Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Brand New Winners!

We have SIX new winners, ladies and gentlemen!

Many thanks to all my BBFFs (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) who entered the drawing for an autographed copy of Too Loved to be Lost.  I wish each and every one of you could have won, but alas, some of you will have to be patient until my next contest (which is right around the corner!)

So without further ado, here they are ... I hope your name is on the list! Congrats to:

Elysa Miller
Merry Dennison
Robin Taylor
Deanna McBride
Heidi Jinkins
Susan Houser

 If your name was plucked from the hat, please send me your mailing address ASAP via a FB private message or my e-dress which you can find at my website www.DeboraCoty.com. (Sorry, I've been warned not to post my e-dress here because of bot searches.) I'll try to get your book in the mail during the next few days so you'll have it in time for Christmas.

And let me remind you, too, that I'm on the search for funny foodie stories and your favorite healthy, stress-free recipes for my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook, which will debut next fall. If your recipe or story is selected, you'll receive a free copy and acknowledgement by name in the book.

Hugs and kisses to all my wonderful BBFFs!

Monday, December 8, 2014

WooHoo! More Great Things to Win!

Welcome to those of you just visiting my blog for the first time - it's such a joy to have you join us! This post is a reprint of my December e-newsletter (which you may have already read if you receive my e-newsletters), so please take a few minutes to scroll back to my previous blog posts and stay tuned to the next one for more of life in the crazy lane.

Seems fitting somehow to start with Deb’s December prayer:
Lord, help me deck my halls without decking any annoying people.

Yes, you may borrow my prayer. Particularly before you enter the mall. 

Many thanks to all of you who attended my online launch party for Too Loved to be Lost on 11/6 – I loved, loved, loved getting to know you and giving away the fun prizes (especially the Kindle and month’s supply of chocolate!). Congrats to all the winners.

In case you missed out, I’ve still got 6 copies of Too Loved to be Lost to give away, and I’d like to reward my faithful blog buddies. So whether you subscribe NOW (just hit subscribe button) or if you’re already a subscriber, just drop me a line at gracenotes@deboracoty.com to say that you’re one of my BBFF’s (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) and you’ll be entered in the drawing for an autographed book. It should arrive in time for Christmas!

While you’re looking for that special something for those special someones on your list, don’t forget the Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal, now available in your local Cracker Barrel! Hey, if you send me a photo of you holding up one of my books in Cracker Barrel, I’ll share it on Facebook and enter you for a chance to win a free book of your choice:

 More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre
Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate
Too Loved to be Lost

Oh, and a reminder that I’m currently working on the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook (releasing 11/15), and if you have any funny foodie stories, I’d love to include them (and your name, of course) in my book. Just FB message me or e-mail me for details.

Pre-Christmas hugs to you! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reading the Signs

My stove jammed yesterday. I took it as a sign from God.

 Actually, it was the metal drawer beneath the oven, the one in which I store my pots and pans. A pot in the front somehow flipped itself over in the middle of the night (how do they DO that - impish kitchen elves?), effectively blocking the drawer from opening.

After following Taylor Swift's advice and shake, shake, shaking the silly stove until I was purple in the face, my moment of enlightenment occurred. Ah Ha! Papa God wants us to eat out tonight!

Well, far be it from me to disappoint the Almighty.

Really, aren't we always looking for signs of one kind or another from Papa God? Don't we beg for guidance with hairy decisions on a daily basis? Wouldn't we LOVE to have a giant hand jot personal instructions for us in the sky?

But then, would we recognize Papa God's handwriting if He did?

Reminds me of that scene from Bruce Almighty when Jim Carey's character was driving down the highway praying for God to send him a sign. There, right smack dab in front of him, lumbered a big truck loaded down with street signs practically screaming messages in his face like, "Caution," "Turn Around," and "Wrong Way.

But to him, they were just part of the scenery. He didn't recognize the handwriting.

I was watching one of those cheesy but quaint Hallmark Christmas movies the other night where a little boy was looking for a sign. His mama was in a coma after a car crash that killed his dad and he wanted more than anything to get his mom back. Meanwhile, our main adult character was going through his own miserable problems but somehow, through circumstances beyond his control, ended up in a Santa suit begrudgingly making rounds at the hospital, delivering teddy bears to the children on the pediatric ward.

As he entered the sad little boy's room, the man couldn't understand why the lad wouldn't even look up at him. All the other kids had been excited to see Santa. He figured it must be the teddy bear. So he apologized for the lame gift and asked what the boy would rather have.

