Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quinter, Kansas~~Verse 2

On the way to Quinter, we made a side trip in Victoria, to see the Cathedral Of The Plains.
If you are ever traveling in Kansas, this is a beautiful site.
We parked the van and entered.
I wish we had taken more pictures. 
To show the beauty.
Time to get back on the bus.
And travel to our destination.
And visit the site of our simple meeting house by the side of the road in Quinter, Kansas.

Do you visit Churches when you travel?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mary Connealy talks Midwestern (and free book offer)

I decided to do something I've been MEANING to do forever.
I drove over to a buffalo herd near me.

Yes, there's a buffalo herd near me.

I'm especially interested in them because I've got a book coming out in October called Buffalo Gal. In fact it might be the other way around. I think my fascination with those buffalo is what inspired the book. I just think they're the coolest, weirdest creatures. The longer you look at them the stranger they look. The way their heads are so huge and their back ends are so slender, completely at odds with their heads.
It's like God was just having a good old time when he created them.
Anyway, today I did it. Pulled over. This herd is just outside Winnebago, Nebraska on the Winnebago Indian Reservation.
Look how close this guy is to the fence. I could have gotten really close to them. Instead I just used the zoom lens.
This fence looked pretty sturdy and there's an inner electric fence,
you can kind of make out the two thin strands of it.
I'm sure the whole time the buffalo was smashing through it he'd be going,
"Ouch, ouch, yowee, yikes, that smarts."
Then he'd be through and CHARGE!
I just kept flashing on a headline in the Omaha World Herald.
Woman gored to death by buffalo
Mary Connealy, while photographing a buffalo walked right up to it and it killed her. Duh! ***
Yes, the World Herald would put DUH in the headline.
You know they would.
How could they resist?
If the buffalo hadn't taken me out,

I'd personally insist they carve DUH on my tombstone.

They might hunt down everyone related to me, too, just to strengthen the species.
***(Disclaimer...the above headline is fake. I am alive. The World Herald has my knowledge mocked a person killed regardless of the stupidity of the actions of said dead person)

Click on a title to buy my books

To get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Sharpshooter in Petticoats, please tell me about the closest you've ever come to being killed by a wild animal. And yes, if it's the best you've got, a kitten scratch will get you in.

Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series. Her novel Doctor in Petticoats is a finalist for a Rita Awards, her novel Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award and her novel Cowboy Christmas won the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters, two fine sons-in-law and two spectacular grandchildren.

Find Mary online at:

Petticoats & Pistols
My Blog
My Website
EVERY PERSON who read that story would think....
"Good riddence, get someone that stupid out of the gene pool."

And took some pictures.
I just love the way buffalo look and I've driven by them a zillion times and stare like crazy because I find them fascinating. But I never pull over and just take a real look.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sneaking Up On Us

My hubby went outside this evening and looked in our front flower bed. He came back smiling.

"It's really spring,"he exclaimed. "A crocus is up."

We've been living in this house just under a year (we moved in mid April of last year), so this is the first time we've really watched the yard "wake up." So far, this small sign of the changing seasons is all we've seen. Probably didn't help that it snowed last week. Right now, our yard is generally gray, with a bit  of (ever)green.

And, of course, that tiny tinge of bluish-purple and yellow. For now, anyway.

To be honest, for those first couple months in our new home, we didn't spend much time paying attention to what was growing outside. We were trying to get unpacked (which, of course, we're still not done with!) and accustomed to our new surroundings.

I do remember, however, how beautiful it looked in the summer (not, of course, that I took a picture or anything:::roll::: ). Lots and lots of color in the front AND back yard. The folks who owned our house before we did were quite adept gardeners, and we get to reap the rewards of it.

I'm looking forward to watching my yard explode with life and color over the next few months. Who needs TV? I've got God's beautiful "show" right outside my door!

Joanne Sher An Open Book

My Blog
The Barn Door
Jewels of Encouragement

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sure Signs of Spring

I have to say, Spring is probably my favorite season of the year. After the long winter (yeah, yeah, I know, living this far south I have nothing to complain about concerning winter, but that's beside the point) Spring can never arrive early enough for me.

