Saturday, June 25, 2016

It's Cooper Time!

Relax. Kick up your feet...stay awhile.

It's Cooper Time!

I'd like to introduce you to Cooper. He's our hyper, precocious, and fun-loving Labrador. I actually have a blog dedicated to Cooper.

I haven't posted recently to the blog because we've relocated. Cooper and I were separated for most of the month of June. Don't worry though, the posts will begin again shortly.

Cooper's the epitome of the Labrador puppy. I've lost count of the things he's chewed in half. His favorite toy is a bottle...any type of bottle. And the dog absolutely LOVES water.

But we have more than one crazy young pup at our house. We also have an old grump. (No, I'm not talking about my husband although he is getting older. And his disposition...well, let's just say, he can get a bit growly from time to time. Don't tell him I said that!)

No, this grump is a fourteen-year-old cocker spaniel named Poco. Before we brought Cooper home, he rarely moved. He slept most of the day. He was overweight and hobbled everywhere he went. The dog appeared depressed and lonely. I'd say he was in a rut.

That changed the day an excited, goofball of a puppy entered our lives. Oh, don't get me wrong, Poco's still grumpy, but he acts five years younger. And looks it too. And Cooper? Well, he's obnoxious as always. He chews, nips, tackles...does all the things annoying dogs do. And Poco...he takes it - to a point just like we do.

The antics of a puppy are much like those of a child. But they are also a blessing. For without that amazing energy and love, where would we be?

Probably exactly where Poco was before Cooper came. In a rut...and all alone.

Be thankful for who and what is in your life. Even the annoyances. You may be surprised at the blessings they bring.

Pictures and video by Renee Blare

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Carole Brown Lights up the Coffee Corner...Join Us for a Taste of Mystery

Hi, everyone! The Coffee Corner has a special guest this month. So pull up a seat and prepared to be dazzled by best-selling author, Carole Brown and author of Knight in Shining Apron. I hope you like mystery and fun because both is ahead! And on we go with the interview:

Renee: I have to know, Carole, how did you come up with the idea for your book, especially that title?

Carole: I think it evolved. J The story originally began as a romance to see if I could even write a totally romantic book. I did, but, to me, it always lacked something. Of course, when I dragged it out from the “shelf” where it hid for several years, I realized making it into a light cozy mystery would be the spark it needed.

I like extremes (the rebel in me? Lol) so the thought of a restaurant owner who couldn’t cook and a chef who also wasn’t just a chef, but a knight gave the co-protagonists a bit of interest that it would have lacked otherwise. I mean, who can resist a determined, strong woman (in many ways) who tackled a career when she knew nothing about such a thing? Who can resist the thought of a handsome man who knows how to cook and is a knight to top it off?

Give them some threats that seem to be coming from the past, some damages and real personal issues that need to be resolved, and the idea blossomed from there.

Having said all that, it was simply logic to play on the words “a knight in shining armor” by changing the last word to fit the male character and story.

Renee: Is there a particular reason you chose your setting?

Carole: I wanted to make up a setting that I could play around with, if needed, in each of the stories I plan to write. I’m familiar with West Virginia--quite a bit of it, and sometimes, think of it as a second home state because we‘ve spent so much time there for various reasons. It’s a beautiful--and in certain areas--rugged state, yet offers diverse entertainment and options. The people are educated, but down to earth. They’re friendly, loyal to a fault (if you can say that), hard-working and firm in their beliefs.

And I wanted a small town with the friends, gossips and misdeeds that go along with cozy mysteries. Hence, Appleton, West Virginia.

Renee: For our friendly writers out there, which writing style do you prefer?

Carole: I’m mostly a pantser. I do like to have a general idea about the story plot, what I want to accomplish, where I’m going, some scenes, character looks and some of their habits. I do some research, but also like to finish detailed researching as I move through the story line. I’m one who likes to edit as I go--to a certain degree. If I have a few days break from writing, then I reread whatever I feel is necessary to update myself on what I’m writing. It also gives me a fresh start, clues me in on where I left off and what I need to accomplish, helps me see areas I’ve left hanging on places that need editing or a new approach and I can also capture any new ideas that come to me.

I also enjoy writing on more than one novel at a time. Sometimes it will be so many words a day on one and finish up with another. Other times I’ll concentrate on one (especially during deadline periods) and only work on another when I have a break.

It works for me. J

Renee: What do you do if you’re “stuck” or need inspiration?

