Thursday, December 31, 2009

practice makes perfect

I've almost finished with the galleys and am thankful to have spent more time with Morrow and her menagerie of friends and enemies on the Red River in Kentucke. There are certain scenes I love and never get tired of rereading. They come alive for me and I feel I'm right there in the midst of it all. And then there are some spots where I am ho...hum. Some parts sing and some don't. Some need a bit more work and don't shine as brightly as I like. But I do think we improve in this writing game.

Since I wrote The Frontiersman's Daughter over a 10 year period (with a hiatus of 5 years smack in the middle, something I don't recommend), there are parts of the book that seem like they're written by 2 different people. The "before" and "after" Laura, so to speak. To be honest, the book's end is better than its beginning. But I was a different person at the end of that 10 year period than I was at the beginning. Neither the book or I are perfect, that's for sure, but improved:)

So I guess this just shows that the longer we write or do anything we grow. I've heard it said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Think about it! But I'm not sure I believe that about writing. I've whiled away more hours than that since childhood with pen and paper and I'm still not satisfied with what tumbles out of my head and heart. Even Francine Rivers (author of Redeeming Love, etc.) has said she still feels like an apprentice.

So...are you a perfectionist with anything? Cooking? Cleaning? Being holy? Writing? How do you handle the desire to be better than you are? I like to remember that there's only one perfect book. And only one Perfect Being. And He, thankfully, helps make us better than we are.

The Rock! His work is perfect... Deuteronomy 32:4

Saturday, December 26, 2009


When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
Then the work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among all the people,
To make music in the heart...
And to radiate the Light of Christ every day.

-Howard Thurman

Monday, December 21, 2009

things i'm thankful for this christmas

Here's a short, personal list of things I'm thankful for this year:

*Honeybaked ham and cranberry bliss bars! I've been asked to make garlic-cheese grits for Christmas Day brunch at Grandma's house. No complaining about that:)

*Christmas Cards! I wasn't able to send many this year but it's such a joy to go to the mailbox and receive them - and some of them have been from you!

*A new book coming out next year! I never thought my writing dream would be fulfilled so I'm still pinching myself. Hallelujah and thank you, Jesus!

*Music! Listening to my son play Christmas music on his violin, even with squeaks, puts me in the Christmas spirit.

*Books beneath the tree! They may be my favorite Christmas gift to give and receive.

*Reading and writing friends! I've never had any before now and feel doubly blessed as I've prayed for that and so many of you have opened your hearts to me. I am so very thankful!

*The gift of salvation. Everything I have flows from His love for me. Everything. My wonderful husband, my boys, books, and each and every one of you.

*Yankee Candles. Actually, any candle will do.

*Snow. This time last year we had two feet on the ground and it even snowed Christmas morning. Now it's just very wet but what a sweet memory it made.

*Children who can't wait for Christmas Day. No wonder Jesus loves children so much and included them in His book. I'm sure He feels great joy when His earthly children get excited about His birthday. I know I get excited when my boys are excited:)

What about you? Can you lengthen my list? I'd love for you to!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

characters and other novelties (a previous post from 2008)

When writing a novel a writer should create living people;
people, not characters. A character is a caricature.
--Ernest Hemingway

Ernest and I don't agree on many things but I do like this quote. A good book should be filled with people who are so real that you feel joy when they feel joy and sadness when they feel sadness, among other things. I'm not sure how a writer makes the leap from coming up with a name and then a body and then the soul of a person. But I think good writing captures the soul of a character and somehow puts that on paper.

In The Frontiersman's Daughter the main character, or protagonist, is Lael (pronounced LAY-el). Bet you don't know one - it's an old-fashioned name and I'm not even sure where I came up with it. But I've been carrying Lael around in my head and heart for a long time. She is simply a composite of my childhood - all my old daydreams of those early Kentucky settlers.

