Tuesday, December 30, 2008

your calendar

We're coming up on 2009 within hours. I always like putting up a new calendar and looking at all those unknown days and wondering what lies ahead, though I'm glad, thanks to His mercy and grace, I can't see what's coming. Last January (and beyond) was hard for me - I think if I'd known what was ahead I'd have just crawled into my closet and not come out till spring! But maybe I wouldn't appreciate the spacious places if not for the spots that seem to squeeze the life out of me:)

One thing I learned last year in that tight spot is who's really in charge of things. And it's not me. I had to let go of what I wanted (the writing dream) and just give it to Him, trusting that because He knows what's ahead and I don't, that I can accept whatever He puts on my calendar. Now my calendar this year, thankfully, is looking a little different than last year:) But it's still full of unknown challenges and I still have to remind myself Who is really in charge. Then I rest. Not an easy feat for us "high-strung" types but doable, trust me. Better yet, trust Him!

The date I'm most looking forward to in the coming year is the release of my first book on August 1st. For those who've pre-ordered my book, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! For those of you who don't like historical fiction, I forgive you - and would like to convert you:) I'm scheduled to do an interview with Christianbooks.com on July 30 by phone and am excited and a little nervous about that. And I hope to fly home and be at the Kentucky Book Fair next November, Lord willing.

Hope you are in a spacious place and not a tight spot. But the tight spots don't last forever and they really do make the spacious places more spacious. Here are two memorable scriptures to start the new year, no matter what your calendar holds:

For the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a spacious place: He rescued me because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:18-19

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand.
Psalm 32:14-15

Monday, December 29, 2008

the one word

The hallmark of good writing is the one word that dispenses with the need for many. -Martin, Writing Historical Fiction

The galleys are done! Sometimes I think I should be writing more about writing on this blog but life is about so much more than writing. Besides, friends and relatives who read these posts would be bored silly:) If they aren't already, that is.

We're coming up on '09 which will be a wild ride for me writing-wise, I think. Lots of unexpecteds ahead. And I tend to be a "likes everything neat and tidy" type person but publishing is not like that. There is the wild card of marketing/sales which is a mystery to me. Recently I typed in The Frontiersman's Daughter on google and found the book is being advertised in Germany on a German booksite, sans English, among other places. Are Germans really interested in Daniel Boone type tales, I asked myself?

I'm still at the stage where I have to pinch myself to believe it's happening at all. But then I realize writers never really "arrive" unless maybe they win the Pulitzer Prize or something like that. As for me, I'm in the 41st year of a writing apprenticeship, no kidding, with a great deal yet to learn. If I could write like anyone at all, I would choose James Alexander Thom. He is a brilliant writer, which I am not. Francine Rivers is another. Her novel, Redeeming Love, is an inspired book and it's still selling very well years later. I also love Janice Holt Giles for her Kentucky tales. She made the frontier so real.

But I really like books that have an air of unreality about them. And no, I'm not talking about vampire novels! There has to be more of a romantic than realistic feel to them as I like to escape in a novel, rise above this old fallen world for a spell. I'll never understand why depressing books sell.

Anyway, we're off to a violin lesson if we can get out of our snowy driveway. I have four more Amazon books coming and am thrilled! For Christmas, my Mom gave me a very interesting book on Henry Clay's family entitled Kentucky Clay by Katherine Bateman. And my cousin, Leslie, in Lexington, gave me the best Kentucky cookbook put out by the Kentucky Monthly called Another Serving. Hope you received some wonderful books for the holidays as well. Happy Monday:)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

post-Christmas bliss

Christmas is over and my living room is filled with Indiana Jones Legos just as my kitchen is full of leftovers. The Christmas trees are looking a little less green and lonesome without presents underneath. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday though I know many struggle this time of year. As I get older I sense the underlying sadness of the season. A writing friend oif mine just lost his wife of many years so I'm sure this will be a bittersweet time for him in future. On the other hand, I know of someone who recently adopted a little girl from Ethiopia and when asked what she was most thankful for over the holidays she said water and love.

I'm most thankful for my family, spread out all over! My brother is in Washington D.C. right now with his family and my parents celebrated quietly in Berea and Lexington, Ky. with my dear cousin, Leslie, and family. My cousin, Lorri, in Russia had a small Christmas as well with her two teens and husband. Wish we could all be together! But it's reassuring to know He is with each of us wherever we are. Read Psalm 139 if you are in any doubt:)

I will be thankful to get these galleys off my desk and back to the editors. I've been meticulous in making changes and think the book is stronger. You do catch some quirky things. One character changed eye color three times in the novel and I finally nailed them and deleted them. I can't believe I overlooked that to begin with but when a book is 425 pages or so strange things happen. Plus it's surprising how many times you can read a text and miss errors. I am even dreaming of The Frontiersman's Daughter at night, no kidding, so time to get back to book 2 and 3!

Yes, it finally did stop snowing on Christmas Day:) If you need a little snow scene, scroll down to my neocounter. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy birthday, Jesus!

Ah! Dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for thee.
-Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas eve

We have 4 more inches of snow this morning and it's still snowing! UPS called yesterday and asked us to meet them at the end of our driveway as they couldn't make it even with chains on the tires. We gladly obliged! The boys have been sledding a lot and Randy has been shoveling and plowing after work. This is chili and hot cocoa weather, for sure.

Tonight is our candlelight service at church at 6 o'clock and then we have our little Christmas eve celebration here at the house with all the goodies you only make once a year - shrimp cocktail and artichoke dip, a cheese ball, mini croissants and lots of crackers, Mexican layer dip, bbq smokies and chicken skewers, stuffed potatoes, peach mango salsa and chips, and those little chocolate lava cakes and blueberry blossoms. I'm writing it down here so I won't forget! We live very simply most of the year but tonight we celebrate.

Wish we had a sleigh - one of those old colonial cutters - to ride to church in tonight. That would be memorable, indeed. The best part is that we're expecting more snow! Hope you are snowed in wherever you are and celebrating His richest blessings, and that you know the One who is the real reason for the season.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people ... there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 22, 2008

winter wonderland

Can you find the snowflake in this picture?

We woke up to several more inches of snow this morning so now have just under two feet with more on the way! I've been spending a lot of time looking out windows, knowing it won't last. The temps are already warming up and those icicles hanging from the rafters are slowly melting. Our powdery snow is trying to be slushy now and all the trees look burdened. Randy had to go out to the apples and plums and cherry trees and shake the big branches off for fear they'll break. I hope there's a special place in heaven, like Narnia, where it's always snowing and never melting, and you don't feel too cold:)

Church was cancelled last night so Paul escaped playing violin. Randy did take them 4-wheeling in the snow at a friend's house though those ATV's make me nervous, even with helmets and all the rest. I stayed home and worked on the galleys. Our power is still on though others around us are without. We lost power for 4 days a couple of years ago and it was no fun, espcially when the water failed. We're still not out of the woods, so to speak, so hope all the amenities continue.

If I could, I'd move all this snow to my granny's house in Kentucky and celebrate there! With a big honeybaked ham, garlic cheese grits, and red velvet cake. My little version of paradise. But I'm confined to the wintry northwest woods with three Christmas trees, a warm woodstove, and two boys very excited about the next few days. Not a bad trade off, huh?

