Thursday, July 31, 2014

You're Part of a Really Big Plan

Let me begin today with a question. Do you believe you're part of a plan that's much bigger than yourself?

This last week, I had the opportunity to tag along on my husband's business trip to Boston. And let me tell you, I LOVED that city. I came away so inspired by all the political, artistic, and literary history. So today, I hope you'll come along with me for a brief trip to Boston, and that you'll come away inspired too!

The Boston Public Library was established in 1848 and was the first large free municipal library in the United States. 

This was one of those oh-my-goodness moments for me from the trip. When I saw this Renoir, I literally gasped. It was incredible. You know how, ever so often, you see a piece of artwork or read a book that really resonates with you? Well, this one did for me.

In this spot, a rowdy group of kids and soldiers surrounded a couple Redcoats. Shots were fired, children were killed, and the Boston Massacre shaped the course of American history.

This church--established in 1759-- sheltered Connecticut troops during the Revolutionary War. George and Martha Washington worshipped here. Theodore Roosevelt taught Sunday school here. And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here in April, 1967.

This piece of stained glass is considered one of the most important in America, because of the technique it uses The glow and layering of the colors looks like a painting. It is striking.

This is the house where Louisa May Alcott grew up.

This duck statue in Boston Public Garden commemorates the popular children's classic Make Way for Ducklings. And really, who doesn't love Make Way for Ducklings?

And finally, this last one is my favorite. This home was owned by George Washington, and later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. My mind was boggled as I looked up at it, realizing I was sharing the same visual space as one of my favorite writers.

What do all of these spaces have in common? They all pay homage to, or are a result of, people living extravagant-plan lives. Some of these people were wealthy. Others were not. Some knew of their success and enjoyed wealth because of it. Others did not. But all of them lived as part of a really big plan.

As I went from site to site, I felt both inspired and overwhelmed. How could I ever contribute to this world in the same way people like George Washington did? I'm not a patriot. I'm not an Impressionist artist (unfortunately). I'm not an architect, or a soldier, or a suffragette.

But I am a person with big dreams. I am God's. And in this time and place, I'm part of a really big plan.

And so are you.

You may look around the seemingly- redundant details of your day and think what you're doing doesn't matter all that much, especially when you see the names of your favorite authors in print and the faces of your favorite actresses gracing fashion magazines. Maybe, actually, the plan you're part of seems pretty small. Doing the dishes. The laundry. The vacuuming. Maybe your word count keeps growing, but so do the rejection letters. It's all you can do to get your kid to sleep until 7 am. Maybe you're stuck in an office job you hate, just trying to make ends meet.

I have some really great news for you.

You are still part of a really big plan. And God hasn't forgotten about it.

Sure, you may not be able to see it right away. It may take years for your dreams to come to fruition, and they may take on a shape you never expected. But the same God who governed George Washington and inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is the God who has called you to live at such a time as this. And that is something worth getting excited about.

I want to encourage you to get out of the same-old-same-old perspective that we all allow to govern our mindsets. Ask God to grow your dreams so they blossom. Ask Him what His dreams are for your life. We're not all called to be famous, or rich, or NYT bestsellers. But you know what? We are all called to live abundant lives. To make a difference in this world. And I believe that when we live with an awakened perspective, realizing the value of each of our lives, we will leave an indelible impression on this world.

So be of good courage. You are part of a really big plan.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Six Vital Questions to ask your First Readers

You have a polished draft, and now it’s time to get feedback before submitting to agents or publishing houses.

Those friends and family members who’ve been bugging and bugging you? (When-can-we-read-your-book? Are you finished already?) – finally you have something to offer them, in the hope of garnering solid feedback you can use.

So you hand the manuscript over, ignoring the tumbling free-fall in your gut and the sense that you’ve just placed your newborn child tenderly in the middle of an expressway.

Photo by imagerymajestic,
Then you wait for the feedback.

When it comes, it sounds like this.

“Oh, I loved it. I loved it so much.”

“You are such a talented writer.”

“This was a great story. Really great. Wow – just wonderful.”

