Sticky Note

I'm on a blogging break, but will be checking in from time to time. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Writing a Novel ~ in the midst of a busy life

An inside look at From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You, by award-winning, best-selling authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck…

A therapist thought:

Writing in the midst of a busy life
By Rachel Hauck

Early on in my writing life, I had to give up the notion that writing time would come easy, be ideal and full of inspiration.

When I signed my first book contract, I was working full time for a software company as a department manager. I’d recently become a worship leader at my church, adding that to my job as youth pastor’s wife. My husband and I also gathered with other area pastors to start a weekly multi-church prayer meeting and I’d become the Vice President of a national writers organization and was coordinating our second annual conference.

Writing? Yeah, like when? Where? And I didn’t even have children to raise. I felt pushed, pulled, torn, frazzled and on the edge. I’d never written a book to be published before. I’d not coordinated a conference and my committee was “out there” across America. If I failed, I’d let so many people down, including myself.

I lay in bed one night praying, trying to decide if I should just work up my courage and resign as Vice President and admit I couldn’t do it all. I didn’t need to be that kind of person. But as my final grasp for God’s grace, I whispered in the darkness, “Lord, you have a conference to coordinate, let me know what you need me to do.”

Peace washed over me. I didn’t resign. The Lord sent me a co-coordinator. The conference was a success.

And, I wrote my first book by June of that year and met my deadline.

A busy life seems impossible to avoid these days. We have so many options and opportunities available to us. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Make sure the jobs or opportunities you embrace are really from the Lord. Don’t say yes out of guilt or even selfish ambition. Know that you know all you’re doing is right and good. Sure I had a full plate that one year, but I knew God had loaded me up for a reason.

2. Give it all back to Him. Ask for wisdom and grace, insight and help.

3. Let go of any and all concept that you have to be perfect. You’ll fail and it’s okay to fail. There were quite a few bloopers at that second annual conference, but we got past them. God’s grace was greater.

4. Get organized. Since I knew my book deadline, I wrote out my writing schedule on a calendar. I had a few extra vacation days so I scheduled them as mega-writing sessions. It’s not unholy, or ungodly to plan. Most of us fail in our sincerest desires because we live by the tyranny of the urgent. We don’t plan so our lives are governed by the moment. If we do plan, we allow ourselves to be knocked off course. Schedule writing time and STICK to it. If it’s one hour a week, then guard it with all your might.

5. Be confident before God. Know that He has good works planned for you to walk in. He loves you. He wants you to succeed.

In the midst of juggling my schedule, I worked hard to maintain my own intimate relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t always easy and I failed to reach my ultimate goal, but by having a goal, I found success. Otherwise, I might have drifted way away from the heart-to-heart relationship I wanted with Him.

There were a few tools I used to help me stay on track with my relationship.

1. I attended corporate prayer meetings.
2. I was faithful to all worship services.
3. I went early to youth church or main church to have prayer times.

Look for ways to fortify your spiritual as well as natural life.

1. Find a buddy to pray with or write with.

2. Ask your family to “do it with you.” As parents we spend time driving our children to school, music or dance, sports events. Wouldn’t they love to help mom or dad meet their writing goal? Bring them into the adventure with you.

3. Pray. Ask Jesus for grace. For help. If all else fails, use my prayer. “Lord, you have a book to write, let me know what I need to do.

If you find you just can’t manage it all, set is aside and wait. Maybe your season of writing is not yet. But keep taking notes, keep praying, keep learning.

God is faithful to keep us in His will. Even when we fail, He will not.

So exhale. Relax. Have fun.

Find out more about the Love to Write tour going on now (including contests and Blog-a-Book) from my previous post here. And today is the last day to join in on the contests, but not the last day to join in on Blog-a-Book with My Book Therapy.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Excerpt on Writing a Novel ~ From the Inside Out

An inside look at From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You, by award-winning, best-selling authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck…


Four Keys to a Writer's Life

As you prep for our journey, I want you to start exercising! We're going to get in shape! Work off the dust of our minds and tighten the flab of our daily schedules so we can utilize the writing time we have in our days.

Writing is much like every other discipline. It takes commitment. After all, as much as we'd like it to happen, those books don't just download from our brains automatically! It takes nurturing. Did you know that your brain has a well of words for each day, and you need to replenish those words after you use them? It takes time (something we're going to figure out how to get!), and it takes a game plan.

Let's start with Commitment. The fact is, writing will take you away from your family, your health club, your church, your social groups, your online gaming, your Sudoku, your television…you get the drift. There are costs. The keys to keeping those costs in line are:

1. Priorities
2. Balance
3. Perspective

Writing should ALWAYS come after spending time with God (that's also the nurturing part!) and rarely above family and church, but sometimes it does come before workouts and social life.

My friend Judy Baer (writing coach, extraordinaire) shared this illustration with me once: “Stand on one foot and balance. You can’t stand perfectly still, but rather, you have lean to different sides to keep your balance.”

Writing and life should be like this -- different sides require attention in different waves. If you are to invest in writing, then know that you might have to give up other things. Don’t worry—it’s not forever!. But for a while. If you were training for the Olympics, you'd have a training schedule, and it would ramp up when you had specific events to meet. Take a look at your life and see if you can carve out one hour per day, or three per week to invest in writing. Then, put that on your calendar in RED. It's an appointment. Be there.

Nurturing: Your brain needs a steady supply of new words, spiritual nourishment, research facts, and good writing to keep it fresh and ready to put prose on the page.

Spiritual Nourishment: Writing is largely a spiritual event. You are connecting on a thematic level with your reader, and that happens in the spiritual realm. Sure, we access many of these metaphors through emotion, but looking past feelings to their deeper meaning and sources helps broaden your understanding of your book, your character’s journey, and most importantly WHY you are spending time writing this book. Make a habit of spending time soaking in God's Word, or a devotional book like Streams in the Desert, or whatever form of spiritual food you need for your diet. I like to read theology books, but sometimes a great devotional book puts my spirit into the right frame to see beyond myself, to tap into the bigger picture and inspires me to write.

Research: make it your goal to keep up with the world. Technology. Medicine. Trends. Don't be afraid to use the Discovery channel for interesting plot ideas! Know what’s happening in culture and politics. Read biographies, current, and past – you’ll be inspired with new story ideas. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. (At least TiVo the channel!) To communicate to our world, you need to understand it.

Read Up: Fill your mind with great writing. Start your writing time reading the Psalms, or perhaps a book of poetry. Read the classics, yes, but also make it your goal to read in your genre! Most importantly, find authors that are better than you and soak in their words, analyzing why they are fabulous. Feeding your mind and your soul will give you the materials you can draw from as you create.

Time: This is one of the hardest areas for new writers. Most of us don’t have hours in the day to wait for the muse to find us. We have thirty minutes after supper, or perhaps three hours on a Saturday morning.

Here's a few strategies for maximizing that time:

1. Plan ahead for your writing time and get your family to help you protect it. I have a sign on my door that reads, “Cry Me a River.” In short…they’d better have a good reason to come through that door when it’s closed (only if there’s blood or fire is the general rule). When my children were young, I always had an open door policy. However, I asked them to respect my time, just like I respected theirs. That meant that I spent time with them first – reading, helping with homework, fixing dinner – whatever they needed. I also involved them in the writing process. If they allowed me to finish a chapter, we’d celebrate with something fun (yes, there was a lot of ice cream in those early days). And I promised that when my first book got published, I’d take them to Disney World. I kept that promise. Enlisting your family’s help will free you from guilt AND give them an opportunity to share in your victories as you write. Make them your partners.

