Sunday, October 31, 2010


Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. ~Pat Conroy

I spent the last few days in Monterey, at a retreat hosted by Janet Grant, and Books&Such Literary Agency. Amazing Monterey ~ surely one of God's best gifts. Lots of sunshine, great cuisine, creative conversation, and beautiful scenery.

Since I'm a foodie, thought I'd post a few pictures of the desserts I was always too full to finish. Besides, they're so beautiful, you almost hate to eat them! I'm afraid my waistline will never be the same again:) But it was oh so fun while it lasted!

One of my favorite times was lunch on the patio overlooking Monterey Bay with writing friends and fellow bookies. We were treated to some amazing speakers and industry professionals offering their talents and expertise. I learned how to "work smarter, not harder" and was able to discover how I can carve out more writing time and avoid the pitfalls of publishing.

Are you free to be the communicator God made you to be? Is your heart becoming lighter or heavier? Take time to feast on His word instead of others' words ~ or even your own.

I fell in love with the history while there. Over a hundred years ago, on the very site of our hotel, a wealthy Californian by the name of Hugh Tevis (doesn't that just sound heroic?!) built a lovely mansion as a wedding present for his bride-to-be. They married and then he died on their honeymoon! They never lived in the house and it was sold, then torn down and turned into cannery row... I feel another novel coming on!

The whole experience was like eating one dessert after another. Many thanks to Janet Grant and her staff for providing us with one blessing after another while there. And many thanks to Randy and the boys for holding the fort down for my final book trip of the year:)

Have you been to Monterey or a place where you fell in love with God's creation and saw his hand in every corner?


  1. Oh wow, those desserts look great! I bet they tasted as good as they look.

  2. I've been to Monterey, and it took my breath away. Your photos are a tantalizing reminder of its beauty. But no matter how lovely, bet you're glad to be home!

    (And what are the ways to work smarter, not harder?)

  3. Sounds like so much fun! And the desserts look great!

    I love the part about focusing on God's words, not our own.:)

    Places. Oh, there are so many. Lakes are a favorite for me because I grew up visiting my grandparents' cottage on the Finger Lakes. I always found looking out on the water a beautiful place to pray.

    And speaking of water, reminds me seeing her picture how much fun I had reading Lorna's book (finished it yesterday).

  4. Winter,
    They were so good but I was so stuffed I ended up wishing they would have been served first:) Thanks so much for stopping and commenting. Always a JOY hearing from you!

  5. Renee Ann,
    Oh, so glad you've experienced Monterey! But it is good to be home. I missed my boys so much while away and since I didn't have a cell phone or take my laptop it made for a l...o...n...g week in some ways. But dear Ann Gabhart let me talk on hers a couple of times. She and her husband were there and added a bit of Kentucky flavor to the retreat:)

    I'm so glad you asked about working smarter, not harder. Some of it had to do with our use of the internet and becoming more savvy, using Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to managle multiple profiles from one place, like your blog linking to Twitter and FB, etc.

    Personally, since I'm an introvert (though you can't tell in a social gathering:), I've started becoming a bit weary the last few months. Having an online presence can be a challenge and my goal needs to be connection, not exhaustion. Extroverts usually thrive on lots of online time and some of you here may be among them. For me, I love my blog moreso than FB or other social sites. My problem lies in posting 3-4x a week and answering every comment. I love my readers so much that I cannot NOT answer them individually. Blame it on my southern heritage but I MUST respond. So the Lord helped me see that by posting 1-2x a week, I can answer every comment and still have time to write and not feel drained.

    I have to trust Him to take care of my audience. I love the verse that the presenter (Robin Jones Gunn and Shanon Primicerio) used for their presentation "Social Media: Friend or Foe." It's how I feel about you all here and how you must feel about the blog readers entrusted to you...

    Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly - not for waht you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. ~1 Peter 5:1

    Once again, the Bible has the last word and says it so very perfectly.