Spring means rain.

And rain means mud.

Lots of mud. Granted, this picture doesn't begin to show you the depths of mud we have, but after all, this picture was taken almost a month ago, after only our first round of rain. It gets faaaar worse than this.

And the more it rains,
the more it floods.

Here's a picture from my kitchen window. Normally we have grass in our "lower yard" which is named so for a reason. The tiny creek that turns into a sand bed in the summer, fills its banks and overflows them regularly in the Spring, making it appear like our house is built on stilts. Thankfully, it's built on a little hill, keeping us high and dry.

Of course, one of the wonderful side effects of the rain (and warmth--LOVE that Spring warmth!) is what it does to all the plants. Spotting the first daffs is a highlight of my driving times.

There are daffodils scattered along the roads--anywhere there was once a house there's daffodils, brightening our rainy days. Seeing the very first blooms (these ones!) is cause for rejoicing.

Naturally, the fishermen appear just as surely as the daffs do. Ponds, streams, and even fishing off the bridges. This year I noticed some on the lake wearing their duck coveralls! Now that's dedication. Or maybe they were just as anxious for Spring as I was?

Spring means the end of Cabin Fever. I get to head out and hunt for all the things I've come to love about living in the country. Including the plants that you can only see if you're looking closely--like this Wild Ginger blossom.

For years, I didn't see the blooms on this little treasure and the first year I did, I only saw it as it was about to fall off. Some Springs are so wet and chilly that I miss it, but not this year.

Another highlight of Spring is getting to go for walks. Parts of the route I take walking is lined with wild rose bushes. In a month, this one will be in full bloom and covered with pink blossoms.

I love seeing the new leaves and growing things...

Of course, every nice Spring day brings out the bikers. At first they're decked in full leather, but it soon dwindles to just their jackets.

And before you know it, the bikers are out in full force. It's fun hearing about where they go on their rides, but if it's this group of church friends, it's sure to include a stop for ice cream.

Yup, it's a sure sign of Spring.

So tell me, how's Spring where you are?

Ordinary Lives

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Traveling To Quinter, Kansas

Many people have never heard of Quinter, Kansas, but I have family there. And many of my childhood memories revolve around this tiny spot in the road. So when we heard a bus load from Ohio were going to worship with our tiny congregation, Husband and I signed up.
It was cold and icy. In fact we left an hour later than we first planned. (But that's another story.)
We got loaded up.
And our licensed driver headed out.
We stopped often. Sometimes to eat.
And two days later we arrived.
We were in Quinter for 23 hours of fellowship and worship.
How far would you travel to lift the spirits of those you love?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Know if you are an "Over the Top" Grandparent

All of us have run into grandparents all too eager to show us pictures, slides, jpegs and endless other representations of their grandchildren. While these pictures are immensely interesting to the grandparents themselves, they can prove to be a "real snoozer" for the casual participant (trapped victim).

Here are ten ways to know if you have become the slightly obnoxious, (okay, at times really obnoxious) "Over the Top" Grandparent:

1)  You hold up traffic at busy intersections trying to interest the driver in the next lane with pictures of your grandchild's first visit to Santa (and it's now August).

2)  You buy a new black suit, take it to Walgreen's, and have the photo department burn a life-size picture on the suit jacket of the delivery room nurse holding up your first grandchild seconds after birth (no need to wear a tie -- the umbilical cord does the trick).

3)  You have a billboard installed in your front yard with a picture of you and your grandchild -- rotating spotlights are used to highlight dimples.

4)  Crime drops in your area as even would-be intruders are afraid of being confronted in the middle of the night with your accordion-like string of wallet-sized pictures of the twins.

5)  You have pay extra for the three vanity license plates on the back of your car that combined read, "IM GREATST GRANDPRT IN WRLD W/ QUTEST GRANDCHLD EVR IN HISTRY OF WORLD -- HONK IF U'D LIKE TO C PICHURES."

