a weekend of fast food, friends, and maybe the coolest spy gadget ever.

Hi friends!

So, I've started a new health plan (I don't like the word "diet") for myself, which includes limiting my caloric intake, drinking only one non-water drink per day, and no fast food.

Well, I shot that health plan all to hell on Saturday.

First, I met up with my friend, Mary Beth (who is graduating this weekend and will, no doubt, go on to become a fabulous interpreter), at a volunteer car wash, where I promptly went to Starbucks and had myself a strawberries and creme frappucino (tall, non-fat milk!) to cool down from the 90 degree heat index here in the ATL. I was going to go straight home, but MB had free happy meal coupons and, hey, who can pass up a free happy meal? I mean, come on.

So we ate at McDonald's and I played with my awesome spy watch at the table (it shot little Pog-like discs out with the touch of a button) like I was five years old.

And then, later, Pierce and I went to the Braves game with Jillian, her boyfriend, John, and his brother, James. We decided to meet up with them at the game, and we stopped at The Varsity on the way to grab some amazingly awesome fast food. A word: The Varsity is a practically a historic place in Atlanta and, if you visit, you have no choice but to eat here at least once. I implore you. No, I demand it. It's not just food. It's an experience.

Okay, so anyway, as we were scarfing down our french fries and hot dogs in the car, I said to Pierce (who was driving), "Don't spill that on yourself, babe."

And what does he do?

He spills chili, cheese, and onions all over his lap. Some on his shirt, too.

I felt so bad. He was looking all handsome and was freshly showered, and there is nothing worse than getting ready to go out with friends and ruining your outfit right before you get there. At least, that's how girls feel anyway.

Regardless of our little mishap, I was so happy to have another day to spend with Jillian (two in one month!) since she lives so far away. We had a blast together with the boys, and hanging out with her totally makes up for the fact that the Braves lost.

And for the fact that I blew my calorie count for, oh, I don't know, the whole weekend.

Happy Meals have a new miniature fry container. Which holds about 3 fries.

Oh, and maybe I had a funnel cake at the game, too. I blame my husband.

Guest Post: Terri Giuliano Long

Hi friends!

Today, I'm so excited to introduce author Terri Giuliano Long as my guest host! She is here to talk with us about the inspiration behind her latest novel In Leah's Wake and the impact she hopes it will make on her beloved readers. It's a story of family, love, and the lengths to which we will go to protect our loved ones, even when it seems impossible.

Sound like something you might be interested in? Then read on!

Parenting is the toughest job in the world, bar none. Unfortunately, children don’t come with a list of instructions. We do the best we can. Really, that’s all we can do. My husband, Dave, and I have four adult daughters. When I wrote In Leah’s Wake, they were teenagers. I worried constantly. Like Zoe, the mom in my novel, I used to think, if only I knew everything would turn out well; I wouldn’t worry so much. Of course we can’t see into the future, so I was constantly on edge.

The teen years are a vulnerable time; nice kids from the best families sometimes get involved with the wrong crowd, stumble and fall. I had a friend, a wonderful woman, whose youngest child was a heroin addict, constantly in and out of jail. Her husband would leave cash in the family car, knowing their son would come by at night to “steal” it. Theirs was among the most grounded, well-regarded families in town. Their three older children were lovely, and they grew up to be successful adults.

We want badly to protect our children, hold them tightly, keep them close, guard them. At the same time, if we want them to become creative, independent adults – this is, after all, our job – we have no choice but to let go. Defining that line, figuring out when to hold on, how tightly, and when to open our arms and set them free is, to my mind, among the most difficult challenges parents face.
These questions, the ways in which my philosophy and parenting style were accepted or challenged by others, along with my fears, my anxiety, the pressure I felt to raise perfect children, drove this story. 

Writing Addiction
Years ago, working as a feature writer for a local paper, I wrote a series about families whose teenage children abused alcohol or drugs. I would go to the homes and interview the moms. Their stories were heartbreaking. They shared their stories in the hope of saving other families the anguish they were experiencing. Those stories stayed with me. 

That no one in my family suffers from addiction is really not an issue. I talked with people who did. I also read articles and researched the various drugs on the Internet. If I had questions about the teen point of view or I wasn't sure how a teenager would act in or react to a particular circumstance, I would ask my daughters or their friends to share their thoughts and insights.

As a mom of teens, I was acutely aware of the issues and problems involving teenagers. In one scene, Jerry Johnson, the police officer, thinks about an accident in which a car carrying teenage boys hits a tree, bursts into flames, and he is unable to save them. Sadly, this really happened. I heard the story and couldn't get it out of my head. Numerous therapists have emailed, telling me the psychology is right on. This means a lot to me, and it's something I've very proud to have accomplished.

