Browsing Category

Celebrate Life

The Best Father’s Day Gift Idea: Books For The Dads In Your Life

Books, Family
father's day books

Are you prepared for Father’s Day this Sunday or are you frantically looking for last-minute ideas that don’t seem so last minute? It might be too late to pull off some of the great ideas I included in the Fierce Father’s Day Gift Guide, but don’t fret. I have a solution. (You can thank me later).

As your resident author friend, I’m obligated to share book ideas on all subjects. (It’s in the universal author contract. Right below the clause that says I can helpfully correct grammar and spelling. Hah!)

Back to sharing books. I read. A lot. Some might say too much. They would be wrong. But I certainly do a big chunk of reading.

So let’s have all the time I spend reading serve a purpose for you, my Fierce Friends. Whether it’s a gift for your husband, son, or your own father or grandfather, books are always the answer.

Books: The Best Father’s Day Gift Idea

Without further ado, a few suggestions for Father’s Day books (aka the best Father’s Day gift idea, in my unbiased opinion):

continue reading

DIY Memorial Day Decorations: Red-White-and-Blue Ideas Everyone Will Love

Creativity and Crafts
DIY memorial day decorations
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

Memorial Day is so many different things: the unofficial beginning of the summer. A day off work. The end of the school year. The day on the calendar after which your mom decreed you can wear white pants.

However, we all know the Federal Holiday commemorates something more. But through the years, as more and more time passes from those civics classes of our youth, it’s easy to muddle up some of our related holidays. So let’s take a moment for a mini educational opportunity, courtesy of yours truly.

Memorial Day: Last Monday in May. In remembrance of American service members who have died in armed conflicts.

continue reading

DIY Flower Arrangements for Mother’s Day

Creativity and Crafts
DIY flower arrangements
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

If the Mother’s Day Gift Guide or the Mother’s Day Pistachio Bundt cake didn’t tip you off, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th.

Yes. This weekend.

You’ve still got time to Amazon Prime her a copy of my latest book, but why stop there?

Wouldn’t it make your mother feel special if you arrived with a DIY flower arrangement in hand in addition to a little gift, a few hugs, and a card? (Seriously, Fierce friends, don’t forget the card!)

Nod your head. The answer is yes. Though some of you may be saying, “Yes. But how?”

continue reading

What to Read Right Now

Books
what to read right now
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

One of the main questions I hear as a writer from my readers is what books I’m reading right now. It’s sort of like they think I should be an expert in this sort of thing, just because I am in the business!

While I don’t think of myself as some fancy book critic, I will say I am a total reading enthusiast and usually have several books going at once.

I try to find a balance between fiction and non-fiction, books that stretch my imagination, books that simply make me sigh out of happiness at the end, books that teach me something new, or books that open doors to whole new worlds that I’ve never thought about before.

I know it sounds like I’m trying to confuse my brain, but trust me, it works for this girl. It works wonders. continue reading

Easter Crafts Abound!

Creativity and Crafts
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

Easter crafts are just plain cute.

All crafting is fun. The fun is built in whether you’re quilting or painting or decoupaging or glittering or…you get the idea.

But in addition to being fun, Easter crafts are cute. Bunnies! Baby chicks! Flowers! Pastel colors! Little girls wearing bonnets with bows bigger than their heads!

continue reading

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD TO BE LOST

Adventure and Travel, Grow in Wisdom
getting lost
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

In case you hadn’t picked up on it by now, I am a planner.

I love a good to-do list and am utterly devoted to my schedule.  Seeing my Living Well Planner with my daily tasks time-blocked and color-coded, fills me with the satisfaction and the comfort of feeling in control of my circumstances. People frequently ask how I’m able to get so much done. Organization is my secret weapon, making a plan and sticking to it.

Take my workout routine. Even when I’m traveling, I block out time in my schedule for exercise.  It’s a good plan when it works, and sometimes even when it doesn’t.

continue reading

Free Quilt Pattern: A Companion Quilt for HOPE ON THE INSIDE

Creativity and Crafts
free quilt pattern
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

If you’ve been around the blog for any amount time, you know that I L-O-V-E quilts and books. And quilting and reading.

These two favorite pastimes of mine have shaped my life in many different ways; they’ve built powerful bonds and friendships, they’ve offered a creative outlet, they’ve been my “therapy,” they’ve even paid the bills. (However, a lot of those earnings seem to migrate back into books and quilts. Weird how that happens.)

Quilting has inspired my books, and books have inspired my quilts. But what inspires me most is the sisterhood of life-long friends I have gained through it all: women who share my passion for reading, for happy endings, for stitching quilts with love. It’s for them that I write and it’s through them that my creative energy is renewed.

So when I get the chance to fuse together my two favorite things, I say YES and probably wave my hands in the air!

Quilting and Books Just Go Together

How do quilting and books go together? Well, for one thing, they both require a big investment of time from the artist who makes them. And they both tell a story, whether its in the lines of the book or the textures, patterns and stitching of a quilt. More importantly, both books and quilts can be enjoyed over and over and have an almost magical ability to bring people together.

As many of my readers know, the talented Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design creates a companion pattern that highlights a certain character or theme for many of my books.

Yes. You read that right. My books have actual quilt patterns designed just for the book. Pretty cool, right?

The quilts Deb has designed for my books have added an exciting dimension to the reading experience and her A-MAZING rules and tools have made me a better quilter than I am in real life.  Best of all, the friendship we developed over the years is something I treasure.

Here’s a picture of Deb and I standing in front of a gorgeous quilt. So much joy going on here!

A Companion Quilt for Hope On The Inside

For my most recent novel that came out last week, Deb really outdid herself.

