Monday, May 30, 2011

The Character Tour Begins!

Hey everyone,

The time has come. I am now going to be posting only at my new site. I'll post reminders on here for a couple of weeks, and then it'll be all crickets in here. So, if you haven't already made your way over to my new blog, go. Now. What are you waiting for?

Need more motivation?

The Character Tour I've been going on about starts today, and you can only read about the crazy antics of characters and writers THERE! <-- Click. Link. Now.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

June 3in30

Oh goodness gracious! Is it June already? May seriously flew by way to quick. Sadly, it flew by quicker than I could accomplish my goals. No worries, though, I’m pushing them aside and not giving them a second thought—at least not on this post. The power of prayer and positive thinking!

I thought I’d take a key from my friend, Aurie, and go with all new goals this month. I’ve been so focused on water/exercise, and obviously I’m not ready to make those commitments yet (although, with a unit ball and an awards ceremony coming up in a couple of months, I kind of need to!).

So…new month=fresh start. Here we go:

1. Finish Dividing Spirits by June 10th and get started on editing The Impossible Choice. For those who are in the know—The Impossible Choice, while not my first novel, is my most cherished. I’m going to breathe new life into it and see if I can’t have it ready for the ACFW conference in September. That’s going to be a lot of work, but as long as I can focus, I know it’s possible! Keep me accountable, okay? Anyone want to be accountability partners?

2. Get back into my diabetes diet. Yes, I fell off the horse again this month. I was doing so well in March/April. Then Connor got sick, and after being in the hospital for a week—well, I just didn’t get back into the swing of things. So, this month, I’m really going to focus on meal planning ahead of time, to make sure we aren’t relying on eating out or pizza three times a week. I KNOW my plans…now to put them in action!

3. Keep up with my Bible studies! Through my local homeschool group, we’re going through a book entitled “Ministry of Motherhood”, and then I think the PWOC might do something this summer. Not quite sure yet. Anyway, I tend to commit and then fall behind on these. My ideal is to wake up 30 minutes before the kids do in the morning to have some quiet time—however, it seems the earlier I get up, the earlier the kids get up! It’s a conspiracy!

This month has so many exciting new things in store for me, I just know it. May found me adding in assertive couponing, and June will find me officially homeschooling Kindergartners (I was going to wait, but the girls are so insistent about wanting to start now—that’s a good thing, right?). Now, hopefully I can take this juggling act on the road! Wish me luck—and pray for me! I’m going to need it!

Head over to my new website for chances to win points toward May's Grand Prize!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Google Friend Connect

We’re nearing the end of the month—but we still have points up for grabs! Next Tuesday is the last day of my BeachFest Birthday Bash, and the first day of the Character Blog Tour—from one exciting activity to the next!

If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you can still earn up to 10 points by doing so and leaving a comment here.

GOOD NEWS! I have added the Google Friend Connect gadget to my website! You can earn 15 points by heading over to my new blog/website to follow me there (as Faith, Hope, and Suspense will be closing)— The Character Blog Tour will take place completely over there.

Short post today as I have lots going on and trying to organize through it, but will be back on Thursday with my normal, witty posts. Until then, enjoy Hump Day and I’ll see you on the flipside! Remember, the weekend is almost here!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Perseverance--American Idol Style

Perseverance American Idol Style

I have a confession to make. I love American Idol!

It’s funny because the first couple of seasons, I didn’t care to watch it. Then I caught a couple of episodes when some network moved my typical TV show to another night/time. After that, it was all downhill—I was hooked.

Every year, along with millions of others, I choose my favorites early on and cheer them on (until they are voted off). Still one of my favorites typically ends up in the final 3. This year is no different. Scotty and Lauren were favorites from the start. I just love their obvious charm and their vocals are stellar for their age.

This week, as you all are probably aware, American Idol hosts their Season 10 Finale at the Nokia Theatre. As I look back on the last several weeks, I’m reminded of all that these people have been through, which, in turn, reminds me of all I’ve been through.

The American Idol journey is quite similar to the writer’s journey. While I can go through and make comparisons of each step of the Idol and writer’s journeys, I’ll refrain to keep this post within an acceptable limit. Yes, you can thank me later—when that post really does show up.