2. Keep a notebook of ideas that will invariably come to you as you wash dishes, walk the dog, clean the bathroom, drive to work, sit in a boring meeting, or even in the middle of the night. Sometimes you can't dash to your computer to put in that perfect sentence--so put it in your notebook. You'll have a collection of words and sentences to jumpstart your creativity when you sit down to write.

3. Don't clean up your writing space mid-project (okay, I know, that sounds like a messy person's excuse but...) if you simply walk away from your computer after you finish a scene, you'll be able to slip right back into it when you come back. I always suggest having a special room to write in so you can close the door, even if it's a section of your bedroom--something I did for years. I had a little garage-sale chair with a pile of books on the opposite side of the bed--my little alcove. But, if you can't find a separate space, invest in a little basket to throw all your writing gear in (research books, etc), and then set it somewhere where it won't be
“reorganized” (as my husband calls it!). Keeping your research handy helps you maximize your time when you sit down and dive back into your story.

Finally, you need a Game Plan, and I'm not talking plotting versus seat-of-the-pants writing here--I'm talking about a little journal that you keep AFTER your writing session. Write down any thoughts you have for the next chapter, as well as your goal for the next writing session. Maybe you want to go back and revise the previous chapter or fix certain words. Maybe you need more research. Maybe you just want to plow ahead, but have notes for revisions.

Keeping a journal of your writing time helps you focus on each writing session without having to ask, "Now, where was I?" This is especially true if a week or more has gone by in between writing sessions.

Now, for all of you who have little children and think, "Hey, I don't even have time to wash my hair—I can't possibly find time to write,” my words to you are, well, let's see, greasy hair versus seeing your dreams come true. You can wash your hair when your kids go to school. No, I'm not that bad! I like clean hair, but I well remember the days when I typed with my children on my lap, or stayed up late with my laptop while my husband snoozed beside me.

He sure woke up when I got that first contract.


Join me on the journey and learn how to write the novel in you!
God bless you on your writing journey!
Susan May Warren

Find out more about the Love to Write tour going on now from my previous post here.

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Daisy Chain

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)


Mary DeMuth


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Daisy Chain, go HERE

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do you Love To Write?

Welcome to the Love To Write blog tour!! If you've ever thought about writing a book you will want to keep reading...

Have you always wanted to write a novel, but didn’t know where to start? This book is for you. With proven techniques, easy to understand explanations and practical steps, From The Inside...Out will teach you how a story is structured then take you through the process of creating and marketing your novel. Topics include: Character-driven plotting, How to HOOK your reader, The elements and flow of SCENES, How to build STORYWORLD, Secrets to Sizzling Dialogue, Proven Self-Editing techniques, Synopsis and Query letter writing, How to manage your writing career ...and everything in between!


Write a book with My Book Therapy Voices in 2009!

Remember those games you used to play where your friend started the story, and you finished it? Or the “Choose your own ending” books? Ever wanted to be a part of the story process, giving input on the character’s decisions, learning how to write a book as you go? Me too!

Here at My Book Therapy, we love to write, and we love to teach writers how to find their voice. So, in 2009 we’ll be writing a book together! Starting in January, we’ll create characters, a plot, develop conflict, the black moment, the epiphany and finally…the happy ending. Then, week by week, you’ll be a part of the creation process, voting on the next step of our hero’s journey, watching the book take life, and learning the nuances of crafting a story. You’ll Blog-A-Book with the My Book Therapy authors and get tools to help you how to write your own novel.

And, at the end of the year, we’ll have a book we’ve all created, something that we’ll publish! And, best of all, the proceeds will go to support IJM, an organization that fights human trafficking around the world.

I’m really excited about our new project, and can’t wait to see what the collective mind put together.

So, Come and Blog-A-Book. Learn. Fellowship. Bless.

My Book Therapy…Discover the writer in you.

My Book Therapy services

The site is: My Book Therapy
The Therapists are: Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck and Sarah Sumpolec

And here's a taste of what they have to say:
An inside look at From the Inside…Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! By award-winning authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck

Introduction page:

We all have goals, right? Dreams, desires, hopes that have been niggling at us for years. For aspiring authors, it’s the dream of writing a novel. You’re a writer if every time you hear an interesting job description or read a compelling story in the newspaper, you think, hey, that would make an interesting premise for a novel. You’re a writer if, when you get introduced to someone new, you can’t help but ask about their lives and can barely resist the urge to take out a pen and paper and jot down some notes. You’re a writer if, when you’re reading a novel, you occasionally take a breath and say, wow, I want to write like that. If you’re a writer, this book is for you.

I remember the day when I decided to write a novel. I was in Siberia, in the middle of a solemn and icy winter. I had four children, all under the age of six, and my husband was gone, again, planting a church. I had read everything in the house at least twice and decided that my own imagination could do at least as well as one of the books I’d devoured in a day. (Boy, did I have much to learn!) I sat down at the computer and said, “I’m writing a book.”

That’s about as far as I got. Because once I actually sat down and stared at the computer, I HAD NO IDEA HOW A BOOK WAS PUT TOGETHER. Where did I start? How did I develop characters? What’s my point? And most importantly – how did I get it from my brain to the computer and into print?

It took me a year of writing, first on Saturdays, and then every day. But I finished my first book. (To all who think that then I ran out and found a publisher – not! 4 books later…)

What I learned through that first novel was that:
1. Writing a good novel was harder than I thought, and I needed a lot of work.
2. I love to write and was willing to make the journey, whatever it took.
3. Even if I never got published, God could use my writing journey for good in my life.

A writer’s life is solitary, hard work, fraught with rejection, frustration, and even envy. BUT, if you look at it as another way that you will grow and experience your world, then it’s a journey that is ripe with rewards.

This is the book I wish I had when I first started. It’s because of those years of angst and study that I started My Book Therapy, a blog about how to write and a fiction editing service to help writers along the way. Because, see, I was in Siberia. As in RUSSIA. Alone. Just me, some novels, and my imagination. I wished I had a reference guide, something to organize all the information I needed in one place, maybe a step-by-step journey, and a companion/encourager to help me complete my dream. Sure, I had writing books, but they made the process so…complicated. I knew it had to be easier. Inside Out is MY writing manual – what I developed and now use to create stories. It’s my successes, my systems…and my secrets. And, as a bonus, you also get the perspective of Rachel Hauck, my pal and My Book Therapy partner, thrown in to add another rich perspective. It’s the manual of writing the books we know how to write.

God Bless you on your writing journey!
Susan May Warren


You have two chances to win!

Want to win a copy of From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You for your very own? Leave a comment here and tell us what kind of novel you have in YOU.


Do you already have your novel down on the page? Does it need a little THERAPY? Enter to win 10% off a Book Therapy Session (that’s a savings of $30+) by leaving a comment here telling us a brief synopsis of your story.

All winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends 2/28 and the winners will be announced on March 2nd!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Love To Write tour!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Four Books That Strenthen Marriages

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today we are doing something special for Wild Card. Since February is the month of LOVE, we have three (really four, one is a boxed set) books dealing with love. The authors are:

and the books:

Love as a Way of Life Devotional by Dr. Gary Chapman

WaterBrook Press (October 7, 2008)

I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs

WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)

For Couples Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

Multnomah Books (January 13, 2009)


Love as a Way of life Devotional by Dr. Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of twenty-six books, including Love As a Way of Life and the New York Times bestseller The Five Love Languages. An internationally respected marriage and family-life expert, he hosts the daily radio program A Love Language Minute. Dr. Chapman and his wife, Karolyn, live in North Carolina, where he serves on a church staff.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307444694
ISBN-13: 978-0307444691

I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs

Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs are the founders of Hope Matters Marriage Ministries, and for the past several years they have shared their incredible story of a marriage restored with audiences across the nation. Jeff is an account manager with OshKosh B'Gosh, and Cheryl has served as director of the Frisco, Texas, office of the Center for Christian Counseling. They live in Dallas, Texas with their two college-age daughters

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074452
ISBN-13: 978-1400074457

For Couples Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

Shaunti Feldhahn is a public speaker and the best-selling
author of several books. She contributes the conservative opinion for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's popular online "Woman to Woman" column, which is syndicated nationwide.