Here’s a teaser on the right. How pretty is that? The colors! The lines! That fabric!

If you haven’t yet seen all the gorgeous collaborative patterns that Deb and I have created as companions to my books, you can check them out on her website by clicking here.  Deb creates two patterns to go with my books, a smaller project that is offered free on my website and a larger, full-sized quilt which is available for purchase at Studio 180 Design.

As part of our creative process, we go over the story line, the characters, possible quilt designs, and difficulty level for actual quilt makers. In the end, Deb is the one who does the heavy lifting (or should I say stitching?) and always creates something incredibly beautiful.

For HOPE ON THE INSIDE, we decided that a block titled “Dove in the Window” would be a perfect starting point. I love the imagery of a dove in the window felt very relevant as I think about the women serving time in my story, especially my character Mandy.  I envisioned her gazing out the window, dreaming of freedom and being reunited with her daughter Talia, the ultimate recipient of the quilt that Mandy stitches while behind bars.

The Dove in the Window block also represents the exciting moment when an inmate is set free. They take flight, return home, and begin to rebuild.

Design and Fabric

To spice things up – because it’s always fun to keep our quilts spicy – Deb nestled the traditional Dove in the Window blog inside a larger Dove in the Window block. It’s a lovely, fresh, and unique interpretation of this traditional block (and easier to make that it looks!)

The block size is large at 19½” finished, which by itself could make a nice wall quilt or throw pillow.  (The bed runner pattern is available as a free download from my website. The pattern to make a lap, twin, or king-sized version of the quilt is available for purchase at Studio 180 Design.)

In the instructions, you’ll see that the quilt is made with Deb Tucker’s second signature fabric collection with Island Batik titled “Steam Engine”. In the story, this is the fabric that Mandy chose when beginning her quilt for her young daughter. This gorgeous fabric will be in quilt shops late summer or early fall 2019.  I’m already dreaming up what I’ll be making with these gorgeous hues! A Doves of Hope quilt is at the top of the list!

Remember: we love to see your work! If you make this bed runner, please share on Instagram and make sure to include #DoveintheWindowBedRunnerPattern180 #sharehope so we will be sure to see it!

Download your Free Quilt Pattern!

To access the free quilt pattern, head on over to my author website here. All you have to do is enter your email and you can download all of the patterns for all of my books!

Happy stitching!

Adventures in Quilting: Using Stencils

Creativity and Crafts
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

One of the really cool things about writing a blog is that, every now that then, you get free stuff. Some bloggers receive appliances, or furniture, or even fancy vacations from companies. They hope the blogger will enjoy that product and write a post about it.

Okay, sure. I guess those are pretty good items to get. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. But what have I been offered?

Crafting supplies! Which, as we all know, is way cooler.

continue reading

Book Club Party Kit for ‘Hope On The Inside’

Books, Friends and Community
book club - hope on the inside
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

My latest novel, Hope On The Inside, has all the elements of a quintessential book club book. The quickly paced plot. The strong themes of creativity and sisterhood. It has the surprises. The lovable characters. The tear-jerking moments. And did I mention the food?

Don’t even get me started on my passion for book clubs! Although I guess I already got started on my love of book clubs in this post from last year.

Suffice it to say book clubs = books, food and friends. Basically a perfect recipe in life.

But throwing the perfect book club party can be a little daunting! What should I cook? What music should I play? What wine should I serve? What thought-provoking questions should I throw out to the group? 

Don’t worry, that’s the fun part.

If you’ve been debating on your next book club book and have made the (obviously very smart) choice to read Hope on the Inside, I’m going to make your life very easy when it comes to prepping for your book club party.

How, you ask? I made a Hope on the Inside party kit just for the occasion!

So, grab your best gal pals, your latest quilting or crafting project, and cook the books with recipes inspired by Hope On The Inside. You won’t have to dig very deep into the book to find out about the husband with an affinity for baking! If you need some help getting started with the book discussion, there are helpful suggestions and questions in the back.

Choose savory muffins, a rosemary olive bread, or the very best oatmeal cookies and offer along with iced mint tea and fruit. Because they are the fuel you’ll need for a lovely book discussion, if you ask me.

And in this case, the rosemary won’t be a bad omen. (You’ll know what this means after you get through the first chapter or two).

Download Your Free Party Kit!

If you’d like to have the full Book Club Party Kit simply enter your email address below and the whole kit-n-caboodle will show up in your email a few minutes later! Oh, the magic of the internet!

A Little Teaser

Just to make you drool a little bit, here’s a picture of the wonderful Rosemary Olive Loaf that’s included with the party kit! Serve warm, spread a little butter, slice on the diagonal (because, pretty) and you’ll be in food heaven!

rosemary olive loaf - hope on the inside

Alright readers, that’s all I’ve got time for today! Book launch weeks are busy – in a good way!

Have a great weekend, Fierce Friends, and maybe bake some oatmeal cookies!

The Book Launch for Hope On The Inside (and a special surprise)

Books, Creativity and Crafts
print at home stationary
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

My latest book, Hope on the Inside, is released today.

Though this is my fifteenth time at this particular rodeo, celebrating a book birthday is always exciting, the culmination of at least a year of work. It’s true. Back when I did that sort of thing, it took me less time to gestate a tiny human than it takes me to birth a book.

As with my real children, none of my literary offspring can claim the status of favorite child. Every novel I’ve penned holds a special place in my heart; they’re all my favorites.

But I feel like there’s something extra special about Hope on the Inside. Perhaps it has something to do with my particular stage of life. Perhaps it has something to do with the times we’re living in.

continue reading