Who Are We?

The NovelFriends are four writers who met through Wisconsin Romance Writers and initially became bonded by our love of books. That connection has expanded, grown, and deepened into true friendship over the years. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, so follow the blog and join in the fun - we're always happy to have more NovelFriends!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Favorite Halloween Episodes ~ Donna

It's my favorite time of the year again...Halloween! I've got my house decorated with ghouls and goblins, ghosts and witches, reapers, pumkins, and even Slender Man. I'll post some pictures of my new toys below, but first...

Like The Ten Commandments on Easter, and A Christmas Story at Christmastime, Halloween just wouldn't be the same without watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love sitcoms, and the Halloween episodes have always been my favorites. So I've asked my NovelFriends to share a bit about their favorite Halloween episodes of their favorite shows.

Dulcie - I've got a soft spot for the corny, and a HUGE soft spot for The Neighbors.  A normal suburban family unwittingly moving into a sub-division filled with aliens using the names of professional athletes just cracks me up. Last year's Halloween episode, entitled Halloween-ween was the greatest.  Previous years, the aliens, under the instructions of their leader, Larry Bird, had barricaded the gate to their neighborhood to protect them from what they saw as a barbarian attack of earth children.  After having the holiday explained to them by their earth friends, they reluctantly open the gates and the neighborhood is overrun by a mob of candy-seeking kids.  I love seeing how the aliens perceive our holidays.

Jamie - One of my favorite Halloween episodes is from Season 5 of The Big Bang Theory. In "The Good Guy Fluctuation", Sheldon's friends have played a prank on him. When he decides to get revenge on them, it doesn't quite go as planned but he does manage to prevail in the end. I just love all of the characters on this show, and the addition of Amy and Bernadette have only made it better. However, no one compares to Sheldon Cooper - he totally makes this show the outstanding comedy that it is.

Donna - It would be hard to find a Halloween episode of any show that I didn't enjoy. But the best to me by far are from that 90s classic sitcom, Roseanne. I don't have a favorite. They were all hilarious. Dan and Roseanne's competitions were awesome, as were the costumes. I searched around and found some of my all-time favorites.

And my new 'toys'...

Thanks for checking out my NovelFriends and my favorite Halloween episodes! I hope everyone had a spooky and Happy Halloween!!

~ Donna

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Choose Joy (Jamie)

"Today I Choose Joy" - This is the motto I try to live by each and every day.

This is much easier to do than many people think. There are so many little things that bring joy into my life every day. I hope each of you has the same opportunities. It's easy to recognize the annoyances and troubles - not so easy to see the simple, good things that make us smile.

Here are some of mine:

The weather - I love the crisp fall days, the colorful leaves especially when the sun is shining on them. I love quiet winter days when the snow is falling. I love beautiful spring days when everything turns green again and the rain washes away the end of winter. I love beautiful summer nights looking at the stars, or listening to the rain or a distant thunderstorm.

I'm from Wisconsin so I love the Packers. It's great to hear about their accomplishments on the field, but I'm most proud of them when I hear about the contributions they make to communities off the field. A truly fantastic group of guys.

I love baseball - an all American sport.

I love movies - not only old favorites like The Breakfast Club and Pretty Woman that I can watch over and over and never get tired of, but finding some new favorites like Gravity with its beautiful cinematography and Silver Linings Playbook with its outstanding acting.

I love books - don't know that I need to add much here, or that I can express how much I love reading. Finding a book I connect with just simply makes my day. I've currently started reading two books at a time - a romance and at the moment, the Harry Potter series. It's very true that there are too many books and not enough time.

I love writing - I am finally writing for real and regularly and it is a book I really like. It's a great feeling - I'm starting to feel like a real writer. I'm doing author-type things and making writing connections and it feels great.

I love connecting - I am making connections not just with writers but with my family that are on a whole new level. Now that my kids are growing up, we are having some really wonderful conversations together. My husband and I actually get a breather once in a while to have some conversations that revolve around topics other than the house or the kids these days, too. It's so nice to reconnect with him again.

I love music - I'm finding time to listen to music I enjoy again, after not really having done that for a long time. It's great to have our kids tell us they think we are such cool parents because we've raised them on awesome music. It's nice to listen to what we like and have them enjoy it, too, instead of rolling their eyes.

I love creating - writing, crafting, even Legos, household projects - some of my very favorite moments are when my imagination is working overtime. Almost the best feeling ever.

With all these amazing things around us every day, how can we NOT choose to have joy in our lives?

What makes you choose joy in your day?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Party is Over by Delia

It's done.  Over.  Never to be seen again.  The summer of 2013 is history, folks.  That was fast.

How can I so confidently make this ominous prediction? Well, let me tell you.

The first hint that all is not well in our world is the color in our previously bright green woods.  As pretty as the orange, red and yellow leaves are, I kind of prefer to see green when I look out the window.