Learning from the Story
Again, as I hope I show in this novel, it is not only bad kids from dysfunctional families who get in trouble. This belief, however, allows us to distance ourselves – this could never happen tous – and encourages us to cast judgment and aspersions on families facing problems. This judgment, the ostracism that often occurs as problems escalate, only adds to the difficulties troubled families already face. Rather than cast them out of the community, we should support and encourage them.
The Tyler family is far from perfect, but they love one another. Had the community rallied around and supported them, Leah might have not have gone down such a terrible path. At heart, most teens just want to feel accepted and loved – not for what they accomplish or contribute, but for who they are. When problems arise, teens go astray, the fallout affects the entire community. I think we owe it to our teens, to our communities, and to ourselves to work harder to support and encourage all kids, not just those who conform.  Hillary Clinton famously said that it takes a village to raise a child. I believe we must all do our part, be supportive members of the village. The writing reinforced this for me.

Thank you, Terri, for visiting! If you'd like to know more about this fantastic author, please visit her website or blog, or stop by to say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

More on Terri: 
Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, theBoston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novel.

blog tour dates announced!

Well, it's that time again...time to get ready for summer blog tours!

I just want to announce a few of the dates that are up and coming, and let you know more about the books I'll be reviewing and the authors who will be visiting.

First up (tomorrow actually!) is Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake, which was the 2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick and the recipient of the CTRR Award for Excellence. 

Terri will guest posting here tomorrow- April 28th- to share her thoughts about motherhood and how that played such a pivotal role in her novel.

Next up, we've got an excerpt from Marie Astor's novel Lucky Charm. Be sure to stop by here on May 12th to read a sneak preview!

And, finally, I'll be reviewing Paula Tiberius' The Cowboy Singer in July. Dates are still pending, but I'll be back with updates as soon as I have them!

Hope everyone has a happy Friday!

wendi and kendi

Hi friends!

So I was perusing (I love that word!) Kendi Everyday last night for outfit inspiration, which I can admit I do on more occasions than not, and found this little gem.

Thanks to Chelsea for yet another work photo session; however, this picture would have been more complete if y'all were able to see my boots because (get excited!) they're exactly like Kendi's. See here and here for proof.

P.S. My dress is on backwards. On purpose. I don't like the deep V-neck on the front, so I cut off the tag and turned it around. 

Who's inventive?

*raises hand*

a letter to lucy

Dear sweet Lucy,

I don’t know if you remember me, but I sure hope so. Because I remember you.

I visited your village for five days last year, in October, with my team from the United States. Every single day, I would look down and see your smiling face, looking up expectantly at mine, and it made me so happy! You were shy, but resolute, and I know that God is shaping those strengths in you to grow His kingdom here on earth. I’m so thankful that you’re a part of this faith journey, this love story with Jesus, and even if I don’t see you again in this lifetime, I will see you in heaven.

Sweet Lucy, how can I tell you what you’ve done for me? How can I express the tugging on my heart when I think about holding your hand and hearing you whisper your name to me for the very first time?

“Lucy,” you said, ever so quietly.

I re-live that moment day after day, rejoicing at the beauty of our Lord’s faithfulness to what He has placed in our hearts. I love Lucy. I love the name. I love the woman who made it famous. And He knew this. He made me this way. So He brought me to you. Or, rather, He brought you to me. After all, if it weren’t for your curiosity, I don’t know that we would have ever met. But, perhaps Lucy you, too, felt a tugging. You heard the Spirit and He said, “I have a special woman for you to meet. Go and find her. Seek her out in that crowd of pale faces who have come to visit. And remind her of who I am.”

I love you, Lucy, for that reminder. And for loving me without question. I hope I can be more like you someday.

Here are my hugs and my kisses and my prayers. Go play. And remember me. Remember that I love you.


a writer's dream

This afternoon has been filled with edits, crossed-out phrases, tweaks, and even a few mini-breakdowns. And it's been so much fun!

We're working on a partnership documentary for one of our clients, and it's coming along rather fantastically. I'm so grateful for our team (and for the days when we can FINALLY all come together to work on a project). 

I can't help but feel, deep inside, that the finished product is going to perform better than anything we've done before. 

And that* makes this a very good day.

*(so does my impromptu photo session outside the office with Chelsea)

11 things

I found this on About Him + Her, a very cute blog (though not quite as cute as The Rockstar Diaries!), and I thought it looked like a good time.

[Here are the rules: 1. Post 11 random things about yourself and a photo of yourself 2. Answer the 11 questions posted. 3. Make up 11 of your own questions and tag other bloggers]

Here goes:

Proof of #9 below

11 Things:

1. I auditioned for an Oscar Meyer commercial when I was eleven. I sang the song and signed it in ASL (my mom is an interpreter). I didn't get the part (otherwise, I would proudly post a YouTube video of my eleven-year old self here), but it sure was fun!
2. My husband's middle name is Ray. My middle name is Kay. His dad's middle name is Ray. And his mother's middle name is Kay. Pierce's parents have been married for 40 years. I think this is a good omen.
3. I got baptized at the age of seven. I made the decision on my own because I chose to accept Jesus as my Savior. I think it's the only reason a person should be baptized. Otherwise, what is the public profession for?
4. I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue.
5. I'm afraid my babies will get all of our weird features and not be cute like my friend's (and my siblings') babies. (Admit it. You've been afraid of this, too.) Does that make me a terrible mother before I even am one? 
6. I am conservative. But I am not a Republican. (Sorry Dad!)
7. I hate this phrase: "You went to GA Southern? Isn't that a party school?" The next person who says that to me might actually get a punch in the face.
8. I got my belly-button pierced the day I turned 18. I took it out when I turned 23.
9. I'm a huge fan of the Disney channel. And all Disney movies. (Especially ones that involve princesses)
10. I think pregnant bellies are scary. (But only when they're naked! They're cute when they've got clothes on.)
11. I am OCD (Yes, I was diagnosed.) but I have a hard time not judging others who are, as well.

