Monday, March 31, 2014

A Writer's Voice

I did an internet radio program this afternoon with Ivy on Dottin' the i. She has regular interviews with writers of inspirational books, both fiction and nonfiction. This is the second time I've been a guest on her show, but this is the first time I've had the nerve to listen to the show. Here's the link in case you'd like to go back and listen. Dottin' the i. All the interviews are archived there, so you can probably poke around and find out about a lot of interesting writers. Today she was interviewing me about my book, Summer of Joy and my inspiration for writing the Heart of Hollyhill books. We talked about the Sixties and Jocie and Wes and small towns. She also asked how I was able to include the faith moments along with the story. I told her that I like that to be a natural part of the story. 

Anyway, I've never particularly liked hearing my voice. The first time I heard myself on a recorder in high school, I thought I might take a vow of silence. That lasted maybe five minutes and then I started talking again. Since then, I've gotten more used to hearing my voice, but I'm still a little surprised each time. Somehow my voice sounds different inside my head. But today wasn't so bad when I listened to the program. I didn't stumble around searching for what I wanted to say but once or twice and didn't say "umm" or "uh." Several years ago a morning radio program ran a contest where callers could win a prize if they called into the show and were able to talk for thirty seconds without saying uh. Hardly any caller could do that. So at least I made it thirty seconds without saying uh. At least, I think I did.
I've done a few storytelling videos to post on my Facebook page and my friends have said I sound fine. I still think I could sound better. I'm trying to post one of the videos here, but it's not working and it's getting late. Sometimes technology won't cooperate with me and my ideas.

But you know there's another kind of voice that a writer has to consider. Each writer has an individual "voice" that comes through in his or her writings. That voice can be as unique as a person's fingerprints. If you've read a few books by the same author then you might be able to recognize that author's work without seeing a by-line. The hardest question I'm sometimes asked is what other authors do I think write in the same way I do. I don't know. I want us all to be different. I want to have my own voice and not be like anyone else. 

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and dance and live as only you can." (Neil Gaiman)

So enjoy your voice and your stories. And thank you for reading mine. 

You can read about how I developed my voice and got the inspiration for my Hollyhill books at Finding Hope Through Fiction and you have one more day to leave a comment at The Book Club Network to be in the drawing for a copy of Summer of Joy. Plus, you've got a few more days to enter the giveaway on to win that copy of Summer of Joy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meeting a Character in Person

Readers make Blogging Fun

One of the best things about blogging is getting to know you readers through your comments. You are such an encouraging community for me. Writers spend a lot of time in "solitary confinement" while digging stories out of their heads. Of course, we're not totally alone. We have all those characters yanking on our imaginations trying to get our attention. 

Conflict Makes a Story

Sunday I wrote about how life can be messy even for fictional characters. I guess in stories, life has to be a little messy because if there's no problem, there's no story. Got to have conflict. Got to have something your characters are trying to defeat or achieve or perhaps simply survive. Once a writer decides what that conflict is going to be, then to make a story really good, the writer needs to keep making it harder and harder for the character to reach whatever goal is out there for him or her. You've got to throw some boulders in his way. That's true even if the story isn't suspense or mystery. In romance, the characters have to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of love. In my work in progress, I'm a little worried I have set up some obstacles too big for love to come calling. That's the trouble with writing books set in my Shaker village. The Shakers took many pains to eliminate romance from their society. 

An Encouraging Comment

But back to your encouraging comments. I got one of those Sunday from Lisa. I shared it on my Facebook page on Mailbag Tuesday, but one thing she said set off an idea for tonight's post. Here's her sentence. "We even said if we met one of your characters on the street, we think we would recognize them!"

That's a really nice compliment. It sounds fun to think about meeting my characters. I know I'd be ready to listen to some Jupiter stories from Wes the way Jocie does in the Heart of Hollyhill books. And it wouldn't be so bad to sit in Mount Pleasant Church and hear her dad preach a sermon or two or be there for a Christmas program with Miss Sally directing. Of course, I do sit in a little church on Sundays that is a whole lot like the Mount Pleasant Church. 