6)  You try making the same face your little niece does when she eats oatmeal to the nice highways patrolman who pulled you over. He reaches for the handcuffs.

7)  You are hired by the Sleep Insomnia Clinic to cure patients by endlessly talking about sweet Janey's first music recital and how her mother also played the piano when she was just that age (you have a 100% success rate within 10 minutes).

8)  Waterboarding is no longer needed at Guantanomo Bay to extract information, rather interrogators simply pipe in (non-stop) video and audio recordings of little Suzy's first year of practicing the saxophone (everyone eventually breaks).

9)  Several hospitals are able to cut the amount of anesthesia needed to put patients "under" before surgery by hiring you to stand next to the operating table and recite over and over all the cute little things your grand daughter said to you on the phone last week (belly-laughing at them all). Like magic patients lapse into deep unconsciousness.

10) You invent a code that foreign nations cannot break based on the adorable little names your adorable little grandchildren call you (...grinpappa calling grandmeow...please send secret formula to grampooza from you copy?)

  Obnoxious picture carrying and blog writing Grandma Cheryl 

Don't just laugh at me; laugh with me. Read Mom's Stuck on Spin Cycle

Friday, March 25, 2011

Words and Phrases

"What did you just say?"

My friend looked at me with a strange look on her face.

"Ish," I said.

She had never heard of the word "Ish." For clarification, it's from the same family as the words yucky and icky. Additionally, If you don't want to say ish, you can say "ishy." Used in a sentence, you might say:

"I'll meet you at the mall...say 5ish."


"Ish...I got mud on my shoes."

"Must be a Minnesota thing," my friend said. Turns out it is. This past Sunday during announcements at my church, I heard "ish" 3 times in one announcement.

So, this got me thinking...what phrases or words are particular to your Midwest state?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

For A Laugh: Mrs. Chillsome Chills Out

Thought I'd share a bit of short fiction with you. I wrote this for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge several years ago. Was loads of fun to write. Hope you enjoy it!


"Now I want you all to sit cross-legged on the floor."

"Umm... Mrs. Chillsome?"

Sarah Chillsome groaned almost silently (almost). "Yes, Amy?"

"It's Amanda Lynn, please."

"Okay, Amanda Lynn. And you can call me Sarah. What do you need?"

"I can't sit cross-legged."

"Excuse me?"

"I am physically unable to sit Indian style. My limbs don't bend that way."

Yoga Class Pictures, Images and PhotosSarah forced the corners of her mouth up. "Okay, then. Why don't you just sit in whatever position makes you most comfortable? Does that work?"

Amanda grinned, her eyes sparkling. "That sounds great. I'll just be sitting here with my knees bent in front of me. Would that be okay?"

"That's perfect." Sarah widened her gaze from Amanda Lynn to the other young adults in her class. "Now rest your hands on your lap."

"Mrs. Chillsome, I don't really have a lap right now."

Half the class snickered.

"Well, then, Amanda Lynn, you could always rest them around the front part of your legs. It should give the same effect."

"That's a great idea, Mrs. Chillsome. I'll just do that."

"Wonderful." She took a deep breath. "All right now, class, close your eyes."

Sarah paused, waiting for an objection. After several seconds, she continued.

"Now take a deep breath through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth."

"Mrs. Chillsome? I have decreased lung capacity."

"You have what?"

"Decreased lung capacity. If I take too deep a breath I could start hyperventilating."

"I see." Sarah spoke slowly and deliberately. "I would recommend, then, that you only take as deep a breath as you can, um, safely."

Amanda Lynn hit herself lightly on the side of her head. "Now why didn't I think of that? You sure are helpful, Mrs. Chillsome."

"Thank you. Now, shall we get back to our relaxation techniques?"

"Sure. Sounds good to me."

That was a rhetorical question, you dingbat!

"Great. Return to your position, Amanda Lynn, dear, and we can continue."

"Okay - all set."

"Wonderful. Now continue with your breathing, and picture a peaceful place in your mind. Imagine yourself at the beach, on your porch swing, in a meadow: anywhere that you can just let go of all your stresses and worries. Focus on that scene, and let all your troubles flow out of you as you breathe out."