  6. Julia,
    Oh, I've heard of the Finger Lakes region and a cottage sounds heavenly. What happy memories you must have!! And so glad to hear you enjoyed Lorna's book. She was my roomie in Monterey:)

    I really felt, when all was said and done, that my new goal is to focus more on God's words and not my own (or others) as much as I do, so glad you found it helpful, too. I forgot to mention that I came back with a suitcase of books and some look perfect for you all here. I'm going to give away a devotional book next week here that I think you would love. Will have to post a photo along with it:)

    Bless you, Julia, for stopping and commenting! I've missed you:)

  7. Oh my goodness, those desserts look delicious. That's sad about Hugh Tevis.

  8. Laura, I'm not commenting again so you will comment--I just want to say that I found your books waaaaay before I found your blog. And I think it doesn't matter how often you post, folks will still love your books! I'm sure the experts have all kinds of stuff they want you to do to sell more books. But in the end, I can tell that's not why you write! And I believe God will continue to bless you!

  9. Oh my goodness, those desserts look amazing! So happy you had a wonderful trip!

  10. Your retreat sounds absolutely divine. Isn't it a gift to see God's imagination up close? In our country we're blessed to have so many unique & stunning landscapes from waving plains to rolling hills to soaring mountains. I don't think I could choose a favorite, but the place I always long to return to is the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. God's voice is so clear up there.

  11. Welcome home! And what a beautiful city! I love a place with so much history...and dessert!

    Sounds like you're really excited about what you learned at the retreat, I love when you can take a moment to really focus on what's important and what you're really trying to do. sometimes its so easy to get lost in the mundane details or what we think we're supposed to be doing.

    My favorite place to retreat is Eureka Springs, AR. in the Ozark mountains! It just seeps history in every nook and cranny. I love the land, the buildings, the culture, and the arts. Some day I want to live there forever! some day.... :)

  12. Oh, what a wonderful trip! So glad you were able to enjoy this time of rest and refreshment and learning...and delicious food! Will you share some of the writing tips you learned?

  13. "Are you free to be the communicator God made you to be? Is your heart becoming lighter or heavier? Take time to feast on His word instead of others' words ~ or even your own."

    That just jumped out at me! Something definitely to ponder.

    I'm glad your retreat was amazing! And I appreciate the foodie pictures. So fancy!!!!!

    I think that the place I've felt closest to God is Ireland. From lush green hills to craggy cliffs and skies that defy description -- it's a marvel. There's even an Irish song that talks about a piece of heaven falling out of the sky one day and they called it Ireland.


    And even if you didn't respond to everyone -- we'd love you anyway! And would definitely understand!

  14. Oh, Laura, I love what you said about blogs in the comments here :). I know what you mean, I much prefer my blog over the other sites...although I do like Goodreads and find I get most of my reading recommendations from there.

    BTW, Elizabeth and I are loving Sonlight. I was able to talk to a couple homeschoolers about it, so we switched. She can't get enough of Charlotte's Web.

  15. Adge,
    I only wish I could have eaten every bite! And yes, you are so right - so sad about Hugh Tevis. I had to do a little online digging about the rest of his story. Apparantly, he was a very nice man - a young widower with an 8 year old daughter, who had found a second chance at happiness, only to die of what those old newspapers said was cholera during their honeymoon in the Orient. I'd love to know what happened to his little girl. Also, his new wife had a child 9 months later and I wonder what became of them, too.

  16. Renee Ann, I'm so glad you commented again ~ I do love answering! And I'm thrilled to know you found my books first! There's no hard evidence that blogging sells books, or so the experts say. At least not in a meaningful way.

    I thought of some other things I wanted to tell you last night after I was offline. I really felt free and clean this past week without my laptop. Clean in the sense that my mind wasn't cluttered with all the social networking. And free because I'd been overworking and needed a break.

    I really felt the Lord telling me to continue with my blog and minimize all the other online stuff. A year or so ago I found a Scripture, Proverbs 31:27, "She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." The footnote says, "idleness means "eyes looking everywhere..." i.e. my eyes looking at other blogs, tweets, FB stuff, etc. It became a snare for me in many ways and a terrible time-burner, thus the heavy heart on my part. So now I have a new resolution to stay offline except for my blog and an occasional blog visit. I'll let you know if I continue to feel free and clean:)

  17. Ruth, It would have been better if you'd been there! I found myself wishing we could have a blog buddy event more than once:) Or at least a North&South one!!

