"Write, write, write," he said. Ignore the wind and the waves and write.

Houston's books available from: Your local bookstore, all on-line bookstores or click here at: (Just Dust Publishers)

Friday, June 15, 2012

San Jose Book Signing

Yes, my GPS will find our way to San Jose on June 26th for a book reading/signing of Julia, Coming Home. The event will be heald from 5:00-7:00 at Berean Bible Bookstore, 1375 Blossom Hill
San Jose, CA.

I'm excited about this event, the second stop on a California book signing tour to promote the book.
Hope to see some friends there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contest! -- Remington House #2 Book Cover

The second book of the Remington House Series is due to be released by the fall of 2012. The first book of the series, Julia, Coming Home was set in the mountain touristy town of Sage Meadows, Oregon. The sequel and second book starts there, but intrigue transports the characters to France. The main plot of book 2 is about a young woman's quest to find her father's love. (As you know if you read Julia, Coming Home, there will be many subplots.) The cover will be similar to the first, but with a French air.

We'll work on a title later. But for NOW--the cover photo contest!

I traveled to France in 2007 and have many photos that could be used for the cover of the book. however, I can't decide which one! So, I am running a contest to ask for your help. The only thing that you have to do is to leave a comment here (or at my e-mail Shelley@JustDustPublishers.com ) saying which one you like best, and be sure to leave your contact info (e-mail is fine.) When I decide on the photo for the book, I will put the names of everyone who liked the winning photo in a hat and have my son draw a winner. The prize is a free signed copy of the new book  when it is released in the fall and, if you are a writer, a critique of 5 pages of your writing.

So, here they are. Choose your favorite scene and let me know the number  of the photo or send a description (and your contact info!) Before June 30th. (Please choose only one.) I will announce the winner on July 1st and send the winner confirmation. May the best reader win! Blessings!

P.S. If you have not read Julia, Coming Home and would like to you may order a copy from the author, www.JustDustPublishers.com   for $2 less ($13) than it is sold on Amazon.com ($15) and have it shipped to you or a friend for $1 less than other on-line retailers. Plus the author will sign it! Great deal.

Several have asked me how to vote: Go to bottom of this post. There is the word "comment." Click on that and a box opens up. Leave a comment there.







Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Best Mother's Day Gift--EVER!

My 34 year old son can't seem to remember my birthday. Or to send a card for Mother's Day. It's not easy to dismiss this with a wave of the hand and, "Oh, well..." Even though I can readily recall days that he blessed me with exorbitant generosity, like flying half way across country when I graduated from college and bringing with him a hand tooled leather computer bag for me. (What was he thinking? He couldn't afford that!)

I remind myself that he is a man of great integrity, an independent thinker of authentic character. One who can't be told by Hallmark how to express himself to his mom. In that knowledge, my buttons burst. But is it so wrong to want a personally signed card every Mother's Day? Maybe. Especially since this year he unknowingly gifted me with a surprise blessing of which I never dared to dream.

This desire of my heart began in music class at Cajon Valley Junior High. Our glee club teacher introduced us to a wide variety of music, Cowboy folk songs, WWI era songs,  and lullabies were just a few groupings of traditional music we learned. We were expected to memorize the songs for concerts--a great way to seal the lyrics in adolescent minds.

Jump forward twenty years to the birth of my first child--this precious, albeit forgetful, boy of mine. As I cradled my infant in my arms, I sang him many lullabies, some of which I had learned in the seventh grade choir. One in particular, I decided, would always be his. "Golden Slumbers." In time, I bore two more children, assigning each their own song as well.

I loved singing my babies' songs to them, always choosing a range that best suited my alto voice. I thought I did pretty well with these melodies. In fact, it was the only time in life that I ever wished I could make a recording. I wanted to make burn a CD while my voice still was warm and full. Not for commercial distribution, understand. Instead, I dreamed my kids would play these recordings someday to bring back good memories. Of course, I never made that recording. Another disappointment surrounding these lullabies was that the children themselves never sang them. I loved their voices and urged them to sing, but they were always the audience.

Present Time: Mother's Day, 2012
This is my first Mother's Day as a Grandma. What a year it has been since last May when I had no suspicion of my status change on the horizon! Today, my daughter and her husband are having my darling granddaughter baptized. And my first born son and his wife are nine months into adopting a four year old. You might assume that the two grandchildren are the best gifts ever, and they are a dream come true. I LOVE being Grammy.