Flattering? Yes.

Affirming? Absolutely.


Not so much.

The problem here is that most people you ask for feedback (experienced critiquers aside)… well, they know you, and they love you.

They will be kind.

Maybe they did honestly enjoy the book. They may have sensed that some parts were a little “off”, or not quite there, but either they haven’t thought through their response deeply enough to analyze exactly what was lacking, or they simply feel it would be rude to point out any deficiencies.

Generalized praise may make you feel good, but what’s the point if it’s not even a truly accurate indication of what that person thought? Remember, the purpose of engaging a first reader is to make your book better, not to make you feel better(Click to tweet.)

You must give your first readers permission to give honest feedback.

Image by David Castillo Dominici,
What’s more, you need to do this in a practical way. Don’t just say, “Oh, and please feel free to tell me what you REALLY think!” because the majority of people will be too polite to take you up on that. It’s like asking your best friend what she really thought of your 10-year-old daughter’s debut karaoke performance.

Yeah, it stank, but absolutely NO-ONE who loves you is going to tell you that.

The instinct to preserve the feelings of a friend runs very deep.

On the other side of the equation you have zealous Aunt Harriet, who is a whiz at spotting punctuation errors and spelling slips, and will tell you with relish that you used the wrong form of the word “you’re” on pages 39, 117, and 248.

All of which is well-intentioned, but equally unhelpful. There’s simply no use doing line edits with a fine-tooth comb if your plot is fundamentally flawed and a third of the book has to be rewritten from scratch.

To elicit the truly helpful responses, therefore, you must dig them out. Ask specific questions. This achieves three things:

      1.     It helps the reader focus on the big picture.
      2.     It helps him/ her be analytical about what worked and didn’t work, and why.
      3.     It gives him/her practical permission to give specific feedback.

What questions should you ask? Keep it short and simple.

Here’s some I’ve used.

1. Did the characters’ actions ring true? (Did you understand the motivations behind what they did?)
2. Which parts felt slow or lost your interest?
3. Were there any parts that didn’t make sense to you?
4. What are the strongest and weakest aspects of the book?
5. What (if anything) took you by surprise?
6. Did you find the ending satisfying?

Face-to-face questioning is confronting, and people will shirk from total honesty. A better approach would be to print out a one-page sheet with spaces after each question, and give it to the reader with your manuscript. Your readers will take this responsibility quite seriously. It’s validating for your first reader to know that you truly desire their thought-out opinion, not just a pat on the back and a bit of ego-stroking. 

By asking specific questions, you bypass the emotional pressure of thrusting your newborn manuscript into a friend’s arms and asking with breathless hope, “Do you love it as much as I do?”

Do your book a favor, and get some REAL feedback.

Have you ever done this? What questions would YOU ask?


Is your first reader telling the truth when she says she loves your book? Find out here. (Click to Tweet)

Six vital questions to ask your first readers: (Click to Tweet)

Do your book a favour, and get some REAL feedback. Here’s how: (Click to Tweet)

Karen Schravemade lives in Australia, where she mothers by day and transforms into a fearless blogger by night. Her popular creative home-making blog, A house full of sunshine, reaches over 20,000 readers a month. She's a Genesis finalist for women's fiction and is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such. Find her on TwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Praying the Scriptures for Your Writing Life

Are you going through a struggle in your writing life? Maybe you just received that rejection for  the twelfth or fortieth time. Perhaps you didn't do as well as you wished in a contest. Or those doors just aren't opening for a new freelance opportunity.

When our emotions are high, reading and praying the scriptures can bring our mind in line with God's will for our lives, helping us to see things from his perspective.