Jeff Feldhahn is an attorney and the CEO of the tech company World2One. Jeff and Shaunti each hold graduate degrees from Harvard University. They are active small-group leaders in their Atlanta-area and the parents of two.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.95
Publisher: Multnomah Books (January 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601422482
ISBN-13: 978-1601422484


Part 1

Love as a New Way of Life

Bedtime Stories

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—ROMANS 8:38–39

When my grandchildren were toddlers, I read many books to them about farms, the alphabet, and how to have good manners. A more subtle theme among children’s picture books is unconditional love. “Mama, do you love me?” a child asks her mother. “How much do you love me?” a bunny asks his father. With a variety of settings and characters, countless books represent children asking, “What if I ran away? What if I hurt you? What if I traveled to the moon or broke a vase or hit my sister? Would you still love me?”

“Yes,” the parent says. “I will love you no matter what. I will always love you.”

These cozy bedtime stories reflect a universal need that we never outgrow: the need to know that someone, somewhere, loves us without restraint or condition. What a gift we give each other when we communicate that kind of love every day. We might not say it with words. In fact, we might choose to love by not speaking but by being patient in the face of frustration, kind when someone is rude to us, or humble when it would be easier to talk about our accomplishments. But every time we are purposeful about making love a way of life, we are affirming what we each need to hear— and what God speaks to us every day: You are loved. No matter what. Forever and always.


How would truly believing God loves you—no matter what—change your thoughts and actions in the next twenty-four hours?



October 1999

Do you, Jeff, take Cheryl to be your wife, to love her, honor her, and cherish her, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for as long as you both shall live?”

I looked into Jeff ’s eyes and held both of his trembling hands. He looked back at me, but neither of us could see very well for the tears—mine boldly streaming down my cheeks.

“I do.” Jeff ’s voice was low but strong. The words echoed in my mind.

I do. I do.

The minister repeated the words, this time to me, and it was my turn to say it.

I do. I meant it with every fiber of my being. I wanted to shout it to everyone within hearing distance, scrawl it on the walls, write it in the sky. “I do!” I glanced around me. The tiny chapel nestled in the Colorado mountains was awash with rainbow-hued sunlight streaming through stained glass windows, as if God was personally pouring down his blessings on our little ceremony. I felt a chill run down my spine.

“What token of your love do you offer?”

Jeff and I watched as our twin daughters, eleven years old and sparkling in off-white dresses with matching shoes and tights, stepped forward to offer the minister our wedding bands. Brand-new rings, simple and elegant, perfect for our brand-new life.

“With this ring, I thee wed.” ”We repeated the words, mindful that we’d said them before but knowing this time it was different. I could barely remember the ceremony seventeen years earlier when I’d first promised to love, honor, and cherish Jeff. I didn’t keep my promise. But this time I would. As Jeff ’s eyes locked on to mine, I knew he was thinking the same thing.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Such simple words: Now. Husband.Wife.

So familiar, yet so…unbelievable. How long had I anticipated this moment? Seven years, for sure. Or was it more like eighteen? my entire life? Jeff and I shared a kiss and then pulled our daughters into the embrace. A family hug. We squeezed each other tightly while our tears flowed, and it was all I could do to keep my knees from buckling. We stood there, embracing, wiping each other’s tears, and laughing together. I smiled at my incredible husband, my heart overflowing with gratitude. So much gratitude. A whole new life together. It couldn’t possibly be real. We were a family again. Who would have thought? Who in the world could ever have thought this would happen?




I don’t love him anymore.” Amy has barely gotten herself settled on the couch in my office when she blurts out her opening line. She is brunette, petite, and cute, wearing fashionable jeans and just a touch of makeup. She’s the picture of a suburban, got-it-all-together mom—every hair in place, her haircut the latest in chic. Only her expression gives her away. She stares at me, defiant. I recognize the anger. Been there, done that.

“Your husband. ”Who else would she be talking about?

“Actually, I don’t know if I ever loved him.”

Here we go again, I think, my stomach clenching. How many times have I heard the grief, seen the desperation, felt the rage? How many times has my heart broken for a despairing woman who’s come for counseling because she’s lost all hope of her marriage ever working? There are so many hurting couples, so many troubled souls.

“Okay. Let’s talk about it.” I open my notepad and prepare to hear the familiar words. She has no feelings left. She is numb. Wants out of the marriage. Never should have married him in the first place. What was she thinking? Picked the wrong guy. Amy takes a breath and hardly veers from the speech I’d anticipated.

“We’re separated right now. John doesn’t love me—he doesn’t even know me. It feels like he never wanted to know me. We don’t talk—we never have. He doesn’t care who I am.” She pauses. “I know this is wrong. I feel bad about the kids and everything, but I can’t take it anymore. I don’t feel like I can do this one more day.” She looks away. There is more, but she’s suddenly clammed up.

“Sounds like you’re in a lot of pain.”

She fidgets. Her stony glare has departed, and now her eyes flit around the edges of the room. I try again.

“Can you tell me why you don’t love him anymore?”

“I told you—he doesn’t love me. It’s dead. There’s nothing there. This

isn’t a marriage. I’m done.”

“Why did you want to talk to me?”

“I just… I didn’t know what to do. I want out. But I know I’m supposed to…you know, try. Everyone says get counseling. So here I am.”

“Are you looking for a way out, or are you hoping we might find a way to make your marriage work?”

The defiant stare is back. She looks at me, her eyes steely. “No, I… I

can’t do it.” She is suddenly looking at her lap. I consider her eyes, her body language. I try to listen to the words she hasn’t spoken. She’s clearly battered, beaten up emotionally. She feels unloved and worthless. And I wonder, Has she met someone who makes her feel loved again?

I’ve never met Amy before, but I’ve seen her countless times, sitting here on my office couch…or sobbing to me over coffee. Other Amys. Other women who find themselves at the same terrible crossroads. I was Amy once. And while my heart breaks for her, it simultaneously surges with hope. If only… Oh, God…My silent words are a prayer, both for Amy and for me.



August 21, 1992. The worst day of my life. Ten years after walking down the aisle as a young, hope-filled bride, I walked into a courtroom to claim a different kind of hope: liberation from my awful marriage. This was the day I’d obtain the freedom to be with my new love, the soul mate I thought I’d finally found. Today I’d hold in my hands the piece of paper I’d been coveting, the ticket to a whole new and much better life. I stood in front of the judge and told him I wanted a divorce. Earlier that morning, I lay in bed for a moment after shutting off the alarm, groggy with sleep. Something’s happening today. What is it? I tried to clear the fog from my brain, and then my heart lurched as I remembered. Today’s the day! I waited for the excitement to kick in. You’re free today, Cheryl! You’ve been waiting for this for so long! But I felt heavy and unable to move. What is wrong with me? The morning passed in a haze as I readied Brittany and Lauren for preschool and got the three of us out the door. I tried to ignore the dull ache in my stomach. Breakfast was out of the question, and it was all I could do to sip a cup of coffee. After dropping off the girls, I sat in traffic on my way to the Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas. With a few moments to think, I tried talking some sense into myself. Buck up, girl! This is what you wanted…the day you’ve been waiting for! You’re finally going to be happy. For the tiniest moment, I glimpsed a truth I didn’t want to see through a crack in the strong facade I’d built around myself. What if I was making a mistake? What if my traitorous stomach was trying to tell me something?