11 Questions Asked:

1. Who do you most admire?
That's a tough one. My dad. My mom. My aunt, Mamer. My husband. All for different reasons.
2. What's one food will you NOT eat?
Brussel sprouts. (Still to this day!)
3. What's something you love the most about yourself?
My legs!
4. If you knew you had one day to live, what would you do?
I would call everyone and tell them I love them. And then I would spend all day laughing and being silly and singing songs. I don't think death is anything to be afraid of.
5. Where is your favorite place to be?
The beach. (!!!)
6. What new years resolution have you already broken?
Exercise. I'm so terrible at it.

7. What moves your soul the most?

Music. Good stories. LOVE in tangible, unexpected, barrier-breaking forms.

8. Why did you start blogging?
Because I'm a voyeurist. (Not really! But I am a compulsive confessor who likes to feel connected with people and blogging has helped me do that with some really awesome bloggers very far away!)
9. What's your most embarrassing moment?
Changing key when I sang the national anthem in 2004.
10. What's one of your biggest fears?
Wasting the time God has given me to serve Him and show others the love of the Savior.
11. If you could spend a day with anyone, past or present, who would it be? :)
Ooohh...this is always hard, too. Anne Frank. Esther. My great-great-great-grandfather. 

11 Questions for You:

1. Where is one place you would never travel to?
2. Are you a fan of The Shawshank Redemption? (If not, I need to know why!)
3. Favorite Saturday Night Live character?
4. Who is one celebrity you would like to hang out with for a day?
5. Go-to Starbucks order?
6. What's the craziest food you've ever eaten?
7. What is your biggest dream?
8. Why did you start blogging?
9. What kind of qualities are most important to you in a friend?
10. What are some of your daily blog reads?
11. What is your secret talent?

Tag! You're it!

thinking forward

Hi friends!

You probably know by now that I work for a Christian media-buying agency. You might not know exactly what that means. Well, we specialize in television and radio production, advertising, media, and new media (i.e. taking advantage of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to expand a client's popularity). I am the senior writer and, as such, I am responsible for most (if not all) of our scripting needs. I create content for scripts pulled from our client's sermons (our clients are pastors, by the way), as well as voice-over scripts for radio and television spots, devotionals, and about a hundred other things. 

This video is a promotional spot we just did for Pastor Gregory Dickow. I wrote the script, and my awesome co-worker, Nick, created the spot. I love how he brought it to life!



Hi friends!

After a wonderful, full night's sleep and a morning of spring cleaning, the Hubby and I got dressed and went out to spend another beautiful Saturday in our city.

We were supposed to meet our realtor at five to look at an adorable shotgun house in Cabbagetown (the seller's realtor later cancelled), and since we had some hours to burn, we had lunch at Chipotle and then drove over to the historic Oakland Cemetery where over 70,000 Atlantans are buried. It's such a beautiful place, and, in true Victorian fashion, it was created with the idea in mind that cemeteries are as much for the living as they are for the dead. We were hardly the only couple out for an afternoon stroll among the headstones. And it was lovely. I've lived within a hour of this city my entire life (except during my four years at Georgia Southern) and I've always overlooked how much amazing history is here.

Our last name is Nunnery. This is the closest thing we've ever
seen to it.

3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers.

Isn't this just beautiful? It's the lion who guards, as you can see, the unknown
Confederate dead and it was erected in 1894. It's the largest sculpture
made of marble in Georgia. Every time I look at it I think of Aslan and
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

That old factory in the distance is now the Fulton County Mill Lofts,
where two of our friends live. Grant Park and Cabbagetown were
neighborhoods built around it in the late 19th century for the people who
worked in the factory.

Don't these door knockers conjure images of Marley in A Christmas Carol?
(I'm a writer! I can't help it.)

So excited to finally see her resting place.

Don't know who this is...just loved the name.

Bobby Jones', who was apparently a legendary
pro golfer (hence, the golf balls). I think my husband was
a bit ashamed I didn't know who he was. 
Beautiful epitaph: "Died in the triumph of Christian hope...to him
death had no sting...the grave no victory."

Famous restaurant just outside the cemetery entrance.

I really hope we find a house in this area. It's just a fantastic community of eclectic young couples
and professionals, and it's filled with so much diversity and history. It's got everything we love so- if you would- please keep us in your prayers as we look for the home where God desires to use us best.

Happy weekend!