Meeting a Character in Real Life

But once, I did meet one of my characters - not on the street but in a restaurant - and I knew her at once. We were in one of those buffet restaurants (my husband's favorite eating places) and in walked Fern. If you've read my Rosey Corner books (Angel Sister and Small Town Girl) you know Fern. She's also hanging around for a big role in my third Rosey Corner book coming in July, Love Comes Home. But in case you haven't read one of the Rosey Corner books, here's the first time we actually see Fern in Angel Sister.

The skin on Fern's face was weathered and mottled with broken red veins on her high cheekbones, and her steel gray hair looked for all the world as if it was trying to escape from her scalp. The blue of her eyes had faded like old work jeans and had an unfocused, almost feral look. She wore a pair of overalls with big holes in the knees she'd probably stolen off somebody's clothesline years ago. Under the overalls was a dirty white slip. She didn't carry any extra weight, but she'd long ago lost her delicate look. She spent her days cutting cedars now to make her cedar houses instead of sipping tea and doing needlework. 

And so, I was in that restaurant eating lunch a couple of years ago when in walks Fern. She had on overalls over a flannel shirt instead of a slip. Her hair was that steel gray and she didn't look as if she cared whether it was combed or not. She was a little heavier than my fictional Fern and she didn't have the little axe Fern carried around with her. At least I don't think she did! 

The book had already been out a couple of years when I spotted this real life Fern, but it was an interesting experience to see somebody I'd created in my imagination have such a near double in real life. That was before I had a phone that took pictures so I couldn't even sneak a picture of her. I might have been afraid to anyway. My Fern in Rosey Corner is nobody to mess with. And that real life Fern looked the same. 

Invite a Character to Lunch?

So, have you read stories where you think you might like to meet the characters on the street or maybe invite them home for lunch to find out pieces of their stories that might not have been in the book?

Chances to Win Summer of Joy

In case you missed out on winning Summer of Joy in my recent giveaways, you've got some more chances this week. You can check out my guest post "Chasing the Writing Dream through Rejection Valley and Beyond" and leave a comment on Charity's Giveaway Lady blog for a chance to win. Deadline the April 9. Then if you're a Book Club Network participant, Revell Books is giving away 5 copies of Summer of Joy. You just have to answer one of my easy questions on the The Book Club Network page. Dealine to enter 03/31. I'll also be a guest post Thursday on Nora's blog Finding Hope through Fiction where I talk all about my small town inspiration for Hollyhill. Last I'm doing a interview about dreaming on Betty Owens' blog Thursday. 

As always, thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Life Can Be Messy

When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

For the rainbow to appear in the sky, there has to be rain. Storms come in all our lives. Little dashes of rain sometimes and then at other times big floods of sorrow and trouble. We like to think about everything going along smoothly, but most all of us have stepped in a few mud holes as we traversed the roads of our lives.

For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ~Matthew 5:45 (NKJ)

Life can be messy. Even for believers. Even when you pray diligently and fervently. Accidents still happen. Betrayals still come our way. We still make mistakes. We give in to temptations or our loved ones do. We say something that injures. We do something we shouldn't. We're human. We might wish we were perfect, but we're not. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~Romans 3:23 (NKJ)

What has me thinking about all this is a review I saw for one of my Heart of Hollyhill books. Can't remember for sure which title now, but the reader was upset about things that happened in the story. The person wasn't specific about what bothered her, but whatever it was she didn't think such things should be in a Christian book. I don't know what offended the reader. I'm not really worried about that or upset that the person didn't like my story. This isn't about an unhappy reviewer. Her comment just got me to thinking about how life can be messy. 

The characters in my stories are generally Christians or are seeking the Lord. But they aren't perfect. They often have messy lives. Just like the real people around me. We get old. We get sick. We see our kids and grandkids make mistakes. We lose our jobs. We slip on ice and end up on crutches. We back our cars into trees or other people back into us. We stub our toes on the roots of temptation. We shoot for the winning goal and miss. We mess up. And if we don't do the messing up, those we love do. That can hurt just as much or even more.

So I'll probably keep writing stories with some things that might offend the gentler reader. And while I never want to upset a reader, I do want to write a story about people who aren't perfect and who sometimes step in a few mud holes while living their stories.

