Manicotti Kisses…

It always amazes me how, when, and where new story ideas come from. In the case of my soon-to-be released, Manicotti Kisses, the story inspiration just blows me away.

First, here’s the cover.

manicotti kisses cover small

Now, granted the cover is cute, but if you’re asking, “Does the title, the old-fashioned typewriter, and the script written on the typewriter paper have anything to do with the story, the answer is unequivocally, “YES!”

And, here’s the story OF the story.

This last weekend, Saturday, I wasn’t feeling well. My shoulder (from recent surgery) was hurting so badly that I couldn’t function. Consequently, I was lying in bed almost the entire day with my heating pad applied, while my precious husband was serving me hand-and-foot. He brought cold drinks in to me. He supplied pain medication, and of course, he hung over me, stroking my head, my afflicted arm, and telling me that he hated that I was hurting so much and wished that he could do something of value to help me.

And, help me, he did. Later in the day when he returned home from completing the week’s grocery-shopping, he came into the bedroom after putting the groceries away, to tell me he bought me something special to eat, whenever I got hungry. Since I was already hungry, I told him, I’d love it. It was in a styrofoam cup, filled with dry soup mix, and cram-packed with noodles. (I still don’t understand how the manufacturer gets that many noodles in the cup.) After heating water, pouring it in the mix and allowing it to sit for a few minutes, he brought it in to me. He had placed the cup of soup with its abundance of noodles on a large dinner plate as both a spill buffer, and to make it easier for me to place it on the bed, since my arm hurt too much to hold it.

Still in pain, but looking forward to the soup, I began digging into the styrofoam cup’s depths, and with my fork I pulled out a huge “glomp” of noodles, which I stuffed in my mouth. “Yummy” does not even begin to describe the taste. I’m convinced each “Mmmmm” was heard echoing throughout the house.

Unfortunately, the satisfying taste-evaluating sounds from my lips turned to one gigantic and heart-rending scream as I somehow managed to spill the entire rest of the contents over onto my pillow, sheets, blanket, feather-bed, and worst of all… my left shoulder.

Once the searing pain of heat left my shoulder (fortunately, NOT the one recovering from surgery), I jumped from the bed, and had no choice but to strip the bed down, including the mattress pad, only after I scraped a multitude of noodles from its surface.

As I was moaning and groaning at my fate of a burnt shoulder, wet bed linens and pillows, and not getting to finish the “feast,” a thought ignited my brain. PASTA!

“PASTA???” you ask, unsure what my rattled brain was thinking. Yes… PASTA! My favorite pasta in the whole world is manicotti. (Remember the name of the book cover above?!)

It was like a bolt of lightning. All somehow jumbled up in my head was a story plot that just exploded into clarity. And, it included: manicotti, an old antique typewriter, and a marriage proposal gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Now, I know this is probably an unfair place to conclude. But, I will say this. This story is a novelette. It is even shorter than a novella. The whole plot takes place in one “memorable” evening. There isn’t a huge amount of background nor plot setup. It’s just simple and straight forward. And, UNBELIEVABLE!

Just one more bit of information that affects the story.

My husband and I are members of a very, very large church, ministering to multi-thousands of congregants. Not important of itself. But, it’s important to make my point here.

I’ve been a Sunday school teacher in this church to high schoolers since 1985, as well as small Bible group leaders to the same age group. Since that time, there have been gazillions of weddings of those “kids,” almost all of which my husband and I have been invited to, and attended many of them. Consequently I am in a position to be able to tell proposal-, bridal shower-, and wedding horror stories that would shock all but the bravest readers.

I decided (in that moment of clarity I spoke of above) that I should incorporate bits and pieces of any and all proposal stories I’ve been a party to. (And, I’ll even throw in a bit of my own imagination.)

This will be completed quickly, and I hope my readers’ appetites have been whetted.

I think the release of this story will be soon enough that you can safely hold your breath until it happens.

Or… maybe not!


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Up Close and Personal…

This is such a fun week as an inspirational author herself, Elaine Stock, is hosting me on her “Everyone’s Story Blog.” This is MY week. She’s given me a whole week where readers can come “meet” me, say “hi” to me, and enter a Book Giveaway of my novel, Joyful, Joyful.

Everyones Story

Just as a teaser, I guess, I’ll share that you’ll find out in my interview things like how long I’ve been married, if I have any children, how a high school principal inspired me to start writing, what I did before pursuing authorship in inspirational fiction, what I do in my free time, and… if you make a comment, you’ll automatically be entered in a Book Giveaway of my novel, Joyful, Joyful (pictured above right). The winner will be announced Friday morning, March 2nd.