No, I still don't have all my Christmas shopping done, or know what's on the menu, but this year has been unlike anything I've ever known so it just figures this Christmas would be new and different as well:)

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

Sunday, December 21, 2008


An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.
A.W. Tozer

Saturday, December 20, 2008

polar express

This Saturday morning it's starting to snow again and the sky looks like a big grey bully. Everyone in the northwest is hunkering down for up to 15 more inches of snow and winds gusting to 90 mph. Folks are calling it the polar express as temps dropped to the teens last night and we get some of that cold Canadian air. The boys built a snow cave which collapsed so we walked to the little 100-year old Joyce General Store a couple of miles away yesterday to mail some things. Walking in a foot or more of snow is good exercise! And you can't always have your head in your laptop:)

Wyatt has decided he wouldn't want to be a writer who sits in a chair all day and stares at a computer screen. He just doesn't understand how pleasant it is to park there and do just that, especially when it's a big Lazy Boy chair situated right next to a warm woodstove with a big picture window on the other side overlooking the woods. So I think it's safe to say he's not a writer in the making as I knew by age 12 that this was the path for me. Of course writers can arrive at any age but I'm one of those who think they are born, not made. Paul is still dreaming of being a violinist/fiddler.

Paul is trying to work up the courage to play "Silent Night" at church tomorrow night and "Angeline the Baker" at Old Time Fiddlers come January. This latter tune is so pretty and interesting. I'm so glad I have a fiddler in all my books. There's nothing in the world like the fiddle though banjo is a close second.

As soon as I finish these galleys I return to the Red River in Kentucky, via my chair by the fire, for another edit, though I'm just about dying at this point to get back to book 3. And I've just realized I'd better start thinking about that 4th book!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

snowed in. the sequel.

Sometime in the night it snowed another half a foot! And it's still snowing this morning. The big spruce with all the colored twinkle lights on the deck was swept off by the wind and now sits in a drift. All this snow is unusual. We usually have a foot of rain about now, not snow, so we are thrilled:) A white Christmas, indeed!

Luckily we don't have anything on the schedule today but lunch with a neighbor if we can hoof it over there as Randy took the Jeep to work. I'm writing an additional chapter for the galleys and am almost done. Not with the galleys but with the chapter!

I've noticed a disturbing trend in fiction the last few years. I love beautifully written narrative but now the focus is on lots of dialogue with rapid-fire delivery. I think people want a novel that reads like a video game or t.v. show. A novel needs to unfold with just the right balance of narrative and dialogue or the reader feels cheated. At least this reader. But so many books today have that rapid-fire feel and I think it's a reflection of our society and how people want to be entertained and not have to think and absorb. Sadly, much is missed in reading this way.

I do want to mention my association with Books & Such Literary Agency in Santa Rosa, California. I'm so pleased that Janet Grant has just taken this about-to-be-published author on! Janet is a prolific author in her own right. Before founding her agency in 1994 she was formerly an editor for Dr. Dobson at Focus on the Family and had her own imprint at Zondervan. She has some wonderful clients and I'm humbled to be on her list.

Christmas is next week and usually I have our menu planned by now and lots of shopping done. But, at this point,if anyone asks me what we're doing all I can say is, "Galleys!"

May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart. -Eskimo Proverb

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

growing toward God

Last night, despite the snow and ice, I went to a ladies night out at church and was glad I did! Yep, shut that laptop and put away those galleys and headed east a whole mile and a half. Our pastor's wife, Cindy, had invited her mom who is an author to come and speak about her new devotional book, Growing Toward God.

Doreen Wright Blomstrand and Barbara J. Koshar have penned this wonderful book which is "inspired by the earnest words of children,and pairs heartwarming anecdotes with Scripture to create encouraging meditations. A warm reflection for moms and grandmothers. Growing Toward God reminds readers of the wisdom we hear 'from the mouths of babes.'"

The cover looks like a rainbow and has a picture of the cutest kid climbing a ladder. I encourage you to buy this wonderful book as it is very well done and has been endorsed by some well-known authors and pastors. I had the privilege of sitting by Doreen last night and she is as delightful as her book!

The book is available at Amazon.com and also Barnes and Noble and other places. Would make a great gift now or any season.

Children are a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3

Monday, December 15, 2008

snowed in

Where are my snowshoes? This morning it's about 19 degrees and we have half a foot of snow. The wind is roaring (gusting to 60 mph) but it's just beautiful outside, so long as you're inside by the fire. Snow is so much better than rain. I'm praying the power holds as I'm still working on these galleys. Our house smells like Christmas trees, thanks to the two firs inside. I heard of a lady in Georgia who has a tree in every room (even the bathroom?) which sounds wonderful and time-consuming (bet she doesn't write books). It's a good day for chili and Christmas cookies.

If the power goes out, I'll have to brave the roads and drive the 30 minutes to town to keep working. I've threatened to check into a hotel:) Must be the thought of room service that lures me. Randy went into the ditch after church yesterday so would be better to stay home.

Strangely enough, up until this weekend, I counted 14 blue hydrangeas blooming on my garden bush and Paul went up and picked 3 daisies for me in our wildflower patch. Now with the wind and snow all the apple trees and everything else have been stripped bare.

I've been reading about the Kentucky winter of 1777-1778. The old-timers referred to it as "the year of the terrible sevens." Turkeys and other game just froze in their tracks. I think this was the same winter George Washington was with his half-starved, barefoot troops at Valley Forge. We have such ease now.

Hope you're curled up with a good book! I want to read John Adams as soon as I can get my hands on it. My Amazon account grows and grows. Happy reading:)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

old joe clark

Sometimes you just have to do something besides write. We (even Randy and Wyatt) spent the day with the old time fiddlers and got a good dose of Old Joe Clark and a bunch of other tunes and felt like new. And Paul was offerred his first fidding gig at age 9! But he's going to have to wait awhile to pursue that sort of venue as he's still playing by ear and not reading music though we wave plenty of flashcards around to achieve that effect.

The other day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the finger placements on the violin and how agile, not to mention downright quick, you have to be to master it. Sometimes I just don't get it (that's why he's taking lessons, not me). Paul looked at me kind of funny and said, "But Mom, think of how fast you type. Violin is like typing real fast." Well, I'd never thought of it quite that way but I did feel better after his little insight. If I could make a "D" in typing in high school and now peck respectably 30 years later, I guess he can figure out all the finger placements eventually.

Back to the galleys. Grrrrrrr. The creating of a book is one thing, a final edit is another.

I inherited a painting and a violin which turned out to be a Rembrandt and a Stradivarius. Unfortunately, Rembrandt made lousy violins and Stradivarius was a terrible painter. -Tommy Cooper

Thursday, December 11, 2008

snow coming

Winter is coming to Washington and we're expecting snow by Friday. But I've hardly noticed with my head in the galleys. My grandpappy was a printer for the Kentucky newspaper, The Berea Citizen, in the old print shop by the college. We used to go down and watch him at work sometimes and I liked the smell of all that ink and the sound of the old-time machines whirring. He'd bring reams of plain paper home so my cousins and I could write stories and draw pictures. Sadly, he passed away in 1979. My mom remembers that the old print shop worked with very different galleys back then.

So far I've found 2 typos and am reworking all the words that don't have the right ryhthm. The track changes program on Microsoft Word is really a huge help. Frankly, my computer still scares me and I'd rather have the galleys in hard copy but don't know how you'd make all those changes with a simple pen/pencil.

An editor friend of mine once told me to enjoy the learning process. I'm learning several interesting things:

1. Every editor will see your manuscript differently and suggest different things, like it or not.
2. You, the author, will never be completely happy with the finished manuscript because in your mind, or at least mine, your book is never really finished and could always be better.
3. Not everyone will like your book.
4. You do need to eat and sleep.
5. If Providence has called you to write, don't sweat the small stuff.
6. Honor your deadlines.
7. Be thankful.
8. Work as hard as you can, then stop.
9. Typos will always exist.
10. Don't waste time blogging when you could be writing.

