Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Bright Star in Michigan

Among Michigan’s many treasures is my friend and critique partner, LYNDA SCHAB, who just signed a contract for her debut novel, Mind Over Madi. Lynda’s book, to be released by Oak Tara Publishing, will be the first in a 3-book chic-lit series.


For most writers, the road to publication is loooong and bumpy. See what Lynda has to say about her writing journey and her first book.


What have you learned through this writing journey?

LS - Oh, wow. The biggest thing I've learned is patience. The path to publication is long and winding. There have been so many times I've wondered why God wasn't making things happen faster. I've wanted to rush things along. I've even been tempted to quit because of frustration. But, looking back, every tiny victory, every narrow door that opened, was a necessary step that directly led me to where I am now. Not that I've arrived, of course. I have a loooong way to go, but I've learned that God's timing is rarely my own.

Can we get a sneak peak at the plot?

LS - Here's a little "back cover blurb" I've put together:
All men cheat. At least, that’s what Madi’s mother has always told her. That fact is confirmed when Madi suspects her husband of having an affair with the mother of one of his 4th grade students. When, in a heated moment, Madi asks him to leave and he complies, Madi is forced to deal with her issues. Issues she has tried to avoid. Issues of love and trust that trail back to her childhood. Will counseling, a determination to not turn out like her bitter and unforgiving mother, and an emotional confrontation with the “other woman” help Madi to realize there is Someone who always has her on His mind, even when it seems she’s lost her own?

How much of Lynda is in Madi?

LS - Probably too much! To be honest, Madi's story is (very loosely) based on my own. I've certainly experienced my share of insecurities for some of the same reasons Madi has. Also, like Madi, I constantly have a battle going on in my mind, I have a sarcastic sense of humor, and I'm addicted to computer games and chocolate.

My hope is that Mind over Madi will offer women a real yet humorous look at how our insecurities can affect our relationships with family, friends, and God. I also hope this story will leave readers with a knowledge and assurance that God loves us. That grace abounds, despite our weaknesses, our past mistakes or, as Madi would say, out moron-ness.

Release date?

LS - I wish I knew. The contract has been signed and I'm waiting for the editor to contact me with all of the juicy details. Can't be soon enough for me!

As a Michigan native, can you share with us some great places to visit in your home state?

LS - I know I'm biased, but Michigan is the most beautiful state in America. There are so many options...Perhaps the most recognizable tourist spot is Mackinac Island, described as the natural theme park of America. It's historic, relaxing, and gorgeous. We went last year as a family and can't wait to go back.

An interesting fact about Michigan is that we have more than 11,000 inland lakes. At any given point in Michigan, you are never more than 6 miles from an inland lake or more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. A few remarkable beaches can be found in Grand Haven, Ludington, Traverse City, and Holland - which also boasts wonderful Dutch heritage. There's also South Haven, where Mind over Madi is set. South Haven is a huge tourist draw because of its beaches and recreational harbor.

How about a favorite recipe?

LS - I have tons of favorite recipes and they all belong to restaurants. I'll admit I don't cook a lot (nor do I enjoy it all that much), but I try to cook something edible so we can sit down together as a family at least once a week. My family's favorite recipe is not-so-creatively titled, Chicken Casserole, but I have to say it is delicious. Plus, it makes a ton so there are usually left-overs, which is nice. I also make this dish for large family gatherings and it always gets rave reviews.


5-6 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
16 oz. macaroni noodles, cooked and drained
Steamed / cooked carrots
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
3 T. Margarine
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Prepare macaroni and drain. In saucepan, melt margarine. Add soup, milk and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Combine macaroni, cheese mixture, chicken, carrots, salt and pepper. Pour into a 3-quart casserole dish (I use the Pampered Chef big stone bowl). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Thank you, Lynda! I can’t wait to see Mind Over Madi in print.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Michigan's Treasure

Saugatuck – with a name like that, how can it be anything but great? We visited Saugatuck, Michigan a couple of years ago on our annual Mother’s Day trip, which never actually takes place on Mother’s Day. Let me explain. Each year, my sister and I give my mother a two-night trip as her Mother’s Day gift. Our challenge is to find places that are within a 4-hour drive of the Chicago area. After we’d been to Lake Geneva, Galena and Amish Acres in Indiana, I remembered a friend raving about Saugatuck.

A little Internet research led me to the Beachway Resort and Hotel. Loved the name -- loved the location even more. Beachway is situated between downtown Saugatuck and Lake Michigan, overlooking the Saugatuck Harbor, where you can board the only hand-cranked chain ferry in the U.S. It only takes about 15 minutes to cross the Harbor into charming downtown Saugatuck, where quaint shops, art galleries and a variety of restaurants await.

For beach lovers like me, there’s something even better about staying at the Beachway (and I quote from the Beachway site) “it is the closest hotel to Lake Michigan's award-winning Oval Beach.”

What makes Oval Beach award winning? Check it out, and you won’t wonder for another minute. This Lake Michigan stretch of sand feels and looks like the most beautiful Florida beach you can imagine. Endless miles of sand and water, a sand dune high enough to experience panoramic views of Saugatuck and the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan. And no…Beachway did not pay me for this blog. And no…it’s not the Taj Mahal of hotels. Just a nice, clean family-run resort/hotel with a fantastic, family-friendly vacation or a great place for a couple’s or friends’ getaway. There are many other great places to stay in Saugatuck, as well. Check them out at

Nothing says Michigan like cherries. Check out this delicious pie recipe.

Star-Spangled Cherry Pie with Crumble Topping

• 4 c. tart cherries, frozen or fresh
• 1 c. granulated sugar
• 3 T. quick-cooking tapioca
• 1/2 t. almond extract
• Pastry for one-crust 9-inch pie
• 2 T. butter or margarine

Crumble Topping:
• 1/2 c. butter, softened
• 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
• 1 c. flour

In a medium bowl, combine cherries, sugar, tapioca and almond extract and mix well (it is not necessary to thaw frozen cherries before using). Let cherry mix stand for 15 minutes.
Line a nine-inch pie plate with pastry and fill with cherry mixture. Dot with 2 Tbs. butter.

To make crumble topping, combine 1/2 c. soft butter, brown sugar and flour in a small bowl and mix until crumbly. Top cherry filling with crumble topping and bake in preheated 400° oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Note: Two cans (16 oz. each) well-drained unsweetened tart cherries can be substituted for frozen or fresh cherries.

Tip: If freezing your own cherries, arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet after pitting. Freeze until solid to prevent cherries from clumping together, then bag.