"Mrs. Chillsome?"

Sarah gritted her teeth. "Yes, Amanda Lynn."

"The hole in my mouth is too small. All my troubles won't fit."

"Why don't you just let them out a couple at a time, dear? They'll all escape sooner or later."

"Well, they keep sneaking back in up my nose."

She stifled back a snicker. "How about if you open your mouth a bit wider? Maybe that way more will get out than come back in."

"Thanks, Mrs. Chillsome. I'll definitely give that a try."

A couple minutes later, Sarah glanced at her watch and sighed. "Okay, class. Slowly open your eyes. Unfortunately, class is over. Thank you so much for coming. I hope this was helpful for you."

Sarah stood at the doorway and shook hands with each student in turn, apologizing with her eyes. Amanda Lynn was the last to exit.

Joanne Sher An Open BookShe grabbed Sarah's hand eagerly. "Oh, Mrs. Chillsome, I just can't thank you enough. I feel so relaxed and calm now. That was such a wonderful class, I think I might just sign up for another!"

"Wonderful, Amanda Lynn," Sarah mumbled. "Just wonderful."

My Blog
The Barn Door
Jewels of Encouragement

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest CJ Darlington talks about Bound by Guilt

Today I welcome CJ Darlington, a fellow Christian Writer's Guild grad who made the big time! CJ's first novel, Thicker Than Blood, won the CWG First Novel contest in 2008, admittedly after trying a couple of years before that. (My first novel placed in the top ten of the first contest in 2004, but is still in a drawer. Maybe there's hope yet J)

CJ has the enviable business of dealing with antiquarian books, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website:  

1. Introduce us to the character who's most like you.
There's a little bit of me in all of my characters! My lead in Bound by Guilt, Roxi Gold, is someone I really felt for. I haven't experienced the hardships she has, but I could understand her pain. As I was writing the story I always connected the most with Roxi. The characters I WISH I was most like are Jan and Keith Mercer. They are Christians who are living out their faith. To be more like them is my goal in life.

2. Can you share with your readers one thing about the story or the characters they won't find in the book?
Here's a small little scene that was cut from the manuscript no one else has seen. It was originally the first introduction to my character Jan Mercer:

Even after a hard day of moving cattle to better grazing pasture, Jan Mercer still couldn’t sleep. She rolled onto her side and the clock’s glowing numbers mocked her exhausted limbs. 1:03. Four more hours and she’d have to be up and in the barn feeding the horses. Ranch chores waited for no one.

Jan slipped out from under the covers, careful not to disturb her softly snoring husband. She knew this was more than a simple case of insomnia. For the past several days she’d sensed something was about to happen in their lives, and today she’d spent her time on horseback praying for guidance. She felt an anticipation, but she wasn’t afraid. She’d endured enough trials in her fifty-two years to know the Lord would get her through anything. But Jan still wanted to be ready.

She shuffled down the hall toward the stairs, stopping outside Trae’s bedroom. She’d always think of it as her son’s room even though he’d died five years ago. She remembered many nights pausing outside his door just like this, whispering a prayer for her only child as he slept.

Jan rested her hand on the doorframe, bowing her head. What is it, Lord? What are you trying to tell me?No answer came, and her uneasiness deepened. She walked into the dark bedroom and turned on the lamp made of three small bats and a miniature mitt they’d bought for
Trae during his baseball phase.

Something was wrong. She could feel it.

Jan sat down at Trae’s old desk and held her head in her hands. “Help me to know,” she whispered. “Show me what to do.”

3. What's your favorite fan message from a reader you didn't know?I had a Mom tell me recently she'd given a copy of my first novel Thicker than Blood to her daughter to read. The teen read it at a time when she was struggling with her faith. Her Mom really believed the journey of my main character toward God was something that helped her daughter decide to be baptized and stay with her faith. Hearing something like that just about brought me to tears.

Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more:

My review of Bound by Guilt can be found at Living Our Faith Out Loud, as well as online retailers.