I set a can of chili in front of Randy last night for supper. When he looked baffled I proceeded to open it and warm it up. Luckily the boys had eaten at Arbys. Anyway, my deadline is December 30th. Guess what I'll be doing for the holidays? Enjoy yours!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The galleys for The Frontiersman's Daughter came in this morning which means my December just got a little more interesting. In my pre-publishing days, the thought of galleys sounded sort of glamorous to me. Now that I'm sitting on the other side of the desk, so to speak, they simply mean more work:) But I'm not complaining. Galleys are simply the "typeset manuscript that has not yet been designed in pages."

I haven't seen TFD in several months as it's made the rounds of several editorial departments back in Michigan. Last week I was thinking, "Hmmm. I really don't want those galleys right now as I'm so involved in this third book." But over the weekend I started missing Lael and wondered just what they'd done with her since we last met. Now I know. These editors work very hard, by the way, and suggest some interesting things! This is almost my last chance to make any changes to the book before it enters the final stages of production.

So now I have to step into Lael's shoes again and see things from her perspective which means setting other things aside, even homeschooling, (can you hear the boys in the background cheering?!) and try to polish those pages to a glossy finish.

So now instead of writing about galleys, I'd better start working on them. Prayers appreciated!

Monday, December 8, 2008

festive broccoli salad

I've finally finished writing that love scene in book 3 I was telling you about and now my thoughts keep returning to ... broccoli salad! I'm getting ready to jump up and make this amazing salad for the 2nd time in four days. It's that good. And pretty healthy too if you close your eyes and ignore that little bit of mayonnaise and all that bacon:) Here 'tis:

Broccoli Bacon Salad

2 broccoli crowns (I use some of the stem too)
1/2 carrot, grated
1/4 red onion, diced small
1/2 to 3/4 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip
1-3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1-3 tbs sugar (or Splenda)
8 strips crisply fried bacon, crumbled
1/2 to 2/3 cup craisins

Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Place into serving bowl. Add carrot and onion. Start cooking bacon. For the dressing, mix to blend mayo, vinegar, and sugar together, adjusting the amount of vinegar and sugar to your liking. Stir dressing into broccoli, onion, and carrot. Saran wrap bowl and keep in fridge while you wait for the bacon to cool on a paper towel. Right before serving, add crumbled bacon and crasiins to the broccoli and stir evenly.

If you don't like it, send me your bowl and I'll eat it all for you!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

a hands-on Jesus

I just heard a sweet story on the radio - bittersweet, actually - and thought I'd relate it here as it is fact, not fiction. Just recently a real newborn baby was found lying in the manger of a nativity scene in Germany. Just the baby, no mother or father near. No shepherds or sheep or other animals, either. But certainly angels and maybe even a star or two. I wonder what He thought when the mother left her baby there? It comforts me to know He understood her reasons, even if she didn't. And He'd already set things in motion for the baby to be found and the mother to be located and now a church has stepped in to help them both. Not every story has a happy ending, I know.

I would have loved to have found that baby lying there as I love babies and might not have gone to the authorities, just taken him home! Likewise, I want a hands-on Jesus, not a cold ceramic one or a plastic one like the baby in the manger at our church nativity yesterday.

We didn't always have a hands-on Jesus. When I think of God in the Old Testament, the word that comes to mind is holy, not hands-on. In fact, some of those men of old who touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling died on the spot. But then Jesus was born and bridged that terrible chasm. There's nothing more hands-on than a baby. Even as an adult Jesus stayed accessible, touching and healing and being with the crowds. I've heard that Jewish culture is very hands-on so I think He must have been a hugger, too. He loved people. Loves them still. He even told Thomas to touch his nail-scarred hands and side to prove He was who He was.

So they came in a hurry and found their way to to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke 2:16

He's no longer in the manger but the call to "hurry" still stands. Hurry or you just might miss Him!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

make that two trees, please

We've now come home from that Christmas tree festival I was telling you about and I feel like I need to go to go to bed for a week! All that pre-holiday bliss is sort of wearing sometimes. It was hard prying myself out of my chair this morning to get there as I was writing a very important scene, a love scene, and that, frankly, takes precedent over nearly everything. It's a wonderful way to begin a Saturday morning:)

There were so many beautiful trees at the festival today - the most interesting was an origami tree with those little paper creations hanging all over. I was just in a dither as I couldn't make up my mind between a gingerbread tree with red lights and a rustic tree with green and bronze ornaments (not tacky) with white lights. The trees weren't bidding high this year for some reason, so in a moment of insanity, I threw frugality to the wind and bid on two. And got both!

So now I have one tree in the dining area and one in the living room. It does my heart good as the proceeds go to missions. And my house looks a whole lot better too. Now back to that love scene.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

a little christmas magic

Looks like snow here and it's COLD. I'm loving all the holiday lights and unique gifts to buy. Yesterday I had one of those joy breaks at a farmer's market down in Sequim. This little store, called "Sunny Farms," has a big woodstove when you walk in, live trees and plants everywhere, Kentucky-type baskets hanging from the ceiling, and lots of fruits and vegetables, etc. To my delight I found a little sack of whole nutmegs and an old-timey nutmeg grater just like the one Lael uses in The Frontiersman's Daughter. I only saw one and knew it was meant just for me:)

I'm headed down to church soon to help set-up for the annual Christmas Tree Festival. It's my favorite holiday event and I have to wait a whole year every year to do it again. Just picture walking into a little wooden church, circa 1940, and seeing twelve live, twinkling, fully decorated Christmas trees - and you can take home any one you like. Each tree has a different theme. Last year the boys and I did one with birds, mainly Kentucky cardinals, and had birdhouses, birdfeeders, and bird type ornaments on this tall fir tree. The year before we did a Kentucky Christmas tree. Each is auctioned off and the proceeds go to missions. Every tree is unique and beautiful and a reflection of its decorator.

This year I was asked to do a Kentucky basket. When I flew home in August I stocked up on some unique things at the Artisan Center in Berea and found a neat handwoven basket at a flea market outside of town. Just as there are 12 trees to be auctioned, there are 12 baskets auctioned also and the bidding is lots of fun. The boys and I hope to bid on a tree this year for the first time ever. Then it's delivered to your house Saturday night - fun!

I envy all you folks with your houses already decorated and those trees up! I remember my grandpappy saying that a good Kentucky Christmas when he was a boy was finding some nuts and an orange in his sock. I wonder if they celebrate Christmas in heaven? Hope so. I'll be back to tell you if we got that tree and how many ornaments fell off between the church and our house:)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

blonde moments

Today we rushed to school where Paul was in a play and Wyatt and his writing group were reading stories they'd written aloud to parents, watched the kids eat way, way too many Christmas cookies and punch, filled up at the gas station for - GLORY BE! - one dollar and eighty-four cents a gallon (down from a record $4.63 or better), stopped at Wal-Mart and Starbucks, and finally made it to Copies Plus.

I wanted to have color copies made of two particular pages in that book catalog I was telling you about so my folks could have a look. I came to the electronic age late, remember, so was just amazed today when those color copies shot out looking just like the catalog itself! Anyway, I came back out to the parking lot and was so enamoured with the colored copies that I wandered through the parking lot with my head in the catalog and tried to get into the wrong car - TWICE! Luckily both were locked. Finally I looked up to see my boys laughing hysterically from inside our red Jeep several parking spaces away. Randy calls these "blonde moments."

Anyway, I'm just an addled author with a long to-do list and not a lot of it getting done except for all that writing. Up to 200 pages now on The Scrivener's Daughter but please don't clap too loudly as this is the first draft only which means I'm one step away from the trash can. I'm anxious to get back to book 2 and edit it again. And those galleys are coming up for book 1 soon. And I'm having the time of my life!