Here are some verses you could pray for your writing life:

When facing rejection: Lord, help me to forget what is behind and keep straining toward what is ahead. You have a good plan for my life. You use even these rejections for your purpose to draw me closer to you. Help me to focus on what is ahead, the heavenly prize. Help me to keep pressing on, for I know you desire me to be diligent. Thank you for the prize laid up for me in heaven as a believer that is so much greater than any accolade of the world. Help me to look to hear well done good and faithful servant instead of looking for other's praise. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Checking our motives: Lord, let nothing in my life be done because of my own ambition. When it comes to my writing, I have dreams. You give dreams, but I must make sure my dream is in your will and not just my own desire. Lord, take away the selfishness and the arrogance. Lord, where you have given me those to give me correction help me to accept it gracefully and to allow you to use it to change both my writing and me. Lord, when others succeed in their writing, help me to be truly and genuinely joyful for them without one hint of envy. Help me to look to others and helping them succeed in their writing wherever they are on their journey (Philippians 2:3)

God's view of ourselves: Lord, train me in humility. Where I think more highly of myself than I should, humble me. Teach me to humble myself in your sight. Lord, help me to not be lax in taking correction from others you have placed in my life. Use correction from other individuals of my writing to help me to grow as someone who is willing to be taught, not only in my writing but spiritually. (Romans 12:3)

Looking for God's approval vs. man's: Lord, show me whether I am truly looking for only your approval, or for other people's. Where I'm looking for other's approval, convict me and change my heart. I desire to serve you alone (Galatians 1:10)

Persistence/diligence: Lord, in my writing life, help me to work hard. Help me not to get discouraged but to be consistent in working on this calling you've placed in my life. Help me to write for you and not for others. Give me the strength to work hard and persist (Colossians 3:23)

Do you have favorite scriptures that have encouraged you in your writing life?

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys reviewing and writing for Library Journal and the blog Wonderfully Woven.

Monday, July 28, 2014

One Sheet Ready?


Whether you're planning a wedding, a kid's birthday party, or a lunch with friends, the special event always requires thought to setting the mood. Do you want a shabby chic wedding at a country chapel? Or a Super Hero bash for your four year old? How about a garden tea for a few of your closest girlfriends? All these events bring about a vision in our heads, a trigger for our senses.

Your fifteen minute agent/editor appointment at a writer's conference does not fall short as a "special event" for your writing career. The spotlight shines bright and brief in those few moments, so why not be sure you are prepared to not only sell your novel with a bang, but set the mood of your writing, and leave the professional with an experience they can't forget?

Besides stellar writing and a snazzy premise, it's best to tap into more than the agent/editor's sense of hearing as you speak, and impress an image that will stir the appropriate emotions for your particular book. The one sheet is the most effective way to tap into the professional's senses during your “special event”. It is your décor and mood lighting all in one. It can also be another hook to grab their interest and dig deeper with conversation. And it is my ABSOLUTE favorite thing to create besides the actual story.

Here are some examples of establishing the tone of the book through graphics and layout using my own designs (I tend to write more character-driven books so I include a profile or face in my own one-sheets):

A historical set deep in the Amazon jungle (Winner of the Mile High Scribes 2011 One Sheet Contest):

A coming of age story set post-Dust Bowl in cotton country of Texas (Finalist of the Mile High Scribes 2013 One Sheet Contest):

A historical romance set in a coal town in the Utah mountains (prejudice is a theme, so I went with the starkness of black and white):

For more info on creating these yourself, click here.

This conference season, I am excited to, once again, offer one sheet designs to any CBA writer. Go to my blog click on my CBA One Sheet Design page for more details! 

Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Alley Weekly Round Up

Photo by photostock
It's been a quiet week. One of those weeks where you go through the day like a robot, doing the same thing that you do every day without really thinking about it. Nothing exciting. Nothing troubling. Just the same old stuff. I rather like those weeks. They are rare, you see. In today's busy world, the quiet normalcy of days are few and far between. So you gotta love them. Cherish them. Relish them for all they are worth. Now to make your ordinary days extraordinary, I suggest you stop by the Alley this week and see what our lovely Alley Cats are writing about. 

The Alley Weekly Lineup

Monday - Angie is your host today with another fabulous post.
Tuesday - Julia's been cooking up a brilliant article for your writing pleasure! Come taste and see.
Wednesday - Karen's got a great post for you: Six Vital Questions to Ask Your First Readers
Thursday -  Ashley has been gallivanting about and seeing some historical sights, but she will stop by and share something wonderful to jump start your writing.
Friday - Amy will have some brilliant words for you to soak in and learn from.

