Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I want to wish all of you out there, a very blessed and merry Christmas. I'm so fortunate to be a part of this blog group and share with my writing sisters and readers some of the things going on in my life.

I've written this post early because our granddaughter Rainy is once again seriously ill and in the hospital. We may well be heading to Kansas City for Christmas in Children's Mercy Hospital. At this point, I thought it might be best to get my blog done early.

Children are such a precious part of Christmas. Our neighbor's across the street are so cool. The father works in construction so during some down time he put in an ice skating rink in their yard. I thought it was so neat that this father of 3 little girls and a baby boy on the way, would take his time to build his kids an ice rink. Here's a shot of one of the kids out there skating. How cool is that.

Another neat part of our Christmas is the snow and mountains. I'm so blessed to live here in Montana. I do enjoy the winters - mainly because I can stay inside and write and watch it snow. :) Here's a shot from my front yard.

Last but not least - we have enjoyed a beautiful scotch pine Christmas tree and holiday village display. I actually let my 20 year old son set up the village and each day he seems to add something new. You'll note in the picture on the left - Batman is visiting the village. In the picture on the right - the church is being attacked by a dragon and a black panther. It's always exciting at our house.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday with those you love spending time near to you. God Bless You!

Friday, December 18, 2009

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it, December 13th was St. Lucia's Day. Since my husband's family is of Swedish ancestry, I made it my business to better understand their traditions. Over the years I've learned that Swedes are among the most stubborn (my husband says it's tenacity - not a matter of being stubborn), hospitable (always have a pot of coffee on the stove and are ready for conversation), and have never met a stranger (my father-in-law could have gone to outer Mongolia and made friends).

If you've never been able to attend a Swedish St. Lucia Day festival, I highly recommend you find one next year. In Stockholm and many other places in the world - including the wonderful little town of Lindsborg, KS, St. Lucia Day celebrations are traditional Christmas season festivities.

St. Lucia was actual Italian. She lived about 283 AD and converted to Christianity during a time of pagan worship. When she refused to marry the man her deceased father had arranged for her, the groom-to-be turned her into the authorities as a Christian. She was put to death, and for years nothing much was said about her.

Legend tells that Dec. 13th-St. Lucia's Day was eventually celebrated by Christians as a counter to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The tradition was said to be made official, however, when during a terrible famine in Sweden a mysterious white ship appeared on December 13th just when the people were ready to give up. There was a beautiful young woman on the bow, dressed in white with a wreath of lighted candles on her head. When the people approached the ship, they found it filled with much needed food and supplies. Of course the young woman was no where to be found, but the people were certain this had been St. Lucia bringing them a gift of food.

(This painting is by Carl Larsson, one of my favorite artists.)

Today in celebration, the eldest daughter of the family dons a white robe, symbolizing purity, and wears a red sash to remember the blood shed. On her head she wears a wreath of candles ringed with lingonberry or holly. The Swedes associate Lucia with light, since her name comes from the Latin word lux, meaning light.

She will bring the elders of the family brewed coffee and warm saffron St. Lucia coffeecake or buns in bed, all the while she will sing Santa Lucia. The focus is on "bringing the light" during the darkness of winter night, and in parts of Sweden the darkness is quite lengthy during the winter. In some places the sun doesn't even shine for a time.

I think about Jesus bringing us the light. We were in darkness--hungry and filled with despair just as the Swedish people were during that famine long ago. Jesus came and offered us light and filled us with hope and nourishment. He didn't come to impose it upon us, however, it was a gift--freely given. I hope this Christmas season, you are celebrating the light of Christ--the hope that is within--the joy of our Saviour's birth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Things My Grandma Used to Say

Being a person of history, I'm always asking questions about my family. Who was who, what did they say, how did they live, what did they like?

My mother's mother was a nifty woman named Georgia Irene Butler Williams. I love the above photo of her. She hated her name - especially the middle one - but she was a real corker. My best memories of Grandma Williams was her gardening and canning. She was an extremely productive woman. During World War II she had 5 children (there were 6, but one had died in 1936 from meningitis). She had to find ways to keep her family fed in Kansas during the time of rationing. She set goals to can 100 quarts of everything possible - and that's exactly what she did.

The gardening my grandparents did was huge. I know for sure it engulfed a good portion of the backyard, but it also took in the entire portion of land that now houses the neighbor. Every square inch of idle land was planted for as long as my Grandmother was able to get out and plant. Some was in vegetables, some in berry plants, and lots in flowers. I remember when some of the land was sold. It seemed a very sad moment to me. But I digress.