With tears in his eyes, the little fellow admitted that he only wanted a sign. Just a sign that his mama would one day come back to him.

Our reluctant hero suddenly realized that his next words would either make or break this child's Christmas - possibly even his life. So his sense of responsibility shifted from just-do-what-you-must-and-get-it-over-quickly to think-it-through ... this counts.

After flailing around a bit, the Santa impersonator's eye caught sight of the star atop the large Christmas tree in the courtyard outside the boy's window. The star. That's it.

"Look at that star," he told the poor heartsick child. "Whenever you need hope, just look at the top of a Christmas tree. A star was a sign to some wise men long ago of good things to come and it's a sign to us today that everything is not as bad as it seems. Something good is right around the corner." As he left the room, he glanced back and saw the bruised and bandaged boy staring longingly at the star.

Of course Hallmark can't (or won't) bring an overt Christian element into a secular movie, but I immediately saw the faith application. The wimpy fake Santa dude was right. We all need to look at the star. The one that hung over a tiny stable in a tiny town called Bethlehem. The one that proclaimed like an interstellar billboard that good news - world-altering good news - had indeed arrived in the form of a precious baby, the Savior of the world .

That star is our sign as believers: A fulfilled promise from Papa God. The assurance of His love. Our hope for today and our hope for tomorrow.

Too bad the doofus in the movie didn't recognize the handwriting on the sign. But all turned out peachy-Halmarky-keen ... the little boy's mother woke up on Christmas morning and the man finally saw the light. The hope in the star's light, really. And that's what he needed most. Hope.

Hope is what we all need most, isn't it?

So I'm hoping that my oven stays jammed just a few more restaurant dinner's worth. Did I mention I'm pretty sure it's a sign from God?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Join Me in Feelin' the Love

Sandi came to my Too Loved to be Lost signing at LifeWay
I hope you'll be able to join me this Thursday, Nov. 6 at 8 pm Eastern (adjust the time for your time zone) for my Too Loved to be Lost online book launch.

If you've never been to a Facebook party before, trust me - you'll love it! It's like a giant chat room where BFF's from all over the world gather to connect hearts for an hour. I hope my new friends from New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Italy will drop in again like they did at the last one.
My friend Rachel was there

We'll be chatting about all sorts of things at the FB party, playing cool games, giving away prizes every few minutes, and at the end of the hour, there will be a drawing for a new Kindle HDX. Please join in the fast-paced fun - it's a real blast!
I'll bet you a nickel you'll declare it was the best thing you did all day.

Here's the official site and details below ... Be sure to mark your calendar now and click on this link to get your name in the pot for the big prizes!  https://www.facebook.com/events/827825463906082/.

In our world a woman’s acceptance so often seems contingent on her looks, behavior, or talents. This can lead to fearing loss of acceptance, trying to outperform one another, and a warped view God as a ruthless, judgmental, stern entity just waiting for us to crash and burn. Debora M. Coty‘s new book, Too Loved to Be Lost: Discovering God’s Intentional, Unconditional, Without-Limits Loveoffers women simple, practical steps for finding healing, security, and revitalization of spirit, body, and faith.
Celebrate being “Too Loved” by entering Debora Coty’s HDX giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on November 6th.
One winner will receive:
— A Kindle HDX
And Sharron and Glo too
— Too Loved to Be Lost by Debora Coty
Enter today; but hurry, the giveaway ends on November 6th. Winner will be announced at the Too Loved to Be Lost Facebook author event on 11/6. Join author Debora Coty for a humorous and encouraging evening centered around God’s unconditional love. Debora will be hosting a fun chat, giving away prizes, answering your questions, offering an exclusive peek at her next book, and much more!
Find out what readers are saying about the book HERE.
Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only.
**By entering, entrants agree to opt-in to receive promotional emails from Debora Coty. If at any time you wish to unsubscribe you can do so through the unsubscribe instructions on one of the emails.**

Saturday, November 1, 2014

When life hands you cucumbers ... play pickleball!

Pickleball, anyone?
I arrived at the public tennis courts ten minutes to nine. I was early. My daughter and son-in-law dropped me off and left to play golf for the morning. I waved good-bye, chomping at the bit to play my sport after a whole week's hiatus.

After stretching and going through my regular warm-up exercises, I noticed something peculiar. I was the only one there and it was 9:10 a.m. We always started at 9:00. Hey, what gives?

Did the gang change days and not tell me? Nah. They wouldn't be that thoughtless. These were my friends.

So I dug all the used tennis balls I could find out of my wheeled tennis bag and nearby trashcans to practice my serve. I practiced and practiced. I practiced until my serving arm felt like boiled spaghetti. Still no one there.