Anyway, one thing that I notice that both an American Idol and a writer have to have is PERSEVERANCE. describes perseverance as a “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” Sound familiar? Here we are on this course (insert chosen passion) where we still face the everyday. Families, work, obligations—the list goes on.

When you want something so much, be it singing, writing, an education, there are always things that stand in your way. It’s how you handle those situations that gage not only your character, but your dedication to that which really matters to you.

So, you tell me: Who are you cheering for on American Idol? Who do you think is going to win?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

ProACTIVE in 4 Steps!

Last week, my husband and I faced some possibilities that really brought our whole lifestyle into question. Due to some issues (mostly health related), my husband may not be in the military for more than 2-3 years—a lot of things up in the air with this.

These developments called to the forefront one of the main aspects that God charged us with in life—taking care of our family. If my husband were to get out (especially before he finishes his degree), depending on how things play out, we could be in some serious trouble financially.

Now, I’m not asking for prayers on this, I’m merely sharing a bit of my life to illustrate the point of this blog post.

My husband and I could sit around on our laurels, waiting to see what happens, but that would do nothing but cause us more worry and grief…and increase the number of gray hairs on our heads exponentially! Instead, after a day of venting and complaining, we got proactive. The military wife’s motto is: prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I’m not sure it has any Biblical basis, but I will say that it is a good motto anyway. God charges us to be good stewards of everything entrusted to us (see, I knew I could make a link between the two!), and it’s our responsibility to do what we can.


1. Brainstorm! The next step for us was go over our budget to determine the best ways to stretch our dollar, see how much we could get into savings. Living in Hawaii is not cheap! There’s a reason that they give soldiers a cost of living allowance—so far I haven’t been able to save much. So, hubby and I sat down and discussed what could be done.
2. Research! Once we had a list of ideas, I jumped on the computer and did some research. One way we decided to pursue was to cut our monthly grocery bill in half. Right now, we’re spending about $800/month for groceries and eating out. As I’ve seen Extreme Couponing more in the last week than ever before, I see the value in taking some time to clip coupons. While I don’t think I would ever be as diligent as the people on the shows, I can afford a few hours a week to ensure we keep our bill within our budget.
3. Plan! Now that I’ve taken our brainstorming to the next level with the research, I formed a plan of action. In the couponing aspect, I created a price/coupon binder. I also signed up for several coupon sites and “liked” many of my favorite companies on Facebook.
4. Action! Once I have a plan in place, all that’s left is to DO whatever it is that needs to be done. With coupons, this means keeping up with circulars, printing coupons off the web, sorting/storing coupons, and making more precise grocery lists.

As early as my next shopping trip, I should be seeing the fruits of my labor. I don’t expect to get $600 worth of groceries for $1.50 (and I think I’d feel kind of bad if I did), but a little bit can go a long ways!

These steps can apply to just about any circumstance—not just money. Too often, we sit back and let life happen to us, without putting ourselves out there. We complain. We moan. We bury ourselves under blankets and pillows or social media or food (I’m guilty, guilty, guilty) instead of facing our problems head on.

What gets accomplished then?


What do we have to show for all the pouting?


What do we get out of it?

More pain. More frustration. More avoidance.

So get up, get pumped, and get proactive!

Is there anything that you could be more proactive about in your life?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ASK ME Revealed! (Winners, Too!)

I believe that the best way for writers to reach their audience is to be open to vulnerability and the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and all that jazz. So, when I blog, I try to be honest--I don't put on a show if I'm having a bad day, I don't pretend that I agree with everyone, and I don't make excuses for who I am or what I believe.

It is under that statement of connection, that I opened my blog up for questions from followers on Tuesday. In addition to the fun of birthday week, it is a chance for people to get to know me a little bit better.

So, without further ado--here we go!

Aurie asks: What is your favorite state?

As most of you know, I was a military brat who married into the military, so we know that I've been all over. I think my favorite state is Virginia. I love the mountains in the summer and fall, and there is so much to see and do. Plus, my family is there!