What I wanted to share was my Grandmother's colloquialisms. Grandma used to talk to me while we gardened. Gardening was a family affair that I didn't appreciate at the age of six, but learned to later be very grateful for. Grandma used to put a stake at either end of the patch we were working, then tie a string from one stake to the other. This gave her very straight garden rows. She would then drag the hoe under the line or have me do it and then we'd plant. She'd tell me, "Christians sometimes have a hard row to hoe, but if they keep their eyes on the mark--they will always go straight." I would work awfully hard to keep my eye on that string as I pulled the hoe to make the planting row. It was a matter of pride on one hand, but I definitely wanted to please my grandmother.

My grandmother had a lot of other colloquialisms and it makes me smile to think about them now. She would often tell my mother, "Sleep on it, and it will look better in the morning." "The darkest hour is just before the dawn."

One of my favorites was, "If it's dirty--it's doubtful." Meaning if it's questionable - don't do it.

She talked about being as "poor as church mice" and that "the bigger the battle, the bigger the victory." She was a dedicated Christian woman and pressed through most any problem to conclusion--as did many from The Great Depression era--with her focus on the Lord. I'm grateful for that influence, and I still giggle when I remember her exclaiming, "Oh my stars and garters!"

At Christmas time I really miss her. She was a special woman who blessed me and today I honor her memory. Here's a photo of her with my aunts and uncles. My mom is in the front on the left.

I can hardly wait to see her again in heaven. She'll greet me as she used to with our little funny French greeting. Bonjour! Comment allez-vous? and I was then to say Très bien, merci. Et vous? and she would laugh and say, "Oh, très bien, merci." Such fun memories.


Friday, December 4, 2009


Today is the big day. My husband and son are both having surgery. My husband is getting his right rotator cuff repaired (later he'll have to have the left one fixed) and my son is having his right thumb tendon reconnected.

Yes, you heard right. My son was going to need knee surgery, but that's on hold. Erik loves swords and has collected them since he was young. Unfortunately life has overwhelmed him and he's going through depression and has been drinking. He was cleaning one of his swords on Tuesday night and slipped. I happened to be out with ladies from our church when it happened so Dad got all the fun of going to the emergency room. Now today they will have father-son surgery by the same surgeon. He said it was a first for him. It's a first for me.

I was feeling rather overwhelmed with it all when a friend shared a paper of Scriptures and thoughts she had written down out of the clear blue. Now neither she nor I believe in coincidence so I know God put this on her heart for me. The top of the page starts with:


My son and husband both have dealt with depression and anxiety on and off for most of their lives. Jim has managed to deal with a lot of it, but Erik not so much. It's a burden that weighs horribly on me, yet through getting counseling, I'm starting to see the situation for what it is, and to realize the battle belongs to the Lord.

This isn't an easy post to write, but I knew you would all understand when I asked for prayers for my family. I know God has a plan - even in this.

My friend wrote to me - "I was thinking of a song and scriptures that really helped me when I needed to sit back, stand still and allow the Lord to fight my battles for me." Then she references Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

How precious that verse is to me. I can rest in Him and be still. He will take control. I don't need to worry. Such peace comes in that thought. I can face anything knowing that God is nigh--that He has already made provision and will not forsake me.

My friend ends her letter with quotes from the song The Battle Belongs to the Lord. I leave you with the same thoughts. Words and music by Jamie Owens-Collins.

"When your enemy presses in hard do not fear...The battle belongs to the Lord. Take courage my friend your redeption is near. The battle belongs to the Lord."


Friday, November 27, 2009

Lost My Crown

Yes, I lost my crown.

No, not that one.

It was the one in my mouth. One on a back molar. I was just innocently eating a piece of brownie when I bit down on something hard. Pulling the piece from my mouth I realized it was a gold crown. My first thought was that it had to belong to someone else. I didn't feel it come off - my tooth didn't hurt (thank you Lord), and it just seemed to appear from nowhere.

I went to clean off the crown and brush my teeth and sure enough it was mine. Now at this point, I'm just glad I hadn't swallowed it, but then the questions started.

Why did this happen?
What do I do now?
How can I fix this?
How can I keep it from happening again?
Will this hurt?
Will it cost a lot of money?
Will this cause a lot of down time?

I realized that these were the same questions I always tend to ask whenever bad things happen. I always tend to want to over analyze a situation, figure out all the details, come up with quick fixes--when the best thing I can do is simply take the problem to someone who knows what they're doing.

So - in this situation - I called the dentist. He asked me a couple of questions. Then he preceded to tell me I could either get some Vaseline or Fixadent and put the crown back on myself - then see him on Monday for a permanent fix. OR If I didn't want to try that, I could just leave it off and be careful of chewing anything on that side and see him Monday. I opted for the latter. Why?