How about you? Have you ever been so disappointed by a book you were reading that you didn't finish the book and/or wrote a bad review? Editors and publishers do generally make sure the books they publish in the Christian market meet certain moral standards. Do you think those standards are getting too loose as my unhappy reader did?  

I'm going to be a guest on The Bookclub Network this week and my publisher is giving away some copies of Summer of Joy. If you're a member of the Bookclub Network, check it out on Tuesday. Easy to join up to take part in the fun each week.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Mystery about Spring, Tortoises and Winners

Spring is Springing! 

You may still be seeing snow out your window, but if so, just turn your eyes to the calendar instead. It says right on there that March 20 is spring!! And I'm ready to believe it even if winter isn't. As Doug Larson says in this quote, "Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."

So to celebrate, we've got spring pictures even if they are from springs of the past. Soon the wildflowers will be blooming and the tortoises will be strolling through the hayfields.

A Not So Mysterious Photo

As some of you pointed out, my last mystery photo wasn't so mysterious. I shouldn't have let the shell show. :) Almost all of you guessed it and those of you who didn't were just sure I wouldn't be that obvious. Of course, some of you were like me and called it a turtle even though it isn't. 

Tortoise, Turtle, Terrapin
We always called them terrapins, but I didn't go out and check my science on that one. And I have heard people call them land turtles. Tortoise is no doubt the correct name as Annette says. Turtles are in the ponds and the rivers and the oceans. Occasionally in the spring, a turtle will crawl out of the mud in our pond and take a slow stroll through the field and yard to the pond over the way to look for new vistas. I have no idea how they know where the other ponds are. But when that happens, it can really excite the dogs if they see it. The dogs do a lot of barking, but are careful to keep their distance since those pond turtles are snappers. 

But this kind of little tortoise is harmless. You can pick it up and it will slip back in his shell and stay there until you put him down and then awhile. I used to have a cockerspaniel that loved to catch the tortoises. That was the only "wild" game he could catch. Then he'd carry them home to the yard. I always wondered if the poor things ever made it back to their home territory or just had to settle in the new place. Also it's not good to have them settle in your garden. They love to nibble on tomatoes and always pick the biggest and prettiest tomatoes to bite. 

Now for the Winners

I do appreciate all the great guesses. I always have so much fun with these mystery photo contests, although next time I'm not going to give you an easy turtle, oops tortoise, leg to guess. LOL. But it was such a neat picture. Anyway, I'm glad you had fun with the pictures too. And now for the winners. Drum roll please. Amy Bateman and Lisa Bragg, you are my winners. I'll send you an e-mail to get the info on which books you'd like to have. And thanks to the rest of you who played the game too. We'll do it again in June or July after Love Comes Home is released. 

Back to Spring

I haven't spotted any flowers yet, but I think the grass is getting a bit greener here and there. I see wild onions growing - well, at least they're green. The frogs are so loud that I'm hearing them here in my office as I type this and the birds are singing every morning. What signs of spring are you seeing?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joy, Happiness and Just Plain Fun

Fun with Mystery Photos

I hope you've been having fun with my mystery photos.Wednesday's photo stumped most of you. Maybe because it was sort of fuzzy after I snipped out the little bit to try to trick you. Take one last guess and then look down a few paragraphs to see the "rest of the picture." 

A New Photo to Guess
Here's a new photo bit to guess. This one might be easier for you all. But whether you get the guess right or wrong, you still get another entry in the giveaway to increase your chances of being a winner in my book giveaway. I'm picking two winners who will get one of my books and a grab bag book of a different Christian writer. 

Joy and Happiness

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

What makes us happy? Is happiness the same as joy?The dictionary says joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. You know that kind of feeling you have when the person you love says they love you too. Or when you hold your first grandchild. Or when you see a flash of a bluebird's wings. Or a crocus bursting out of the ground at the end of a long winter. Or when you're singing your favorite hymn and the words are just as meaningful on the hundredth sing through as the first. Or when you get the news that something you wrote is finally going to be published. 

Joy! It sings in your heart. Makes you smile when you are all alone. Makes your feet feel like dancing. Sometimes you feel so joyful you have to release some of the sparkle of joy into the air by moving. You might clap your hands, twirl around, 
jump in the air or do cartwheels. Joy can explode. 