Wendy asks: What's one, silly, non-writing talent you'd like to have. (i.e. Being able to stand on your head and drink and entire gallon of milk before you fall over.)

Oh, goodness--can I have that one? I'd be the life of the party! If I knew I wouldn't break anything, I'd love to be able to break dance. I've always found it completely fascinating. Or pop-n-lock. I know, I'm such a nerd!

Sarah asks: What curriculum or curriculums are you currently using? And how does writing fit around schooling?

Alana and Kyra are starting Kindergarten this year. I have most of their curriculum planned out--okay, not planned out, but chosen. Math-U-See Primer for Math, All About Spelling Level 1 for Phonics/Spelling, Etiquette Factory to learn proper manners, ABC Bible Verses for Bible memorization, and Lesson Pathways for Science/Social Studies when the kids are anxious for more! Throw in some arts and crafts, some life skills...and you'll have our homeschool in a nutshell. Oh, and I am big on the Charlotte Mason style of learning.

Writing happens mostly at night from seven on--something my husband and I agreed upon. Blogs/emails/social media happens mostly from 6-8 in the morning, homeschool from 9-11ish, Reviews/Blog writing/articles/etc from 1-3 (during rest/reading time), and then working on my novels happens after 7. I grab what I can get!

Annie asks: What do you like the most about yourself? And what quality do you seek above all else in others?

LOL! We all know how insecure I can be! So to be a little corny, the thing I like most about myself is that I am beloved by Christ. I may not see myself as anyone worth much of anything, but Jesus loves me, cherishes me--who could ask for more?

In others, I value honesty and compassion above everything else.


Congrats to Wendy! She won C.J. Darlington's Thicker Than Blood from Monday's post!

Congrats to Annie! She won John B. Olson's Shade from Tuesday's post!

The score for the Grand Prize Giveaway is:

Sarah: 60

Annie: 22

Aurie: 30

Wendy: 16

Don't worry! There will be several chances for points next week! Don't forget, if you go follow my new blog/website:, then you'll get 15 more points! Hurry, there's still time to catch up!

Ralene's BeachFest Trivia Question:

Where did I attend college (even though I never graduated)?

This Blog is Moving...

I've finally decided to take the advice of so many wise people in the publishing business. I've read it time and again, but I kept putting it off. Finally, though, after some reflection on the next steps I need to take, I made the tough decision.

I'm moving my blog.

I've had a blog here on Blogger for some time. I haven't ever been able to successfully connect it to my website, though, which has also kind of pushed me to ignoring my website, and in turn, I've been wasting money with it just "sitting" there. So...

I've completely revamped my website so that it runs through WordPress. I can host my blog and my website in the same place! So, now comes the arduous process of directing you all, my favorite readers, to my new place. I figured, what better incentive than to start when we have an ongoing contest!

Whoever goes and follows my new website/blog during the month of May will earn 15 points toward the grand prize. PLUS, I will be drawing from those people for a $20 gift card to Amazon. Sounds great, right?

I'll maintain this blog for awhile. I'll be "double" posting through the end of May. Then I'll move to posting reminders on here starting in June. At the end of June, I'll quit posting on here completely. This means, though, that the whole Character Blog Tour will be hosted on the new website--so hurry over so you can join in the fun!

But, Ralene, where do we go?


Once there, up in the top, left corner is an RSS feed button. Click on there to follow my blog! Then leave a comment here, so I can credit you with the points and enter you into the drawing.


I'll be answering all the questions from Tuesday and sharing the other winners and updated scores!

God bless!

Don't forget...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ask Me

Ralene's BeachFest Challenge:


Okay, as you all know, over the summer I'm hosting a Character Tour right here on my blog. There is an awesome line up of authors from all genres! I am so excited to have everyone join in to make this tour a huge success--and even more, to show these writers the support they deserve!

On top of that, this week is my birthday AND the beginning of the last part of the month--so the amazing prize package is still up for grabs! The score right now?

Sarah: 30

Wendy: 6

Annie: 2

Now, I know Sarah looks like she's WAY ahead, but we have some MAJOR points available over the next two weeks, starting with todays challenge. There are THREE ways to earn points.