I've come to learn just how much I can mess up a situation by trying to take charge of something when I know nothing about it. Looking at that crown, I honestly couldn't tell which way it would even fit back on. What if I put it on backwards and then I couldn't get it off? What if I put it on and then it popped off again in my sleep and I swallowed it? Now, I'm sure some of you are very skilled and could have just put the silly thing back in place, but I had seen too many times when I boldly stormed the gates of life--unqualified--unprepared--and completely out of my element.

How many times could I have avoided complications to bad situations and hard times, if I would just take the problem to the One who knows what He's doing? God never demands I fix my life or take care of tragedies on my own. Often, however, He gives me free choice. You can take this action on your own.... OR You can wait on me.

I chose to wait for the dentist and I don't regret it. I'm still learning to wait on God. I wish it were a lesson I learned with ease or that I always go into without a second thought, but it's not. I am hopeful, however, that in time and with practice, it will come more naturally.

So now the crown is back on - in time for Thanksgiving - and I'm ever so thankful for the fact that everything is back as it should be. Well, except that my husband has to have rotator cuff surgery, and my son needs knee surgery, and my mother may need shoulder surgery. Hmmmm, how hard can it be to operate on someone?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Heading into the Holidays

It's that time of the year again. Thanksgiving will soon be upon us, then we'll sail right into Christmas and New Year's and then all at once 2009 will be completed and we'll welcome 2010. It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about the new 2009 year. Sigh. Time is flying by.

Someone mentioned buying a Christmas tree the other day and I honestly thought they must have some sort of brain madness to even think about such a thing, then I realized that Christmas is only a little over a month away. 43 days - folks. 43 days until Christmas. This simply cannot be. I'm not ready. I'm too far behind. I haven't even celebrated Easter yet--have I?

Okay - so I have to get my act together.

I have to buy a turkey and find the Thanksgiving tablecloth. I need to dig up my family's favorite recipes and maybe find a couple of new ones to spring on them for the feast of thanks. Maybe you can help with that - if you have a favorite holiday recipe - send it my way.

Then I have to remember where I put the tree stand and those presents I bought for the grandkids earlier in the year. I need to get my son to take his snowboard out of the front room where I want to put the Christmas tree and figure out whether or not we can afford to put lights up outside. Of course we may be detered by the foot of snow that fell today and the other foot that is supposed to fall tonight. Guess we're literally waiting for the other foot to drop.

So here I go. I'm putting on my festive spirit and holiday hat and plunging in. Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Naming Books

This week has been loads of fun as I've been working with the publisher to title my Texas series. This is the series that will debut next fall. I like to write and title all three books before any of the series releases. I think the publisher likes that too.

It seems, however, that this was titling week for a lot of my author friends. Sometimes we joke about putting words like: love, heart, hope, tomorrow, promise, home, among others and pull them out of a hat for a title. Othertimes we are confident it's like drawing bingo balls only with words.

Unfortunately it's not that simple.

In truth - there is a super secret meeting in the basement of the publishing house. Only the most important folks are invited. These are the people who know the industry better than anyone and have super memories for all the titles ever written. Now titles can't be copyrighted, so they could call my book GONE WITH THE WIND, but it wouldn't be wise.

Anyway, I have never been invited to one of these super secret meetings. I am asked what I would like to call the book - but I think this is just so they can have a good laugh before getting down to business.

I'm convinced that what happens in the super secret titling meeting is this. Someone decides how many words the title needs to have. Then they make a list of the first and last names of those at the meeting and see how many words can be made from this. When they have a list of the words they give each of the words a number. Then they take the birth date of the person who's sitting in the secret chair (predetermined before the meeting and written on a secret card that must be taken from a lock box). The birthday numbers will then be used to pick the numbered words and from this - the title will be determined. But don't tell anyone that I shared this information with you or they might have to put me in the lock box with the card that tells which is the secret chair. :D

So after all that ordeal - my next series and 3 books are finally titled. Only, I can't tell you...not yet. But - if you take the letters of the names of the editors at Bethany House and the marketing guy and the p.r. ladies and mix them all together - you should have the letters of each title.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Home, Book Finished and Introduction

Well I'm home for a month. The booktour was loads of fun. Of course anytime I get together with my writing friends--no matter who--no matter where, we inevitably have a great time.