I feel a bit like a kid in a candy shop… excited, excited, EXCITED!

Come join in the fun, and maybe be a little surprised at aspects of who I am, and about my life!


Congrats, Natalya, and thank you for entering my Book Giveaway!

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Mourning the Loss…

About eight weeks ago, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and I had rotator cuff surgery. It was supposed to be a simple arthroscopic procedure. My orthopedic surgeon told me that I should zip back pretty quickly from it. In fact, he said that I probably wouldn’t even need any therapy… I could just do it at home.

As it turned out, when the surgeon completed the arthroscopic portion, he realized that I had a pretty severe bicep tendon tear as well, so he had to make an approximately 3″ incision and do a second procedure. I now bear two small arthroscopic scars and a 3″ scar, all on my right shoulder (yep… I’m right-handed). And, for almost eight weeks I’ve been in a stationary-position sling.

So much for writing. I tried doing a left-handed hunt-and-peck version a couple of times, but realized I was more frustrated than if I couldn’t write at all.

After two months of not being able to write, I decided this morning that sinceĀ  I’m part way through therapy and doing quite well, that I would return to writing the story that first captured my heart to write months ago.

From Grace Abounds Grace (small)It’s title… From Grace Abounds Grace. Here is the book cover. Isn’t it lovely?! I can’t begin to share with you how thrilled I am with my cover designer. Her design for this cover is soft and romantic, and truly captures the plot, as I see it in my head.

Before my surgery I had completed about 13,000 words, which I couldn’t wait to get back to today.

When I opened my flashdrive to the title, opening it with great anticipation, it was gone! Completely and totally gone! There was nothing but the title page, Acknowledgments page, and the verse I used to set up the story. Checking my backup flashddrive, the same missing manuscript stared back at me.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His Purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28. This is the verse I had felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to share with my readers.

I suppose my usual reaction would be to cry buckets full, give myself a sabbatical from writing for a couple of months to give myself some time to mourn and re-think the story, trying desperately to re-capture what had already been written.

And, while I do feel emotionally defunct right now, I think the Lord prepared me for this before this morning.

I just completed reading a book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. It is about a Muslim man who battles for years, trying to ignore, then disprove who Jesus is, only to come face-to-face with him years later, finally making Jesus Christ his Savior and Lord.

What made it even more poignant (as if I hadn’t spilled enough tears while reading), was that in reality, this now-Christian man, having graduated from medical school, but opting instead to enter full-time evangelism, died four months ago of stomach cancer… at 34 years of age.

Talk about a wake up call. I am having to put things back into their proper perspective right now. How blessed am I that the Lord has given me all the years I’ve had, graciously lavished His Salvation upon me, and still lets me write, which I love so dearly!

So… how will I handle my “lost” partial manuscript? I will probably continue to mourn, at random times, wondering WHY? But, I will start all over and in so doing, allow the Lord to do whatever He wants to with the re-telling.

If I truly believe Romans 8:28, what else can I do but trust Him?!


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Who Could Have Ever Thought…?!

Well, who would have ever thought what has happened would happen?!

As my readers know, I took on a bet-you-can’t-do-this challenge. The challenge was to write a Christmas novella, release during THIS Christmas season, and write two more Christmas novellas on my own schedule (after Christmas). My book cover designer was to use her own imagination. I had no say over her designs. Between the covers and their titles, I have two of them solidified in my brain, as far as their plots.

The challenge included that since three novellas were to be written, ALL three book covers must be submitted at the same time as the first completed novella is released. That release is scheduled for December 9th.

3 book covers

I have been working diligently for weeks now, and am about 5- to 8,000 words from completing the first one. I’ve scheduled writing time, editing, and formatting time so that the first novella, Christmas Scavenger Hunt, would release EXACTLY that day.

Well, while I was making my big plans, the Lord had something entirely different in mind. I admit, I don’t understand, but I also know that the Lord tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He’ll direct your path.”

After almost five years of shoulder pain (right shoulder, and yes… I’m right-handed), I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I went to my orthopedist. Bottom line??? As of Monday, this will be me:

rotator cuff surgery

I’ll be having rotator cuff tear repair surgery, and will be in a sling until Christmas.

The question now is: How do I finish my novella, and prepare our Christmas celebration, complete with house-decorating, tree-decorating, baking of Christmas goodies?

I have no idea!

What I do know is that I need to make wise decisions on how to prepare for Monday and after. And, even more importantly, I need to thank the Lord that this problem can be repaired, that I have a tremendous support team, and that whether or not I’m able to complete my novella, decorate the house, bake goodies, shop and wrap gifts, Jesus’ Birthday Party will still happen in my heart and the hearts of those of us around the world who love our Savior.