1. Ask me a question! Leave an appropriate question in the comments and you earn 5 points, easy-peasy.

2. Refer your friends! Use your email, blog, Twitter, Facebook--whatever to persuade your friends to visit my blog. Have them leave a comment (or a question!), along with YOUR name, and you earn 10 points per person who drops your name. Oooo... I know, right?

3. Go follow me on Twitter or Facebook to earn 5 points a piece! (You have to leave me a comment to let me know you did). And b/c I love you all, if you already do both, then you automatically get 10 just need to remind me that you are.

To top it all off...if I reach 100 followers before the end of the month, I'll award 2 people 30 points a piece...if it happens before the end of the week, I'll choose 4 (at random)!

In case you missed the post about Ralene's BeachFest prizes, here's a reminder:

Grand Prize: A homemade basket filled with goodies! These baskets are made by my parents, they sell them at various craft shows around the country. You can check them out at Heartworks Crafts. The goodies include a combination of yummy goodies, reading goodies, paper goodies, and whatever other goodies I get excited about. :)

1st Prize: $20 Gift Card to Amazon

2nd Prize: $10 Gift Card to Amazon

Doesn't that all sound like a lot of fun? I'm excited to see what questions you all come up with for me! I'll be answering the questions in Thursday's post, so be sure to stop by again!


I'll draw a random commenter from today for John B. Olson's SHADE.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mid-May 3in30's mid-month, how are you doing with your goals?

The month of May is just getting away from me! It's been crazy trying to keep up with everything. Doctor appointments ruled the first two weeks. Between myself, my husband, and our son, someone was at the doctor just about every day during the work week. Whew! That can be exhausting!

What did all this craziness mean when it came to my goals? Well, it meant I did not accomplish as much as I had hoped.

1. Reducing the amount of Diet Coke I drink: The first week, this was actually going pretty well. I was alternating soda and water throughout the day. This kept me down to about 3-4 sodas, which was a start! However, when week number two rolled around and life wasn't settling down, my will power gave way-esp when in line at the McDonald's drive-thru.

2. I have actually made quite a bit of progress on the line edits for Dividing Spirits. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and anticipate finishing well before the end of the month. Yay! On the downside, I did find out on Friday that Dividing Spirits did not final in the ACFW Genesis contest. I moped around Friday, but pulled myself together on Saturday and dove back in!

3. Exercising: ugh. This is one that I keep meaning to do, but can't seem to work it into my schedule. About the only time that I can see a possibility of fitting it in is from 3:30-4:30 in the afternoon, which just seems like a strange time to try to squeeze in a sweaty workout that requires a shower. Anyone else want to weigh in on that conundrum? On the up side, though, I have been "moving" more. I've cut my computer time during day, and have been playing with the kids, cleaning, etc. Things that require me to get up/out and move!

The nice thing about a mid-month check up is that it gives you time to evaluate and refocus. I still think my goals are attainable, I just need to buckle down and work hard!

What are you looking forward to in the latter part of this month?

Ralene's BeachFest Trivia Questions: (Points are doubled this week!)

What was my dad's profession growing up?

What does my husband do?

What is the name of my current work-in-progress?


I will draw a random commenter from today to win C.J. Darlington's Thicker than Blood.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A CLEAN Birthday

Okay, the first BeachFest Challenge was to tell me about your favorite birthday in 300 words or less for 30 points toward the grand prize. Unfortunately, this round I only had one entrant. So, congratulations, Sarah Tipton! Below is her favorite birthday.

But before I let you read that, I'm also excited to announce the winner of Brandilyn Collins' book--Rebecca Burgener! Rebecca, email me your address at raleneburke at yahoo dot com and I'll get the book out to you ASAP.

Now, on to Sarah's favorite birthday!

My favorite birthday was my fourteenth. That year, I received one of my best presents ever. A clean room.