Carole: This is an easy one. I do one of three things:

1.      Take a short break from writing that novel.

2.      Brainstorm with hubby or a close friend-critique partner. Either of these two helpers are a sure-fire way to garner new ideas, to look at a scene differently, or to realize that a certain event/happening/scene/chapter just isn’t working and needs edited or cut. Many times they’ve given me food for thought in forcing me to think about the story in a fresh light. They are invaluable to me!

3.      Spend time with my writing buddies from my state and nearby areas. These friends are wonderful tonics to my spirit and writing. Besides the fellowship from like-minded people, I love to hear of their successes, their determinations, their writing decisions--all of which gives me a boosted spark to keep on keeping on. We listen to each other’s burdens and encourage one another to give it our best shots!
Any of these are a sure way to get the writing juices flowing again. I come away (or back to my computer) with fresh inspiration.

Renee: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any fun hobbies or activities you like to do?

Carole: How much time do you have?

Love traveling. Because my husband has always been in ministry, we’ve traveled quite a bit, from coast to coast. We’ve experienced new and different things, been able to take the time to sightsee many famous and sometimes ordinary sights. From Mount St. Helens in Washington state to the Seven-Mile-Bridge in Alabama, from weaving and trying my hand at making fry bread with the Navajos in New Mexico then climbing high altitudes to visit ruins. We’ve enjoying the Native American stew--so hot tears poured from our eyes--to sampling fried intestines. We’ve explored caverns and visited museums, tackled the waves at some beaches, waded in the icy cold streams of mountains, listened to an amazing man entertaining us with his Appalachian piano music and a Native American man coaxing awesome, lonesome tunes from his flute. 

Photography! I’ve always enjoyed snapping pictures (and in answer to one of your other possible questions, if I wasn’t writing--photography would be a first choice. I’m not a professional by any means, although the longing inside me to be so, sometimes is quite powerful. J  I may have to take five shots to gain one good one, but it’s a hobby that I can’t give up. What memories. What a valuable way to share with descendents your life now.

A fun thought: When I went back to school to obtain an associate degree in computer, one of the projects was creating a portfolio of a career. A guess what I chose? Photography, of course! Not to brag, but mine must have been so impressive, the class and even the instructor, thought it was real and that I actually owned a studio. I was impressed that they were impressed. J

Scrap booking is a new hobby I’ve picked up. I don’t have a lot of time for it, but so far the interest is not waning. Right now, I’m concentrating on the grand boys’ interests, events in their lives and trying to build visual memories they can have forever. Someday, soon, I hope, I want to begin on especially memorable life happenings in our own personal lives.

I enjoy my flower gardens and fish pond garden. Shooting for owning some Koi one of these days! Lol. Puttering with my flowers and seeing the results gives me happiness and a sense of peace with my small world. This year, hubby’s built me a few raised garden beds and I love them. We’re small this year with lots of tomato plants, cucumber and broccoli, lettuce and carrots, and then I have a small herb garden too!

We have a huge fireplace that we all enjoy in the fall and winter. We’ve even been known to have a few wiener roasts there when it’s too cold to do so outdoors!

Renee: Wow, I’d love to have as many interests as you do. Of course, I don’t know if I’d ever write though! LOL How do you find the time??? I do have an interesting question for you. With all those interests, if you had the ultimate vacation what would it be?

Carole: We’ve traveled through and in most of the United States and a bit of foreign soil too. But not enough to suit me. Hubby’s not sold on the idea of overseas traveling (but give me more time!) or even a second home in a less expensive country, but I’d love to do more. I’m a part of a group that sends information about different countries, and when I have the time, I read and dream. Italy, Australia, more of Mexico, Israel (although even I hesitate with traveling there), Ireland, Scotland, England. I can’t begin to name them all.

Renee: Well, all being said and done in your life to date, what do you believe your role is in the world today?

Carole: Living close to God and being an example and encourager to my family and friends. Saint Peter in his first book, Chapter Three says (and I’m skimming through) . . . Have compassion one for another, love as brothers, be courteous and don’t render evil for evil, but bless and KNOW THAT YOU ARE SO CALLED that YOU MIGHT INHERIT A BLESSING!

What powerful words. What encouragement. If I can encourage one person (I really desire to encourage many more than one!) to not give up, to be the best person they can be, to achieve what their hearts desire is, to strive to be and do better, to stretch their person and reach for the stars, to follow in God’s divine will for them, then I will have succeeded.