No. I won’t go there. I’m almost to the courthouse; I’m about to get what I wanted. I’ve always worked so hard, and getting what I want has never come easily. Right now, what I want is freedom, and by gosh, I am going to get it. I can’t allow any negative thoughts to distract me. The cold institutional hallway of the courthouse gave me shivers as I stood waiting for an elevator. Although the hustle and bustle of people surrounded me, I had never felt more alone. But I had on a classy suit, stylish heels, and my best determined smile, and I maintained my composure like a pro. Nobody would know I had the least bit of emotion in me. The reality was that feelings swirled in side my head and my heart, and I just wanted to go home, pull the covers over my head, and pretend my life did not exist. I met my attorney at the door of the courtroom.

“Good morning.” His voice was low and smooth, all business. “Today’s the day.”

I nodded, uncharacteristically mute. I don’t remember what happened next. I suppose there were other cases before the judge, other lives being turned upside down. All I know for sure is that my internal battle was raging and I fought to keep it quiet, to disregard it altogether, and make sure the cool detached expression remained plastered on my face. Finally it was my turn, and I stood, trembling visibly, next to my lawyer, facing the judge. Words were spoken; questions were asked. Did I want a divorce? Yes. But at the moment, I couldn’t remember why.

The judge wanted to know why my husband wasn’t there. How could I tell him that Jeff had not wanted the divorce? That he’d fought against it? Through tears of anguish he’d pleaded with me to change my mind. He prayed for reconciliation. He hoped for another chance. He yearned for my heart to soften. But he lost. At that instant, standing in the courtroom, I felt like a horrible person.

I wanted to turn to the strangers around me and let them know I was a good person. I really was. I loved being a wife and wanted to be a good one. I absolutely loved being a mom. Yet I could not go on in the emptiness…or in the dreadful lack of intimacy. I was dedicated and loyal, trustworthy and sweet. But I could not see any other way out of the chronic ache I had felt for years. I had worked it out in my mind and saw no option other than to escape and start over. I knew I would have a label now, even in Jeff ’s mind, of being an adulterer and a mean person. But the truth was that I was broken and hurting. How could I tell everyone this when my actions seemed to say the opposite?

“Jeff needed to work today,” I told the judge, who nodded. I don’t think he believed it for a second. Jeff was at the office, all right. I stood in front of the bench, wondering what was running through his mind as he sat at his desk attempting to work. Would he cry? Was he angry? How was he dealing with the fact that his marriage and family were being ripped apart? How did he feel knowing he would soon officially be a single, divorced dad? And what right had I to be worried about any of that? I was the cause of it. It was a little late for me to be worried about Jeff ’s feelings.

“Divorce granted.” The gavel went down with an authoritative thud.

Was it my imagination, or did the judge look a little sad? Perhaps disappointed. I wondered what it must be like to preside over the dissolution of families all day long. That word—dissolution—so cold and impersonal. I think the judge knew better. I think he knew he was seeing devastation… wreckage…sorrow…and there was nothing he could do but bang his gavel. The sound of that gavel nearly did me in. My hand went to my chest as I felt my heart explode into palpitations like I’d never felt before. The urge to throw up became overwhelming, and it took every ounce of willpower to steady myself and walk to the rear of the courtroom.

My echoing footsteps seemed to pound in my head as I walked down the dreary hallway. Next to me, my attorney was oblivious, moving quickly as always, focused on his dinner plans or his next case. He stopped when we reached the front entrance to the courthouse. At the top of the steps, he offered his hand.

“Congratulations,” he said, giving me a satisfied, I-just-won-a-case smile.

“Mmm hmm…” I shook his hand, but could not muster a response.

“Congratulations.” Did I deserve that? Did he? Something told me the answer was no. But this was what I’d wanted, fought for, worked toward. And here it was. As I drove away from the courthouse, I finally admitted to myself that I was confused. I had honestly expected to feel elated on this day, ready to break out the champagne and celebrate. I hadn’t allowed myself to doubt the course I was on. For over two years I had known in my heart that divorce was the right way to go. The only way to go. It was the single remedy I could fathom for my despairing hopelessness—the only way to find happiness. It was the only way to finally be with my new love, who was even now awaiting my phone call. I scolded myself for being so emotional and decided it was just the newness of the situation that was making me feel so desolate. Soon the excitement of freedom would kick in. Besides, I had no time for wallowing. I had to get to the bank. I stood in the crowded line, tapping my foot, my eyes darting around impatiently at all the people waiting to do their banking. Was anyone else here to divide up a shared existence? It struck me as odd that a relationship— a life—could be reduced to a few lines on a computer screen and declared finished as the numbers were separated and allocated. One life becomes two, just like that. Visions of my sweet family flashed in my mind—family portraits, candid shots—but I thrust them away, an expert now at doing so.

“How are you today?” the teller asked, as I pushed my paperwork toward her.

“Okay.” I managed a bittersweet smile. As she clicked her keyboard and took care of the details of financial distribution, she must have known better. But she gave me a perky smile right back.

“Let me go print out the checks.” She walked away as I nodded. Half an hour later I stood hesitantly at Jeff ’s office and gave a small knock. He looked up and slowly leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head. His red and swollen eyes spoke volumes. But his face was hard, giving nothing away. If I had to say what I saw in his expression, I would have said disbelief. He truly could not fathom that this was happening. I inched my way toward his desk and held out the check for his half. I couldn’t say anything, and neither could he. Jeff looked at the check, then as he tilted his head, his eyes met mine. His hand did not lift to take the check. Slowly I lowered it to the desk, and Jeff ’s eyes followed it. He stared at the piece of paper. I read his mind and answered silently. Yes, this is what it comes down to. A number with a dollar sign next to it.

I turned and walked slowly toward the door. When I got there, I stopped and faced him again, my eyes brimming with tears and my heart aching with sorrow. I wanted to run into his arms but held myself back, briefly wondering at this crazy desire. What was wrong with me? The look on his face stung. I couldn’t believe that after all this time he could still appear so…shocked. I had to ask him a question.

“Did you really think this was going to happen?”

I don’t know what I expected him to say. Part of me harbored an irrational hope that Jeff would suddenly be happy about the divorce—that he would confirm that I’d done the right thing. I needed to hear it. I needed absolution.

“Not until this very moment, Cheryl.”

For a moment I stood paralyzed as the truth hit me. There is not a more heartbreaking sight in the world than a man whose spirit has been crushed. That was the man I saw in front of me. My ex-husband. I quietly opened the door and walked out of Jeff ’s office, out of his life. For good, I thought. My life and my family’s lives were changed forever.

Boxed Set:



Why you need a new map of the female universe

Like some guys I know, you might be tempted to skip this introduction and jump right to the sex chapter. And if you’re chuckling right now, it probably means you already did it. Or were about to. It’s not a bad choice, actually. Just a little self-defeating. If you’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman for more than, say, a day, you know that going just for what you want isn’t actually going to get you what you want for very long. A week, maybe? But let’s be honest—one of the main reasons you’re looking at this book is that you are trying to get something you want. Not sex (well, not just sex), but a more fulfilling, harmonious relationship with your wife, one that isn’t quite so hard or confusing. And the back cover gave you the wild idea that understanding her might actually be possible. Either that, or for some reason, the woman in question just handed you this book. Hmmm. Well, either way, take a look at the revelations we’ve uncovered. We think you’ll be convinced. Each chapter explains things about the woman you love that may have often left you feeling helpless, confused, or just plain angry. Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions. The only genius required is that you make a decision up front that you’re willing to think differently. This is a short book, but if you read it cover to cover, you’ll walk away with your eyes opened to things you may have never before understood about your wife or girlfriend.

__Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions.

That’s what happened with me—Jeff. And I’m just your average, semi-confused guy. (Actually, sometimes totally confused is more accurate.) And since us average, semi-confused guys have to stick together, that’s why, even though Shaunti and I are both authoring this book, I’ll be the one doing most of the talking.

First, Some Background

In 2004 Shaunti published For Women Only:What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, which quickly became a bestseller. Based on a nationally representative survey, scores of focus groups, and other research, it opened women’s eyes to things that most of us guys had always wished our wives knew. Things like, most of us need to feel respected even more than loved. Or besides just getting enough sex, men also have a huge need to feel sexually desired by our wives. I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked. To me, those revelations seemed obvious. But by the flood of letters from around the country—from both women and their grateful husbands—we’ve seen how much good can come when the opposite sex finally has their eyes opened to things they simply didn’t understand before.

_♦I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked by how men thought.

In this book, the shock is on the other foot. Now it’s been Shaunti’s turn to say, over and over, “I can’t believe you didn’t already know that!” When Shaunti’s publisher first approached us about doing a companion to For Women Only to help men understand women, I had two major concerns. First, I didn’t think guys would read a “relationship” book since, for most of us, the last relationship book we read was in premarital counseling— and then only because we were forced to. But more to the point, I doubted that a woman could ever be understood. Compared to other complex matters—like the tides, say, or how to figure a baseball player’s ERA—women seemed unknowable. Random even. I explained my skepticism to one early focus group of women:

Jeff: Guys tend to think that women are random. We think, I pulled this lever last week and got a certain reaction. But when I pulled that same lever this week, I got a totally different reaction. That’s random! Woman in group: But we aren’t random! If you pull the lever and get a different reaction, either you’re pulling a different lever, or you’re pulling it in a different way.

Shaunti: What men need is a sort of map to their wives. Because we can be mapped. We can be known and understood terrain.

Jeff: See, guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand. And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you get sucked in. So every guy on the planet knows that the best thing to do is just shut down and hope somebody comes along to rescue you. When I came to, Shaunti and the other women in the focus group assured me—and I have since seen for myself— that guys don’t have to live in a swamp. That realization led us to the eventual subtitle of this book: “A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.”

∞_“Guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand.”

The Seven Revelations

The most important key to “de-swamping” the woman in your life is to realize that some of your basic assumptions about her may be either too simplistic or flat wrong. By simplistic, I mean that we tend to operate with a partial or surface understanding of our wife or girlfriend. And to make matters worse, most guys have no idea how to make their limited understanding work in actual practice. For example, most guys have heard that women want security. Okay—but what does that mean, exactly? A regular paycheck? A big house? A growing retirement fund? It’s a huge shocker to talk to hundreds of women and find that while financial security is nice, it isn’t nearly as important to them as feeling emotionally secure—feeling close and confident that you will be there for her no matter what. And believe it or not, ensuring emotional security turns out to be a lot easier than ensuring the financial security you are probably busting your tail to provide. For Men Only will help you move from surface understandings to the all-important recognition of what those things mean in everyday life with your woman. Once you start testing out these findings, I think you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes for both of you.

__For Men Only will help you move from surface understanding to recognizing what those things mean in everyday life.

The book is organized around six major findings outlined on the next page. Some of these will be surprises to you. Some won’t, at least to begin with. (But that’s the thing about “swamps”—what you see is rarely what is really there.)





Women need to feel loved. Even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love—and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.

Women are emotional. Women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time—and these can’t be easily dismissed.

Women want security— in other words, financial security. Your woman needs emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to get it. She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen. When she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the problem itself. She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me. Physically, women tend to crave sex less often than men do—and it is usually not related to your desirability. She wants to look attractive. Inside your smart, secure wife lives a little girl who deeply needs to know that you find her beautiful—and that you only have eyes for her.

How We Found Out: Our Methodology

For nearly a year, Shaunti and I worked to identify inner “map terrain” areas that are common to most women but that most guys tend not to understand. Besides conducting hundreds of in-person interviews, we gathered huge amounts of anecdotal information at dozens of women’s events where Shaunti was presenting materials from For Women Only. I spoke with stay-at-home moms, business owners, and secretaries; on airplanes, in focus groups, and over Shaunti’s book table as she was mobbed after women’s conferences. And I sifted through hundreds of e-mails and forum postings from Shaunti’s website. In all these venues, I was really just the “embedded male.” Like the reporters who rode with the armored cavalry divisions at the opening of the Iraqi war, I kept my helmet on, my head down, and my notebook handy.

_ I was the “embedded male.” I kept my helmet on, my head down, and my notebook handy.

After all that research, we did a scientific national survey. As Shaunti had done for her previous book, we worked with survey-design expert Chuck Cowan, former chief of census design for the U.S. Census Bureau, and professional survey company Decision Analyst. They came together to help us design and conduct a groundbreaking, representative survey of four hundred women all over the country. In the end, between interviews, surveys, events, and other input, we estimate that well over three thousand women provided input for this book. I know you’ll be fascinated by the results. While some of the findings may be challenging or difficult to accept, most men have been surprised by how helpful many of these truths are and how simple they are to implement for a better, easier relationship.

The Map Key

Before we tackle each of the findings, some pointers on reading the map:

• This book holds to a biblical world view. Our aim is to be relevant and revealing, no matter what your worldview is. But because Shaunti and I view life through our Christian faith, we have seen that these findings are consistent with biblical principles. We believe that relationships are most fulfilling when both people have a common commitment to serving Jesus Christ. We do not quote very heavily from Scripture, but we do draw from and reference it as the only truly dependable guidebook for relationships. For example, our starting-point assumption is that husbands need to love their wives just as Jesus does us—which means to love, serve, and be willing to sacrifice everything for her good, even above our own.

• This is not a comprehensive marriage book. There are already plenty of marriage books on the market—including many terrific ones from Christian experts. So we stay away from well covered topics and areas that guys already tend to have a handle on, and we leave the heavy-duty theological discussions for those books. (If you want to investigate those further, we list several recommended resources at our website, Also, while we are writing more for married men, these insights will be helpful for anyone in a committed male-female relationship. That said, if your relationship is seriously on the rocks, this little book will probably open your eyes in some important areas, but it is not designed to cover a real crisis situation. We encourage you to get the kind of counsel and support your marriage deserves.

• This is not an equal treatment. Just as For Women Only was purposefully one-sided—and if your wife read it, you may have benefited from that fact—so is this book. Yes, you have needs too, and there certainly may be relationship issues arising because she doesn’t understand you. But For Women Only addresses many of those, and this book is not about them. This is only about the inner lives of women, and we’re focusing entirely on how men relate to women, not the other way around. (That is also why the survey only polled heterosexual women.)

• There are exceptions to every rule. Recognize that when I say “most women” appear to think a certain way, “most” does not mean all. We make generalizations out of necessity to be helpful in the widest number of circumstances possible. Inevitably there will be exceptions.

