Skip a Starbucks Day

Friends, I don't usually post things like this, but my friend C.J. Redwine, author of the kick-ass YA Defiance trilogy, is an amazing person. She and her family adopted a baby girl from China a couple of years ago, and now they're adding to their family by adopting another. This precious little angel has special needs, and C.J. and her family are the perfect people to give her a loving and wonderful home.

So, C.J. is having a fundraiser to help with the huge costs of bringing little Isabella home to her forever family. It costs about $15K for everything — adoption process, travel to China, required stay in China while awaiting the paperwork, etc — and C.J. is asking for some help. Just a $5 donation can help tremendously (hence the Skip a Starbucks part of the fundraiser). Here's a little bit about Isabella from C.J.

Isabella Grace Xiaofang was abandoned beneath a highway overpass when she was four months old. She had severe pneumonia, along with her heart disease and cleft palate, which were both causing her medical difficulty. That says to me that her parents loved her, and they tried for four months to care for her in secret, either to avoid paying the second child penalty fee, which is prohibitive for poorer families, or because they couldn’t afford her medical care, and when they realized she was going to die without care, they put her where she would be quickly found. Highways in China, especially in cities, are much different than ours. They are choked with pedestrians and bicyclists. She was sure to be found quickly.

A month after she was found, she had heart surgery to repair four different defects in her heart. She was in and out of the ICU for recurring pneumonia during her first year. In her second year, she had two surgeries to repair her lip and palate and to remove her extra thumb. At two years old, she’s still tiny (wearing 9 month clothing size), she’s not walking on her own yet, and she doesn’t have many words yet. Her delayed development is a result, I feel certain, of her constant surgeries and hospital stays.

The orphanage reports that Isabella is quiet, shy, and loves to smile and grab onto the nannies and play with them. I can’t wait to bring her home! Her brothers and sister are very excited to meet her and love her as well.

And here's a pic. Isn't she sweet?Isabella3

If you can help, great. Just click over to C.J.'s website and read more about Isabella and how you can be a part of this fundraiser. There are also some great prizes, including a huge prize pack from me: 10 Harlequins and 2 HOT books. If you can't donate, then please just add your prayers for Isabella to come home. Good thoughts and good deeds. Isn't that a pleasant way to start a Friday?


I got up this morning, all set to fix my coffee and climb back into bed with the laptop. I was wearing my Hello Kitty pajamas, the ones with the fleece pants, and I was so happy I have the sort of job where I could sit in my bed with my coffee and work while still in my pajamas. Heaven, I tell you!

But then I remembered, as I took my Let It Snow coffee mug down from the shelf, that we'd used up all the cream yesterday. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, friends. The choices before me: drink my coffee black; have tea; skip the morning beverage.

Those are not choices when you really want coffee. So I had to pull on clothes and drive a mile to the grocery store. I was the woman with bedhead who grabbed a bag of cat food (they're out after the morning meal), two pints of organic half and half, and a box of Weight Watchers turkey sausage breakfast sandwiches.

I did all that so I could go back to bed with a cup of coffee and a computer. 😉

Tell me what lengths you've gone to for your coffee (or tea). I'd love to know. I might give away a prize to the best story. How about a $10 Starbucks card and a signed paperback?

Leave a comment!

Love Yourself

As we head into the busy and stressful Christmas season, I just wanted to take a few moments to say something I think is important. Love yourself. This time of year, more than any other, causes stress on people. We are inundated with commercials for fabulous Christmas gifts, with pictures of how the perfect holiday is supposed to be, with smiling families who buy Mercedes Benzes or huge diamonds for each other, with a beautiful family gathered around a beautifully decorated table — and it's easy to let these images depress you when you realize your life isn't like that.

But I want you to take a moment right now and remember that YOU are special. You can do things no one else can do. You have gifts and talents and you are important to someone. You matter in this world and you need to look in the mirror and remind yourself of that. Don't let the ideal of the perfect holiday get you down. It's probably not perfect for anyone, quite honestly.

The season passes in a whirlwind of decorating, shopping, parties, cooking, and smiling when you might not feel like it. You may not get the cards out this year. You may not have the designer tree. But so what? Just enjoy your blessings, whatever they may be, and don't stress about the other stuff.

