Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Busy Mom's Year in Review



We are heading into a new year tonight and that's the perfect time to consider the year we are leaving behind.

As far as business goes, it's been great:


I sold a little over $2.9 million in real estate in 2016. That's a 66% increase over last year. Honestly, I don't track my numbers religiously. It's the people I meet and help that motivate me to do more. My manager is the one who brought it to my attention as he was pulling year end reports. Not sure what 2017 will look like yet, but I've been refining my systems and setting up geographic farming to increase my productivity and numbers. My business plan is in order and I'll have my first business planning meeting of the new year coming up soon. 

In other exciting news, my third children's book was released. 


Though writing has taken a back seat to real estate, I'm still active in a local writing group, sit on the planning conference for the Write Angles Conference, and blog at a variety of sites. 

Thanks to the 21 Day Fix and my Beachbody® coach, I lost 14 pounds this year and got to my goal weight of 110. This has been a year of eating better, exercising more, and changing how I shop at the grocery store. 


At The Busy Mom's Daily we shared a handful of book reviews, some recipes, and a few tips along the way. We posted 29 Mailbox Monday posts and 5 Wordless Wednesday posts. The electronic newspaper, "A Busy Writer Mom's Daily," continues. I've made a few changes to content sources, so it might look different. 

As far as the family goes, the Lil' Diva is now 15 and the Lil' Princess is 13. How did I end up with two teenagers? They dance. They sing. The youngest plays soccer and violin. And though you can't tell from this photo, they are both beautiful. 



Then there is Dad--the guy who keeps us all together. He's the voice of reason amid the chaos. He's the dedicated family man who wakes up five days a week to put in 12 hours of work so that we can do what we like to do, support the charities we like to lend a hand to, and make sure we are well taken care of. 



We can't forget our furry beasts that give us so much joy and more than a few laughs.



A little elf told us that we will be adding a dog to the mix soon. 

As we head into the new year, it is my sincere prayer that it will be a year filled with blessings, health, and much happiness for all of you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

7 Things to Know about Christianity By Cheryl C. Malandrinos, Author of Little Shepherd




This is a guest post I wrote in 2013 while promoting my children's picture book, Little Shepherd. The blogger, Rebecca of Paperback Writer, asked me to share "7 Things to Know about Christianity." A tough task, despite being a Christian my entire life. Since God’s Word says it best, I offer you some of my favorite Bible verses.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

By itself, this is an inspiring verse for me. I’m not a perfect person. Despite my years of faith and desire to follow God’s plan, I fail. I’ve used this verse with some of our youngest Sunday school students to assure them everyone sins.

This is Paul’s response to the Jews who felt they had an advantage because they were God’s chosen people. In this chapter, Paul explains everyone needs to be saved through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t play favorites. None of us deserves the salvation God gives us. We have no right to brag about ourselves because nothing we do makes us worthy; a person is only made right with God through faith.

*

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are several verses that discuss God’s love for us, but I feel this one is special because it points out that God sent His Son to die for us though we remain sinners. God doesn’t put conditions on His love; and what’s more, Christ willingly offered up His life for us.

*

Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

This is Jesus’ response when a scribe asked Him what the first commandment of all was. Seeking to discredit His ministry, the religious leaders of the time posed questions meant to find fault with Jesus. On this topic, there was enough contention among them already. Some felt the positive commandments held more importance, while others believed God looked more kindly on those keeping the negative prohibitions.[1] Neither held true. With these words Jesus focused on our true purpose as God’s people. We miss something very important if we don’t open ourselves up to a personal relationship with God. Only by loving God with everything we are, with every portion of our being, can we become all we are meant to be.

*

Psalm 84:10 “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

For whatever reason, David could not be at the temple in Jerusalem, and he longed to be in the place that symbolized God’s presence with His people. The last line of the second verse actually says, “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” Can you imagine how much David must have longed to be in God’s presence and with His people to say his such a thing? Can you picture what that type of longing must look like?

In verse 10, David is saying he would rather be a lowly doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell with wicked people. Is that our mindset now? Do we look to the world to provide for us or do we look to God? Do we have hearts that long for God?

*

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

In an anxious world filled with dangers, trials, and tribulations, we have received the special gift of peace; a sure peace that we are no longer of this world, but that we belong to Christ. A peace in knowing our sins are forgiven. A peace that comes through Christ’s death and Resurrection. A peace that comes from knowing we will share eternity with God. A peace we can only know when we enter into a relationship with God and cast our burdens onto the Lord.

Jesus knew His time with the disciples grew short. He knew they would be facing the loss of their teacher and their friend. He knew they would meet opposition, just like He did. But the peace of God would help them, just as that same peace helps us cope with the hardships we face in life.

*

Matthew 28:6 “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…”

Imagine being Mary Magdalene on that third day. She and the other Mary are walking down to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been hastily buried. Suddenly the earth is shaking; an angel of the Lord rolls away the stone and sits on it, scaring the guards to death. And then the angel tells you not to be afraid. Yeah right. But then the angel tells these women what they hoped to hear, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…”

This is as much a message of hope for us today as it was that morning. God promised He would send a Savior, and He did. Jesus promised He would rise again, and He did. God is faithful forever. We can put our trust in Him.