• Our findings may not be politically correct, but we try to be true to the evidence. As a newspaper columnist on women’s issues, Shaunti sometimes receives e-mails from women complaining that she is doing exactly what we intend to do in this book—making generalizations about women. Add the fact that I, as a guy, am daring to make those generalizations, and we recognize the potential for controversy. We don’t quite know how to get around that, so we decided to just report what we learned. (For any woman sneaking a peak: We do not intend to be offensive; we just want to speak frankly to men, from a man’s viewpoint, about you. Our sole intention is to help your man understand and love you better. Even if we have to poke fun at the male preoccupation with sex to do it.)

_♦We decided to just report what we learned.

The Thing to Do Next

We think in the pages ahead you’re going to receive a lot of very promising invitations to try some new things. Most are incredibly simple, but they may not come naturally. At least at first. Of course, if all you read about here is already instinctive to you, you wouldn’t be troubled by randomness, confusion, frustration…and did I mention swamps? My encouragement to you: Give the process time as you retrain years of incorrect assumptions and counterproductive reactions. Bring a humble attitude. Be willing to practice. Believe it can be done. Because I’ve learned that it can be. After several months of being the embedded male, I was watching a movie with Shaunti one night. Halfway through, I casually mentioned that I didn’t like the way one female character treated another. Shaunti sat up on the couch, grinned, and said, “You’re thinking like a girl!” Now, she meant it as high praise, but in the small Midwest town where I grew up, that kind of talk could get a guy slugged. But then I realized: Maybe I had learned a valuable thing or two about the female universe, just by listening in. Here’s hoping that you do, too.


How I Woke Up to What I Didn’t

Know About Men

The other half of the people

on the planet already know what

you’re going to read in this book.

As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan, and like all New Yorkers we walked everywhere. But I quickly noticed something strange. Quite often we’d be strolling hand in hand and Jeff would abruptly jerk his head up and away. We’d be watching in-line skaters in Central Park or waiting to cross the street in a crowd, and he would suddenly stare at the sky. I started to wonder, Is something going on at the tops of these buildings? Turns out, something was going on, but it wasn’t up in the buildings. Have you ever been totally confused by something the man in your life has said or done? Have you ever wondered, looking at his rapidly departing back, Why did that make him so angry? Have you ever been perplexed by your husband’s defensiveness when you ask him to stop working so much? Yeah? Me too. But now, after conducting spoken and written interviews with more than one thousand men, I can tell you that the answers to those and dozens of other common perplexities are all related to what is going on in your man’s inner life. Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn’t know how to tell you. In some cases, they’re things he has no idea you don’t know. This book will share those interviews and those answers. But be careful, ladies. You might be slapping your forehead a lot!

•I can tell you that the answers to dozens of other common perplexities are related to what is going on in your man’s inner life.


Let me tell you how I got here. It all started with the research for my second novel, The Lights of Tenth Street. One of the main characters was a man, a devoted, godly husband and father. Because I wanted this character’s thought life to closely resemble what real men deal with, I interviewed my husband, Jeff, and many other male friends to try to get inside their heads. It took me a while to figure out how to handle what I found. You see, in the novel my character had a secret struggle: He loved his wife and kids and was a devoted follower of Christ, but he liked looking at women and had a constant battle with his thought life. A constant day-by-day, even minute-by minute battle with the temptations that beckoned from every corner of our culture, from the secret traps of the Internet to the overt appeal of the miniskirt walking down the street. In short—and this is what was such a surprise to me— instead of being unusual, my character was like almost every man on the planet. Including the devoted Christian husbands I was interviewing. That revelation led to others, on a half-dozen other subjects, and following those trails led to the hundreds of personal and written interviews with men—including a professional survey—that form the core of this book. I interviewed close friends over dinner and strangers in the grocery store, married fathers at church and the single student sitting next to me on the airplane. I talked to CEOs, attorneys, pastors, technology geeks, business managers, the security guard at Costco, and the guys behind the counter at Starbucks. I even interviewed a professional opera singer and a former NFL offensive tackle with a Super Bowl ring. No one was safe.

Light bulb on!

It turned out that these men shared some surprisingly common inner wiring. At their secret inner core, many had similar fears and concerns, feelings and needs.

•oThese revelations were mostly things that my own husband always wished I knew, but couldn’t figure out how to explain.

I discovered that there were many things I thought I understood about men—but really didn’t. In several areas, my understanding was purely surface-level. Once I got below the surface and into specifics, everything changed. I felt like a cartoon character who suddenly had a light bulb over my head. Even better, it turned out that those revelations were mostly about things that my own husband always wished I knew but couldn’t figure out how to explain. And that was a common refrain from most of the men I talked to. Although I still make many mistakes in my relationship with my husband—and will continue to!—finally grasping these things has hopefully helped me to better appreciate and support him in the way that he needs. I want that light bulb to go on for you as well

••We all know, for example, that “men are visual,” but, well…what exactly does that mean?

Why was this surprising?

In a way, I was surprised to be so…surprised. We women think we know many things about a man’s inner life. We all know, for example, that “men are visual,” but, well…what exactly does that mean? It turns out that what that means in practice is the key thing—the specific insight that will help you be a better wife, girlfriend, or mother. Using the “visual” example, the difference is vast between having the vague notion that men are visual and knowing that the sexy commercial he just watched has become a mental time bomb that will rise up and assault him the next day. The difference is vast between helplessly wondering what is going on in his head and having the insight of hundreds of men to help you understand not only what is going on, but also how to support him. Actually, there was a kind of double surprise in this research. When I interviewed men and drew some conclusions, they would often say, “But women already know that…surely they know that.” All too frequently, I found myself replying, “Well, I didn’t know that.” I began to realize that there’s so much about men that we don’t understand— and that men don’t even know we don’t know. And that sort of misunderstanding is the stuff that gives birth to a lot of conflict.


So here are the revelations this book is going to cover— seven translations from “surface level” to “in practice” that you, like me, may not have realized before. As with all of us, the inner life of a man is a package, with these elements melded and wrapped up inside. Whether you are relating to a husband, boyfriend, or son, it is impossible to understand one part of his inner life in isolation. Every area affects every other area, and I’m only covering those few areas that I thought were the most important or helpful.

The survey

Thankfully, these revelations are also backed up by evidence— a groundbreaking professional survey of hundreds of men. Since I found no survey data like this on the market, two sets of experts, Chuck Cowan at Analytic Focus, the former chief of survey design at the U.S. Census Bureau, Our Surface What That Means Understanding in Practice and Cindy Ford and the survey team at Decision Analyst, came together to help me conduct this survey.

“Men need respect” ➺ Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.

“Men are insecure” ➺ Despite their “in control” exterior, men often feel like impostors and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.

“Men are providers” ➺ Even if you personally made enough income to support the family’s lifestyle, it would make no difference to the mental burden he feels to provide.

“Men want more sex” ➺ Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.

“Men are visual” ➺ Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.

“Men are unromantic clods” ➺ Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic—but hesitate because they doubt they can succeed.

“Men care about appearance” ➺ You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making the effort to take care of yourself—and he will take on significant cost or inconvenience in order to support you.

The survey was blind, done at random, and meticulously planned and executed. Four hundred anonymous men across the country, ranging in age from twenty-one to seventy-five, answered two dozen questions about their lives and about how they think, what they feel, and what they need. The survey stressed that we weren’t dealing with outward behavior as much as with the inner thoughts and emotions that led to their behavior. Later, because the survey itself inevitably led to additional revelations, I conducted a more informal follow-up survey of another four hundred anonymous men—this time, specifically churchgoers—to ask a few additional questions (and some of the same ones). And later yet, I validated several of those additional insights with a second Decision Analyst survey. Amazingly, across all these surveys there were very few differences. After all the surveying, the results of my personal interviews were confirmed. Not only had I heard the same things over and over—quotes that I will include in the following pages—but those anecdotal results were now backed up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn’t just happened to interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet! (Since I am an analyst and not a psychologist, and since my grad-school statistics professor might politely question the statistical skills of someone who needed a whole semester to learn regression analysis, I was quite relieved that professional statisticians confirmed my findings!)

