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Tinsel’s a Finalist!

30261707_870805173114442_9137794306675834880_nJust had to share my exciting news. So, I’ve entered a few book contests this year, and while the outcomes of most are still a ways off (I won’t find out how I did in one until next spring!), today my heart leaped in my chest when I found an email with the word “contest” in the subject line.

Tinsel in a Tangle is one of the finalists in the Selah Awards! *fist pump, happy dance, squeal of delight and all that jazz*

While I’m no longer slogging through that writer’s desert of last year, I still have my discouraging days, but I’m so thankful that every so often God blesses me with another dollop of encouragement to keep me writing. Whether it’s a reader who reached out on Facebook to tell me she LOVED my book (yes, it was in all caps), or a friend who shared her excitement over cleaning a client’s house and finding my book on the bedside table…or being a finalist in a contest.

Of course, winning in my category would be heavenly–not gonna lie–but I’m soooo excited to be a finalist. It represents years of endurance, hard work, tears, and tremendous self-doubt. It represents personal success of a childhood dream. It represents courage and pride (the good kind) in my work. So, I’m going to allow myself to bask in this for the next two weeks before the winners are announced. 😉

But even more than winning or losing in a few earthly contests, I need to remember that in God’s economy, when we’re accomplishing the task(s) He’s set before us (be it writing a book or screenplay or a medley of poems, be it changing diapers or chauffeuring kids to activities, be it standing in a board room with a powerpoint presentation or selling wares at a farmer’s market), when we work to His glory, there are no losers. Ever.

 

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Joy in Discipline?

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Welcome to 2018! Have you jumped aboard the bandwagon and chosen your word for this year yet? Last year, I chose the word purposeful, because I knew I had to be just that in how I used my time to get things accomplished between all the writing-related deadlines I had on my plate. Well, I met my deadlines, but I had to look back through my posts the other day and remind myself that I’d even chosen a word for 2017! What does that tell you? 😉

As I pondered this past year, full of extreme highs and some of the lowest of lows, two words sprang to mind for 2018. Discipline and Joy.

home-office-336377_1920Discipline in writing. After a year in which my old and new WIPs (works-in-progress) saw very little forward movement, my creative juices have begun to flow again—praise the Lord—and I must shift writing back near the top of my priorities. You see, it became easy this past year, sometimes necessary, to forgo my laptop in lieu of my knitting needles or a book or allow errands to swallow my days. Now I sense some internal resistance when I come to the laptop, even though ideas have begun to blossom in my mind. Traces of fear niggle at the back of it all. (Still? Yes. Ugh.) “What if I can’t get the words out?” “There’s an expectation now. What if my next book isn’t as good as the first?” “Um…will there even be a next book?” I’m trying to quell these little doubts; to keep them, well, little. I want, instead, to cling to what the Lord has shown me over the last six months—His love, His approval, His blessings—and move forward with confidence.

sports-1050966_1280Discipline in maintaining a healthy body. I’ve been fit much of my life and have a high metabolism, but I am in my forties now, and it’s become harder and harder over the last few years to motivate myself to go for a run or workout. And, sigh, I still don’t like my vegetables. 😉 But slacking off now is the last thing I should be doing if I want to see good health into my fifties and sixties. So…discipline. To get up at 5am to squeeze in a workout. Or put on those running shoes after I take my youngest to school in the mornings. To reach for that apple instead of the pretzels (c’mon, let’s be honest: the chips and salsa). Not much fun in the process—when is it ever fun to tell yourself “no” to something?—but I’ll be thanking myself later.

macaroni-2863299_1920Discipline in keeping house…and prepping for dinner. *embarrassed chuckle* Really, who wants to vacuum and mop floors, fold clothes, dust furniture, scrub bathrooms, and all the other nit-picky stuff I can’t remember at the moment, when I’m just getting back into a writing groove and there are new projects to knit and friends to hang out with and books to read and…and…and… And am I forgetting I wanted to be a mother and housewife? Hello! These duties are part of the job I’ve wanted ever since I was a kid. (Why, then, do they become more trying and annoying each year?) And while I might not enjoy cooking day in and day out, there are things I could do to make it easier on myself…and show hubby that I love him and appreciate him going to work day in and day out, providing us with a warm house and money for food and all the extra amenities we take for granted here in America. So, I’m pulling out my dusty copy of Sink Reflections, by the Fly Lady (anybody else remember that gem?), and I plan to implement her suggestions as I had done once before, years ago, to mild success. (Don’t ask me why I stopped, if it was a success. I don’t know!)