*

Mark 16:15 “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

This is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” It is the last direct instruction Jesus gave to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. The Gospel of Matthew words it this way, “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

This is the basis for evangelism and missionary work. Christians are charged, by Christ, to “make disciples of all the nations” and to be witnesses for Him to the end of the earth. This gives us the opportunity to put our faith into action. Not only that, it allows us to share the message of hope, love, and faith we know when we engage in an intimate relationship with God. Just look at the news these days. All the suffering. All the pain. This message can make a difference in people’s lives. We must share it.

______________________________________________
1. Keathley, III, J.H., (2004, June 9). “The Paramount Issues of Life (Mark 12:28-31).” Bible.org. Retrieved October 25, 2013 from https://bible.org/



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com/ and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/
Social Media Links:
Website Address: http://ccmalandrinos.com/


Twitter Address: @ccmalandrinos



Monday, December 26, 2016

From My Wish List: The Mistletoe Collection by Richard Paul Evans

I bet many of you received some book gifts this Christmas. My son was kind enough to bless me with The Mistletoe Collection by Richard Paul Evans, which includes all three books in his Mistletoe series.


Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.



At thirty-two Kimberly Rossetti, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Deep inside Kimberly knows she's at a junction in her life and it's time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.

In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he's really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he's unwilling to talk about.

The theme of The Mistletoe Inn is that like literature, relationships must be lived with passion and vulnerability to succeed.


Dear Universe,
Is anyone out there?

Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. She goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while inside she longs to know how it would feel if one person cared about her.

Alex Bartlett cares. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nursing his own broken heart and trust issues, he finds himself falling for this sensitive, vulnerable woman whose feelings mirror his own. Following a trail of clues LBH has inadvertently revealed, he discovers that she lives in the small town of Midway, Utah. He makes his way there just after Thanksgiving, determined to find LBH. Maybe she’s a Lisa, Lori, or a Luanne. Instead, he finds a woman named Aria, a waitress at the Mistletoe Diner, who encourages Alex in his search while serving his pie along with some much-needed sympathy and companionship.

Alex finally finds his LBH, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. How can he tell her that he knows her secret? What’s holding him back? Could it be his feelings for Aria?


Feel free to share any books you received this holiday. 

Mailbox Monday - Dec 26


Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Welcome to the final Mailbox Monday of 2016. I hope you had a nice Christmas. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa have started too. I love this time of year.

The family spoiled me with some great book gifts this year.




Charlotte Stewart is known by millions of fans worldwide for her role as the beloved schoolteacher, Miss Beadle, on the iconic TV show, Little House on the Prairie, currently broadcast in syndication in more than 100 countries around the world.

Here for the first time an adult cast member writes about the experience of making the show --the challenges, the joys, and the sometimes-turbulent behind-the-scenes relationships. Charlotte, with Andy Demsky, reveals fifty years in film and television offering a backstage pass to Hollywood's cocaine-fueled 1960s, '70s and '80s, including Charlotte's celebrated work as Mary X in David Lynch's cult classic film, Eraserhead, as well as her later work as Betty Briggs in the highly-rated television series, Twin Peaks.

Charlotte recounts stories of working with leading men from Jimmy Stewart and Elvis Presley to Kevin Bacon and Kyle MacLachlan. She details off-stage friendships with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, as well as relationships and flings with some of TV, film, and music's biggest names, including Jon Voight, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Considine, Bill Murray, Jim Morrison, and more.

Ultimately, Charlotte's story is that of a survivor. Six years after her career-making role on Little House on the Prairie, she lost everything. Yet through the darkest periods of her life -- divorce, drug-use, cancer, financial ruin, the death of a spouse, and alcoholism -- she never lost her humanity or sense of humor.

Charlotte's story is far from over. She is set to reprise her role of Betty Briggs in the new Twin Peaks series to be seen on Showtime in 2017. Throughout the year, she is a featured celebrity in fan events and festivals for Little House on the Prairie and Twin Peaks both in the U.S. and abroad.

Co-author Andy Demsky is a writer and journalist, whose work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times magazine and Better Homes & Gardens, and he co-wrote Doug Shafer's critically acclaimed memoir, A Vineyard in Napa.

I also received "The Mistletoe Collection." This is a boxed set of Richard Paul Evans' Mistletoe books.


Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.


At thirty-two Kimberly Rossetti, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Deep inside Kimberly knows she's at a junction in her life and it's time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.

In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he's really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he's unwilling to talk about.

The theme of The Mistletoe Inn is that like literature, relationships must be lived with passion and vulnerability to succeed.


Dear Universe,
Is anyone out there?

Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. She goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while inside she longs to know how it would feel if one person cared about her.