••Results were backed up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn’t just happened to interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet!

In the end, the men I spoke with and surveyed appear to have been extremely transparent and honest about some very personal subjects. So, men—whoever you are—I thank you.



You’re probably rarin’ to turn the page, but before you get to look inside the inner lives of men, here are some ground rules:

• First, if you are looking for male-bashing or proof that your husband is indeed a cad, you won’t find it here. I honor the men who shared their hearts with me, and I hope that by sharing their insight, more women might come to understand and appreciate the wonderful differences between us.

•If you are looking for male-bashing or proof that your husband is indeed a cad, you won’t find it here.

• Second, this is not an equal treatment of male female differences, nor do I deal at all with how your man can or should relate to you. Yes, we women obviously also have needs, and many of the truths discussed in these pages apply to us too. But since the theme is the inner lives of men and my space is limited, I’m focusing entirely on how we relate to men, not the other way around. (That is also why the survey did not poll gay men.)

• Third, recognize that there are always exceptions to every rule. When I say that “most men” appear to think a certain way, realize that “most” means exactly that—most, not all. I’m making generalizations out of necessity, and inevitably there will be exceptions. One reason I did the professional survey was to determine what was an exception and what was normal.

• Fourth, I’m addressing what is normal inside men, not necessarily what is right in their outward behavior. And since these pages are not the place for a lengthy exploration of any one issue, you can always go to to explore more resources, including the entire survey.

• Fifth, I need to warn you that some of the enclosed insight may be distressing because it affects our view of the men in our lives and our view of ourselves. It was tempting to exclude certain things, but I realized that I was hearing things men often weren’t willing or able to say directly to their spouses or girlfriends. So it was critical to include these comments. But please realize that in most cases, these comments have little to do with us— they are just the way men are wired. And we should celebrate that fact. After all, it is because he is wired as a man that you love him.

•o The more we understand the men in our lives, the better we can support and love them in the way they need to be loved.

• Finally, and most important, I hope that this book is not just about learning fascinating new secrets. The more we understand the men in our lives, the better we can support and love them in the way they need to be loved. In other words, this revelation is supposed to change and improve us. So read on, ladies, and join me as we look into the inner lives of men.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Musing Monday ~ Library Time

How often do you visit the library? Do you have a scheduled library day/time, or do you go whenever? Do you go alone, or take people with you?

I go to the library randomly. I don't go to browse the selection, though. I know what I want ahead of time and I can check online if they have it (and if not I order it inter library loan). Then I go pick it up. During the summer I take the kids every two or three weeks so they can check out books too. With a toddler in tow we don't loiter in the library very often. He hasn't learned to appreciate it yet, but he will! :o)

Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Age before Beauty, book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series

Revell (February 1, 2009)


Virginia Smith is the author of eight novels, including Age before Beauty, Stuck in the Middle, and A Taste of Murder. In 2008 she was named Writer of the Year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A popular retreat speaker, Ginny keeps audiences enthralled with her high-energy presentations. She and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732332
ISBN-13: 978-0800732332


The mirror had to be warped. That was the only explanation for the image staring back at Allie from its treacherous surface. Her thighs couldn’t be that wide, her belly that flabby. Could glass warp? Of course not. But the weather so far this fall had been wetter than normal, following a horribly humid Kentucky summer. All that dampness wreaked havoc on the wooden front door at Gram’s house. And this mirror had a wood frame. That had to be it.

But the warping seemed only to be in the middle, like one of those fun-house mirrors. She squinted down at her pink toenails. Her feet looked normal. Her face looked okay. Pretty good, even. This was the first time she’d put on makeup in weeks, and a little color worked wonders. She could use a haircut, though the dark blonde layers falling in waves to rest on her shoulders managed to hold the extra length well.

She blew her bangs out of her eyes. Actually, the long hair made her face look fuller, and that offset some of the width of her hips. Which needed the help, especially now that she got a good look at them wearing only a nursing bra and panties. If she cut some of the volume out of her hair, she’d look like one of those toys she and Joan and Tori played with as kids. What were they called? Weebles. She’d look like Mother Weeble.

She swayed from side to side, eyeing her oversized bottom half as she sang the toy’s jingle. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

“Did you say something?”

Allie whirled to find Eric standing in the bedroom doorway, a grin twitching at his mouth. She felt a blush creep up her neck. Though he was the world’s most awesome husband and devoted new daddy, she still felt awkward parading her postmaternity body around in front of him. A flabby belly covered in stretch marks was soooo sexy.

“How long have you been standing there?”

His voice dropped an octave as his smile deepened. “Long enough to admire my beautiful wife.”

No mistaking that husky tone. She snatched her jeans off the bed. “Don’t get frisky, lover boy. My sister will be here any minute.”

Eric’s lips twisted. “Story of my life lately.”

Allie crossed the room and placed a tender kiss on his cheek. “I’m sorry my family is here so often. They just don’t want to miss a day with the baby. She’s growing so fast.”

“I know, I know.” He grinned. “But tonight I get Joanie all to myself. Our first father-daughter date.”

Allie sat on the edge of the bed and slipped her feet into the jeans, avoiding Eric’s eyes. He had been looking forward to this evening for a full week, ever since Joan invited her to go to a stupid party where some fanatical woman would try to force her to buy something she didn’t want and for which she had no use. If only Joan hadn’t asked in front of Eric, she would have turned the invitation down without a second thought. But he had insisted it was time she took her first outing without the baby.

Pulling the waistband up around her knees, she gave Eric a worried look. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? She’s only taken a bottle a few times, you know. She might cry.”

“I’ll deal with it.”


He held up a finger. “No buts. She’s five weeks old. In three weeks she’ll be taking a bottle at the daycare center when you go back to work. She needs to get used to it.”

Tears stung Allie’s eyes, and she looked away so Eric wouldn’t see. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I am. Now finish getting dressed while I go wind the baby swing again.”

He left, and Allie sat staring at the handwoven rug in front of their bed. Three weeks. Then she’d have to leave her precious little Joanie in the hands of a total stranger.

If only . . .

She jerked the shirt over her head. No. One of the things she and Eric had talked about before they got married was how they’d handle life after they started having children. She’d insisted on laying it all out, because Eric’s mother had been a stay-at-home mom, and Allie wanted to make absolutely sure he didn’t have the same expectations. Her toenail caught the edge of her sock as she tugged it up, and she hissed with pain. No way would she become one of those women relegated to a dull life of child rearing. She was a career woman—the second sock followed the first—with a college degree and plans for her professional future. She liked her job, liked the independence it gave her. Besides, they agreed on having two incomes so they could afford things like nice clothes and good cars and vacations at the beach.

But that was before she’d had a baby.

If only there was some way she could pursue her career and keep her daughter at home. She had quietly investigated every work-from-home scheme she could find lately, but all of them sounded more like scams than jobs.

Banishing the tears, she stood. No sense crying about it. She had no option. In three weeks she’d return to her job as a team leader at the social services office. She might even be able to recapture some of the excitement and ambition she’d felt before she got pregnant. At the moment, though, it sounded like a life sentence with no chance of parole.