I delight to do your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

Monday, December 1, 2008

summer in december

This morning the boys jumped out of bed and remembered it was December 1 so rushed to the LEGO advent calendar to pry open door #1. Out sprang a little LEGO man holding a gigantic turkey leg. The boys were delighted. It made me hungry. Only now I'm having visions of honeybaked hams:)

The sun is actually shining here today and I just went to the mailbox and found that long-anticipated Baker Books summer 2009 catalog!! So I'm enjoying a little bit of summer on this first day of December. The Frontiersman's Daughter was given a generous two page spread with an excerpt from chapter 1 and some very kind words. And there is my face in a little bio box to the right staring back at me. Mercy! It must really be happening.

Each of us is given gifts to use in His service. God is so creative! I think one of the best, if not the best gift, is being a mom. Children are a gift. Raising them is a gift. There's another author in the catalog that writes great books and has nine children whom she homeschools! Try doing that without some heavenly spark!

Anyway, feeling very thankful today for kids, husbands, sunshine, book catalogs, coffee, advent calendars, Legos, and kind words.

For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me. Romans 15:18

Saturday, November 29, 2008


As you can see I decided to do a little housekeeping here. Just like a woman, I guess, to want to paint and rearrange even on a blog! Hope you like the new format and colors.

I was thinking that besides all that leftover turkey and stuffing and pie, I really appreciate Thanksgiving because it has none of that let-down feeling I get at Christmas. Thanksgiving unwraps a very merry month of Christmas carols, snow, eating Cranberry Bliss Bars and those little Reese peanut butter and chocolate trees, wrapping gifts, mistletoe, and all the rest. But January ... If you think you're really hardy, I welcome you to a northwest January:)

As I write this Randy and his dad and Paul are up in our last apple tree shaking the branches to get those apples down so they can make a last batch of cider before winter sets in. It's so wet and dreary today I'm in here by the fire typing this rather than outside shaking down apples. They usually pick instead of shake so I think they must want to come back in by the fire.

On the book front, I am up to page 184 of The Scrivener's Daughter and I think, for once, that I'll be able to keep this one to about 350 pages. I am learning so much about the Revolutionary War and have the best possible teachers - Alan Eckert and James Thom. It you want a wonderful winter read, run to your local library - no, better yet, go to Amazon.com and buy a very inexpensive copy of Long Knife or Follow the River. Then curl up by the fire and forget where and who you are!

Here's a Sabbath thought by Oswald Chambers: "The will of God is the gladdest, brightest, most bountiful thing possible to conceive."

Have a blessed Sunday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas countdown

Now that we've downed all that turkey, Christmas is only 26 days away! In years past we've had our tree up by today and all those Christmas cards addressed and stamped and the whole house smelling of cinnamon and cedar and woodsmoke. But not now! I have other things to think about like book covers and sales catalogs:) I did untangle two strings of white lights and threw them up over a quilt rack and the hutch but they're hanging a bit crooked and not all of them are twinkling. I won't be sending Christmas cards this year, just book cards and bookmarks next year, Lord willing.

About that book cover. It's been interesting to hear first impressions. My mom said, "Wow! Your name is in big letters!" My dad thinks the man standing in the background looks like Randy, my husband. Sans ponytail, that is - or queue, the 18th-century term. A dear Hispanic friend of mine looked at the girl on the cover and exclaimed, "My, she's so WHITE!" Well, as far as I know, Joyce, there were few Hispanics settling Kentucky in 1777. They were making things happen further west (Missouri territory)!

I really like the cover. It's very different than I thought it would be. The beautiful girl on the front is an actual model. I hope she reads the book! Lael looks right to me as does Ian behind her. His clothing is also just right. Colonials were big on buttons. I love the cabin and woods and the dramatic colors. I even love the font style used - sort of looks chisled in wood. I'd prayed about this whole process and am so pleased. If you were standing in my shoes after a 40 year wait, you'd be singing too!

The Frontiersman's Daughter is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and also Christianbooks.com at this point. And yes, I've already ordered my copy!

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

about that book cover ...

Here is that book cover I've been promising. Since I'm banking on the fact that you would rather look at it than read a post, I'll just say that I would love to hear your first impressions, any and all, anonymous or not. If you tell me yours I promise to tell you mine ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

i love words

As you can guess, I love words and some of them appear too frequently in my work. Friend and fellow writer, Ann H. Gabhart, author of those great Shaker books (and many others) says she sometimes finds herself using the same pet words over and over. Right now I am stuck on the word "seemed" and am having to go through what I'm writing like I'm killing snakes to weed it out. I also love the words unravel, disarming, mercurial, intense, etc. When I'm tired they tend to multiply and I find them everywhere. This might sound strange but good writing has a certain rhythm. You can read a sentence and tell if it's not quite right. Guess this is a little like playing violin and hearing that you're too sharp or too flat.

My boys are so excited now that we're creeping closer to Christmas. They love advent calenders, especially the one LEGO makes for December. Behind every little door is an even littler LEGO creation. They've already flipped a coin to see who will open door number one in only 7 more days. I never have to worry about them doing math this time of year because they are constantly counting down the days, counting their Christmas money, counting holiday cookies and candy, etc. Must be a boy thing:)

And now for you faithful readers who are following this blog, I have a little pre-Thanksgiving surprise for you tomorrow. Can't wait so please check back in!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the thankful list

Here are some things I'm thankful for:
1. forgiveness
2. Randy, Wyatt, Paul, Digger the dog and Callie the cat and other family
3. lawnmowing season is over
4. hot cocoa with whipped cream
5. good books
6. Mannheim Steamroller's CD - A Candelight Christmas
7. sleeping in
8. Starbuck's cranberry bliss bars
9. leather boots
10. snow
11. weddings
12. going home
12. encouragement
13. The Bible
14. my brother Chris and his pictures for these posts
15. long walks
16. happy endings
17. letters

After 145 posts on this crazy blog, I feel a bit uninspired (but still thankful)!

The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.
-Lin Yutang

Be content with what you have for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Thursday, November 20, 2008

soft hearts, hard feet

Last night at the Alpha study our church is doing, I learned about a woman (British-born) who has an amazing ministry in China. At about age 20 she went into one of the largest and worst of the Hong Kong slums to work among the drug addicts and prostitutes there. She's seeing Chinese people become free of all kinds of addictions as they turn to Christ. These people love her because she has a "soft heart and hard feet." Many people have "hard hearts and soft feet." I wonder what would happen if we prayed for a heart like Christ and feet that were willing to go wherever He calls us? I think He loves that kind of prayer.

Next week is Thanksgiving and I am looking for just the right Butterball to fit in my fridge. The Frantz menu really never varies: roast turkey, Cracker Barrel stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, garlic cheese grits, green beans, cranberries, deviled eggs, black olives, and sparkling cider. If that sounds somewhat dull, wait till Christmas! I'm always so thankful for an abundance of food, among other things.

On the musical front, Paul's great-uncle, a violin-maker in rural Quilicene, has just gifted him with a new violin. The wood - maple - is just beautiful and the tone is just right! He is playing a 3/4 size right now so will grow into this one soon. When he got it, he took it out of the case and promptly played "Shortnin' Bread". His teacher is trying to develop some finesse as he tends to saw across the strings with his bow like a bandsaw!! Not an attractive sound.

On the scribbling front, I'm expecting the galleys for TFD any minute (hope they come after Thanksgiving). Red River Daughter is still in a box waiting for the next edit. And, GLORY BE, I've reached page 150 or so on The Scrivener's Daughter and am really enjoying life in a military outpost. Amazon delivered on that Encyclopedia of The American Revolution and it's so good I have a hard time putting it down.