A few weeks before my birthday, I decided to thoroughly clean my bedroom. This meant emptying my closet, bookcases and every drawer and piling all of the junk in the middle of the floor. I planned to sort through everything and organize it back where it belonged. Except, this was me. I am not a neat and tidy person. So my bedroom was an ankle-deep sea of stuff. Looking back, I’m surprised my parents allowed me to have a slumber party that year. But they did. Four friends came over to celebrate and spend the night. We did the usual--pizza, movies, junk food. Since I am not a night owl, I was the first one asleep in my sleeping bag on the living room floor. I vaguely remember someone trying to pull me back into the party, but I’m not so nice during the dark single digits.

Of course, being the first one asleep meant I was the first one awake the next morning. Leaving my sleeping friends on the floor, I went to take a shower. When I walked into my bedroom, I found an amazing sight. Carpet. And a neatly made bed. Every single thing was put away. Pillows and stuffed animals covered my bed along with a sign: “Happy Birthday!” What an awesome gift.

Then I found a gigantic spider on the bathroom floor. Oh well. Balance in the universe and all that, I suppose.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Registration Complete!

I did it!

I made the big leap.

I crossed the line.

I'm free falling....


I'm going to the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference in September! *happy monkey dance*

I went to the ACFW conference in 2009--my first conference--and it was the experience of a lifetime. I learned so much and I made connections with writers that have lasted me over the last two years.

Last year, because of finances and my husband's work schedule, I was unable to attend. Okay, so the three month old baby had a lot to do with that decision as well. I just couldn't leave him!

This year, it's all thanks to the Lord's providence! We had some financial things come through. And, though my husband still has to work, MIL is THRILLED to come out and help take care of the kids for a week. And why shouldn't she be...we're in Hawaii!

I feel so blessed and honored that with the Lord's blessing (and my husband's) I can take on this adventure once again. I've got some stellar roommates (already!) and the promise of some great workshops and speakers. Granted, there's still the pulse-pounding TERROR that comes with agent appointments, I signed up for two! Now, how to talk myself into going to them?

And the Awards fun! We get to get all glammed up and support our friends as the staff hands out awards for Genesis (unpubbed)awards, as well as Agent of the Year and Mentor of the Year. Eek!


Praise the Lord--St. Louis, here I come!

Ralene's BeachFest Trivia Question:

What STATE was I born in?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Top 11 AMAZING Facts About Me

First, let me say a hearty HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! to all my fellow mothers out there. We have a tough job, but the rewards are many and well worth it. I pray that God blesses each of you today. On to today's regularly scheduled program...

I don't know that there's that much AMAZING about me. But, well, here's some fun facts about me. I was going to wait until closer to my birthday to post something like this, but since Wives of Faith insisted…

1. I had surgery when I was 2 days old to remove a large tumor in my neck (think man’s fist in baby’s neck). The doc’s said there was a 95% chance I would be physically/mentally handicapped to the point of being unable to take care of myself. Other than a paralyzed shoulder that limits how much I can lift, I’m completely normal. Well, you know, as normal as I can be.

2. When I was little (like 6 or so), I tricked my sister into thinking a tomato cage was a Chinese trap. With her arms pinned to her side, she attempted to hop to my dad and fell flat on her face—result? Not good…she had to black eyes and a big goose egg on her forehead. Yeah, is it any wonder I still don’t like tomato cages?

3. I was published in the city-wide literary magazine when I was in the 3rd grade for a little piece on Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. I am the blessed mother of three darlings. I wouldn't trade this job for the world!

5. I’ve been to Disney World TWICE! I went with my high school band my junior year, and the school dance team my senior year. Fun times! I so intend to take my kids in a couple of years!

6. I’ve lived in 6 states (one state four times) and one foreign country.

7. I graduated Top 10 in my high school class.

8. I married the love of my life and he still surprises and delights me.

9. My first pregnancy/delivery was my hardest. I had diabetes and eclapsia by the time they induced labor. It took 20 hrs of labor and almost 2 hrs of pushing, but Alana was finally born. Both mother and daughter recovered from the experience nicely!

10. My passion is to share the extraordinary ways that God works in our lives through fiction writing.

11. I am human. I know, shocker. I make mistakes, but I am redeemed by a loving Savior and share an inheritance befitting a princess.

Now that you know a little more about me, what about you? Tell me something AMAZING about yourself.

Ralene’s BeachFest Trivia Question:
Alana starts Kindergarten this year—where is she going to school?