But I cherish most the awakening I have had in watching my children parent, in particular, one night I spent with my son. The little boy he and his wife are adopting is a firecracker! Sharp as the proverbial whip and giving them the ol' run for the dollar. Add all the other cliches you can think of that say he's a challenge to which they rise.

They keep a schedule for him that would cause a station master to envy. The bedtime routine I watched one night started exactly at 7:45 with vitamins, brushing teeth, toilet and bath. By 8:15 we were upstairs with my darling wearing his terry cloth "roofie' robe (it looks like a dog with flopping ears hanging on the hood) reading two--not one, nor three, but two--bedtime stories. Next came the prayer, song, kiss, and backrub, in that order.

I was impressed with the close interaction the two had developed. My son seemed to finally be a man in my eyes. I was in awe. Then came the bedtime song.

"Golden slumbers kiss your eyes," my son sang in a voice I had never heard.

"Smiles await you when you rise," my grandson joined him on the second line. Tears flooded my eyes as they finished the song in a duet. I was not tempted to join them. I could hardly breath, not wanting to ruin the moment. I found out that night that my grandson has a natural ear for melody and almost a photographic memory, not to mention a lovely voice. But more astonishing, I realized that my son had been listening, patterning his life as a child in my steps.

I could not have been more surprised than if ten angels were standing around us singing in chorus. And honestly, perhaps they were.

The real wonder for me: that from generation to generation we pass that which we value to our children. They do see the love and sacrifice we give to them, and largely adopt the same.

This also caused me to look backwards. How much of what I am and do has been handed to me from my grandmother, great grandmother, and maybe much, much farther back?

The Bible says that the sins of the father are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation. Implied in this, and now learned by me, is that so are the blessings. And while the aberrations of the parent have a half life, so to speak, with being limited to bring less and less harm, the blessings are multiplied.

Today, I am truly a blessed woman. I thank God for song, children, grandchildren, but especially for the order of the family of which God granted us. And as for my Hallmark card? Think I've got that one beat.

PS My son technically did not give me a card on this Mother's Day, however, my GRANDSON brought me a bunch on white roses and a huge card that plays mechanical music!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I am deeply humbled and grateful to announce that the Amy Foundation has seen fit to award me 4th place in a national writing competition. The accompanying cash award is $3000. A nice boost to the writing career!

Here is the winning piece: "Warming Center Puts Life in Perspective"
by Shelley L. Houston
For The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon Saturday, March 12, 2011 (D4)

It was a bad night. I frequently have trouble sleeping, but when my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., I viewed my couple hours’ sleep with contempt. I forced a smile at my husband, who scurried past me to dress for our morning task—the Egan Warming Center.

We were due at 5:30 to relieve the night crew. Why did I agree to this? I brushed my teeth, washed my face, swiped a comb through my hair, and blinked at my reflection. Perhaps no one would recognize me…

As I lumbered out the door, the cold slapped me fully conscious. I then thought, some of the one thousand homeless people in our county probably slept outside last night. Maybe they shivered, even now, under some bridge.

 The church windows glowed as I pulled into the parking lot. There, some of our “customers” stood with their cigarette smoke evaporating into the darkness. I nodded to them as I walked by, which a few returned. One man glanced my way but looked too weary to nod. As I entered the church, the smell of hopelessness offended my senses. I greeted fellow workers but I staggered under the feeling of desolation that so many homeless people experience.

Then, inexplicably, a fire to survive surged through me. I wanted to overflow with love—God’s love, which I so often take for granted.

 I handed out plastic bags in which people stored their bedding. “Good morning! How’d you sleep? Would you like a bus pass? Yes, there’s dry socks for you. Now, get a good breakfast.” I managed smiles of comfort and words of encouragement. I had difficulty maintaining that character as all ninety people filed by, some with frostbitten faces, rashes or scrapes. One man burned with fever.

 I greeted the next young man in line, “Good morning, James.” His eyes searched mine as he took the bus pass. He had something to say. I waited. His hands fussed with his jacket. His mouth opened, but his voice broke. I smiled, encouragingly. “Would you like some socks?”

He shook his head. “Just—thank you.” He fidgeted a little more and started to turn away but then he found the words and turned back. “It means so much for you to do this. Thank you.” Tears welled in his eyes.

Shame flooded through me as I recalled my grumbling that morning and my distaste as I arrived. I shook my head. “No,” I said. “Thank you. It’s a blessing to be here.”

I reflect on what Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in…”

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you?…’”

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me’.”