I was with Judy Miller and Cathy Marie Hake this time. Bethany House's extremely talented marketing directeor, Steve Oates, drove us from place to place. We visited Amish County in Ohio and Bill and Gloria Gaither's store in Indiana. We saw Colleen Coble in Wabash, Indiana (here we all are)
and visited a carousel factory in Mansfield, OH, but Judy no doubt will tell you more about that. We ate Amish butter cheese - yum. We had a wonderful baked chicken meal shared with two of the sweetest bookstore (The Gospel Shop) owners Vesta and Small at Der Dutchman in Berlin, Ohio. It was definitely a whirlwind tour. We did 12 signings in 4 1/2 days.

One of the things that really blessed me on the tour, besides the fellowship, was the fall colors. Ohio and Indiana were gorgeous. Another was the kindness of the people we met. I was blessed by so many who shared their stories and told me how much they enjoyed our books. We spoke at most of the occasions and I witnessed God truly touching lives for Him.

I am very happy to announce that I just finished the first book in a Texas triology and I'm working on a Texas booktour for next year - probably late August or early September.

Now for the introduction portion. As I mentioned I enjoyed the booktour with our own Judith Miller and her carousel passion. Now we get to share Cathy Marie Hake with you as well. Cathy is an awesome gal who writes with a great deal of humor in her books. I was priviledged to get to meet her years ago when she first proposed a story to Heartsong Presents and I was working in the acquisition process. I think you're going to enjoy Cathy's way of looking at the world. So without further ado - Cathy! Here are some photos to show you just what fun she can be.

Oh, and I had to share just a fun little thing. Here's Simon - our daughter Jen's cat who lives with us - in his festive Halloween costume.

God Bless!

Friday, October 23, 2009

On the Road Again

This week I'm in Ohio and Indiana on a book tour, so I'm not going to have much to say. I forgot to plan ahead for this blog, so please forgive me.

It's been a lot of fun hanging with Judy Miller and Cathy Hake. The book signings have introduced us to some lovely folks and incredible stores.

Wednesday night we were in Bill and Gloria Gaither's store in Indiana, where we enjoyed some awfully good pumpkin spice cookies and wonderful staff and readers.

The fall colors are incredible - much prettier than my part of Montana. We had a cold snap that dropped us down to 2 degrees F the first week in October. That killed off the leaves and left them all a muddy brown, rather than allowing them to turn Aspen gold.

Anyway, we would certainly appreciate your prayers for safe journeys home.
Love to all

Friday, October 16, 2009

Booksignings in Alabama

The booksignings in Alabama were great fun, and I met so many neat people. I want to definitely offer my thanks to the Athens-Limestone Public Library in Athens, AL and also to the Huntsville Lifeway Christian Bookstore, in Huntsville, AL.

The Athen-Limestone Library speaking event turned out to be great fun. I met such wonderful people, and enjoyed signing books for them.

Here I am with a great little gal named Jade and her mother Amy.

Then we were off to Huntsville the next morning for the Lifeway Fiction Day celebration. We had a great turn out there and I met so many readers who turned out to be loyal fans. Here's a shot of one gal named Tammy.
She assured me that she has read everything I've written.

Another one who said the same was Marge Odom (she's promised me Hawaiian Banana bread and its recipe).

Then I met a dear lady named Rachel and 2 of her 5 daughters - Laura and Lyn and her little granddaughter Abigail.
Laura (shown in the wheelchair) even surprised me with a sketch of one of my book characters (Dianne Chadwick from the Heirs of Montana). Each person was a special blessing.

Then of course there were the Lifeway gals. I call them the Lovely Ladies of Lifeway. They made me feel welcome and special.
What more could an author ask for?

I think my favorite thing was the fellowship. Each of the readers were great to share stories of how the books had changed their life or drawn them closer to God. What a special blessing that was to me. Next week - Ohio and Indiana booktours. See my website ( for dates and locations. Cathy Marie Hake and Judith Miller will be my companions. Look out Ohio and Indiana this trio can be dangerous!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Back from Alaska and Alabama Bound

I'm back from Alaska and headed to Alabama where I'll be signing copies of DAWN'S PRELUDE. First I'll be at the Athens-Limestone Library, 405 E. South St., Athens, AL at 3:30 p.m. on Friday October 9th - TODAY!

Saturday October 10th I'll be celebrating Lifeway's Fiction Day at a booksigning in Huntsville from 11-1 pm. This will take place at:

Westside Centre
6275 University Dr NW, Suite 42A
Huntsville, AL 35806

On another note - I'm back from my trip to Alaska. It was a great time and the weather was unseasonably beautiful and dry - except for Ketchikan where it rained, but that was no real surprise as they get the most rain of all the inside passage towns. Here's beautiful Sitka Harbor and then a snap from the ship of Ketchikan's welcome sign.