  18. Brenda,
    Love how you said, "God's voice is so clear up there." You are in an amazing part of the country and I'm so glad I experience it firsthand. Back in my 20's I worked at Isle Royale National Park, the island in Lake Superior. You could only reach it by boat or plane and the lodge has since been returned to wilderness. Guess only the wolves and moose have free rein:) Randy often says he'd love to go to the Great Lake states, Minnesota in particular. There are many similarities between western Washington and Minnesota. Bet you are having a beautiful fall:)

  19. Heather, You are so right! The mundane becomes a maze if we're not careful!! And OK is more dear to me than ever as I sat by an author from OK my last night in Monterey. He was so delightful and funny and wise - only I can't remember his last name! I didn't wear my nametag that last night and can't remember his. JOHN, IF YOU'RE READING THIS, WE NEED TO FINISH OUR WRIYING CONVERSATION!! Sadly, we were in a bocce ball contest and were interrupted:)Anyway, he's a historical writer and has published several books. The current one he's writing is about a Mennonite boy during the dust bowl, etc. Sounds wonderful to me. I know I would love the history you're talking about, Heather. It's so new to me but there is a wealth of things there!! Maybe you should write a book about that?!!

  20. Heather, OK, you'll think I'm losing my mind as I kept saying OK and not Arkansas! Please excuse my brain freeze:)

  21. Mary,
    It really was an event that was all about learning ~ well said:) I went to it expecting a learning experience and got one. I missed one fiction workshop as I went to the Monterey aquarium instead one day. I did attend one evening and the presenters were talking about novel beginnings and other things...

    Often writers begin their novel in the wrong place.
    Go on an adjective diet.
    Sentences at the beginning of a novel should be shorter. No metaphors, please.
    Ease reader into the story.
    No backstory dumping or early reveals - hand the reader one puzzle piece at a time as the novel progresses.
    Take out tags "he said" and "she said" as much as you can.
    Most importantly, you should cause readers to care about your characters (especially before revealing any trauma).

    I found the above particularly helpful, especially in light of the fact that I violate all of them repeatedly:) The apprenticeship never ends, I guess...

  22. Oh Kav,
    Your description here makes me want to go NOW. I know your Irish heritage gives you a deep appreciation for a beautiful place rich in history and suffering and beauty for centuries. I've recently been researching Ireland an those who immigrated from there to here and fought in the Revolutionary War. Did you know there were 27 Irish-born GENERALS serving under Washington at that time?!! It was as much an Irish was as an American war. We owe such a debt to those who fought. But I digress...

    Now that I am free of cyber-fluff, I look forward to posts here and your comments more than ever ~ and answering every one! Luckily, we're still small enough here that it's doable:) And bless you for saying you'd come back anyway. Love that.

  23. Please forget (whoops - FORGIVE) my typos today. My fingers are flying faster than my brain (which isn't hard, believe me)...

  24. Julia,
    I love your blog, too:) I think social media preferences are such a personal thing. One of the bestselling authors who gave a seminar said she began blogging and didn't like it so dropped it after she found her niche with Facebook (which she loves). I thought that was so interesting as I'm wired the other way. I like Goodreads, too, only I can't go there often. I had to sign up per my publisher as they were giving away my books. So I am issuing a public apology for being a Goodreads dropout! I hear about a lot of great books that way, too, from your updates (and Casey, Michelle, and others there).

    Oh, to answer your question last post - I took along Lynn Austin's first book in her Refiner's Fire series set in the Civil War. Very well-written with a deep spiritual thread. Some friends recc. to me and so I bought the series. True historical fiction more than romance. I can see why her work is so respected.

    And so happy you like the verse, too. It seems to hold special significance for us bloggers who view blogging as a ministry:)

  25. Julia, Thrilled you and Miss Little like Sonlight!! And Charlotte's Web. Love the movie version, too, as do my boys!

  26. BTW, I just sent my finished historical romantic suspense manuscript to my agent for her read through and opinion. Soon, oh so very soon, it'll be gracing the desks of editors everywhere!

  27. Winter,
    I'm so very excited for you!! I knew from Indy that you were working toward that goal so am thrilled you're there!! Somehow it doesns't surprise me that you write romantic suspense:) You just seem to be that kind of writer. Prayers with you as you submit!! And please keep me up on any good news:)

  28. Oh goodness, Laura you don't know what a smile these photos have brought to me. I especially love the first one with the dolphin sculpture. I love dolphins.