I learned early on that I can’t make my boys be what I wanted them to be. Hubby and I had dedicated them to God while still babies, but taking your hands off and allowing God to work in their lives is an entirely different thing. I’ve watched our boys, our nieces and nephews and friends’ children stumble and fall, get up and try again, give up, and on and on. I’ve learned the years that I can’t make people do and be. Only God can work in their lives. My duty is to train, encourage, pray and leave the rest to God.

If I can encourage a newbie writer that the path their beginning is new and different, but if they want to, if that’s their calling, they can travel it. If I can cheer more experienced writers’ successes and “weep” when they weep over their disappointments and rejections, then I will have done what I should do.

Facing the world we live in today, the strange differences from what used to be is overwhelming at times, but I remember whom I trust, and the older I grow, the more I realize the power of that. By loving God, I can love others. That is my spiritual calling.

Renee: You are an amazing woman, Carole Brown. May God continue to bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand.


I hope you enjoyed getting to know Carole as much as I did. She’s a terrific lady. She’s also giving away a Kindle e-copy of her newest release, Knight in Shining Apron. All you have to do is:
Leave a comment about the interview or tell Carole your favorite hobby!

One winner will be chose by random draw from the comments on 6/26/2016.
Please leave your name and email address after your comment to complete your entry.
A minimum of five comments required to validate contest.


About the Book:

Starli Cameron gave up her career plans to be a concert pianist to marry the man of her dreams. He turned out to be a nightmare. When he dies in a car accident, Starli takes the insurance money and builds a successful and upscale restaurant: Apple Blossoms in rural West Virginia.  Threats from someone determined to ruin her life and the suspicious romantic advances from her new chef force Starli to search her heart and finally turn to God for real healing.
Sir Joel Peterman-Blair, top notch chef from England, is roped by his uncle, into filling in as head Chef at Apple Blossoms. Joel, with his sanguine-personality, has always laughed and flirted his way through life. But now, confronted with and attracted to the most beautiful woman he’s ever met, Joel has to prove his sincerity and depth of character to his icy-cold employer. Can his love for God and for this woman reach out far enough to rescue her from her own mistrust and bitterness? Will he learn that life is not all play?
And can they both work together to find the source of threats that seem to be coming from Starli’s past? 

About the Author:

Besides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Barn Door Book Loft:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Through Raging Waters Cover Reveal Slated for June 21st!

Come and see the new cover of Through Raging Waters on June 21st! You won't want to miss this joyful celebration! Sponsored by Celebrate Lit Publicity Group, this reveal promises to be a fun-filled hour.

Renee will be there to talk about her new book, Through Raging Waters as well as her series, the Snowy Range Chronicles. The new book is scheduled to be released July 8th by Prism Book Group. The Facebook party will feature lots of chatting and fun. Giveaways include ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of the upcoming release, her current books on the market (Beast of Stratton and To Soar on Eagle's Wings - Book 1), and gift cards from Amazon and Cabela's.

Join Renee and Celebrate Lit for a wonderful evening as they pull back the curtain on Through Raging Waters...June 21st!

Here's more about TRW:

If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same...

A warm spring combines with the storm of the century to send Timber Springs into a tailspin.
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, his steadfast control slips through his fingers. And everyone’s life hangs by a thread once again.
She isn’t a hero. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings she faces a new trial than the one rushing outside her door. Now, she needs to discern friend from foe. But as the waters climb and tension mounts in the tiny town, she must rise to the challenge as well or lose the only man she's ever loved.

Can two people find each other through the raging waters?

Book 2 of the Snowy Range Chronicles, Through Raging Waters already has glowing acclaim. Here's a few!

Well written and delightfully entertaining, [Through Raging Waters] will leave you wanting more each time you try to put it down. - Carole Brown, award-winning author of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Never having visited this part of America, I especially loved Ms. Blare’s painter’s palette of words that finessed a colorful canvas in my mind. And as usual, she reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly... - DiAne Gates, Artist, Photographer, and Author of Roped 

Through Raging Waters explores the dynamics of family, the search for truth, and the fight for survival in the rugged Wyoming mountains.  - Suzie Waltner, author Enduring Love and Beauty from Ashes.

Stop by Facebook on June 21st for your first glimpse of this exciting novel...Through Raging Waters. See you there!

About the Author:

Renee Blare has been buried in a book for as long as she can remember. Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, she started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains, she lives in Wyoming with her husband, crazy dogs, and ornery cat. She serves her beautiful small town as a pharmacist while penning her stories about struggling Christians as they travel along the journeys of their lives. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dream of Being a Writer? ACFW is for you!