I felt my bottom lip begin to poke out like my 3-year-old grandbuddy's when he's sulking. Yup. My widdle feewings were hurt. My so-called friends had changed something - day, time, planet - and left me completely out. I felt like a have-not in an exclusive club of haves. A humiliated have-not at that.

So knowing I had about three hours to kill before I'd be picked up, I packed up my rolling pink tennis bag and trudged up the hill like a disgruntled bag lady. There was a K-Mart about a half-mile away, across a major highway; looked like I would have to amuse myself with blue light specials and Charlie's Angels ensembles for a long time.

But before I got very far, a voice called out from the pickleball courts I was passing, "Hey, we're a player short; would you like to play with us?"

Angels sang. Harps played. A glorious sunbeam broke through from heaven. These people wanted me. I was no longer an outie. I was now an innie. A HAPPY have-not. (More about morphing from a humiliated have-not to a happy have-not in chapter 3 of my new book, Too Loved to be Lost.) 

The only caveat was that I'd never played pickleball before. I didn't really know what it was. But I soon found out. This lovely group of ever-so-friendly, extremely patient and longsuffering folks loaned me a pickleball paddle - which looked a little like a wooden kitchen cutting board with a handle - and introduced me to an exciting new sport. Who knew slapping a wiffle ball around a teensy court could be so much fun?

Actually, a pickleball court is 20'x44', the same size as a doubles badminton court. The rules are a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong, with the goal of keeping the little holey ball in play until your opponent either hits it out of bounds or into the net. Games are to 11 points and both partners on a team get a serve.

I learned right away that the dynamics were quite different than tennis. For one thing, you have to stay out of the kitchen (the section of open court between the service box and the net - see photo above) and it's pretty much impossible to lob over the heads of two 6' tall men standing ten feet away from you on a court the size of your bathroom.

But once I got the hang of it, I had a jolly good time. What fun! Of course today I can't move (evidently pickleball uses a whole different set of muscles than tennis) but I'm still feeling the rush of trying something new and almost succeeding.

Best of all, I'm still basking in the glow of happy have-notness.   

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mellow Yellow

Fall on my mountain
Autumn. The word itself is enough to make you wax poetic. Especially on my mountain.

Well, it's not really my mountain, but I've thought of it that way since my in-laws built the tiny cabin nestled deep in the Smoky Mt. woods at about 4200 ft elevation. When my kids were small, we trekked to the cabin every fall, and now that my kids are having kids, we still trek to the mountains every fall.

Sometimes tradition is a warm, snuggly blanket. 

A walk in the woods is simply magical. The normal green of the foliage has somehow melted into at least 30 shades of yellow (a nod here to Johnny Cash's song about the many shades of Irish green).

It's like an explosion of butter. You can almost taste the deliciousness of it. Every shade of yellow known to man is punctuated by that incredible deep blue of the sky that's unique to high elevations. A twinge of russet here and a smackling of crimson there are the perfect accents to the profusion of amber hues.  

A crisp breeze ruffles the feathers of the tallest of trees and you feel sure Papa God is leaning down from heaven, whispering something very, very important meant for your ears only.

I can't help but pull an Anne of Green Gables and rename "the woods" its rightful name: the Forest of Golden Whispers.

Actually, I get the feeling that the title has been here all along for centuries and I'm the slowpoke who's just now becoming enlightened. Kind of like when a novelist pens a story - it feels inexplicably like the story has been there all along; your task as the author is simply to hear the time-hewn words in your heart and write them down. 

So I take it all in. I feel peace whispered into my soul by the Creator of all this beauty.

And I'm so glad I came.

Where is your Forest of Golden Whispers, my friend?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who Doesn't Love a 75% Off Sale?

On SUPER SALE for a limited time (sale ends 10/13/14): The Kindle edition of my brand new release is only $2.99!
Deb's newest release

I hope you'll hop on this one like a tick on a hound dog.

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Too-Loved-Lost-Unconditional-Without-Limits-ebook/dp/B00MYME094/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412019434&sr=1-1&keywords=too+loved+to+be+lost

Now don't tarry or you'll miss out!

And as an added bonus, my publisher is putting the Momma book of my 6 Baby Blessings on sale during the month of October. Yep - Too Blessed to be Stressed is only $1.99! 

If you've already got Too Blessed to be Stressedplease send this golden opportunity to a friend. As always, I'm VERY grateful for your support! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Face of Kindness

Father Chris Fitzgerald, friend to all
I am not Catholic, in fact I'm a dyed-in-the-wool protestant. But for the past two decades, I've had my own priest. 