Talk about trees, our second hint that the glory days of summer are behind us is the scraps of toilet paper still hanging from the upper branches of trees, reminders that teenagers can throw a roll of toilet paper much higher than they can reach when it's time to take it back down, I personally believe their throwing arms are much stronger during the week of homecoming than any other week of the year.  As an additional reminder, for an entire week, I couldn't manage to keep a roll of toilet paper in my bathroom.

My back entryway looks like a farmers market.  There are bushel baskets of carrots, potatoes, onions & leeks piled up on the porch, accented by a cabbage as big as my head.  I'm not quite sure yet where I'm going to put them.  Our 160 year old farm house is in a perpetual state of construction and as the changes occur, I have to figure out how to utilize the space currently available to me.  The big project this summer was digging a root cellar in the crawlspace under my living room.  For weeks I had random teen-aged boys hauling dirt out of my basement, one 5 gallon bucket at a time until we finally had a 8x10 foot hole where a ton of dirt used to be.  We still don't have shelves or storage bins in my new cellar yet, though, so I'm hesitant to start putting stuff in there.  You know how that goes, as soon as you start using an unfinished space, it remains unfinished forever.  So, I've got produce in my entryway.

If all those things aren't a slap upside the head that fall has arrived, the furnace kicking in with disturbing regularity is the final nail in summer's coffin.  I hate turning the furnace on in the fall, it's like I'm admitting defeat.  But I'm also not one of those people who take pride in seeing how long they can wait before hitting the thermostat while sitting in their living room watching Dancing With the Stars while bundled up in a parka and mittens.

All we can do is put on a happy face, refer to the plummeting temperatures as crisp, (because that sounds nicer than stinking cold) and gush about how much we love the changing of the seasons to excuse the fact that we're living in a place where the temperatures frequently drop below freezing for weeks at a time instead of in Florida where anyone in their right mind would be during winter.  In the meantime, I'm heading off to buy some cold medicine because as an additional kick in the teeth, I've got my first cold of winter.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good Friends, Good Food...Great Weekend ~ Donna

I had such an amazing weekend that I'm still on cloud nine! What's that? Oh, of course. I'm happy to tell you all about it...

Friday, I met for plotting & coffee with three of my closest friends, who also happen to be amazing authors. Fellow NovelFriends Jamie Kersten , and New York Times Bestselling author Stacey Joy Netzel (Yep, I said NYT Bestselling, people!). And we were lucky enough to be joined by author & publishing consultant Virginia McCullough. We chatted, plotted, chatted some more. Until real life reared its ugly head and I had to head home. (Disclaimer: Donna loves her family very much!)

Saturday morning, we all drove down to Milwaukee to join our sister WisRWA (Wisconsin Romance Writers of America) members for their monthly chapter meeting. Stacey and I spoke on a panel about indie-publishing, along with Edie Ramer, Leigh Morgan, and Mary Hughes, all incredible authors who found success with indie publishing. We were honored to be asked, and enjoyed the meeting very much. I even learned a few things myself!

After the meeting, the four of us drove further south to Racine, Wisconsin to have lunch with another dear friend, Mary Jo (award-winning author Casey Clifford). Mary Jo and her dashingly handsome husband, Jim. As soon as we walked into their stunningly beautiful condo (I'm on a roll with the adjectives...LOL), Jim showed us all out onto the balcony, which overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan, to take tons of pictures. I felt like a rock star! Though it was their energetic little dog, Oreo, who stole the show. Isn't she gorgeous?

I love all these gals dearly...

 Stacey & Mary Jo
Jamie & Mary Jo
Virginia & Mary Jo
After (a gazillion) photos were taken by all, we were treated to a tour of their three-story condo, which as I already mentioned, has a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. I now have office envy, bathroom envy, and husband envy! We were also thrilled to meet her charming son.
We chatted for a while, then Mary Jo served a delicious yet light lunch of chicken salad (chock full of dried cranberries, celery, and cashews), fresh fruit, and yummy rolls. But the grand finale? Mary Jo served us the most delctable Better Than Sex Pumpkin Spice cake, and heavenly Lemon Bars! I'm stealing Stacey's picture since I didn't think to take one myself (I was too busy stuffing my face...LOL).
Thanks for reading about my awesome weekend! I hope everyone had just as nice a time as I did. :-)
~ Donna

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ups and Downs ~ Stacey

Since I last posted, there's been a lot going on. The younger kids started school (yay!) and my oldest flew to Fort Benning, Georgia to begin Army Special Forces Basic Combat Training. (BCT) Yes, it was an eventful beginning to our September.

Labor Day 2013--we had a family dinner to send him off
and took a bunch of pictures.
In addition, we're still working on the remodeling in our house. Currently the bathroom is limping along. Yesterday, our 10yr old Arabian, Bullet, was supposed to head about an hour south for 2 months of training. His ship-date got postponed to today. I joked that he and Cody would be going through Basic Training together and had intended to do my monthly post on that. And I still am, but it doesn't quite mesh as well as it was supposed to.

Bullet has no idea what's in store when he starts his BCT

Because for the down part of my day, I got a call from the trainer that one of his girls who does a lot of the riding was injured today and he was going to have to delay. I wish her a quick recovery, and now I'm bummed Bullet won't be off just yet. I was really looking forward to riding him in a couple months.