Dawn's Prelude is already hitting the stores there and is proving popular. Folks are always tickled to see stories about their area. One woman told me that she is so delighted to see the increase of Christian fiction in bookstores and everyday markets. I know many of you have shared this sentiment, and I think all of us who write feel the same way. It's such a relief to pick up a book and know that we don't have to worry about the content influencing us to take our gaze from the Lord.

One really neat encounter for my husband and I happened in Juneau. While walking around the town we met a man who was asking for change. We gave him some and then stayed and talked with him a while. He was part Tlingit Indian and had a very interesting life to tell us about. We stood there for probably twenty minutes and he told us of his love of reading. When he found out I was an author, he announced he would look for my books at the library and demanded my website. I had to smile. Here was a man down on his luck, living in a tent, and one of his greatest joys was reading. You just never know.

Oh and just for your amusement - here's a photo from my front door taken on Wednesday. This is our 3rd snow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Victoria, British Columbia

As promised, this week I'm sharing Victoria, British Columbia with you. This is a wonderful little island town to visit, and if you get chance to go there - do! It's a short trip by ferry to Victoria from Washington state or Vancouver ports.

There are some charming B&B's in Victoria - Prior House is among the best. Judith Miller, Cathy Hake and I stayed there and enjoyed this old house. Candice, the innkeeper was a delight and provided us with the finest care.

There is a wonderful castle house called Craigdarroch Castle. It just oozes historical wonders.

What a grand time we had exploring this place. Each time I go to Victoria, I try to go here and everytime I learn a little more I think how much fun it would be to use this setting for a series.

In downtown Victoria there's a charming German Restaurant called Rathskellar. The food is incredible. The Empress Hotel offers incredible teatime fun.

Of course there are wonderful gardens to visit in Victoria, as well as antique stores and an incredible park that overlooks the entire city and harbor.

Well, by now we're back in port in Seattle and headed home to Montana. I know I'll be ready to see my beloved Bridger range of mountains and my sweet little house, but I will be pining for Alaska and Victoria. What a blessing!


Friday, September 25, 2009

As You Read This

As you read this, I'll be boarding the Zaandam for Alaska. This is a fun business trip that family just happens to be tagging along on. My mother and sister have reserved a cabin, as have my aunt and her sons. Jim and I will round out the adventure. We're taking books to Sitka where I will sign them. I'll be speaking with several people about other Alaska series ideas, and touring a history museum in Juneau just to name a few things. I also plan to get a lot of writing done on the ship. I told my husband, if I experience writer's block and need to check into a hotel somewhere - I think I'll make it one of Holland America's ships.

We will see a lot of other familiar sites while on this trip. We head to Glacier Bay first thing and while there a US Wildlife and Parks Ranger will come on board. These people are fascinating to talk to. I always learn so much and get such neat information for stories.

We will also head to Juneau and enjoy the museum there, as well as touch base with a couple of folks who have been good to give me research information. Jim will probably bury himself in the museum where he'll be researching for me.

Sitka is next, then Ketchikan. Ketchikan is a fun little town. There will be lots of shopping for the travelers, but I like to experience the forests and learn about the vegetation and native people. We will definitely have fun researching and learning.

Last but not least is Victoria, BC. But I'll save that for next week as I love this little town and have enjoyed spending time there before with authors Judith Miller and Cathy Marie Hake. We had a marvelous time brainstorming on our booktour in Canada a couple of years ago.

I think I hear the ship's whistle blasting for us to leave!
Bon voyage!

Friday, September 18, 2009

This week in Denver

This week I'll be in Denver for the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference, as will be many of us on this blog. In 2000, I helped to found this wonderful organization with several really cool authors. Lynn Coleman called me one day and said, "You know we need a national Christian writer's group focused just on fiction (at that time it was focused even harder on romance). I totally agreed, and the rest is history.

This year's conference will include
keynote speaker Debbie MacComber

It's been a lot of fun being a part of ACFW and this year my husband Jim and I are teaching
the new authors continuing session. I love working with this group. New authors are like sponges. They want to learn and absorb everything they can. They are hungry to hear what experienced authors, agents and editors have to say.

It reminds me of when a person first gets saved. They are hungry for the Word of God and for the spiritual understanding of those who are more experienced. They seek out the Lord and work hard to line up with His guidelines.

As the years go by, as with experienced authors, we can take things for granted. We can stop worrying so much about learning. We can think we know it all or that there's nothing new to experience and see. We can even become prima donnas as authors and as Christians.

For me, I like to come and sit in the beginning classes and see the wonder and feel the excitement of those who haven't yet seen and done it all. I learn new things all the time from those who are seeing things for the first time. It's my way of keeping "new eyes" for familiar things.

I pray, as Paul did in Ephesians 1:18 - that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened

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