DON'T FORGET! Last night to enter a short 300 words on your best birthday for 30 points toward the grand prize package! Also, go back and leave a comment on Friday's post for a chance to win Exposure by Brandilyn Collins!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Top 11 Fun Things I"m Determined to DO in Hawaii!

Yesterday, one of my 11 reasons I love being a military wife is the opportunity to make the most of every place we go. Somehow, my husbanded landed a much coveted duty station—Hawaii! Now, while I wasn’t totally excited at first, I am loving it here. Due to some circumstances beyond our control, we haven’t actually been able to get out and do much, but boy do we have a list!

1. Island-hop. There are like 125 islands that make up the Hawaii chain. While I don’t intend to visit that many, I do want to visit Maui and the Big Island.

2. Spend a day out at Diamond-head.

3. Take a leisurely drive around the entire island (except for the one little part where there’s no roads).

4. Take in an official luau.

5. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center.

6. Visit the Dole Plantation.

7. Have a weekend with my hubby at the Hale Koa.

8. Spend a day at Pearl Harbor.

9. Visit the zoo and the aquarium.

10. One day, when I have more stamina, I want to go on one of the several beautiful hikes.

11. This one I’m almost embarrassed to say I haven’t done yet—hit the Stadium Swap Meet!

There are several other things we plan to do while we’re here, but these are what I’m most excited about. We have 2 ½ years left here, so plenty of time to take it all in! What do you want to do where you are? (even if you’ve been there for years!)

Ralene’s BeachFest Trivia Question:
For what website am I the newborn/baby blogger? Hmm…

DON'T FORGET! Email me your best birthday in 300 words or less for a chance to win 30 points toward the grand prize package! (due tomorrow night)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top 11 Reasons I LOVE Being an Army Wife!

Some people may be giving me that crazy look. You love what? Seriously? What meds are you taking? But I do. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was raised in a military home, or maybe it’s just that I’m people-oriented—but I love being an Army wife.

In honor of Wives of Faith’s Blog Carnival, here is my Top 11 Reasons:

11. It teaches your independence and self-reliance. I’ve talked to some women who wouldn’t have a clue what to do if their toilets, mower, etc broke. I know other women who have complained about having their husbands gone for a weekend. Trust me, you learn quickly in the military.

10. An inside look on how the military works. I’m sure it looks a lot different to those on the outside not “in the know”, you know?

9. People are impressed when I tell them all the places I’ve been. Not that I’m trying to impress them, but you know. Hehehe…

8. Okay, I hope that I don’t sound greedy/selfish here, but I love the discounts. If you know anything about the military, you know we don’t get paid nearly as much as we should. *cough, cough* Although there are several other perks that we enjoy. Still, with the economy the way it is, every little bit helps. I am so grateful for the way that businesses treat their soldiers/military families.

7. My kids will have so many experiences that they would not likely have if we were settled in one place for the majority of their childhood. From learning how to make friends to learning how to let go, from interacting with different types of people to living in different cultures, from the importance of values to the importance of discipline—my children will grow in many ways just from living the military life.

6. Amazing opportunities to encourage and minister too other women. Programs like PWOC offer ways for military wives to fellowship and study the Bible together. Other volunteer positions in program like the FRG (Family Readiness Group) and Spouse groups offer chances to meet other women. Online, one can find a plethora of groups for the military spouse (like Wives of Faith!).

5. The most interesting places. No matter where the military sends us, our home is what we make of it. I wasn’t too happy about going to Hawaii and being secluded from the rest of my family. But now that I’m here—I still miss my family—but I’m making the most of it. The scenery is downright beautiful—we see rainbows on a daily basis around here. Yet even in the most mundane of places (like Ft. Leavenworth, KS), there’s still so much to see/do nearby.

4. Meeting new people! In the many travels of a military family, you run across all kinds of people from different races, religious, cultures. You realize just how diverse this world is and how connected we all are.

3. This one may sound a bit off, but I love being a military wife because it forces me to rely on God. Whether my husband is deployed, or safe at home, or I’m moving from my home state to a completely different culture, or I stress about normal, everyday things—I have to turn it all over to God or I’d completely use my sanity. God and I have done nothing but grow closer over the years.