Here's a quote to remind us to look around during this fleeting season:

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.
-Emily Bronte

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

got that plot?

As I was sitting in the orthodontist's office today for 3 hours (poor Wyatt!), I happened to come across a recent obituary/article of the famous author Michael Crichton in Time magazine. He was the creator of the hit movie Jurassic Park and the award-winning t.v. drama "E.R.". Well, he's gone on to his eternal reward - which I hope includes some really good books - all 6 feet 9 inches of him!

The article was talking about his writing, of course, and his ability as a novelist to create "crystalline plots." I thought that was a lovely way to say he can tell a darn interesting story that keeps the reader riveted. Since crystalline implies clear, his plotting must be reader-friendly and understandable. The reader doesn't get lost.

Right now I'm reading a historical fiction novel that is extremely well written with amazing historical detail - and I'm lost. I love this book and I'm not sure it's the author's fault. I think it is simply a plot-driven novel instead of a character-driven novel like the ones I write. On page 300 or so of this book, the two main characters are discussing some action in the book and one of them says, "None of it made any sense." Amen, I thought.

I think my mind doesn't run along complicated lines so truly complicated plots are over my head. This post might come back to bite me if some reviewer reads my work and says, "Frantz writes pretty well but her plotting, by her own admission, is as flimsy as a Wal-Mart paper plate." My plots aren't complicated but I think they are interesting. You'll have to tell me.

I confess I never understood any Agatha Christie mystery I ever read (and I read a slew of them, probably hoping I would "get it" at some point). Same goes for Sherlock Holmes stories. Yet these bestselling stories must be understandable to somebody out there!

I am tired tonight so this post might not be crystalline either. More tomorrow:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

a thankful spirit

I think one of the nicest things about having company is that you still have a clean house and lots of leftovers after they leave:) Yesterday's lunch went well but I had to chuckle. This pre-Thanksgiving meal was heavy on the ham, turkey, pastrami and Valdosta pecans. And our guest of honor is a vegetarian with nut allergies! So after church I rushed home and hid the pecans and tried to make all that meat look less conspicuous! She was very gracious but her mind was really not on the menu.

Two weeks ago she and her family survived a terrible collision that totaled their RV. For a few terrifying minutes she looked out the back of the RV and all she saw was the highway where her 5 year old son had been lying on the bed moments before (the entire back end had been torn away). They were traveling through the Columbia River Gorge when a semi hauling three loads struck. And they were hit three times! Miraculously, all of them were okay.

So they gave thanks for God's protection and moved on to that next singing engagement in a mini-van. She said nothing on earth matters as much as your family. She displayed such a thankful spirit and was a joy to be around. I felt my house was blessed by just having them come in. And she does sing like an angel! Looks like one too:)

One of my favorite preachers, John MacArthur, has said that one of the hallmarks of a believer should be a thankful spirit. And it shouldn't take a terrible accident to make us that way. In contrast, non-believers lack thankfulness. They don't attribute the mercy and grace in their lives as coming from His hand. They have unthankful hearts. Remember the Israelites and all that grumbling in the desert and where it got them?

Sometimes it's hard to be thankful. But Christians are in a win-win situation. Even when the bad things come we have the unbroken sweetness of His presence. There have been times in my life when I was so upended by circumstances and heartache that all I had going for me was Him. And it was enough. Lisa Marie was a good reminder of that.

A cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

The biggest reason why I can trust in the sovereignty of God is because I am so utterly convinced of the swetness of God. -Beth Moore

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I'm sure many of you breathe a collective sigh of relief when the weekend comes. A good weekend here means sleeping in and big breakfasts and lingering by the fireplace and reading a good book (or writing one). But not this weekend! We're expecting at least ten for lunch tomorrow and our fridge just passed away so ...

Now I have a new fridge and even more company coming:) I think of Thoreau who said, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." But we all need company sometimes! And the Bible has a lot to say about hospitality. My favorite verse regarding this is:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

We are entertaining an angel of sorts tomorrow. At least she sings like an angel! She and her family travel the U.S. in an R.V. to sing and speak all over. Her name is Lisa Marie Buster and she has a wonderful music ministry. Her husband and sons, ages 5 and 8, travel with her. Her website is really neat and she seems very dynamic. I've never met her but will tomorrow as she's coming to our church.

Hope you have an angel in your future:) Happy Saturday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a writing marathon

My dear brother and his family did arrive in the U.S. safely and were met by a group from one of the Christian churches they're involved with. No cold airport homecoming for them! I think it's wonderful that folks would go to the airport late at night and greet them. I haven't talked to Chris yet but believe they landed and then got on another plane the next day and are now in Oklahoma for a conference. But he'll be home to Kentucky soon for a big Thanksgiving with our mom and family. The only ones who won't make it are my cousin, Lorri, who lives in Russia - and me.

On Tuesday I had one of those heavenly (rare) writing days when I started early in the morning, about seven, and kept on till about nine o'clock at night. I did break to take a walk, practice violin with Paul, and eat:) But the rest was spent in that wonderful 18th-century world of mine. By day's end I wasn't tired of writing but was just plain tired which sort of dulls the writing joy and you have to rest. Eating has always been high priority for me - and I think one of God's best gifts is a good nights sleep!

I wonder, in this writing journey, where I'll be this time next year. Maybe at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort! They're hosting a lot of Kentucky writers this year. I'm not sure if I would be considered a Ky. writer since I now live in Washington state but my books are set in Kentucky. I'd move back in a minute if I could!

I've just ordered a big book called the Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Some of you might be yawning at this point but this is reading at its absolute best to me! I have to figure out those Continental uniforms - did the soldiers wear black stocks or plain white? Who cares, right? Well, someone will and if I don't get it right I am very sure they'll let me know I didn't do my research. Hmmm. Maybe I should switch to writing contemporary novels.

Hope you're perusing Amazon and ordering a good book - or looking forward to ordering mine:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

busy tuesday

First thing I thought of this morning was my brother and his family leaving Ecuador today. Because of the time difference between there and here (only 3 hours, surprisingly) they were well into the air when I woke up. They change planes 3 times before finally flying into Dayton, Ohio tonight. I know they will be thankful and very tired.

Because it's Veteran's Day we don't have school. As I get older this day means more and more to me as I look at history and study the Revolutionary War and realize all we've gained because of other's courage, vision, and daring. I really prefer the old-fashioned title of Armmistice Day but am not sure when it changed or why. I hope all veterans feel honored and appreciated today.

Today is also the big meeting when my publisher talks about that summer line of books. This month marks my one year anniversary with Baker Books/Revell! Their acquisitions editor contacted me on November 27th and asked to see The Frontiersman's Daughter, then titled Dogwood Winter. I remember the date so well because it was Wyatt's 11th birthday and I was too excited and sick to eat that Baskin Robbin's cake. So glad I'm here now instead of back there:)

So which of my books do I like best? Hmmm. I think that question is a little like asking which of your children is your favorite. I love all of them for different reasons. But I have to admit that if I could be any one of my protagonists, or heroines, it would be my Red River Daughter. But you'll just have to read it to find out why:)

You can cover a great deal of country in books. -Andrew Long

For people who like that kind of book - that is the kind of book they will like. -Abraham Lincoln, on being asked for an opinion

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? -H.W. Beecher

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Today was quilt-hanging day at our house. Randy doesn't share my enthusiasm for displaying beautiful quilts on walls so he's managed to avoid this little assignment since August but today the pouring rain drove him to pound a few nails and put up another quilt rack. He thinks quilts are for beds only! But they look so lovely hanging up.