When Lael's story was making the round of publishers last year, I finished the sequel to The Frontiersman's Daughter, thinking it would prove I wasn't a one book wonder. But something interesting happened as I worked on this story. I took Lael out of Kentucky and set her in Scotland, a place I've never been. This is always a danger if you haven't been there but if you research well enough you can get away with it. I really liked this story and felt it had high drama and passion and all the rest. But half-way through writing the book I started missing Lael. I had lost her voice. That's the only way to describe it. Lael in book 2 was someone else entirely and no matter what I did to make her Lael, she just wasn't. I concluded that Lael's story had been told and there would be no retelling it.

Thankfully, my publisher never asked to see it. If they had, I'm sure they would have told me I had lost Lael somewhere. Instead, the editors asked that I stay in Kentucky and write two more 18th-century novels there. Whew! So this non-Lael like book went into the drawer. Maybe at some point I'll get it out, blow the dust off, and find a name for this other character. I really like the story.

I guess this points to the mystery of writing fiction. You may think a writer is in control of eveything from the pen to the paper to what goes down on paper, but it's my experience that characters, if they're really real, have a life of their own. And that is one of the joys of writing fiction.

Friday, December 18, 2009

some books for you

I'm working on the galleys for Courting Morrow Little so this post will be short and sweet:). I did want to tell you that in celebration of the new year I'm going to hold a book-a-day-giveaway in January. Five books (not my own) will go to readers that week. All are inspirational fiction published in 2009. If you want to be in the drawing please leave a comment between now and then. I'll post which books will be given away soon.

So how are the galleys going, you might ask? Since I love the creative side of writing more than editing, I'm not a big galleys fan. But once I'm into it I lose myself in the story again and really enjoy it. Morrow is faring well, thankfully, and I'm blessed to work with a great editor at this stage who even leaves an occasional smiley face in the margin when I've overused a word or concocted some strange simile.

In the meantime my stack of need-to-read stuff grows! Books I have waiting: White Mountain Brides by Susan Page Davis, Just Jane by Nancy Moser, Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser, and How Do I Love Thee by Nancy Moser (can you tell I'm a Moser fan?), and some research books.

I've discovered a couple of new writerly sites this week and thought I'd share them:

Do you have a favorite blog, writing or otherwise? If it's your own, please feel free to comment and list it here. Or share the joy and tell us which ones especially bless you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the perfect gift

My youngest son, Paul, whom I love so very much, just taught me an important lesson. Recently his dad and I went shopping for Christmas gifts and before we left for town he asked if we might get him a nerf gun this year. Now any parent knows that a nerf gun, in the hands of two boys, doesn't last till New Years. At least not in our house. So when he asked for this I had the image of rolling down my car window and tossing nerf gun dollars out. It's the same to me.

Unbeknownst to Paul, his dad and I had planned on and purchased a present for him that we knew he would love far more and would last far longer. He's wanted this gift for a long time but never dreamed this would be his Christmas present this year. So he's been standing by the tree a bit sadly, eyeing gifts that don't remotely resemble a nerf gun. Every once in awhile he makes little noises that in case we've forgotten this very important gift there's still time...

And I so want to tell him that we have something that will be so much more fun if he will only wait a little longer. I want to reassure him that I've not forgotten but have just planned something even better, so much so that he'll be jumping for joy.

And suddenly I'm struck by how often I do this with my heavenly Father. I pray about all sorts of things and have an idea of when and how I'd like these prayers to be answered. I'm a lot like Paul standing at the tree, overlooking the gifts He's already given me, and hoping He's not forgotten. I wonder if He longs to reassure me, as I do Paul, that He isn't going to give me second best but has something so much better, so far superior to what I'm wanting in my smallness, that I'll be jumping for joy when the day comes.