Love yourself. I promise you there is something amazing about you. If you don't know what that is, take a hard look and figure it out. And then remind yourself of it as often as necessary. It's important. Because you're important. 🙂

We're going to get through this holiday season, and then we're going to move on to January and February and anticipate spring's arrival. Forget the perfect holiday, the perfect body, the perfect life. Just enjoy today and love yourself for who you are. That's my plan!

Big Step

This morning, I go to the orthodontist and get braces. I'm excited and terrified too! Because after I get the braces, I have to get 5 teeth pulled. I don't look forward to that at all! But, it must be done, and I'm finally at a point in my life where I can afford it — and I'm going to do it.

My family couldn't afford braces when I was growing up. And then I couldn't afford them when I was a young adult. There are so many other things you need, right? My husband and I didn't have the money and no way could I justify taking out a loan or anything to get it done. So I put it off until finally, this year, I said to myself, “Hey, you can do this now. Go find out what you have to do.”

And I did. It's not as expensive as I thought it might be, though it's not cheap either, but I'm committing to this path. I've perfected the art of the closed-mouth smile for my photos. But I cannot *wait* to have a smile I can show the world. I'm so excited about it! It will take 22 months, but that's okay. By the end of that time, you won't be able to make me do a closed-mouth smile. 😉

I guess I'm sharing this with y'all for two reasons. First, as my readers, you've made this possible for me. You've bought my books and the money I've earned is helping me do this. And second, I want you to know that it's never too late to do things you want to do. Yeah, it's going to be a bummer to be an adult with braces. But it'll be over in two years and I'll have a smile I'm proud of instead of hiding my crowded and crooked teeth behind a closed-mouth smile.

It's a big step, and I know there will be some pain (and maybe some temporary regret) but I am seriously SO excited about this. The result will be worth it in the end. I can't wait! No more hiding my smile or being the only person in the photo with my mouth closed. 🙂 Well, okay, I'll still do that for a while since I'll be wearing braces, heh. I don't suppose wearing braces will be easy to begin with. Maybe I should apologize in advance to the groups I'm giving speeches to in September….

Old songs

This old Tracy Lawrence song has been on my mind today. I'm much more of a rock fan than country, but this song is timeless.

You gotta have friends

There's something about early morning which lends itself to contemplation, I think. Mr. Harris had an early meeting this morning, something to do with a tele-conference with people in other parts of the world, so he had to get up at a criminal hour — and I woke up too. So now I'm sitting in bed with my laptop and my tea and thinking in the quiet hours before dawn. I have a lot of work to do, but I'll do it after I do this.

I've been thinking about this business, which I love, and about the people in it. Readers, y'all are the most amazing, wonderful, necessary people in the world. Without you, I have no job. I'd write anyway, but I'd have to do it while working 9 to 5 at something else to pay the bills. And no one would be reading the stories but me — and maybe a couple of friends. So this is preferable, and I thank you for it! I'm glad you like my books, and I always love to hear from you. So don't hesitate to send that email!

The other people I love in this business are my writing friends. I have a core group, people I can rant to about covers, sales, blurbs, revisions, etc. There's nothing like a good rant with your fellow writers. They understand what it's like to have a cover you hate or a blurb that fails to mention that lovely hook you wrote. They are also there when you have an emergency and need to brainstorm something. Romance writers are some of the most giving writers you'll ever meet.

This weekend, I attended the Southern Magic Reader Luncheon. Sherrilyn Kenyon was the guest speaker. She is amazing. As successful as she is, she's also humble and doggedly determined to keep working as hard as she can. She deserves her success. And she moved me to tears more than once as she gave of herself to that packed room with a dynamic speech that was personal and inspirational.

Today, I sit at the computer determined to go over, under, around, or through, as Sherrilyn said. Somehow, some way, I'm getting a ton of work done before I go to sleep tonight.

So I'd better get to it! But here's a picture of me with one of my writing friends, Kira Sinclair, who writes for Blaze and who can always be called upon to listen to a good rant.

Who do you rant to? Who are your friends you can always count on? One commenter will win a copy of my current release, THE GIRL NOBODY WANTED.