Alley Cat Spotlight!

This week the spotlight is on Karen Schravemade. Karen calls Australia her home and has been remodeling/decorating her home and documenting it as she goes. She has started up a fabulous DIY blog that is growing leaps and bounds. It's called A House Full Of Sunshine and is a beautiful place. She has made beautiful cakesparty favors, and wall art. She even has an "Inspire" tab on her blog! You definitely want to check that out.

Karen is brilliant at stringing words together and we are definitely lucky to have her at The Alley.  Be looking out for a few changes in the landscape here at The Alley. With Karen's artistic, decorative gifts, she is going to spruce us up and make us look fabulous. We can't wait!

We Have Winners!

The winner of the giveaway from Amy's FREEBIES post is.....Sally Bradley! You get to pick 2 of Amy's books for your very own. Lucky girl!

The winner of the giveaway for GRAND CENTRAL anthology is....Michelle Lim!!!

The Awesome Link Roundup!

Writing: How to Boost Your Productivity (Alli)

Why Failure IS An Option For Writers (Positive Writer)

Create Your Own eBook Using Google Drive (Galleycat)

The Writing Tools of 20 Famous Authors (Flavorwire)

How to Write a Book or Blog (The 6 Danger Stages You Need to Overcome) (Write To Done)

How Not To Start A Novel (Anne Allen's Blog)

Have an superb weekend and a fantastic week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The How-To's of Writing a Strong Romance

Photo Credit
What does every romance need? A guy and a girl of course! The hope for a silver band by the end of the book and a hunky hero never hurts…no, I would say instead it helps a great deal. ;-)

But what are some great qualities of a good romance?

Sass and spark: let’s just admit that the demure and naïve heroine has gone out with the historical romance novels of yesteryear. Even your typical household, HR books today have a go-getter heroine. Someone who knows what she wants and is going after it. How you go about her “going after it” depends greatly on her circumstances and the era she is living in.

Sass adds for great spice in dialogue. And every character needs that spark on the page. The spark that makes them attractive to not only the hero, but also to the reader so they want to keep reading, because the last thing we want to do is have the reader put the book down.  

Protective and daring: Beth Vogt’s hero Stephen in Somebody Like You plays this part superbly. A 
strong, commanding hero, he is also incredibly gentle and knows how to step into the Haley’s life without making her feel as though he is taking over. Think about yourself as a woman: you want to feel protected and provided for by your man right? How would you want your man to go about doing that for you? Think about those things for your heroine as you are writing the scenes and creating the characters.

Assertive: Your heroine needs to fulfill a need in your hero and your hero needs to fulfill a need in your heroine, otherwise, why should they get together? It needs to be both a physical need—her house needs repairs before it falls around her ears—and a spiritual need—he has never felt truly valued by those he has loved before.

Communication, or lack thereof, does not make for conflict! If the conflict between your hero and heroine can be resolved by them simply talking to each other, you are in need for a few rewrites. The tension has to be stronger than what can be solved by them sitting down in a coffee shop and chatting.
Photo Credit

Put your hero and heroine in compromising situations. Drag your mind out of the gutter, I’m not talking about those kind of compromises. Back your characters into a corner. Send them out hiking and a thunderstorm rolls in: what is their first reaction? Either to the situation or each other? Don’t think along the lines of the perfect response they would make to impress the other, but the gut level I-am-not-thinking-about-what-I’m-saying-or-doing kind of response.

Explore these kind of situations and you’ll learn more about your characters. Are they right for each other? because maybe you’ve created two characters that should never be together.

Have fun with the dialogue—fill it with quips and jabs, fun and humor—it makes the characters come ALIVE on the page and the romance all the more saucy and quick paced.

Indulge in the tender moments and don’t forget to give your hopeless romantic readers a kiss or two to sigh over. ;-)

What is the latest and greatest romance you just finished? We learn from the best!

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Side of Faith - SNEAK PEAK!

I'm writing while in the emergency room with my 4 year old.