    As for the deserts, they look so good! Between your desert photos and Kaye Dacus' mention of Gigi's cupcakes, I find myself craving chocolate. I do believe I'm going to try Gigi's cupcakes this weekend.

    It sounds as if you had a wonderful retreat. It does sound as if you've been refreshed by it, which is great!

    I suppose it comes as no surprise that I am drawn to mountains. I can sense God there so much. I also am very drawn to a beautiful sunset. I can remember several I've noticed over the years.

    I understand what you mean about being an introvert, so am I. I know I must have my "me time" as I call it to recharge. I pray you find the balance you need.

    I hope you are enjoying Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire series. I read them several years ago. The first two books are definitely among some of my all time favorites.

  29. Michelle, 2 introverted dolphin fans:) Who love dessert! We really are kindred KY spirits...

    I so wanted this photo to show that these dolphins are SMILING:) They really are! I was sad as the million gallon tank at the aquarium was closed as it's being re-tiled which will take a year! So no dolphins this time.

    I've never had a Gigi's cupcake but they even sound good. And I love cupcakes more than cookies, almost more than pie! Now I need to read Kaye's tempting post:)

    I've never read any of Lynn Austin before now though I'm not sure why. She is a really fine writer who some feel is the best writer in the CBA - historical, anyway. I thought she did a masterful job with the spiritual angle. And she covered a decade or more in that first book very well. I learned a few things:)

    Hope you're having some good weather back there. And I agree with you... There is something so incredible about mountains and sunsets. We had a particularly beautiful sunrise Sunday morning - all pink and golden. Took my breath away!

  30. Wow, I really need to reread my comments before I hit send sometimes. I meant to say that I prefer writing on my blog over writing on FB/twitter, etc...not the way I wrote it "I like my blog." Goodness does that sound full of myself...

    I really enjoyed that series, too :)

  31. YAY!! Laura, you're back :D I've missed you, my friend!! I'm so happy you had a wonderful time on your retreat! Thank you for sharing some snippets of it with us here and tempting us with those fancy, mouthwatering dessert ;)

    Hugh Tevis definitely sounds like a fitting name for a hero! Oh, his story is so very heartbreaking! After reading your comment to Adge, I Googled Hugh and found out he married a Cornelia Baxter, a breathtaking beauty from Colorado. Part of their story is in the link below to a book titled "Colorado Profiles" (it only allows you to view some of the pages in her chapter). I think Hugh was from Kentucky (or at least his father was). His family was crazy rich (especially for that time), making their fortune in a gold mine in South Dakota. I also found an article from the New York Times (posted in 1903) saying that Hugh's young daughter Alice (from his late wife) died that year and the massive fortune left her by her father (and late grandmother) passed to her little brother, also named Hugh (the son with Cornelia). Sadly, I found out that Cornelia was quite a flirt (she was actually supposed to marry another man right before she met Hugh) and she was adored for her incredible beauty. If you get a chance check out the link, it's really interesting (scroll up till you come to her name in bold print marking the beginning of the chapter). LOL, I didn't mean to go into such detail with all this, but what you shared on him caught my attention. I'll admit the hopeless romantic that I am had a really sweet, forever-kind-of-love-story coming together in my mind, the kind that lives on even after death because the couples bond is so strong- well, what I found changed that entirely (more on her part than his) :(

    Well, it is SO great to have you back, Laura!!! Praying you have a beautiful week in Jesus :)

    Amanda Stanley

  32. Laura, it looks like you had a delicious time all around. Yummy in every way! And no, I've never been on the west coast. I'm a pure New Englander (and that's where I see God's creation), though I did live in Pennsylvania and also went to college in Mississippi (that's as far west as I've got!).

    It's always great to hear what others learn on retreats. I think you've made a wise choice. And you reminded me once again about the eyes looking to and fro. I've got to think about that one again. Timely!

    What a heartbreaking story of that man dying on his honeymoon. Yes, there is a definite story there. I love hearing about real life stories, they are the best!