Alex Bartlett cares. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nursing his own broken heart and trust issues, he finds himself falling for this sensitive, vulnerable woman whose feelings mirror his own. Following a trail of clues LBH has inadvertently revealed, he discovers that she lives in the small town of Midway, Utah. He makes his way there just after Thanksgiving, determined to find LBH. Maybe she’s a Lisa, Lori, or a Luanne. Instead, he finds a woman named Aria, a waitress at the Mistletoe Diner, who encourages Alex in his search while serving his pie along with some much-needed sympathy and companionship.

Alex finally finds his LBH, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. How can he tell her that he knows her secret? What’s holding him back? Could it be his feelings for Aria?

I also received two coloring books for Christmas. I don't have a picture of the one I picked up at the office Yankee swap, but the one my hubby gave me is something I requested.


Immerse yourself in a world of coloring classics!

Go back in time to Victorian London on Christmas Eve, where you'll encounter the formidable Ebenezer Scrooge and witness his incredible transformation after a harrowing spiritual journey with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Filled with handpicked quotations, festive patters, and traditional scenes, this beautifully detailed book perfectly captures the history and holiday atmosphere of Charles Dickens' classic tale A Christmas Carol.

That's it for now, I hope you have a happy and healthy new year. Let us know if you received any books for Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Grown-Up Christmas List

This is one of my favorite seasonal songs. I hope all you buys moms will take a minute to rest and enjoy the peace of the Christmas season. Thank you for your loyal readership. Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Clearance at Christianbook.com


The Baxters always spend Christmas together. Each family member struggles with their father’s decision to invite the new owner of their sister’s heart to such a joyous occasion. They may miss out if they choose not to go. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy when it’s yourself you must forgive.


These brief but power-packed devotions will bless your soul as you delight in the everyday gifts God provides. Open your heart and discover the extraordinary provision that comes in your daily walk with the Master Creator. This volume includes a presentation for gift-giving and a removable bookmark.


If your holiday wish list includes a menagerie of furry gifts that purr, wag their tails, and canter around the yard, then this is the anthology for you. Best of all, it's hypoallergenic and you won't have to feed it! Includes three heartwarming titles: The Christmas Cat, The Christmas Dog, and The Christmas Pony.

For these and more please visit www.christianbook.com

Christmas Quotes



***


***



***



***


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Family Christmas Book: A Tree's Christmas by James Andrew Bowen


What if your Christmas tree could talk? What would it say? Did Anne dream this story of the talking Christmas tree, or could it be real? You must decide for yourself. The story starts when a love-filled family's Christmas in the country is over. The Christmas tree's decorations are gently removed. Anne, her dad and their dog, Lucky, take the tree outside and lay it down in the snow-covered garden. That night, to the amazement, surprise and delight of the trees around the garden, the Christmas tree begins telling the exciting story of its wonder-filled adventures inside the family s home during the Christmas season. All night, the trees listen as the Christmas tree tells its stories, and then ... A Tree's Christmas will inspire children of all ages to appreciate anew the wonders of a family Christmas, and how the tree, at the center of it all, can play an even more meaningful role in the celebration than anyone can imagine. And, as the Christmas tree tells of its adventures, readers will come to understand the importance of leading a rich, full life that makes a difference no matter what others say. It s a story that can be told over and over every Christmas, for generations to come, and still have genuine meaning for all who read it.

PRAISE FOR A TREE'S CHRISTMAS

"This could be a new Christmas classic!” -- Chicago Daily Herald

“A Tree's Christmas: A Talking Tree's Story of its Christmas Adventures, is an inspirational children's chapter book with heartwarming appeal for all ages. The Christmas tree itself is the gentle story's star, and even though other bigger trees in the forest have ridiculed or belittled the tree, it is true to its own story and attests to the virtue of perseverance and fidelity in the face of hardship. A Tree's Christmas deals with many relevant themes; the circle of life and death, family love and support, and enduring hard times to remember joy in the end. A Tree's Christmas will be a treasured gift to share with a loved one, child or adult. Its lessons of a brief life fully lived in gratitude for the wonder of creation are to be respectfully passed on to new generations.”
--James A. Cox, Editor in Chief, Children’s Bookwatch in The Midwest Book Review

“It’s a sweet children’s Christmas story that I’m sure young children will like,” commented reviewer Dr. Judith Briles, author of more than 20 books and board member of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. “Adults will understand and love the circle of life theme. And, of course, the author reminds us there’s a lot more to a tree than its branches and leaves! The surprise ending will touch everyone’s hearts.”

For more information, visit http://www.atreeschristmas.com/

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Spotlight: Sabbatical of the Mind by David L. Winters



While racing around the Washington Beltway on his way to a successful career, the author seemed to misplace his personal peace, purpose for living and a dream or two. Panic attacks and several humorous events led him to the conclusion that he needed to stop the World and get off for a time. David Winters' Sabbatical of the Mind chronicles his adventures in temporary unemployment, searching for answers to life's big questions and eventually, a successful re-entry into work and life. Come along for the ride and you just might find some answers to your own big questions as well.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing (October 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0997774703
ISBN-13: 978-0997774702

Purchase here!