Oh well, because...for the up part of my day, we got a letter from Cody! 

I grabbed my mail on the way home from the dentist--oh yeah, there was another down. Fillings. 1/2 frozen face. Then on to the eye doctor, who said I'm borderline needing bifocals, and that's normal between ages 40-42. Well, I'll be 41 in October, so I guess, yay me, getting old on schedule.

So anyway, I grabbed the mail, saw there was a letter to "The Netzel Family", and then sat in the van in the garage to read it. Nope, I didn't care if the milk in the back seat got warm--letter came first. He's doing okay so far, he now knows how to make his bed (lol), and he says he looks funny bald. It was great to hear from him and he even made me laugh out loud when he told me how the shot in his butt hurt like hell.

I read the letter to the kids when they got home from school and they laughed at the line: "I'd love to see Morgan try to have an attitude here."

Anyway, he hasn't actually started BCT yet, he's still in the reception stage, where they're waiting for the rest of his class (battalion?) to arrive. I have no idea when he'll start, but when he does, that's when his 16 wks and 3 days begin to count down until we can see him again.

So, that's it from me. Next month I hope to be telling you all about my new book out, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear what's GOOD in your life these days??

~ Stacey

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Best of Romance (at least for me) - Jamie

I'm pretty sure if you've found this blog, you know that I love reading and writing romance because I love the happily ever after of those stories. Want to know what else gives me those warm fuzzy feelings?

I love reading the announcements for anniversaries celebrating fifty years or more of marriage, especially the ones that share how the couple met. In this day where long term marriages seem to be something of a rare species, when I stumble across one, especially one that sounds like it has been through plenty of ups and downs and survived, I always pray that my husband and I will someday be one of those couples.

I actually met one of this amazing couples in person at the eye doctor
one day. I wasn't too sure about them at first, but as we started talking I realized how much they still loved each other after 72 years of marriage. Their marriage survived while he served the country in war, when they lost an adult child to cancer, and other illnesses, but they still live together in their own home and are able to lovingly tease each other as they waited. They were a hopeless romantic's dream come true.

Speaking of marriage, I have always loved Billy Crystal but I was recently reading an interview with him and after I read his comment about marriage to his wife, I think I will love him forever. He was asked if he had any advice on how to stay married to the same woman for 43 years? "There are no secrets. I'm no Dr. Phil. But we laugh a lot. Janice has always made me laugh. As I write in the book, I can't bear to think of life without her; I want to go first because I don't want to miss her. I'd like to think there is a heaven and it starts from the happiest day in your life. I'll be 18 and Janice Goldfinger will walk by me in a bikini, and I will follow her and it will start all over again."

And, of course, some of the very best romance in my opinion still comes from fairytales. When real life tales of romance seem to be in short supply, I turn to my favorite animated classics to get my Once Upon a Time / Happily Ever After fix. There are several that I enjoy, but none that I love as much as I do Tangled. I like Flynn/Eugene's quick wit and Rapunzel's determination even when she is afraid. You see this couple actually spend time together, talk to each other and grow to care for one another. I've long ago lost track of how many times I have watched this movie and I can guarantee you that I will watch it many more.

There are many other little things that give me warm fuzzy feelings about love and romance too - but this blog couldn't possibly cover them all. Most of them have to do with my husband and a special look he will give me, or when he takes my hand, or I remember the night I met him and he gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek...

What is one of your favorite romantic inspirations? This hopeless romantic would love to know.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School by Delia

Today is the first day of school and for the first time in forever, this means more to me than the return of peace and quiet at my house.  It's time for me to go back to work.  Last winter, about halfway through the school year, I was hired by our district to do administration work for our school lunch program.  I only work on days when we're feeding kids, so the last day of school was my last day of work and the first day of school means back to the daily grind for me as well.

I say I do admin work, my husband refers to it as my "torturing children" job.  See, I've got the attitude that if you're going to do a job, you might as well have fun with it.  I've told kids that we've implemented a new school rule that if they owe lunch money, they have to eat lunch sitting on the floor under the tables.  I say this with a smile to the little kids, but love delivering that line with a dead serious face to the older kids, just to see their reactions.  As school was winding down last spring, I told the kids that the last day of school was going to be "Sing-along Thursday" and instead of telling me their student number for me to enter into the system, they were going to have to sing it to me.  I heard a wide variety of musical styles that day, including numbers being rapped, an opera version and one kid even sang his to the tune of Smoke on the Water - you've gotta love a kid who gives the proper respect to Deep Purple.  I've got a whole bunch of new torture ideas in mind for the coming school year as well as making the lunch menu a little more fun - we're having spARGHetti on International Talk Like a Pirate Day with a side of Walk-the-Plank garlic bread and I'm really looking forward to lunch on Halloween.

Life is too short to not take advantage of fun opportunities when they come your way.  If an opportunity comes your way that doesn't seem very enjoyable - you've got to make it fun - otherwise, what's the point in getting up in the morning?