She's going to be fine, but it's been a cruddy day, let's just leave it that.

My post was going to be about "covers" since I did my cover reveal last week. I'm going to save that post for next time, because I just don't have the time/energy/mental capacity to do it justice at the moment.

I was going to do a "repeat" post, but eh, I'm waiting for doctors to come and figured I'd write a quick post to fill the time.

Oh what the heck. I'm gonna go a bit different today.

My novella, A Side of Faith, is releasing on August 18th.

So... what say you that I post a little sneak peak... say the first scene.... below?

Would that be okay?

If you said no, then stop reading now.

Otherwise, here ya go. A sneak peak, and note: I'm still finishing up editing, so this is NOT final and is subject to have a few mistakes still in it, so please forgive me and don't judge the final copy by that!


achel Carter stood with her hands on her hips, confronting the blank wall. Its stark white canvas screamed, “Paint me, paint me!”
She’d spent the last two days covering it with goo and scraping away at heinous “welcome to the 80’s” floral wallpaper. Now her living room walls were primed and ready to attack with color.
She grabbed the scrunchie from her wrist and pulled back her mass of dark brown curls and twirled it into a messy bun to get it out of the way. Stooping down, Rachel picked up the large three-inch brush and dipped it in plum-colored paint, allowing the liquid to soak into the fibers.
Maddie and Allie would be shaking their heads right about now. Well, maybe just Maddie. Allie was a little more intrigued with the idea.
It didn’t matter though. This wall was hers. No one was looking over her shoulder, telling her what to do with it. She’d gleefully ignored all the decorating ideas they had thrown at her. Boring and predictable, every single one of them.
Rachel’s wall was going to be brilliant. A representation of her art as well as her new lease on life these past seven years. She wanted to walk into her new little hand-me-down house at the end of each day and be reminded of how blessed she was.
Since closing on the house and starting to remodel, she hadn’t even needed her Doublemint gum. She’d given up her on-again-off-again relationship with cigarettes last year and traded it for a love affair with gum.
She’d probably spent more money on gum in the past year than she used to on cigarettes.
But since moving the short hour south to Sandwich, IL, so many other things occupied her time and her mind she didn’t even think about it. Didn’t crave it.
Instead, she craved life, and wow. It felt fabulous.
Brushing off the excess paint, she turned and admired the blank wall one last time. Sunlight filtered through the blinds and bounced off the white drywall canvas.
When finished, it would be a striped yellow, red, purple, and turquoise—each wave thick and horizontal across the wall. No perfectly taped and measured stripes for her. A symbol of her crazy life. The ups and downs. The effects of the different choices she’d made. But how—put together—God had made her beautiful. He’d used the good and the bad to shape her into something breathtaking in His eyes.
She started in the corner and began the first wave.
Just as she dipped her brush with fresh paint and held it up to restart the stripe, the doorbell chimed.
Her hand jerked, and paint droplets pinged across the wall and plastic-covered floor.
Lovely. Purple speckles were now everywhere.
Brush in her left hand and clenched fist with her right, she controlled the urge to stomp as she went to answer the door.
Hand on the knob, she took a deep breath. It wasn’t their fault they’d interrupted her. Her wall wasn’t so important she couldn’t be kind to visitors, even though with her paint-splattered clothes and hair, she was in no way fit to socialize.
Maybe it was a salesman or something.
She lifted her chin, curled her lips into a smile, and opened the door.
A tall man with redish hair stood on her doorstep, a cocky smile gracing his mouth.
Her heart slammed into her chest and the world spun as memories came hurling back at her, of another man—different but too similar for comfort.
Shaking her head as if she could scatter the pictures in her mind, she tried not to react. Her body wanted nothing more than to slam the door, run to her car in the garage, and take off for the nearest convenience store to buy the largest pack of Camels they had.
Her hand shook on the doorknob as she willed herself under control.