Summer of Joy

That's the kind of feeling I wanted readers to think about when they saw the title of my third Heart of Hollyhill book. I originally titled the story Sunflowers of Joy. No real reason except I love sunflowers and I wanted that joy to make an appearance in the story. But the publishers tweaked the title a little and came up with Summer of Joy. I like that title too although most of the story happens in the winter and spring. Even so, the title invites us to think about a summer full of joy. And that sounds fabulous. 

The Rest of the Picture
Oh, yeah, and see those little records. That's the mystery picture from Wednesday. Amy guessed records among other things and Linda guessed it was from the cover of Orchard of Hope, but she may have meant Summer of Joy and had the titles mixed up. Thanks for all the guesses. Now it's time to guess again. One more chance to get your name in the drawing hat and to have some fun. At least, it's fun for me! 


Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. (Marianne Williamson)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Mystery of Ideas

A New Mystery Photo

Are you ready for a new mystery photo? Here it is to the left. Leave a guess to have an entry in my book giveaway. If you've guessed on the other posts, guessing here will give you another entry. You don't have to guess right. Just guess. I've really enjoyed all your comments and guesses. 

Sunday's Mystery Photo

And for those of you who haven't guessed on Sunday's mystery photo, here it is again. Take one last look and guess before I reveal the rest of the photo below. I will tell you that I've tricked most of you on that picture, many more of you than I expected to. I'll post one more mystery photo Sunday and then on Wednesday, the 19th, I'll draw for winners (2) of my book, Summer of Joy (or winners can choose one of my other titles) and a grab bag book by a different Christian author. I'll offer the winners a choice of several titles. Maybe one by Dani Pettrey or Julie Klassen. 

The Mystery of Ideas

Do you ever wonder where writers come up with ideas? That is one of my most asked questions when I'm giving a book talk. Where do I get my ideas? It's a hard question to answer since sometimes I don't know exactly where the ideas come from. When I'm beginning a new story, I start with just the germ of an idea. Usually a "what if" question. 

The Heart of Hollyhill's What If Question

The Heart of Hollyhill series started with a question something like this "What if I had a young girl whose father was a preacher and whose mother had deserted the family years earlier?" Of course that was just the beginning. But from that question, all the other questions about what happened next came - through three books. 

Some parts of the idea can be tracked down to their origins. The part about David, my preacher character, not being able to get a church after his wife left him came from my own pastor's experience. He lost his pastorate at a church when his wife left him and for several years was unable to find a church that would let him preach even though his wife had been unfaithful to him and insisted on the divorce. 

Then I pulled a lot of the setting for the books from what I remembered my little town being like in the 1960s. If you take part in the The Book Club Network,, you can check out a special giveaway about Summer of Joy there beginning March 25. I just finished doing a piece that will be posted by Nora on TBCN about how I based the setting for my Hollyhill books on my own small town and my own country church. 

But there were also things that either grew out of the story and just suddenly came to mind in a way that's a mystery to me. Wes from Jupiter for one. I didn't plan Wes when I was trying to come up with the plot of the book, but I'm certainly glad his spaceship hit that air bump and he landed in Hollyhill. That probably sounds really crazy if you haven't read Scent of Lilacs, but Wes tells Jocie Jupiter stories to keep from revealing his past. Other story events are equally as hard to explain, but it's just what happened when my character came to life in my imagination. 

The Mystery Revealed

You are all going to be surprised, but there was only one correct answer and she was sure she was going to be wrong. So Donna, you can laugh, but because you were right and not wrong. Popcorn, cotton, and cotton candy were what most of you guessed. But here's the rest of the picture so you can see. Baby chicks waiting to be sold at Tractor Supply. A very springtime photo. Can't you almost hear them cheeping? 

Thanks for reading and for guessing. Don't forget to guess on the new photo and come back Sunday for one last mystery photo. I haven't figured out what that one is going to be. It's a mystery even to me. Remember if you guess and want to be in the drawing for the books, you have to leave a way for me to contact you. Thanks.