All of our quilts are gifts save one. My favorite is a wedding present from a dear older friend and artist who created 12 quilt squares for me, then appliqued and embroidered Washington state wildflowers with many different fabrics and colors onto each square. Amazing! She was supposed to create 16 squares but ran out of time if not flowers. This one is hanging in our living room along with two other quilts. I know it would win some award at a county fair! In one corner she stitched my name with a heart and I was supposed to stitch Randy's in when I married him but after fourteen years it is still blank. I can't sew:)

When I spent the day at Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky this past August, one of the blockhouses displayed a very old Boone quilt behind glass. One of Daniel Boone's nieces or some other close kin was married and the Boone women made the bride a beautiful quilt. Each family member stitched their name on a square. Plenty of quilts covered those cornhusk ticks and was considered a very necessary gift. They would have been scandalized to see me hanging them from walls. Doing so might have branded me a loose (and impractical) woman!

So today I had a quilt hung in the kitchen/dining area. I can see it as I write this and it makes me smile. It's small as quilts go and has a cream background with lots of lovely fall leaves across it - browns, burgundys, greens and golds. Very autumn-like.

Quilts and shoes and good books are my weakness. And oh, check out those new Caramel Macchiato Biscotti at Starbucks! Divine. I can't pronounce it but I can sure eat them. God's gift to get me through another rainy winter, truly! I'm so thankful. And I'm not being irreverent. I mean every word. Try one yourself.

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.
Ecclesiastes 2:24

Thursday, November 6, 2008

rainy days

Rain, anyone? How about 7 inches? That's our forecast for today in western Washington state. I'd much rather have 7 inches of sunshine but we probably won't see any serious sun again till March or so. One winter we had a record 93 consecutive days of rain! Lots of Californians who'd moved here moved back that year! One Kentuckian wanted to move but here I am:)

I don't get a lot done when the sun shines. I want to be outside walking or gardening or sitting on the deck. Now all that winter writing can begin in earnest. On the scribbling front, I'm expecting the galleys for book 1, The Frontiersman's Daughter, any day. Book 2, Red River Daughter, is sitting in a box under my desk waiting to be read and edited again. Book 3, The Scrivener's Daughter, is humming along just fine and I'm well past page 100 now. But there's always so much more going on besides writing.

Paul is busy fiddling - he's mastered the old tunes Liza Jane (my personal favorite) and Camptown Races and now tackles Buffalo Gals. There's a big fiddling camp that occurs in eastern Washington next summer right when my first book is released and we all really want to go. While Paul fiddles, Wyatt dribbles. He plays basketball with a group of high school boys every week. They must be pretty patient as he is only a 6th-grader but he's learning. Basketball seems to be his sport.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like to have a girl in the house. But I don't think I'm up to dance lessons and Girl Scouts! I didn't like being a little girl, frankly! I hated Brownies and always had my head in a book. Still do.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

post-election pie

For those of you ruing the election results or those of you who might be celebrating, here is a wonderful pie with which to drown your sorrows or top off your joy. It's a quintessential southern pie so dig in!

Praline Pumpkin Pie

1 lightly baked, barely brown pie shell (do not prick bottom or sides with fork)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces

Mix softened butter with sugar and pecan pieces - spread in bottom of pastry. Bake 10 minutes at 450'.

3/4 cup sugar
1 envelope plain gelatin
1-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks, room temp and slightly beaten (reserve egg whites)
3/4 cup milk
1 lb can pumpkin

In double boiler put sugar, gelatin, pumpkin pie spice salt, egg yolks, pumpkin, and milk. Cook for 15 minutes on med-low heat. Chill in fridge till mixture starts to set.

Beat 4 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar till stiff. Beat chilled pumpkin mixture till light and fluffy. Fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture. Pour into pie crust.

Whip small box of whipping cream with 2 Tablespoons sugar till peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Keep in fridge.

Monday, November 3, 2008

moving day

I just did a quick tally and realized I've moved a total of 12 times since birth if you count my summers working in the national parks, etc. Randy says he married me to stop my moving:). He's only lived here in rural Joyce, Washington, moving from his folk's forty acres to our ten. Of course some folks have moved a whole lot more than me - and my brother is one of them.

For the past 17 years Chris, his wife Nicia, and their four wonderful kids - Andrew, Joshua, Daniel, and Kaylea have lived in Ecuador. All the kids were born there so Ecuador is their home. In just 7 days they'll be leaving permanently. Starting in March of next year, their new country is going to be Spain. Spain is the least churched country in Europe with a heavy Muslim influence. Their ministry - Team Expansion - had to be invited by another Christian ministry in order to come into the country.

I called Ecuador yesterday and talked to them as they ran around packing and selling and giving away items to church members and others. Yesterday Chris preached for the second to the last time in one of the churches their team planted in Guayaquil. Yes, they are all bilingual. Luckily the leap to Spain will just require an adjustment in dialect, not learning a whole new language.

Nicia has a wonderfully upbeat attitude about moving again. She said that it's actually a "liberating feeling" to part with possessions and clean out the house. She's lived in Chile, Africa, the US and Ecuador. And now soon-to-be Spain. They are all counting down till next Tuesday, November 11th when they'll leave Ecuador and fly into Dayton, Ohio.

So please pray for them as they try to make the best of this very busy week, saying goodbye to loved ones there, dealing with last minute expenses, packing, etc. Pray for the churches they'll leave behind and the Ecuadorian pastors and church members. Moving from country to country is no picnic! But like Nicia said, their lives have become so much richer because of it. Now that's a positive perspective.

If you've been missing the great pictures that usually go with these blog posts as much as I have, you now know why they are no longer appearing. My brother is too busy to post them! If Chris has time to read this, I hope he posts a picture of his wonderful family to put a face on this moving experience. If not, I understand! Hopefully when he has more time he'll be able to be our photographer again.

But as it is they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11: 16

Saturday, November 1, 2008

the donut run and other fun stuff

Paul and I did a donut run this morning - a rare event since we live so far from the nearest Safeway. The donut case seemed to be listing from all the orange and black sprinkles, gummi worms, and frightening Halloween-type donut decorations. Paul loved them all.

We made it to the dress rehearsal for the local symphony at 10 am. Our violin teacher invited us to come and it was really neat. The conductor did his thing with a lot of passion (jumping around and leaping on the podium and waving arms). When Paul got tired of watching him he tuned into the tuba player and the big bass (a titanic-size violin, as he calls it). He liked the conductor, especially after he led him backstage to more donuts and candy corn:(
I wondered why the conductor was so animated (now I know). Somehow Paul managed to stay seated for 2 hours through Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

Randy and Wyatt stayed in the woods and made more cider. In my books they make mooonshine but here all we get is cider! Lots of wind and rain today on the first of November. Good writing weather! I've moved past page 100 of book 3 and am still smiling as I go (only I really don't know where I'm going with this one). But HE does so I'm okay.

Hope you are having some sugar today, same as us:) And reading a really good book.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

seasons of life

As I look around at all the fall color I was thinking how there are seasons of life just as there are seasons of the year. At 47 I guess I'm in the fall of life. And it's a busy fall! But I know it's a short-lived season. This helps me keep perspective as I try to raise my boys, write, keep up with a home and a husband, stay active in church, and all the rest. Everyone I know is as busy as I am but in different ways.

So during this busy week, which we'll never have back again, we trade October for November. Trick or treating is tomorrow night - Paul is Indiana Jones and Wyatt is wearing some sort of a mask and carrying a plastic weapon. We usually attend a church harvest party but this year Randy wants to take us to town. We'll probably go to the pier and have a burger and watch the seagulls fight the raccoons for stray french fries, enjoy the sunset, and let the boys ring a few strange doorbells. Paul wants to bring his fiddle but I reminded him Indiana Jones doesn't carry a fiddle, just a whip! He thinks a fiddle is the next best thing.