Actually he wasn't exclusively mine, but I admired, loved, and respected him as if he were. But then everyone felt that way about Father Fitzgerald. He was that kind of guy.  

Father Fitz was not just our neighbor for 5 years, he was a lovely, funny, godly man, and a true friend to a bunch of crazy protestants (many others besides me and my family). 

Our relationship started out badly but grew to be a beautiful and unique thing.

The first time I met Father Fitz, I angrily presented him with a petition I had personally walked around my subdivision to attain signatures for, demanding that the brand new St. Francis of Assissi church install speed humps at the back entrance which bordered my property. For the ten years we'd lived there prior to the church being built, my house had been perched beside a nice, quiet dead end. When we bought our property, it was surrounded by orange groves. I was plenty torqued that urban sprawl had stolen my beautiful view. 

At the time I had two wee children and a dog and was miffed that this church I knew nothing about had the nerve to install a gate and entrance road for whizzing cars that I perceived as an endangerment to my family.

I foolishly thought that since I was (strongly) of a different religious persuasion, Father Fitz wouldn't care. Boy was I wrong. He graciously accepted the petition, enveloped my hand warmly in both of his, and to my utmost surprise, invited my family to dinner. 

That speed hump was already installed by the time our dinner engagement at Ben's Family Restaurant rolled around the following week and despite jokes back and forth about proselytizing each other, we became fast friends. The clincher was when this wonderful Catholic priest kept a (mostly) straight face when he asked my 4-year-old daughter if he could see her dolly (which she was holding tightly to her chest) and she replied, "Not right now. I'm milking her."

My husband began working out with Father Fitz at the gym and I even modeled one of the main characters in my first novel after him. There was no one else, really - it had to be a wise, kind, godly Irishman with a keen sense of humor. 

Yep. Father Fitz. No one else would do.

When The Distant Shore released, I hand delivered a copy to him and explained that he was the inspiration for Captain Stone and why. He seemed puzzled at first, but then I saw tears come to his eyes and I knew that he finally understood how special he was to me and my family.

We moved away and finally lost touch, but I'll never, ever forget the Catholic priest who touched my life and those of the myriad of readers who came to know and love him through my books.

Father Fitz graduated to heaven this week. I felt my heart break when I heard the news. In fact, my eyes are leaking as I write this. 

I have no doubt where Father Fitz is right now - in the Catholic section of the humongous heavenly sanctuary saving seats for all his protestant friends. But I can't help but feel that our world has a little less light without him in it.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy National Punctuation Day!

Bet you didn't know you had a reason to celebrate today, right? And of all things, punctuation.

Well, dang it, why not? After all, where would we be without. punctuation; to Keep us, straight!?

Okay, so grab a celebratory cup of hot tea and chunk of chocolate. Then take this little test to see if you're truly a Punct Punk.

Can you find the errors in each sentence? (That is, if there are any.) *Spoiler alert: answers at bottom.

1. Joe's favorite era of music was 1960's Motown back when he was 15. He loves to share his CD's with his BFF's.

2. Watch out for the quicksand; it's enough ... to make you desert your dessert ... in the desert.

3. Andrea yelled, 'I'm leaving', as she slammed the door. 'I hate it when people use "quotations" incorrectly'.

4. Listen gordo if I'd wanted to see lisa in Vermont; I would have called her.

5. I'd like to thank my parents the Pope and Mother Teresa.

6. "Hello John;" she said. "Do you have all your 'ducks in a row'?"

7. I hate it when you think you "own" my opinion.

8. It's beginning to snow. I'd better bring the potted plant inside before it freezes it's new leaves off.

9. Whoa doggies! What a hoot! I can't believe you said that!

10. Oh no. How many times have I told you not to... it's been at least three-thousand-fourteen ...

1. Apostrophes denote possession (Joe's) but are not needed for dates or acronyms (1960s, CDs, BFFs). Also, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, numbers under 100 within dialogue should be spelled out (fifteen) because we don't speak in numerals; always spell out numbers that start a sentence.

2. Ellipses denote pauses longer than a period (and are not appropriate in this sentence), em dashes denote interruptions. Semicolons go between two independent but connected clauses and the one here is used correctly. (A little word fun at the end there - sort of like polishing the Polish furniture.)

3. Double quotation marks (") are used at the beginning and end of quoted phrases; single quotation marks (') are used for a quote within the quote. Commas and periods should be inside the quotation marks (unless you're writing in England, where it's the opposite). Use italics instead of quotation marks around single words to emphasize them (don't capitalize or bold them either - stick to italics unless you're a billboard painter).