By now you’re probably thinking I forgot about my other word for 2018: Joy.

I didn’t.

Not only do I need discipline to accomplish these different things, I want to enjoy them while I do them. I want to write with joy. Clean with joy. Grocery shop with joy. Cook with joy (gasp!). Left on my own, I’m not a joyful person (probably why I gravitate toward people, books, movies, etc., who can make me laugh), but I want to be. I should be. Between the Bible and one of my girlfriends, I’m encouraged it can be done.

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First, James 1:5 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking it would work that way for joy, as well. 😉 Second, my girlfriend tells the story of how her husband has always loved to hunt elk, but she used to hate eating the game meat he would bring home. In time, she came to see how her rejection of the meals he provided for the family hurt him at his core, and she began to pray that God would help her like the food her hubby provided. Once again, in time, God answered her prayers, and today she can honestly say she enjoys eating elk meat. She’s an inspiration to me in so many ways, so I figure if God can change her tastebuds, surely He can change my attitude when it comes to the mundane tasks of life, especially cooking dinners for my family.

That’s it. Discipline & Joy. Joy in discipline. Simple…but not easy. The two don’t have a natural connection most of the time, but for me in 2018, I pray they become so interwoven that by the end of the year, I can’t see their separation. (I’ll let you know how it goes.) 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone!

From Deserts to Green Pastures

I recently celebrated my 41st birthday, and as I reflect over a year that began with me stumbling into a writer’s desert, it looks like I might finish it out emerging onto fertile grasses. All glory to God, who never left my side through the dry and barren wasteland.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned…and pray I don’t forget anytime soon:

  1. God loves me. Even when (especially when) I throw an adult tantrum and tell Him I hate Him.
  2. While I’m quick to thank God when something good happens in my life, I shouldn’t be as quick to blame Him when something bad happens. At times, it’s just Life…and at other times, the devil’s trying to thwart the greater good God is working on in the background.
  3. Just because something is difficult for me doesn’t mean God doesn’t want me to pursue it. Specifically, just because it takes me more effort and time to finish a manuscript than another writer doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path. Just because my head doesn’t swim with as many story ideas as other writers doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.
  4. No matter how many more books I write, no matter how Tinsel does, I’m a success simply because I fought against myself (and the devil) and won. Despite the depression and debilitating negative thinking, despite the dozens of rejections from agents and publishers, I slogged forward one step at a time and, with the Lord’s favor, I saw a childhood dream come true this fall with Tinsel’s release.
  5. Thanks to Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, it finally sank into my thick skull that the Lord will never speak to me in a condemning voice. Ever. Thus, if my head is drowning in words of condemnation, I now know they stem from either my negative self-talk or the devil—and I’m encouraged to ignore both.

As Christmas approaches and a new calendar year creeps into view on the horizon, I look forward to enjoying more green pastures and less sandy dunes in 2018. I anticipate more words on the page, as well as a spirit of patience and peace on those days when the page stays blank. I pray for more of Jesus and less of the world, and the ability to discern between the two. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who bought an ebook and/or print copy of Tinsel in a Tangle over the last two months. I found out a few days ago it’s now available in audio format through Amazon, so I’m passing along that information in case you’re one of those people who get more reading done when you’re listening to, rather than looking at, the words. 😉

IMG_0754Tinsel and Niklas, at long last adorned with shoes and coats to keep them warm this time of year, want to wish you a blessed, Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year. I’ll “see” you again in 2018!

A BookSweeps Giveaway!

Hello, friends!

I have two things to share with you today.

First…thanks to so many of you, TINSEL IN A TANGLE made it to that monetary threshold and is coming out in paperback!! IMG_5515Paperback copies are actually available now online at Barnes & Noble and will be available later this week over at Amazon.com. The cherry on top? It’s also coming out in audio format in time for the holidays at Amazon, narrated by Angie Hickman. Yes, I am one happy, blessed little elf. Thank you to all who bought an ebook copy to bring me to this point. 🙂

Second, how about a little more fun to usher in this magical season? I’ve teamed up with 51 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of inspirational romances to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner! You’ll also receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering. You could win a copy of TINSEL, plus books from authors like Susan May Warren and Robert Tate Miller. If you’re interested, simply enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/inspy-holidays-nov2017. Enjoy!

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It’s Book Release Day!

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Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks.