If you're dealing with a delayed dream, I encourage you to remember Paul and his nerf gun. If you're longing to be published and that's His gift for you, He already sees your book on the shelf even though you can't. That's certainly the way it happened for me. A long delay, a dream that almost died, and then great joy that He'd not forgotten.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

Friday, December 11, 2009

a bestselling book

Have you ever considered just how amazing the Christmas story is from a novelist's perspective? I love when Scripture comes to life (it truly is living, active, and sword-like) and particular events leap off the page and touch your heart. Novelists spend a lot of time plotting and creating character motivations and story arcs and whatnot. So it shouldn't surprise us that the Master Storyteller came up with some very dramatic elements when crafting the tale of His son's entrance into the world.

Take Mary, for example, our female protagonist or heroine. Scholars think she was probably 14 or 15 years old. She was from a poor, conservative Jewish family. Girls that age tend to do a lot of dreaming about the future and I'm sure she was no different. She may have been attracted to a man in her village. It might not have been Joseph. Theirs was an arranged marriage, remember. Most certainly she was modest, devout, and obedient. Life was hard. She was probably the last girl the local gossips would have whispered about. And then...the inciting incident occurs. She's going to have a baby. Imagine her initial shock, the crumbling of her girlish dreams, her fear of telling her parents and the news leaking to her small circle.

And our hero? Joseph was older and more mature but this may have caused him more grief. He knew that people have a long memory concerning scandal. No doubt the villagers looked askance at him or pitied him for her unfaithfulness. Imagine his crushing suspicions about the girl he was pledged to marry. This was considered adultery under Mosaic law and carried the death penalty by stoning. His hopes for a respectable family and future turn to ashes. Being an honorable man, as our heroes have to be, he wanted to do the right thing. He was going to quietly put her aside.

Suddenly the drama and tension begin to skyrocket:) She tells him something that makes her look infinitely foolish - even crazy. She's still pure and is going to have God's son. What?! I can imagine Mary still trying to make sense of it all and poor Joseph struggling for words. Then imagine having some heavenly reinforcement in the form of a dream. Take her as your wife.

Finally they live happily-ever-after, right? No, there's still the long journey to Bethlehem to pay taxes at a very inopportune time. Imagine how tired Mary was, how embarrassed she must have been since there was no woman or midwife to attend her. Think how frustrated Joseph must have felt in failing to find a decent place for her to have a child not his own. Then imagine that incredible star and the wonder of the shepherds and the amazement of the Magi. All the makings of a bestselling book:) Which it is.

What part of the Christmas story has special meaning to you?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

drive-thru christmas

I think I'm ready! There's still no Christmas tree in the house but we do have one on the deck which the wind keeps blowing over. And Wyatt bought a big log cabin gingerbread house for $2 at a festival. I've wrapped a couple of gifts which is my favorite thing to do at Christmas. And last but not least, I ordered a Honeybaked ham as I've dreamed of doing for years. It comes with a cheesecake, thankfully. Saves me from butchering a hog and all that churning to make dessert, as Lael would say:)

Last year at this time I received the galleys for The Frontiersman's Daughter - a sort of early Christmas present from my publisher:) For those of you who don't know and want to, the galleys are just the typeset version of the manuscript prior to its being turned into actual pages and sent to the printer. It's the author's last chance to make any significant changes.

I call last Christmas my drive-thru experience as I hardly noticed that it came or went with the galleys in my lap. At the Denver ACFW conference a couple of months ago a fellow author and friend of mine told me she was expecting galleys upon her return home. I bit my lip and didn't tell her my tale. When I heard from her a couple of days later she'd finished with the galleys in less time that it takes to sneeze! The only way I can understand this is to say she's smarter than I am:)

I haven't seen Courting Morrow Little since the end of July when I submitted it a few days before deadline. Since then I've had time to sift through the story in between research and The Locket to see how I might improve it. Last chance, after all! I read it over many times during the three weeks or so I'm given and make changes, etc. I should see the galleys any minute now as this is how the publication schedule falls for me.

So...ready, set, galleys:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

my hero - well, one of them...