Do you ever wonder where writers get their ideas?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mystery Photos in Spring

 "Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand." (Neil Armstrong)

Do you like mysteries? I like reading them. Not sure I'd actually want to be involved with one although when I was a kid I imagined being like the Hardy Boys and solving all sort of mysteries. Now I'm happy when I can solve the mystery of my missing keys or what happened to that letter I just had in my hand and laid down somewhere a minute ago. Of course, that might not be such a mystery if my desk wasn't such a mess. 

Fun Guesses

For some of you my mystery picture wasn't much of a mystery. For others of you, the picture had you doing some creative thinking. Love the yellow boots and sleds in the snow guesses, and you know, that snow does look like soapsuds or maybe ice in a cooler. A few of you saw a fence and bananas. Right color. Wrong object. The best wrong guess was Kristy's idea of a book in one of those yellow plastic bags that the telephone company uses when they pitch out the new telephone books by our mailboxes. I could see that. But, as you can see in the "rest of the picture" above, those of you who said a daffodil or jonquil, as we always called them when I was growing up, in the snow were right.

Mystery Picture 2
So are you ready to do some more guessing? You'll probably get this one right away too. Or at least some of you will. Remember, it's more fun to guess first and read the comments second. Then you can guess if you're right or not. A new guess gets you another entry in the drawing. Some of you didn't leave a way to contact you with your first guess, but you need to do that if you want to be in the drawing for one of my books and another grab bag book. I'm going to pick two winners on the 19th. Remember you can write your e-mail out with yourname(at)mailprovider(dot)com or net. And if you'd rather not do that, you can always send me a message at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com. 

Spring is Springing

Here in Kentucky, spring is going to give us a little preview next week with temperatures in the sixties. Official spring is about 10 days away, but usually spring sneaks into Kentucky early. Not so much this year. However, Daylight Savings Time did show up earlier than it used to. That will make the days feel longer even though they're still the same twenty-four hours. 

What gets you to thinking spring?   

I noticed my windows needed washing today. But I'd rather be seeing flowers to get me thinking spring instead of dirty windows. what has you thinking spring?

"No winter last forever; no spring misses its turn." (Hal Borland)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mystery Photo Contest - New Chance to Win

You know I just remembered last week that I've celebrated every Hollyhill book with a giveaway involving a mystery photo. So I can't let the re-release of Summer of Joy slide by without some of the same kind of fun. So here's mystery photo number 1. I'll post another one or maybe two on Sunday. If you want to be in the running for the prize of one of my Heart of Hollyhill books and a book by another Christian author (How about a choice between a Dani Pettrey book or a Julie Klassen book?), just leave a guess or a comment saying you have no idea. Either will work as an entry. Each new mystery photo I post will give you the chance to guess again and get another entry into giveaway.

Last time I did this, you guys were great at guessing. So since some of you are so smart, it will be more fun for everybody if you guess first and read the comments second. No fair changing your guess then! :) We'll play this mystery photo game for a couple of weeks, so the deadline for entries (comments on one of my blog posts) will be March 18. You have to be eighteen to enter, and please do remember to leave a way to contact you. I had several entries in my last blog contest that didn't leave a way to send them a message.

I've heard from all my winners (Jocie still hasn't heard from the winner on the Heart of Hollyhill blog) and will be sending out the prizes by the end of the week. I also got a couple of great ideas for what I can ask for my Love Comes Home Celebration coming up in June. But first I'll have to come up with prizes.

I'm going to do a Book Talk at the Casey County Public Library Thursday, March 6. If you're in the area, come on out and we'll talk books together. I love libraries. I owe a lot of my writing success to libraries. First, the books I was able to check out when I was a kid fed my love of stories. I would have never been able to read so much without those weekly trips to the library. Second, when I started writing, the library was a gold mine of resources both about writing and about the historical events I wrapped my stories around. There was no internet then. If you wanted to know something, you went to the library and looked it up. And I was blessed with the most helpful librarian ever, Ann McWilliams. She even made me appreciate my name more. Said she liked being plain Ann, and so I thought maybe I should too.