2. The bonds we form with other military wives. I don’t remember where I saw/heard this, so I’m paraphrasing here. But as military wives get to know each other and go through the stuff that we do, our friends become our family. They become who we turn too when it all gets too much. They are the ones who know how to encourage us, who know what we need. It’s a very unique bond that I think little others know, especially because it can form so fast

1. The number one thing I love about being a military wife? The honor and pride in being married to a man not afraid to lay his life down for his family and his country.

As you can see, I enjoy many aspects of being a military wife, but I most cherish the relationships forged and the memories made. Join me tomorrow when the Wives of Faith Blog Tour subject is 11 Fun Things I want to See or Do in Hawaii!

Ralene’s BeachFest Trivia:
What genre do I write in?

Leave a comment about your favorite thing about being a ______ wife/husband to be entered to win a copy of Brandilyn Collins’ Exposure! Winner drawn Monday.

Character Blog Tour Announcement!

Today, I have an exciting announcement. I’ve already been proclaiming this on FB, Twitter, and on some email loops, but I’ll go ahead and post it here too. After all, this is where the big event is going to take place! Mark your calendars, people!

This summer, I am hosting a Character Blog Tour here on Faith Without Limits. Exciting, I know! I’m going to have a slew of writers, published and unpublished, visiting every Tuesday and Thursday for the months of June, July, and August. The fun part is they will be blogging as/with the main characters from their novels! Yes, yes, all sorts of creative juices will be flowing for this one. Some people are even going to offer giveaways. This will be an event to remember!

If you’re a writer and would like to participate, sign up now! I have 2 slots left! All you need is an MC to do the talkin'. The guest post can be about whatever you want as long as your MC is involved.

If you are a graphic artist of some type, or just good with creating stuff on the computer, I'm looking for someone to make a logo I can use for these posts for cheap (read: free).

In other news, for those who were wondering, Connor is doing great. He's completely recovered from his stay in the hospital. I took him for a follow up on Monday, and the only new development is he can't stand the doctors. Now, he's just toddling/crawling around getting into anything and everything not tied down or hidden away. Don't you just love toddlers? I do!

Ralene's BeachFest Trivia Question:

How many siblings do I have?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prizes Announced!

I have finally figured out the prizes for Ralene’s BeachFest!

FIRST PLACE: A homemade basket (pictured above, but different material) full of all kinds of goodies—books, candy, coffee, stationary, cards, and more are all possible goodies to be found in this basket!

SECOND PLACE: $20 gift card to Amazon

THIRD PLACE: $10 gift card to Amazon

So come on and join in the party! Remember, the daily trivia is worth one point, but today I also introduce Ralene’s BeachFest Challenge—the winner gets an automatic 20 points!

Ralene’s BeachFest Trivia Question:

Where did I graduate from high school?

Ralene’s BeachFest Challenge (due by Sunday, May 8th):

Tell me about your favorite birthday in 300 words or less. Email them to me at raleneburke at yahoo dot com and I will post the winner next Tuesday.

Taking a Hold of Destiny!

As I move into the next decade of my life this month, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what I’ve done so far. It’s nice to think back on the things I’ve accomplished over the last 30 years.

Normal stuff like graduating from high school, getting married, having children.

Career stuff like working my way up to restaurant manager before realizing that wasn’t where I needed to be, making the big decision to focus on my writing, going the extra mile by attending the ACFW conference.

And not so normal stuff—surviving surgery at 2 days old, growing up with little evidence of physical disability (and no mental disabilities), surpassing everything the doctors ever said, adjusting to life with diabetes/high blood pressure.

Lately, I’ve felt like my life has reached a point where it’s not going to change much for the next several years. A rut as some would call it. I don’t feel like I influence much beyond the inner circle of my family. That’s not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. But I just have this big faith that wants to set the world on fire—to get out there and DO something. Then that fire dwindles to an ember because I tell myself that I have responsibilities—kids, a husband, a home, the military. Like I can’t have it all.