So, since this may be the last time I can sit at the computer and type anything, I still say from the bottom of my heart,

“Happy Birthday, Jesus! And, bless Your Holy Name!”

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Just So Excited!!!

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly monumental to share, but just have to say something that is bouncing around with excitement in my heart.

I’m working ever so diligently to release my new novella, Christmas Scavenger Hunt, on December 8th.

I’ll leave you with:

1) Something visual to think about:


And an important and burning question…

2) Can items 19 and 20 on a scavenger hunt list bring about true romance?


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Did I Really Just Do This??? ~ The Cover

In my last post, I shared how I had accepted a bet-you-can’t-do-this challenge. It consists of writing a Christmas romance novella, with the already decided upon title of: CHRISTMAS SCAVENGER HUNT. I am to have no say in the title or the cover design of the book. But, based on those two elements, I am to write this novella, with a release date during THIS Christmas season… YES, THIS Christmas season! (As in… what?… maybe five weeks???!!!)

I would ask the question again, “Have I lost my mind???!!!” but I think that has already been established.

Yesterday evening I received the cover from my extraordinary designer. I think she plucked the cover design right from the portion of my brain, labelled: WONDROUS FANTASIES!

Here it is. Isn’t it just the most adorable cover EVER?! Look, look, did you see? Even her HAIR is RED, keeping in the Christmas color scheme!

Christmas Scavenger Hunt (cover small)

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep most of the night. I was too busy plotting the storyline, which I’ve almost got completed in my thinking.

Could it be that I’m actually going to have a blast writing this??? I think, YES!

The only thing I could use help on are the items for the scavenger hunt. I already know the two items that forge this story, but since I’ve never been on a hunt, I have no idea what normal items would be. Maybe something like a gum wrapper from a stick of gum, a penny with the date after 1995, or?… Ok, I’m out. I think the most help anyone could give would be to give me examples of items that could be used in a scavenger hunt list.

Beyond my need for assistance for scavenger hunt list items, I think I’m ready to go!


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Did I Really Just Do This???…

surprisedAs of last week I accepted a writing challenge, and I don’t know whether to be scared, excited, or both!

The challenge is as follows…

I must write a Christmas romance novella that can be released for THIS Christmas season, is also part of a series that I must write, and so much of it is totally out of my control.

I know the title is going to be: Christmas Scavenger Hunt. Written by me, of course. And, I have no control over the title (which has already been decided upon) or the ebook cover. I have to write the story based on the given title and what the ebook cover looks like.

I notified the cover designer today. She knows that she can do whatever she wants, as long as she includes the given title, author’s name, and a small inclusion of me as author of a specific series. I couldn’t even give her a two-line story byline to put on it, because I am supposed to write it based on the title and the cover’s appearance and content.

Yikes! Is it even possible??? Can I come up with a plot that quickly, then develop and release it before Christmas???

I guess we’re going to find out pretty soon.

As soon as the designer gets the ebook cover to me, I’m going to write like crazy, I guess. This means that I am going to have to put on hold the novel I am working on right now: From Grace Abounds Grace.

Stand by… I will show you the cover reveal as soon as the designer gets it to me!


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Reading is Where I Live…

I was asked just recently what my summer reading plans were… what book(s) I planned to consume during these hot days and nights. And, all I could do was shake my head and laugh. Were they seriously asking me for a title or titles???!!! And, frankly, I had no answer at all. Realizing how rude it would be not to respond, I decided to explain my situation.

This is where I live:


My whole being is about reading and books! I devour them ravenously and never fill up. Even in the middle of the night, if I awaken (regardless of the time), I read, finish a book, then go searching on my e-reader for another one. It never stops. And, I would be devastated if it did. In fact, at last count (after purging about 100 e-books) I currently have 515 e-books in my e-reader library (maybe 300 I’ve already read, but can’t handle the idea of deleting them).

I can’t have enough books available for perusing.

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)

Novel I Am Currently Writing!

Even when doing some re-decorating this last winter, I went to a web site that sells books by color and the yard. I invested in 1 yard of green books, which cost in the three figures. (Actually, it was a Christmas gift from my daughter and son-in-law… one I begged for.) I have them within bookends, stacked with something pretty on top, and in my entry I have several volumes on the floor under the entry table (as decoration). Although they were only purchased because of their color, I am now going through them to see which ones I will read in the future.

Is it any wonder that I write??!! I mean, it’s not like there aren’t millions and millions of books out there already. I need to give the world MORE choices to read. And I do it with joy.