Libraries are no longer just books and card catalogs. Now there are banks of computers and movies and audio books and kids programs. I like that a library can supply so many resources for a community. At the same time, I don't visit the library as often as I used to. I have a huge stack of books waiting for me to have time to read them. I do some of my research on the computer and some from books I own. But I know the library is there when and if I come up with a different idea. Then I'll go search through the card catalog that is now on computer and carry home a pile of books.

Do you like libraries? Do you visit yours now or did you when you were a kid? 

Thanks for reading. Don't forget to guess the mystery photo and watch for another one on Sunday.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the Winners Are

"Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half." (Bum Phillips)

Another book celebration comes to an end with winners picked and contacted. You all make my contests so much fun with your stories and comments. Thank you for taking the time to toss your names in my hat for the giveaway drawing. Some of you take part in every contest I post and I do appreciate that, because it wouldn't be much fun throwing a celebration party if nobody showed up. I always enjoyed reading the stories you share with me when I have a contest where I ask you to tell me a story for a change instead of the other way around. This time, most of you said you didn't have Valentine stories. That might prove that Valentine's Day is more important to the florists and the greeting card companies than to us average folks. But the stories I did hear from a few of you were fun and proved that it's not the size of the Valentines, but the love behind those Valentines that make the difference.

While you didn't have to share a story to win, it turns out that some of the winners did share Valentine stories. Deanna was the first place winner and wins the charm bracelet I know Jocie would have loved and a signed set of the Hollyhill books which include Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope, and Summer of Joy. Deanna shares what made Valentine's Day fun for her and every day a good day. 

"I was blessed to receive roses from my husband, he is terrible about getting things over on me but he picked them out, brought them home and hid them from me to surprise me this a.m. while I was getting ready to go to work. Little things that we do for each other every day, not just certain days make things special. Asking if we would like to have something while the other one is up, getting the other's toothbrush ready, knowing I like a certain thing, making sure to get it or make a nice meal, all things that help in a relationship." 

Thanks, Deanna. Sounds like you and your husband have figured out how to have a great relationship. 

Now for the rest of the winners. Judy B won second place and gets the ring dish with the cute bike on it and that set of Hollyhill books. Cynthia B can't say she's never won anything from me before. She gets a box of candy and her pick of one of my books. She picked Small Town Girl. Those are the winners of the Summer of Joy Celebration Giveaway, but I also promised to pick two winners here on my blog. Winning a copy of their choice of one of my books is Gayle P and Noelle. I do so appreciate everyone of you who took time to leave comments on my posts here and join in with my giveaway fun. I love hearing from you and reading your comments and the stories you share. 

Noelle shared a story of love about her grandmother. 

"A love story did you say? Well, I thought about it for quite awhile and decided at least for me, there has never been such a love as my Granny's! 

Granny lost her true love not once, not twice but trice. The first involved leaving her country/continent for another and she could not choose between those she loved so she remained home. The second sadly died shortly before Mum was born and left Granny alone in her twenties to raise a child without any means. 

The third left her a widow at age 56 and she thought love was over for ever. Whilst on the coast, she met a scuba diver who asked her to watch his gear whilst diving. Thus begins my story...

I was still little and never knew how much developed from this relationship but I can tell you that's when my Dad asked Granny to take care of my sibling and myself. I do remember this scuba diver's visit though as he invited us kids to go to the sweet shoppe. We felt we had won the lottery of course and when the shoppe owner saw our rather extensive list of sweets, she said: "Now be sure to say thank you to Grandpa" to which we piped up "Oh, that's not Grandpa, just Granny's boyfriend!"

Another era with etiquette to be observed and such a thing frowned upon...But with love shining in her eyes,Granny bounced back and gave us a hug, shrugging her shoulders and just smiled.
Imagine our Mum's face when the story was told, I can tell you no one forgot this story soon!

One more thing: Granny chose not to accept the scuba diver's invitation to remain by his side for life, instead she raised us!

Love is a many splendored thing, is it not?

Love does come in many sizes and shapes, Noelle. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your granny must have been quite a woman. 

Again, thanks to all of you for joining in with my giveaway fun. I hope you had fun too. Now to start thinking up some fun prizes for a June contest to celebrate Love Comes Home. And maybe I can think up a better subject to get you all talking. Any ideas?