I love November and am glad to see it get here. Some wonderful things happen in November. Wyatt turns 12 on Thanksgiving Day. And my publisher has a sales conference mid-month which features a catalogue with the upcoming summer line of books - mine included! I can't post the book cover for a few more weeks till any final changes are made. But I can post the recipe for my granny's Praline Pumpkin Pie which you will probably like even better than a book cover:)

So squeeze every second from these last few days of October as they'll never come again. Buy a good book. Take a walk. Bake a pie. Better yet, eat a pie. Listen to some fiddle music. Smile!

... He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. Acts 14:17 NIV

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


If you have a passion for words that passion should bleed through to paper (or laptop or whatever you happen to use). Recently I read a review of a John Grisham novel that became a bestseller. I consider Grisham the consummate Southern gentleman who writes books he says his granny can read. This particular reviewer found some fault with his writing but said what Grisham lacks in mechanics he makes up for with passion.

Passion is this: an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; an ardent affection: the emotions as distinguished from reason. (Webster's)

For fiction to reach the reader, the writer must write with passion. An emotionally flat novel is like a flat tire. You just won't get very far. Real characters are so life-like they nearly breathe - they are loaded with passion. Think Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Horatio Hornblower. Rhett Butler. The Count of Monte Cristo. I'm tired tonight so the list is short.

If you do something with passion you will do it well. I know of violinists and pianists who have played for many years and have all the mechanics of playing down but something is missing. They lack passion. Don't think you can work it up. Forget it. It's a gift:)

The Bible is full of passion. My very favorite character (next to Jesus) is Joseph. Start reading in Genesis 37. Keep going. Joseph was, and is, full of passion! His true life story contains all the elements of a bestseller which is probably one of the reasons why the Bible remains the bestselling book of all time:)

Monday, October 27, 2008

indian summer

Indian summer is here and we are having some crisp, sunny days and starry nights. Randy has made 16 gallons of cider so far and has 3 apple trees to go. The boys are excited about trick or treating this Friday night. I'm excited to get back to page 94 of book 3 after homeschooling and cleaning house this morning. When Randy comes home tonight we have to vote as election day is looming.

When I stopped reading the paper and listening to the news a couple of years ago, my mind felt a lot cleaner. I pray about the upcoming elections but don't stew anymore. If I feel I really need to know something I go to RealClearPolitics.com which is a very savvy unbiased site that features some of the finest political writers of our day. But I find 18th-century politics far more interesting! All that intrigue and scandal, spies, turncoats, and whatnot.

I've discovered a wonderful new writer and can hardly wait for Amazon to ship the first book. It's titled Daughter of Liberty by J.M. Hochstetler. The next title is Native Son. Both are fiction but heavy on the history which I love. You should really read as much as you can in the genre you write.

Wish you could look outside my window and see those big maples with their very vivid golds and greens swirling in all this wind. But I'm sure you have some of your own fall color to brag about:) Happy Monday.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

write what you know

This week I walked into a winter wonderland at Wal-Mart and Costco and was reminded that the holidays are right around the corner. It was a bit of a shock since I just celebrated Christmas in this third book and am now firmly entrenched in the middle of a very cold Kentucky January, 1779.

In The Frontiersman's Daughter I have a cabin Christmas scene where Ian gives Lael a particular gift. My editor really likes this scene but you'll have to wait and read the book! In Red River Daughter my favorite scene takes place in the orchard overlooking the Red River in autumn.

Other favorite chapters in book 2 involve babies and nursing which had me relying heavily on my own sleep-deprived days when I felt like a cow:) At the time I nursed my boys I never imagined using that particular experience in a novel. Colonial women nursed their children or found a wet nurse in their stead. Forgive me for being graphic but I could write a few chapters on spraying milk, mastitis, cabbage leaves, the Dolly Parton look and all the rest. Nursing isn't for sissies! But it sure came in handy when writing this book, though I made sure my Red River Daughter had a far easier go of it than I did.

All of this brings me back to this post's title which is to write what you know. Writers are often told to do this and it simply means your work will be far more authentic if you write out of your own experience.

In The Scrivener's Daughter I have Roxie doing a lot of knitting. Lael can knit in book 1 but she is mostly all action. Knitting is a bit like playing violin. I admire those who can knit and play but I don't know how to do it (though I did squeak out Mary Had A Little Lamb on the violin the other day). But I think I'd better learn as Roxie knits her way through this next novel.

Anyway, writing is never dull, as you can see. Ask James Thom who mastered all kinds of Colonial tools, rifles and other weapons, hiked the Lewis and Clark Trail several times, and more in order to write his wonderful, bestselling books. By the way, I wrote Mr. Thom a letter not long ago AND HE WROTE BACK!

More later. Hope your Saturday is a good one and finds you learning something new!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I love autumn for so many reasons - cider-making, all those colorful maple trees amongst the evergreens here, pumpkins and Indian corn, kettles of soup and cornbread, and crackling fires.

I'm sorry for the shorter days though. I remember what one old pioneer said about spending cold months in an old cabin. He said his backside was always freezing while the front of him was burning up. I used to think I'd been born 200 years too late. But when you consider bed bugs, lice, bathing a few times a year, and living in constant danger from disease and Indian attack I'm glad to hold onto my 21st-century comforts.

Here are a few gems I'm putting in The Scrivener's Daughter, taken from some old rules of civility and decent behavior:

1. Shew nothing to your Friend that may affright him.
2. Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
3. Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice, ticks in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it.
4. Make no Shew of taking great Delight in yur Victuals, Feed not with Greediness, nor cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.
5. Put not another bit into your Mouth til the former be Swallowed let not your Morsels be too big for the Gowls.
6. Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

Common courtesy should never change. I especially like #6.
Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

a novel experience

I've just climbed down from my desk and finished singing the Hallelujah Chorus so now I can tell you that I received my book cover today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The designer did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the story itself. I won't say any more till I post it here and hope that will be soon. Seeing your name in print on a book cover is truly a novel experience, no pun intended:) Strangely enough, it was the last thing I noticed.

I received a preliminary cover design last week but the art team wanted to change a couple of things. I do know that covers can go through several stages until things are just right so what I post might not end up being the real deal in the end. It is interesting to track the changes made. I've spent the last few minutes (well, the last half hour or so!) comparing the first and second design. And singing as I go!

I've read that authors sometimes throw a "diplomatic fit" if a cover isn't to their liking but honestly, this is all such a gift, I'm about to burst! I'm so glad the 40 year wait is over!

I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6

Monday, October 20, 2008

creative timing

I just heard an interesting bit of news on the radio this rainy morning having to do with creativity. New research shows that people are most creative from 1-4 a.m. This strikes me as odd because most of the people I know are in bed at that hour except my brother Chris, the Ecuadorian night owl. The least creative time is 4:33 p.m. These researchers also found that folks are most creative in the shower which leaves me wondering how on earth they measured that? But they found that most people didn't write their creative thoughts down on paper and so lost them altogether. Maybe we writers are simply the ones who make it to the pen and paper stage.

Personally, I get my creative ideas when I take walks. Music helps, too! Right now I'm listening to the soundtrack from The Last of the Mohicans. It's the perfect music for thinking 18th-century thoughts! I loved the movie, especially the cliffside scene when Uncas and the evil Indian, Magua, fight. I won't say more in case you haven't watched it except to add that it was filmed on the Biltmore estate in beautiful North Carolina and takes your breath away.