  33. Julia, I knew exactly what you meant and thought I'd tease you just a bit:) I had the same thing happen in Monterey. Lauraine Snelling (of all people!) was at the book exchange table with her books and stopped to admire Morrow's cover and I exclaimed, "Isn't she beautiful!?" Later I realized this may not have come across the way I intended!! So don't worry...

  34. Carla, I didn't know you went to college in Mississippi! Love that state:) All the history and southern culture, etc. And PA is now very important to me with this next series coming out. I don't think I'd stray very far if I lived in Maine. In fact, on the retreat some authors were talking about favorite places to visit and Maine was a definite mention! You know I have fond memories of vacations there as a child.

    Yes, the "eyes looking everywhere" is very convicting. I've found that it helps especially when faced with the competitiveness of the pub. world. When you keep your eyes to yourself you don't have fodder for envy, comparisons, ingratitude, and the why me/poor me syndrome.

    So glad to see you here:) Am celebrating with you!!!

  35. Amanda, You are amazing!! Can't wait to visit your link:) You've been bitten by the history bug like me only you are better at finding those very interesting details I didn't!! So sad that the young daughter died. And that Cornelia was a flirt. Grrrr. Hugh may have been better off in the end. Sometimes those rushed marriages...

    Bless you for the history here as I have such a love for that. It does sound like it would make a wonderful novel in many respects. The mansion he built for her was truly incredible, hugging the cliff, and never lived in. I'd love to see more photos of that. I may just have to buy the book you mention:)

    I want to tell you how blessed I was with your testimony last week (and others) and I've been praying for you and my readers here. Spiritual warfare is such a huge thing that catches us unawares at times. I think our guardian/ministering angels work overtime! Praying you have a wonderful week in Him, too, and that He surrounds you so closely you can hear those angels' wings:)

  36. Looks like you had a wonderful time! Missed you while you were gone!

  37. Dear Casey,
    I was so hoping you'd come by!! I saw pics from your book trip and it looked so fine!
    BTW, I should have a cover for you any day now (I know I've been dangling that like a carrot for awhile now) but Revell has just started posting their summer releases. Go check out Lorna's 2nd - A Great Catch:) It's the cutest!!

  38. Thank you, Laura :) To God be all the glory for testimonies such as these!!

    And, I hope you like that link. That book is about all different people in Colorado's history, with Cornelia being one of those people, so she has a whole chapter in there. History is quite fascinating... and telling ;)

    AND, after your comment to Casey I went over to Revell and for the first time read the synopsis to The Colonel's Lady!!!!! Talk about fascinating :D Oh, I just can't wait to read it!!! And, of course, see that beautiful cover!!!!!

    Bless you!!
    Amanda Stanley

  39. Laura, I don't post often, but I visit your
    site frequently. I really enjoy it. I just wanted to let you know how much your Proverbs 31:27 comment on idleness spoke to me. I am going to share this with my family. We call these "new found" spiritual truths "nuggets." Ones that just jump out at you! We like to share them at our "Monday
    night prayer group." Thank you for this beautiful nugget! I don't facebook because of the time factor. Now I have a verse to share with my group! I think this definitely applies to tv time, too. I am not a tv person, but definitely spend a lot of time reading inspirational books (when I should be reading the Bible)! I just want you to know how refreshing it is to visit your site and see that you are truly a sister in Christ. Thank you for your ministry... praying God will continue to bless you and yours.

  40. Laura,

    Just wanted to let you know since I know you don't check it often that I sent a message to your goodreads account.

  41. Amanda, Sooo happy you like the synopsis:) Your enthusiasm was so infectious I went over and read it again, too! And YES, to God be the glory - for spiritual victories and books!!

    Oh, I read the whole chapter on Cornelia! So interesting! But so sad. Would like to know the rest of that story. A good example of how riches can lead to emptiness oftentimes.

  42. Ashley,
    I can't thank you enough for your beautiful words here. It always amazes me that one Scripture or nugget can mean something to so many and get passed along ~ we truly are sisters in Christ! Well said. I will remember that ~ and you:)

    I'm not much of a tv watcher either. I'd rather read like you. Never enough time - or books:) Bless you for blessing me and others here, Ashley. Please stay in touch!

  43. Oooh, headed to find it right now! :)