But there’s good news. God is bigger than me! God is working all around me. I have to be open to both the BIG and small ways. I’ve said it before on here (and we all know how good I am at taking my own advice), but if you want to change the world—start with one person, one act, one choice.

I’m turning 30, and I don’t feel that I’ve made my mark on this world. But—who cares? I am only 30, and it’s not like I have one foot in the grave. I’m still young. Yes, I might have limitations because of my family (whom I adore!), but that doesn’t mean that God can’t use me in BIG ways.

So, this year, I’m pulling my head out of my self-centerness, and opening my eyes to all the possibilities. A good friend of mine, Kimchi, told me before I moved to Hawaii that she knew that God was going to use me in BIG ways while I’m out here. I, of course, doubted her and said sure, sure. But I’m going to take her words and raise them to the Lord. I am His servant and I want to be used!

Can I get an AMEN?

Ralene’s Beachfest Trivia Question:

What is my favorite color?

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 3in30

Okay, so if you followed by blog at all last month, you know that April was one of those up and down months. I semi-finaled in the ACFW Genesis contest (yay!), but my 10-month old son also spend a week in the hospital (boo!). So, when it came to my goals for the month, I seriously lacked focus, motivation, and time.

I did make some progress on one of the goals: Drinking more water. Yay! I figured out how to make the yucky Hawaii water taste better, so am more inclined to drink it. I pulled out my trusty, green water bottle and filled it up, stuck it in the fridge. And there it sat. So pretty. I did manage to get through at least one water bottle a day, so now I just need to keep using it more and more. Take it with me when I leave the house—stuff like that. One thing that I’m going to try to do to help with my water intake is the basis for my first May goal.

1. Limit my soda intake. Right now, I probably drink the equivalent of a 2-Liter of Diet Coke a day. Yes, it’s THAT bad. My goal over the next 4 weeks, is to start replacing some of that soda with water. I hope by the end of the month, Diet Coke becomes an occasional treat (like when eating out), instead of a daily necessity. This will also help me save a few bucks in the budget department.

2. Finish up this round of edits for my WIP as well as the query letter/synopsis to go along with it. After I find out about the finals for the Genesis contest, I plan to start the querying process with this novel.

3. Exercise! I want to start exercising 3-5 times a week. Over the last month, I acquired a few new accessories to help me with this. Hubby got a great deal on a Kinect that a buddy who is moving to the mainland was getting rid of. It came with Zumba! I also invested in The Biggest Loser workouts for Kinect as well. On top of that, hubby finally cleared out the garage and set up his weight bench and my Gazelle. Now, we really don’t have an excuse not to workout. I hope to start walking a bit too, even if it’s just to take the kids to the park that’s not right next door.

So, there you have it folks. My plan for May.

Ralene’s Beachfest Trivia Question:

What is my middle name?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May is My Birthday Month!

Everyone already knows that I'm weird, so I'll just add to the pot. I LOVE my birthday. Seriously. I don't even mind that this year is a doosie--the big 3-0. That's right, I'm rockin' into a new decade, and I'm gonna do it up right!


We're going to be celebrating for the ENTIRE month of May. Hey, it's my party, and I'll make as long as I want to. As much as I enjoy getting presents and being treated like a queen, I also am all about the giving. This month is going to be crazy with giveaways, contests, trivia. Oh man, are you in for it! You readers will probably make out better than I do!

My big contest for the month is Ralene's BeachFest! Here's how it works. Throughout the month, I'll be hosting different contests, challenges, and trivia to help you earn points. I have an spreadsheet where I'll keep track of names and points. The top 3 scores at the end of the month will win some great prizes from ME! I haven't quite decided on them yet, but I promise they will be awesome. When I do figure it out, I'll announce them and then post on the side of the blog.

Every day, I'll be posting a Ralene trivia question at the bottom of my post. These are worth ONE point to the first person with the right answer. Some of the answers can be found throughout the web at places like Facebook, Twitter, Writing.Com, Wives of Faith, this blog and my personal website. Some of the answers you're just going to have to guess. Yes, I can be evil like that--it's my birthday! :)

So for the first point...

Who can tell me on what day I was born? (Month/Day)

Have fun!