4. Names and proper nouns are capitalized and set aside by commas: Listen, Gordo, if I ... (in other words, put commas around the name of the person spoken to). The semicolon in this sentence should be a comma.

5. Speaking of commas, if used incorrectly, they can scandalously alter the meaning of a sentence. Like this one versus "I'd like to thank my parents, the Pope, and Mother Teresa."

6. There should be a comma after addressing a name/noun (Hello, John). The use of single quotation marks for 'ducks in a row' is appropriate here (a quote within a quote) and the question mark is correctly placed between the single quotation mark and the double. However, semicolons go outside quotation marks (although in this case a comma would be in order).

7. Again, better to italicize own for emphasis than to place it in quotes.

8. It's (with an apostrophe as a contraction for it is) is correct in the beginning of this sentence, but toward the end of the sentence its little leaves is appropriate (no apostrophe for a possessive pronoun).

9. Three exclamation marks in a row is overkill. Overuse of any stylistic device (especially exclamation marks!) dilutes the emphasis you're hoping to achieve. Plus it appears that you're trying too hard to elicit emotion from your reader.

10. Oh, no should have a comma. One set of ellipses (the first) is appropriate here (three dots only with one space before and after). Numerals (3,014) should be used for numbers over 100 for better reading flow.

So how'd you do, my friend? How punct-savvy are you?

Hey, don't let it ruin your day if you're not a Punct Punk ... even professional writers depend on editors (who are paid to be Punct Punks) to catch all the riffraff.

So tell me - what's your most common punctuation mistake?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Put Down the Donkey

Feel like you're carrying around a few burdens?
I walked into the elevator as two southern belles exited, deep in drawled conversation.

The elevator doors had no sooner closed behind them when the gal in the corner with the distinctive New Jersey twang rolled her eyes at her slick chick chum. "Who says dhat? 'Can you carry me to da store tamarra?' Like you're a sack o' patatas. Whey'd dey learn English - in a baan?"

It took me a moment to yankee-translate then another long moment pondering what was wrong with asking someone to carry you to the store. I am and always have been, after all, a hick from the Florida-Georgia border sticks long before it was a smash band.

Oh. I finally got it. Carry me.

The proper verb should have probably been "take me" or "drive me" to the store, but I've heard "carry me somewhere" my whole backwoods life, so at first it seemed perfectly normal to me. Like mashing the light switch or saying, "I used to not" or "Quit that directly or I'm gonna slap you upside your punkin' head ... bless your little heart." (Southern etiquette demands that you add that final disclaimer whenever you say something bad to or about somebody.)

It wasn't until college that I was enlightened about the ... um, shall we say charming eloquence of regional colloquialisms and realized that carrying someone to the store taken literally would pretty much be the end of most of us. Carrying around ANYTHING for very long would get plum exhausting. If you don't believe that, just try holding a cotton ball over your head for ten minutes.

Since I've felt kind of droopy lately (both physically and emotionally), I stopped and thought about what I might be carrying around with me that would drag me down so. Didn't take long. Unforgiveness. For sure. I've been wearing it this week like a 50-pound sack of manure strapped to my back. Got so used to it, I hadn't really noticed it. Til now.

I know that by not forgiving, we carry people and wounds around with us, weighing us down with our invisible burdens. I forget sometimes that my outsides may look normal to you, but my insides look a lot like the poor dude in the picture above. I'm even heaving around the donkey that's supposed to be carrying me, for pity's sake.

I came home and looked up my chapter on forgiveness in my book Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate. (Yep, I actually do re-read my own books. I find them very helpful, actually, because I'm the kind of pigheaded person whom Papa God has to teach the same lessons to over and over.) Here's what I found:

"Harboring resentment is like chugging down strychnine and expecting the other person to die. Your anger doesn't hurt your offender. It hurts you. It wounds you and those who care about you, those who feel helpless and hopeless watching bitterness gnaw away like ravenous sewer rats at the you they love. Rats that will never be satiated."

"I've heard it said that apologizing doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value relationships more than your ego. And isn't that the way Papa wants us to prioritize?"

Yep. Just the elbow in the gut I needed to jar my need-to-forgive muscle. It gets stuck sometimes in all the fat and needs a little jolt to pop out and get some exercise.

So that's my job for this weekend. Exercise that poor flabby forgiveness muscle, unload the fertilizer and put down the dang donkey. How about you? Got any invisible burdens weighing you down?