She pulled her jeans up over her knees. This was the first pair of zippered pants she’d tried to wear since Joanie’s birth, having lived in sweats and oversized T-shirts once she put away the maternity clothes. Wiggling her hips back and forth, she inched them upward. Come on, come on, they had to fit. They were her biggest jeans, stretchy and so loose that she’d worn them all the way up to her fifth month of pregnancy. Just a little farther . . .

Ugh. She panted from the effort. But at least she’d managed to get them pulled all the way up.

Now the zipper. Suck that gut in. Pull hard. Harder. She hopped up and down, tugging at the waistband. Okay, if the zipper wouldn’t go all the way to the top, it didn’t matter. She’d just wear her shirttail out. Everybody did these days. As long as she could get the button fastened.

There! They fit! She was wearing pre-baby Levis! Well, sort of.

She stepped up to the mirror and bit back a gasp.

The stupid thing had to be warped.


“Hey, look at you all dressed up.” Joan stood on the doorstep, car keys clutched in one hand. “You look great.”

Allie scowled and tried not to think of the jeans she could almost wear shoved in the back of her bottom drawer. “These are maternity pants. Nothing else fits.”

“Oh.” Joan’s smile drooped a fraction, then brightened again. “But that’s not a maternity shirt. And turquoise is totally your color.”

Her eyes shifted to a point inside the room, then she practically bowled Allie over as she rushed toward the swing to snatch up the baby. Sighing, Allie closed the door. So much for Joanie’s nap.

Allie tried to ignore a wave of insecurity as she admired her sister’s slim frame, the way her jeans fit without a single bulge. Straight dark hair fell forward to tickle the baby’s face as Joan cooed at her slumbering namesake while she unfastened the safety strap. Soft baby noises answered as little Joanie’s eyelids fluttered open. Allie clasped her hands together to keep from taking the infant from her middle sister’s arms. She was so sweet when she first woke. Tiny fists rose above her head and she kicked her legs out to their full length and arched her back to stretch.

“Look at her! I swear she’s grown an inch since the last time I saw her.”

Allie answered dryly. “I doubt that, since you came over yesterday.” She held her hands out. “Here, let me change her.”

Joan clutched the baby closer. “I’ll do it.”

With a sigh, Allie followed her sister into the nursery. Bright pink daisies on fields of green bordered the white walls and also decorated lacy curtains and crib bedding. Joan laid Joanie on a daisy-covered pad atop the changing table. While she unsnapped the pink onesie, Allie took a diaper from the stacker and popped open the plastic cap on the wipes. The sweet smell of baby powder was quickly replaced with a less pleasant odor when Joan peeled the tape off the dirty diaper.

Eric stuck his head through the doorway as Allie pulled out a wipe and handed it to Joan. “Whew, I’m glad you girls got that out of the way before you left. Of course, the way this little piggie eats, I probably have at least one unpleasant surprise in store tonight.”

“Don’t worry.” Allie dropped the soiled bundle into the Diaper Genie and twisted the knob. “We won’t be gone very long. I’m sure we’ll be back for the next dirty diaper.”

“I’m kidding, Allie. You know I don’t mind taking care of my girl.” He leaned over and buried a kiss in Joanie’s chubby neck, eliciting a gurgle and an excited waving of arms and legs.

Joan snapped the onesie back in place over the fresh diaper and picked up the squirming infant. Allie stepped forward to take her, but instead Joan thrust her into Eric’s arms.

“It’s time to go. I don’t want to be late.” With a meaningful glance in Allie’s direction, she marched out of the room, Eric right behind her with Joanie hugged tightly to his chest.

Left alone in the nursery, Allie fought a wave of panic that caused her throat to tighten with unshed tears. Cheerful daisies mocked her. She knew this feeling, had sensed the edges of it creeping toward her all day. The moment had come. After five weeks of constantly being in Joanie’s presence, she was about to leave her in someone else’s care.

Don’t be ridiculous. She scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. Joanie wasn’t staying with a stranger. She was staying with her daddy! He’d watched her many times while Allie enjoyed a long bath or a nap.

But what if she cries? What if she misses me?

She started toward the living room, and then stopped short as an even more distressing thought struck her. What if she doesn’t even notice I’m gone?

“Allie, are you coming?”

Joan’s voice propelled her feet into motion. She would not think about that.

“I’m ready.”

One step took her from the hallway into their tiny living room, where Eric had deposited Joanie on the mat beneath her baby gym. Allie fought to suppress a wave of regret when chubby infant hands waved with erratic enthusiasm at the dangling toys, and happy coos filled the room. It had only been in the past few days that she’d started noticing the toys. She was growing so fast, changing every day. What if she did something really cool for the first time tonight, while Allie wasn’t here to see it? She dropped to her knees and showered Joanie’s face with goodbye kisses.

“There are a couple of bottles all ready to go in the fridge,” she told Eric. “Run hot water over them to warm them. Don’t use the microwave.”

Eric stood and pulled her up with him. “I won’t.” He planted a kiss on her cheek.

“She ate two hours ago, so she’ll probably be hungry around eight. If she gets fussy before—”

Joan grabbed her arm and steered her forcefully toward the front door. “Come along, Mother. It’s time to go.”

Thoughts of all the terrible things that could happen pummeled her mind like giant hailstones. She pulled away and whirled toward Eric. “Don’t give her a bath until I get home. You know how slippery she is when she’s soapy.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face the door. “Stop worrying. We’ll be fine. Now go have a good time.” A gentle shove pushed her forward.

From the porch, Joan seized her and jerked her through the doorway. Allie shook her off and spun around to remind Eric to put the baby’s sweater on because the house would cool when the sun went down, but the front door slammed shut in her face. Tears welled in her eyes.

“You’re pathetic.” Joan folded her arms across her chest and leveled an unsympathetic look on her.

Allie sniffled. “It’s the first time we’ve been apart in five weeks.”

“Then it’s about time you gave the poor kid some breathing room.” She shook her head. “You’re becoming one of those hovering mothers. I can totally see you stalking her on the kindergarten playground during recess.”

Actually, Allie didn’t see a problem with dropping by to check on your kids during the day, but in the face of Joan’s sardonic expression, she didn’t dare mention it. Instead she lifted a chin. “I will not be a hovering mother.”

A snort blasted from her sister’s nose. “I know my big sister. You’ll hover like a helicopter.”

Her head held high, Allie marched past Joan toward the driveway. “I thought you didn’t want to be late.”

She rubbed her hands on her arms. It was a chilly fifty degrees, and the orange October sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon. They’d shoved her out the door without a jacket, but she didn’t dare go back inside now or she’d never hear the end of it. Serve them both right if she caught pneumonia and died.

For more information about Age before Beauty, visit

Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright ©2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays ~ Biblical Fiction

Today for Faith 'n Fiction Saturday...

One of area of Christian fiction that is thriving is Biblical Fiction. Biblical fiction, in case you don't know, is when an author takes a story from the Bible and imagines more of the details. Tosca Lee's Havah would be a recent example of Biblical fiction.

What I want to know today is how you feel about Biblical fiction. Have you ever read any Biblical fiction? Did you enjoy it? Do you think Biblical fiction helps us to understand people who lived during Biblical times better or do you think that it's unnecessary? Have you ever read any Biblical fiction that offended you?

I've only read a few Biblical fiction books but I have enjoyed them. I am fine with them as long as they don't distort the Bible. I did enjoy Havah by Tosca Lee. There is certainly not much information in the Bible about Eve and I thought Tosca did a great job of her "it could have been like this" story telling. I read Biblical fiction knowing full well that it is "fiction" and nothing else. But I also like how it gets me thinking deeper into the Biblical characters and what was going on in their lives and the culture at that time.