The 1st chapter of Bound by Guilt
Buy at Christianbook.comBuy at Amazon.comBuy at Barnes & Noble

Watch the trailer:


Monday, March 21, 2011

Trendy Transportation

I freely admit…I’m a suburbanite. I’m not a card-carrying member of the soccer mom association, but I do drive a mini-van. It hasn’t always been this way, though. I grew up in the hood in South Minneapolis. The city bus was my mode of transportation by necessity. It’s been a long time since I had to depend on public transit and I haven’t missed it one little bit.

However, when some out-of-town company visited this past week, I thought it would be an adventure to spend a day cruising around the metro area via light rail and bus. After all, it would be the environmentally respectful thing to do, leaving a small carbon footprint and all that.

All I can say is, wow. Lots of things have changed in the past 20 years, but there are still some timeless truths and general wisdom I’d like to share with you that might come in handy next time you venture onto public transportation.

First and foremost, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Invest in some. Gallon size, preferably.

Sometimes it’s better all the way around to not make eye contact. Trust me on this one.

A raging head cold with complete nasal blockage is actually a blessing in disguise when sitting next to someone who’s chosen not to bathe in the past 3 months.

Just say no to body piercings. And tattoos. Did I mention gauges should be avoided as well? Especially if you’re over 40.

Did I miss a memo or is leopard skin back in style? Whatever, it’s wrong. Step away from the faux dead animal fabric.

Trust your gut feeling, or if not that at least trust that when armed policemen enter your particular car, you might want to get off at the next exit.

If there’s an animal cookie on the floor, I don’t care how hungry you are. Don’t eat it. Don’t feed it to your kid, either.

And last but not least, while it might seem like multitasking prowess to chat on your cell phone while riding the bus and eating a salami sandwich all at the same time, fight the urge. I don’t need to hear about your boyfriend’s losing battle with toenail fungus and it’s kind of creepy to pick out bits of white bread and greasy meat from the back of my hair.

While public transportation has the potential to be highly entertaining, this is one reality show I think I’ll take a pass on. As for the whole carbon footprint thing…small feet are overrated. Somehow paying $75 to fill up my mini-van doesn’t seem nearly as expensive anymore.

Sifting Through Time

Spring fever...mania...whatever they call the cleaning ailment. I get it bad every year.

I'm tackling the front porch today. I'm finally tossing the model rocket stuff and debating on the old bird's nests. I open a tote and find the summer of long ago boyhood. My sons graduated high school in 2003 and 2004, one after the other, and never really came home again. In momspeak, that means I did it right—gave them what they needed to fly high and straight and true. They found good women to share their hopes and dreams with, and they have homes of their own, even if they're in flux. But they also left these bits of flotsam to anchor them back to me.

I toss aside the third-grade-size infielder's glove. We sat on benches in every community from here to there in summer softball leagues; a replacement net from the basketball hoop out back that never got a chance to get used; smile – hockey pucks for a little fun, although we never really got into skating much. I still have a pair of little boy skates hanging in the back closet. Ah…the mementos of old bank accounts and the gifts they gave the boys when we added to the account—lanyard keeper boxes. Shotgun shells…I almost add it to the pile of throw-away stuff, but I keep one. I picture myself telling my grandchild, and this? Why, your daddy used to collect shotgun shell casings. Among other things, like the bird nests. And dirt. Which I did throw out.

Here are some kneepads from rollerblading. Batting gloves of course. Too small, but I can't bear to toss 'em yet. A bean bag for—whatever. Wrist bands--like little boys don't really sweat but they gotta be cool. Rock hunting gear and magnifying bug boxes. A book on fossils. At the bottom roll some rubber balls and a deflated beach ball…along with some other stuff that I'm probably glad is too dried and crumbly to recognize.

The tables are reversed. I visit them now, eat their food, follow their schedule, do what they think is fun. Last weekend I visited an arboretum in winter, walked a maze in snow and played Wii. Whee! And had their homemade corn salsa. My summer children are grown up. And it is very good indeed.

Now it's just hubby and me. And we're all right.


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