An editor friend of mine recently told me she thinks my books are like the Little House on the Prairie books but with adult themes. I thought this was very clever and I'm flattered. For all of you Little House haters out there, I am truly sorry! But I love being compared to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Even Wyatt likes the Little House series and has read Farmer Boy several times (probably for those wonderful descriptions of frontier food).

Speaking of food, it would be a wondeful day for a kettle of soup and some cornbread. The snow level is pretty low on the mountains this morning though it's pouring rain here in the valleys below.

He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
Psalm 147:17-18

Saturday, October 18, 2008

wedding recovery

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.

The days just prior to marriage are like a snappy introduction to a tedious book. -Wilson Mizner

Happiness untold awaits them when the parson consecrates them. -W.S. Gilbert

I love weddings. Guess that makes me a romantic at heart. My boys went to a wedding when they were small but the only thing they remember was the chocolate fountain so this wedding was a real treat for them. We arrived at church a little before 7 o'clock and it was a wet, windy, Washington night. Halloween weather! Our little church was overflowing and the usher couldn't find a seat for us. We are friends of the "sound man" who sits near the front with his computer system so his wife came and squeezed us into their pew:) Wonderful view!

The church was filled with those big blue hydrangeas which are blooming right now. Lots of attendants and two flower girls and one ring bearer. The groom wore his navy uniform and the bride wore a very beautiful gown and viel. Three pastors officiated so I consider them thrice wed! The ceremony was very moving and lasted an hour.

When we got to the reception Paul asked "Where is the queen?" I think the bride would have liked that. All the food was wonderful and THE CAKE had a crystal bride and groom with a navy anchor on top! Every layer was a different kind of cake but my favorite was the chocolate fudge.

So there we were sitting at our candlelit table with 300 other people in the reception hall. Wyatt, dreamy like his mother, was looking around and enjoying all the beautiful sights and sounds and tastes. Randy was his usual quiet self. And Paul, my nine year old realist, turns to me and says, "Mommy, when a man wants to dump a girl does he have to go to the law?" I think I choked on my cake! And this from a kid who watches no tv!

Anyway, I wish Alana and Robert every happiness. And lots of boys like Paul:)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

boys and books

One of the best things in the world is to be a boy; it requires no experience, but needs some practice to be a good one.
-Charles Dudley Warner

This rainy morning I have one boy with a sore throat and another boy with a headache - and a big wedding to attend tomorrow night. Since becoming a mother, I'm always amazed at a kid's timing:) Of course I never mind if they get sick and have to miss school or a music lesson or sports - but a wedding is something else entirely! Must be that 7-layer cake... Since they are rarely sick I'll count my blessings (and try to find a way to attend that wedding)! Besides, it can't really be serious because Wyatt just said, "Mom, I think I'd feel better if you made me some hasbrowns, three eggs, and some toast."

I've just printed out a hard copy of book 2, Red River Daughter, in preparation for this next edit. I'm not sure why you catch so many more mistakes when you are holding actual pages as opposed to working off a laptop, etc. My brother has one of those Kindle devices where you can download books and read them on that little machine. I guess these are really catching on but I wonder if there's any substitute for holding a real book in your hands? I even love the smell of a new book! And I am absolutely wild about bookmarks. I found one yesterday with an old-style globe on it that says "A good book is a wonderful journey."

My publisher does the cleverest thing - before a book is released they send the author bookmarks and postcards to mail out. So check your mailboxes - you might be hearing from me. Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We do not write as we want to but as we can. -Somerset Maugham

I wonder if any writer is every satisfied with the way they write? Since writing consists of so much rewriting, it seems we spend a lot of time being dissatisfied and reaching for the better word. Ernest Hemingway said that "all first drafts are trash." Encouraging, huh? But I've found it to be true. I never dreamed how many times I'd have to rework paragraphs and chapters till they were just right, only to read them the next day and rework them again. I think all good writers must be perfectionists.

I am officially inching past page 82 of book 3 and smiling as I go! The best part of writing is the creating - not the editing. Nothing beats the bliss of having a scene in your head and having it unfold faster than you can write it down. Sometimes you're the director and move those characters around but most often they have a life of their own and will say and do things that delight you. I don't understand the process at all - I'm just a happy participant:)

It's good to be home tonight writing in my chair by the woodstove. Wish I could stay there the rest of the week! I'll have a wedding and church supper to post about soon ... and maybe a book cover too!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

count your distractions ... er, blessings!

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to write without children and all the other people in my life. To sit down and write and not be interrupted! What a gift! But as I get older I see these things not as distractions but as blessings that enrich life and my work.

I can't tell you what fun Paul and I had barreling down to Sequim Prairie Grange again for the fiddler's jam on Saturday. Heaven must be full of fiddles and banjos. The oldest fiddler was 92 and has been playing since childhood, never had a lesson, can't read a note, and is right out of HEE HAW. One lady there was 102! And there were three long-haired fiddling teens that gave us goosebumps they were so good! Randy and Wyatt stayed home to make cider all day but they're going to join us next time. If you haven't figured out how much I love the violin/fiddle, you must be new to this blog. I came home ready to write after all that fun which goes to show that all writing and no play makes Laura a very dull girl.

Back to distractions ... In Red River Daughter I had the best time writing about children. And I felt I could do so with some authority since I have two. But I kept them small in this book - babies, actually. And I loved them dearly by book's end. And I'm still missing them. I tried to sneak a baby or two into The Scrivener's Daughter but it's not going to work with this one. Paper babies are so much easier than real ones! No colic even!

A friend recently asked me how I come up with characters - do I create them based on the people I know or do I just dream them up? I really just dream them up. And I see myself in every character I write, even the bad.

As we head into a busy week full of fiddling, writing, a wedding, and church supper, I hope you have a few distractions - I mean blessings of your own:)

Friday, October 10, 2008

your creative best

I read an interesting article about the author Nicholas Sparks this week and thought I'd share some of it here. He's written 14 bestsellers in 14 years and sort of stumbled into writing by accident. I think he exists to keep those of us who've felt called to write from birth humble! I've read a couple of his books in the past (The Notebook is the one I remember) but I don't read a lot of contemporary novels so don't know much about him.

He's an avid exerciser, church attender, and writes 5-6 hours a day. His goal is 2,000 words a day. I do the first three but counting words is too much like counting calories to me and I could never do it. However, lots of writers set a daily word count goal and it works well.

It's so interesting to read about other writers and how they do what they do, how they got started, how many times they were rejected, etc. But I've noticed that it can be a trap as well - a comparison trap. I think this is something we all struggle with throughout our lives.

A good friend of mine runs an adult family home with several ladies in their 90's. She loves these ladies and they love living with her in her beautifully remodeled home with a huge patio, waterfall, and those big koi fish swimming around. When she first started taking ladies in, she was tempted to look around and see what others were doing and how they were doing it. She'd been well trained in this area so felt the Lord was telling her to keep her eyes on Him, not them. She even declined joining any groups or organizations in her specialty area. This might be okay for some but Kathy felt this was a firm no. She is simply doing what He's called her to do and not trying to run someone else's race.

I've noticed that as I become better acquainted with the publishing world (and it's a very different world than simply me and my imagination!) I am tempted to look around also. Perusing other writer's websites and blogs can be kind of fun but I've noticed they create unrest in my spirit. That's the simplest way to describe it. Other writers might be fine doing this - from all the blog-hopping going on it does seem I am in the minority. Perhaps I'm uncomfortable because this is all new to me and I'm a private person (yes, this blog still stretches me past all comfort but maybe it serves a purpose, if only for further writing practice). I really think He's telling me to keep my eyes on Him and off others. Maybe He's telling you to do the same in the particular race you're running.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself! Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Galatians 6:4-5 The Message Bible

...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith ...
Hebrews 12:2