Hi, everybody! Tinsel Kuchler here, to celebrate the release of Laurie’s book, Tinsel in a Tangle. Today, Laurie’s being highlighted on Kelsey Gillespy’s blog, but she asked me to read something for all of you, so here goes…

[Picks up sheet of paper and clears throat] “Starting today, everyone who has access to Kindles and Nooks (or their corresponding apps), and smartphones, laptops, and iBooks can read all about Tinsel’s misadventures and how she almost single-handedly ruined Christmas—”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the mistletoe. [Stands, bracing hands on tabletop] What about the part Niklas played in all this? Just because he’s Santa’s grandson doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. And now that I think about it, is our close call something we want exposed to the public eye? Whose idea was this, anyway?

[Cocks an eyebrow] This smells of reindeer. Those meddling creatures. And after all the extra carrots I’ve fed them. Well, they’re in for quite a shock tomorrow during their flying lesson. I’m thinking pop quiz. And one hundred passes around the Workshop.

Roasted chestnuts, I’ve got to warn Santa about this. Just wait ’til I get my hands on Chip. [Heads for the exit, but stops at the door and turns around] Might want to swing by Kelsey’s blog, since I have to cut this short. Laurie dishes about the initial spark that prompted Tinsel in a Tangle, which one of her characters she’s most like (it’s not me), and much more. She also answers “This or That” questions, like: Read the book or watch the movie? Netflix or YouTube? Online shopping or Shopping in a Store?

[Waves with a smile] Hope you enjoy Tinsel. And if you do, we’d love it if you spread the word. We’ve got to reach that ebook sales threshold so those who can’t (or don’t) do ebooks will be able to enjoy the paperback version. Plus, the more sales, the more Laurie gets to donate to Agape International Missions. And who doesn’t love a good story about a clumsy elf and her Kringle—

I mean, a Kringle. Just a clumsy elf and a cute Kringle. No, not cute— [Cringes] Never mind. Gotta run! I have a reindeer to track down. [Flees the room]

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Chip: D’oh!

 

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Preorder and Land Updates

IMG_2588Bonjour, mes amis! C’est moi, Ellowyne Wilde. Yes, I’m as shocked to be writing this post as you are to be reading it. Then again, Laurie’s busy packing to leave on Wednesday for a writer’s conference in Texas, so who better to pick up the slack around here than moi?

I thought she’d forgotten about us dolls by the way the dust bunnies keep piling up, but today she surprised us with our own copy of Tinsel in a Tangle!

I’m told digital copies are now available for preorder, so if you would enjoy a light-hearted Christmas romance complete with snarky reindeer, cute Kringles, and a lovable, spirited, faulty elf, head on over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks. And if you know someone who would also enjoy such a read, please help us spread the word. 🙂

Another note of interest. Remember waaaaay back, about a year ago, when Laurie shared how God had led her and Hubby to purchase some land…and then gave them an inconvenient yellow light, prohibiting them from doing anything further with it? (You can read about that here.) Well, she and Hubby finally have a hearing with the County Planning Board on Wednesday to present their plans for a small subdivision. (All right, so it’s really just Hubby going, as Laurie will be sweltering in Texas by then, but she’ll be with him in her thoughts. Does that count?) If you’re a praying kinda person, prayers are appreciated that they might be able to move forward in this endeavor as they’ve been in limbo for almost two years now. They should know by October 10th if their plans are a go, and of course she’ll keep you updated.

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Panoramic of the land.

That’s it for now, though I wish it weren’t, as my peeps and I are still waiting for a fireplace. But since we have. No. Place. To. Put. It, once Laurie took down our shelves last summer, I won’t hold my breath. We’ve been waiting for that fireplace longer than she’s been waiting for a green light from God!

Tinsel’s Cover Reveal…

At long last, it’s finally here! Tinsel’s book cover!

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I. Am. So. Excited! This has got to be my favorite part about the publication process so far. To see in visual form a taste of what I’ve only up to now imagined in my head and written down in black words is truly invigorating. Makes me giddy, like a kid on Christmas morning (pun totally intended). Kudos to AM Design Studios for creating a fantastic cover that’s already blessed my socks off!

I’m told pre-order will be available soon–yay! I’ll keep you posted on that, should you be interested. One thing to note: because Clean Reads is a small publishing company, the book is only offered in digital format until it reaches a certain number in sales, at which point it will be available in print on Amazon. So…if you’re like my daughter’s friend and want to wait until the paperback version comes out…and lots of other people decide to wait for a paperback copy…then the book will never make it into print. 😛 I know; a bit of a drawback, but my husband’s optimistic it’s just a temporary one.

In any case, this cover is mine to keep forever…and drool over any time I want. 😉