But, the real joy for me in reading is knowing that I am still in process of becoming the person I am because of what I choose to consume on the written page. I’ve heard the saying: You are what you eat. And, while I understand the meaning behind it, for me, at least, I believe that I am what I read. I am voraciously hungry for material that will satisfy my heart and soul. I want to fill up on those things that will make me better. And, most importantly, I want Jesus to sit right down beside me and read right along with me, enjoying the experience as much as I do. (Did I mention that He is also an author, and a superb story-teller?!) Boy, can He tell a story!

As long as the Lord allows me to keep both my eyesight and my mental capabilities, I read and read and read! So, what I guess I really want to say is…

“Vive la lecture!”


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The Words of My Mouth (and Computer)…

wordsAs author of inspirational fiction, specifically romance, I have tried with each novel to keep the plot, the themes, the imagery, and the dialogue acceptable to my readers. I truly have a heart to give my readers stories that, although tackling worldly problems, would leave them feeling inspired and enriched. “Better as a person after reading my stories than they were before reading them,” if you will.

And, in that vein, I have tried to keep God’s Word primary in my heart when I’m writing. Anyone who has knowledge of the Bible, probably knows the verse, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” With my whole heart, I want my novels to be a reflection of my obedience to this Old Testament prayer.

But, I think for the first time EVER, I was overwhelmed yesterday and today with how much input the Old Testament gives to this very topic… the words of my mouth (or in this case, the words of my keyboard).

As I sat yesterday in the worship service in my beloved church, one of our pastors was teaching us on the “WISDOM ON WORDS.”

Using Proverbs as his Scripture draw, he revealed to us that there are 150 verses in Proverbs (chapters 10 -30) that have to do with the words of our mouth (which reflect our hearts).

Not being one to spend my life observing RULES, I was completely melted in my spirit with the counsel in these chapters. It didn’t rant… it spoke truth about what a blessing kind, loving, truthful and encouraging words are, as opposed to the lips of lying, harshness, back-biting, and gossip. Even still I am going through all the verses, which I downloaded from my church website.

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)I am humbled by God’s Gracious counsel, which speaks directly to me. I want the words of both my mouth, AND the words of my novels to reflect Christ. Rather than turned off, my hope is that my readers will, in each and every novel, see Christ’s Unconditional Love come through. Even this one, which I am currently working on.

I even want to go a step further. I would ask humbly, that any brothers and sisters in Christ who read this blog post, will at least this once lift me up, asking the Lord to help me tell my stories with HIM in mind. And, that the words of my keyboard will reflect an author who stands amazed at God’s Grace in her life, and that He has done, and will continue to do a mighty work in her… in this case specifically… her WORDS!

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My Name is Sheila and I’m a Procrastinator…

procrastination2There’s no point even trying to deny it, I’ll just come out and admit that I am a procrastinator… BIG TIME!!!

I was supposed to have finished my current writing endeavor, From Grace Abounds Grace. Not only should I have already completed and released it, but it should have been done months ago. (If I’m not mistaken, it was originally scheduled to be released Winter, 2016… December.)

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)Would someone please tell me what’s wrong with me!!! I have come up with a gazillion different reasons (on a daily basis) why I couldn’t sit down and write. Some days I’d say to myself that if I only committed myself to 300-500 words, I might actually just sit here and continue for hours and hours.

Nope! Doesn’t work!

Here are some of the things I’ve done instead…

Painting furniture, shopping online for house accessories, going clothes-shopping for some summer items, writing long notes to friends and family, doubling up on my workouts daily, sitting for hours online looking for wonderful new recipes to try, and reading voluminous amounts in novels I’ve downloaded.

Now come on… you’ll admit with me, no doubt, that all those things are fine. All of them benign in and of themselves. What makes them “procrastination” is that it seems the overwhelming majority of these activities begins within moments after I sit down to continue writing on my novel.

My pattern is to take one long searching look on the page I left off last time I wrote, sit staring out the window at my beautiful two acres of tall trees, contemplating where I want to head off into my story, then re-direct my thinking to some of the things “I really should be doing instead” (yeah, right), and the next thing I know, I’m completely disconnected from the story line.

I don’t get it! I just don’t get it! Is it an ADD (attention deficit) thing? Is it an age thing? Am I not as enchanted with the story line as I first thought? I just can’t seem to get this novel done. Funny thing is that I looove this story, as I see it in my head. And, I even know where it needs to go, but…

Well, it’s the weekend now. So, I’ll start back in first thing Monday morning. (Is my nose growing?!)

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