Are you dreaming of writing the next greatest novel? Well, I have the place for you!


American Christian Fiction Writers or ACFW is an organization for the writer...published or unpublished and is holding its annual Writers Conference in Nashville on August 25-28.

I've written five books with many more on the way, but without ACFW, I don't know what I would have done. The people who make up the organization help matter where you are in your writing journey.

With conferences come opportunities to meet editors, agents, and mentors as well as workshops that are taught by seasoned authors. The knowledge you take home may change your writing career as well as your walk with Christ. If you want to be a Christian author, then ACFW is the place for you.

Here's a bit of what you have to look forward to in Nashville this year:

Don Maass will be teaching the early bird class, Writing 21st Century Fiction, based on his latest craft bookThis intensive hands-on workshop teaches the techniques that give multi-year best-selling novels their high impact, resulting in both strong story and beautiful writing regardless of category. A literary agent in New York, Donald Maass's agency sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012). He is a past president of the Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc. You can learn more about Don here.

The keynote speaker of the conference is none other than Ted Dekker. He will be sharing during two general sessions about the inner life of a writer.

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of over thirty-five novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans. Ted's latest work, a historical fiction based on the teachings of Jesus, is a radical departure from previous outings and is receiving critical acclaim. Dekker's novels have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker and his beautiful wife, LeeAnn, reside in Nashville, Tennessee. Find out more about Ted here.

In addition to these fabulous speakers, there are editors (currently 16!), agents, (14 slated at the moment), mentors, and specialty appointments. These meetings can do so much for your conference experience but aren't even the main part!

On Friday, partake in the 5 continuing education sessions with authors such as Cara Putnam and Deborah Raney. Each session is designed for a different level and style of writer...beginners, multi-published, independent, self-editing, spiritual aspects. You can find something to fit your needs or interests.

Saturday, hold on to your hat! There are 20 workshops scheduled. Truly! ACFW strives to meet every fiction writer's needs, regardless of his/her level. Add in the Gala and an amazing post-conference session with Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren and you have the makings of a very full learning experience.

What else could this conference offer? What about a headshot? The talented Emilie Hendrix will be taking pictures for $40 to those who need a new fresh shot (or just want one.)

If this is your first year to attend the ACFW Writers Conference, let ACFW know! You'll want to participate in the orientation email loop six weeks prior to the conference (facilitated by Cara Putnam and Brandilyn Collins). The loop will give you a chance to ask questions and find out about the ins and outs of the conference so you can make the most of your experience.'s your checklist going for conference? Almost done? I hope so! I'd love for you to go. Remember...August 25-28, Nashville, TN. Wondering how or what to do? Click here to find out more.


Are you going to the ACFW Conference in Nashville? To another conference? If you've been to a conference before, what have you learned about preparing for one?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Rage of Spring

Popo Agie River

Hi, folks! It's springtime in Wyoming and the river is runnin'. A lot is happening around here and I wanted to share it. No roses to smell yet, but that doesn't mean we can't breathe in the clean mountain air instead. Juniper is awesome too. Have you ever caught a whiff of a spring runoff as it makes its way down the mountain?

Nothing surpasses spring in the Rockies. It's quite amazing. I like to think of it as a combination of rage and relief. Now, I know that sounds a bit odd but there's really no other way I can describe it.

You see, the snow pack is still up there...waiting. We have A LOT of little bitty ice crystals (that's snow) resting on top of the Wind River Mountains... just waiting. And it's June already. What's it waiting for? Heat. To break the bonds that hold them together. free from the icy bonds of winter. That's what we call the "runoff." And it's absolutely spectacular. When the warm days of spring arrive, freedom is granted. Snow's given legs and it races down the mountains without care for who or what is in its path. Nature speaks..."get out of my way."

In the Rockies, we witness a production of nature like no other on this planet. The water rages as it explodes down the mountains with power and might offering only a roar as its warning. But still, amazingly, relief is its gift.

For soon after the rampage is done, meadows blossom with wildflowers. Lakes, both mountain and prairie, rise. Wildlife congregate and breed. The dry, desolate land laps at the water like a sick child and turns luscious and green.

We may not have roses yet, but we do have juniper. I look at the mountains and see that snow pack and wonder...when will it start? When will the pack get mad? Oh, the river's sassy now. It's loud and wild. But...I'm talking about the snow pack. When will it decide it's time to race?

Until then, I'll be watching and listening. Life in the Rockies isn't easy but spring is amazing, and the river is runnin'.

Photo credit: Renee Blare - May 2016