This stranger had done nothing wrong, other than ring the doorbell of a crazy woman, evidently. It wasn’t his fault that at first glance, he looked similar to Jared, the man she worked very hard at not hating. They were both impossibly tall and had that trademark red hair, albeit different shades.
Two attributes she’d come to despise in men.
Fair? No, but neither was what she’d gone through with Jared.
Squinting her eyes against the sun’s glare, she looked up and focused on his face.
The similarities stopped there.
His cheeks sported a light beard, looking more like he’d forgotten to shave for a few days than actually grown one on purpose. Jared had always had an oversized mustache, but that was it.
He was also younger. Probably mid-thirties compared to Jared’s mid-forties.
And tall. This man had even her ex beat on height. The stranger’s Goliath frame towered over her 5’5” self.
Auburn red hair splayed in all directions. Goodness, if she didn’t know better, she’d swear Prince Harry himself had arrived from Wales to her doorstep.
Even she had to admit, this man was downright handsome.
Not that it mattered. She wasn’t on the market right now, and especially wasn’t interested in one who not only made her mess up her wall, but also brought out the urge to spit in his face just at the sight of him.
Which wasn’t his fault.
As a precaution, she swallowed the saliva that pooled in her mouth, then propped her fist on her hip and narrowed her eyes up at him. He needed to get off her porch, stat. For his own sake as well as hers. “Can I help you?”
The guy hooked his thumbs through his belt loops. “I live a few houses down. Bob asked me to check in on you to make sure you didn’t need anything. He’s not fond of the idea of women living by themselves.”
Red flags soared. First, Bob was the older gentleman from whom she’d purchased her house. It was the same one Maddie had rented three years ago when she first moved to Sandwich, before marrying Reuben. Why would the man ask a neighbor to come check on her? He knew Reuben and Maddie had helped her move.
Second, not fond of women living by themselves? Was the man fishing for information to see if she lived alone?
Well, she wasn’t biting. “Listen. I have no clue who you are, but I know your type. I’ll have you know I hold a very handy carry permit and am versed in all things pepper spray, so I suggest”—she used her paint-brush-filled hand to point— “you just run along.”
The flick of her wrist surprised them both, as the plum-colored paint splattered over the stranger’s face.
Rachel tried not to smirk but didn’t succeed.
The man closed his eyes and took in a long breath, as if practicing yoga or something. A moment later, he opened them and nodded, his voice low and surprisingly calm. “Well then. I guess since you have things covered, I’ll be seeing you around.”
He vacated her porch faster than a deer dodging a skunk.
Slamming the door behind her, Rachel turned to survey her project and groaned. She might need to give in and have a piece of the gum she stashed in the kitchen after all.
But no way was she going to let some man ruin her project. She’d just prime over the spots, keep her chin up.
Her gaze shifted to the top of the bookshelf.
And keep her gun handy.
She picked up a new paintbrush filled with white primer only to be interrupted when her cell phone rang.
Her wall might get done sometime this century, maybe.
Digging into her cutoff jeans pocket, she slid her only non-paint stained finger over the screen. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Maddie. Did Cam come by?”
Rachel switched the phone to her left hand and started to cover purple dots with the paintbrush in her right. “I have no clue who Cam is.”
“Your neighbor. He mentioned to Reuben he might stop by to introduce himself.”
Rachel’s hand stilled. The man hadn’t given her his name, but she had a sneaky suspicion her instincts had made an epic fail. “Oh, uh, yeah. He did for a second.”
“Good. Because you know how I told you there was a guy I wanted you to meet?”
A sinking rock of dread settled in the pit of her stomach. “Yes, and remember how I told you I wasn’t interested?”
Maddie laughed. “Oh, girl. You know I listen to nothing you say and will get my way. Anyway, it’s Cam! And I invited him to dinner tonight. You’re still coming, right? What am I saying, of course you’re coming. Anyway, gotta go. Remember. Tonight. Five o’clock. Kyle’s at a friend’s, so it’ll just be us adults. Don’t be late.”
And with a click, the phone filled with dead air.
What in the world had she gotten herself into? Rachel leaned her head against the wall.
She jerked back when wetness tickled her forehead.
Swirling around, she marched to the kitchen to end her gumless streak.