receive the above award from Faye at her blog Labor Not In Vain.

Thank you so much, Faye! I've gotten to meet Faye in person twice, I believe. She has been sweet enough to come to Crossroads bookstore in Sioux Falls, South Dakota when Mary, Rose, Lorna, and I have been signing books there. Faye's an avid reader of Christian fiction, a blogger, and a really sweetie. She's also a fan of the AWANA program, which holds a special place in Vetsch Family hearts. :)

So, the rules of the award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Give the award to 15 other bloggers.

Seven things about me:

1. I have a pair of red and black striped socks that I call my OompaLoompa Socks.
2. I sometimes find my life portrayed all too accurately in the comic strips Baby Blues, Zits, and Pickles.
3. My parents have been married for 45 years, and next month my husband and I will celebrate 22 years of marriage.
4. I love to chew gum, and my current favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip ice cream.
5. I like to have a hymnal to myself when I sing in church. Mostly because I like to make up my own parts. :)
6. I've been to the football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio twice.
7. I tell myself every year that I'm going to get a new artificial Christmas tree, but I never seem to do it. Still have the same tree we bought in 1990. It's looking a little--stressed. 

I'm going to tag all the bloggers in my blog roll to the right. These are the blogs I read the most often, so, I think their blogs are great! :)

Today's Log Cabin Christmas blog tour stop is http://janeswordsofencouragement.blogspot.com/
And the party is rolling on over at Casey's place, so I hope you'll stop by. http://enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Microsoft Publisher Adventures


This just in! Thanks to the help of editor and friend Rachel Overton, I now have a .jpg of my Basketball advertisement for the Defender's Program.  Thank you, Rachel, you ROCK!


Earlier this week, I spent some time wandering around in Microsoft Publisher trying to put together an advertisement page for my books. My son plays basketball for the Rochester Area Home School Defenders. Each year, they sell advertising space in the game programs to help pay for things like referee fees, court costs, and uniforms.

Last year I purchased an advertisement, and the amazing Connie Weiss took my cover art and text and turned it into a nice little ad.

This year, the advertisers needed to put together their own ads. Enter my fumble-fingered attempts at photo, color, and text manipulations. (*facepalm*)

After much tweaking, moving, editing, sizing, and the occasional desire to smack my head into the keyboard, I finally came up with a design that I like.

Of course, since I'm me, and every computer activity seems to be a grand adventure, I couldn't figure out how to save my Word Document as a .jpg or .gif so I could put it here on the blog. Guess you'll have to come to a Defenders game. Our first game is Nov. 29th.

Today's stop on the Log Cabin Christmas Collection blog tour is http://www.debraullrick.com/ And the blog birthday party is still going on over at http://enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop


The bunkhouse at the Forest History Center

My Trip To The Forest History Center - Grand Rapids, MN

Two summers ago, my family and I visited the Forest History Center, one of the many stellar sites operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. I was fascinated by the lumber camp, the bunkhouse, the cookhouse, the wanigan (a floating cookhouse used in the spring when the lumberjacks floated their logs downriver to the sawmills) and more. I knew I wanted to set at least one story in the MN Northwoods, where Pine was King and legends like Paul Bunyan were born. (Contrary to what some folks in Wisconsin or Oregon or Northern California might say, Paul Bunyan was born and raised in MN.  *wink*)

Our family has a lumber business. We don't cut down and saw up trees. We purchase finish lumber from sawmills and then wholesale it to cabinet and furniture makers. Because of this tie-in with the lumber industry, I was particularly fascinated to learn the history of tree-cutting in MN. I learned so much on this trip, and I'd like to share a few fun facts I gleaned.

Did you know that the bunkhouse had skylights and vents in the gable ends? Not to help with bringing more light into the room, but to let out the smell! Our tour guide pointed out that dozens of men shared the long room, bathing rarely and eating a diet that often included beans. Oh my! 

One of the most important men in the camp was the saw sharpener. He had his own workshop, and he was referred to as The Dentist because he worked on teeth most of the night. His day started in the evening when the lumberjacks returned from the forest and handed over their saws. For about 12 hrs every night, he filed saw teeth.

A water wagon laid down two streams of water on the snowy road to make ice tracks so loads of logs could be pulled to the riverbanks and piled up more easily. Horses had special ice shoes to give them extra traction.

The camp foreman was called The Push because he was constantly pushing his men to fulfill the contracts by cutting more and more wood.

There was no talking at dinner. Eat and get out. And no spitting on the floor. 

The lumberjacks had nicknames for everything. Their bag of personal possessions was called A Turkey. Lice was known as Walking Dandruff. Cutting logs on section 37 mean stealing logs of someone else's land. (There are 36 sections in a township, so cutting logs on the mythical section 37 meant swiping someone else's property.) Butter was called Axle Grease, and a Bean Burner was a bad cook. 

There are so many amazing things I learned, I can't possibly include them all here. Some information made it into Christmas Service in A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, and I'm hoping to have the opportunity to write another story set in the Minnesota Northwoods sometime so I can revisit the Forest History Center and learn even more about MN lumbermen. 

The Ann River Load; 31,480 board feet of pine logs hauled one mile by a four-horse hitch, Ann River Logging Company, February 1892

Photo of Ann River Load, 1892.
Picture loads were constructed by logging camps in informal contests to see which camp could load and haul the largest load. These loads were usually constructed annually in the late winter at the end of the logging season when the ice roads were at their slickest. Records were kept informally each year and were a source of pride for logging companies and lumberjacks alike. Called "picture loads" photographers were called to document the loads. Normal sleigh loads were about 5,000 board feet.

From the Minnesota Historical Society: Forest History Center in Grand Rapids MN http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/fhc/loads1.html


Tomorrow's destination for the Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Hop is Debra Ullrick's Blog

Those who leave a comment are entered to win a copy of Log Cabin Christmas Collection autographed by all NINE authors. More information on the contest can be found at: http://janeswordsofencouragement.blogspot.com/p/current-contest-giveaways.html

Question for you: Do you typically have snow for Christmas where you live?

Also, don't forget that today is the first day of Casey Herringshaw's Blog Birthday Bash, and Ruthy Herne and I are tearing it up over there! Come join the party!

Monday, November 14, 2011

News Of The Week

It's a busy week of blogging, interviews, and connecting with readers. The Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Tour is in full swing. I'll be guest blogging on the tour tomorrow and Friday. I hope you've had a chance to visit some of the blog tour stops. It's not too late to backtrack and enter to win the prize for the blog tour, so hop on over to Jane Kirkpatrick's blog and fill out the contest entry form to get started.

Today's stop on the blog tour is a post by Margaret Brownley.

In other news, Marji Laine has a new review up for A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas on her blog today. http://marjilaine.blogspot.com/ Please go check it out.

Also, It's Almost Time To Party!!!!! Tomorrow begins Casey Harringshaw's Blog Birthday Bash. And would you believe it? I get to join in the party tomorrow along with my co-conspirator Ruthy Logan Herne. Do you know Ruthy? She's amazing, hilarious, adorable, sweet, funny, truthful, and so much more. Stop by the party tomorrow at http://enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com/ to have some birthday cake, some fiction talk, and a whole lotta fun! You can click on the cool button in the upper right to get to the party too.

Quick NaNoWriMo update. I'm currently about 2 days behind schedule due to the fact that galley proofs for Stars In Her Eyes landed in my inbox on Friday afternoon. I spent all of Friday and Saturday working on them, and they are now back in the hands of my editor. While that is a good thing to have done, it did put me a bit behind on NaNo. Time to play catch-up.

So, How are you doing on your November goals? Have you joined in on the Log Cabin Blog hop?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Log Cabin Friday Five

Today's stop on the Log Cabin Christmas Collection blog hop is:

11/11: Michelle Ule: Finding God’s Fingerprints in Everyday Life

Be sure to stop by Jane Kirkpatrick's blog to see the contest rules and tour stops. http://janeswordsofencouragement.blogspot.com/p/current-contest-giveaways.html

So, this week's Friday Five is:

Five log cabin words.

Puncheon: A split log or heavy slap with the face smoothed. Used in making floors and tabletops.

Cant: A log with one or more squared sides. Also the curved bark and outer edge that is cut off. Sawmills often sell cants for firewood. They square up the log so they can cut flat boards on the saw.

Chinking: The space between the logs, also the plaster/mud used to fill the spaces.

Adze: A cutting tool with a thin, arched blade that is set at a right angle to the handle. Used for shaping logs.

Peavy: A lumberman's tool. A long pole with a pivoting hooked arm and spike at the end. Also called a Cant Dog. Similar to a cant hook, but a peavy is spiked at the end, where a cant hook is blunt.

Question for you: Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks. Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? How are you doing on your NaNo goals? Was week two a success for you?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Log Cabin Blog Hop


This is a picture of the log cabin church I used in my novella, Christmas Service, the ninth story in the Log Cabin Christmas Collection.

Today is day four of the blog hop, and if you haven't joined in yet, please do! The winner will get TWO signed copies of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, signed by all nine of the authors.

You'll also get a closer look at some of the research that went into these stories, as well as getting to know the authors better.

Today's stop is: 11/10: Liz Tolsma: Heart, Soul & Splash of Sass,
 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop


It's Day Three of the Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop. Head on over to Jane Kirkpatrick's blog for a guest blog by Wanda Brunstetter.

11/9: Wanda Brunstetter (Guest on Jane’s blog): Words of Encouragement

Did you know you could take a peek inside Log Cabin Christmas Collection and read the first few pages of each story?

Check out the Look Inside feature on amazon.com by clicking HERE.


Check out the Blog Hop Contest Rules HERE.