Since there was such a flurry of historical googling over that last post, here's a picture of the man responsible for part of that fervor, George Rogers Clark. When I was at his home along the Ohio River in Kentucky I discovered there were no actual portraits done of him as a younger man. But artist John Buxton believes he might have looked like this. This painting was commissioned by the Clark County Historical Society of Springfield, Ohio and conveys Clark as he may have looked the summer of 1780 at 27 1/2 years of age.*

"His iron will, strong passions, audacious courage, and magnificent physique soon made him a leader among his frontier neighbors."

Aside from Daniel Boone and George Washington I can't think of a better hero. And I believe, had I been a colonial belle, he would have set my fan to fluttering:)

An interesting side note is that this George is the brother to the famous William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. No shortage of heroes in that family!

Do you have any heroes, past or present, imaginary or otherwise?


Friday, December 4, 2009

hero worship

I know I've gotten my hero just right if I've fallen in love with him by novel's end. Chances are if the author is smitten with their hero the reader will be, too. One hopes, anyway. Before Lael took Ian Justus away from me in TFD I was quite besotted. Scotsmen have always been my weakness. And then there's Morrow's paramour in Courting Morrow Little, who shall remain nameless as his very identity is a huge spoiler. It took me a good hundred pages to fall for my Irishman, Colonel McLinn, in The Locket, and then THUD... I'm not advocating hero worship. Well, almost:)

hero worship n (1774) 1: veneration of a hero 2: foolish or excessive adulation for an individual

Silly me but I was so happy to find this word comes to us straight from the 18th-century. And I thought again how blessed I am to have an editor and publisher who encourage me to write in the century I love. If I had to make the leap and write in other time periods I think I'd lose a lot of heart/passion. The 18th-century has always been my first love and I have lots of story ideas simmering.

But back to my Colonel McLinn who won't make his debut until summer of 2011... Someone asked me how writers come up with characters. Are they based on people we know? Actually, Colonel McLinn is based on someone I wish I'd known. When I was in Kentucky last fall doing research for The Locket, I visited a two hundred year old house whose owner was glaring at me from an oil painting over a bedroom mantle. I was struck by how embittered and sad he looked and I wanted to give him a happy ending instead of the tragedy he lived.

So my Irishman is actually made up of my two favorite 18th-century heroes. Can you guess who these men might be? One clue is that they're both named George. First names, not last. Each was unusually tall for that time period. And both had red hair. Enough said:)

Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart. -Proverb

Who is a hero? He who conquers his urges. -The Talmud

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Life with boys is never dull. Yesterday, out of the blue, my youngest son told me I'm like a Twinkie because I'm soft and sweet:). His teenage brother, on the other hand, is like a Warhead (a type of candy) - sour and explosive. And his dad, he said, was like a burger...big and beefy. I was glad to be a Twinkie! What does that have to do with anything? Nothing. But it made me laugh. And sometimes I forget to laugh. I think that's why God gave me boys.

Sometimes I wish for a quiet, clean house with no popcorn under the sofa, no apple cider stains on the floor, no overflowing laundry room, no dents in the walls. I dream of coming into a still-clean house the day after and having it smell like something other than a locker room!

Some days I write two lines and am interrupted for the gazillionth time and I feel more like a warhead than a Twinkie. But then my son's sweet face pops up over my computer screen with some silly question or idea and I'm reminded that I'm a mom first and a writer second. Other days the house is quiet and I get so much done I am tired of words and ready to go do something uninspiring like wash dishes:) And I'm glad for any interruption at all.

I wonder if God gets tired of our inattention, messes, warhead behaviors, and all the rest? I've always grappled with the fact that He has feelings and is emotional. It seems so very human somehow. But I can't grasp infinite love and grace either.

So...are you a warhead or a Twinkie or a burger? Paul wants to know:)

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

happy december

I don't know about you but I can't believe it's December already! This has been the busiest year of my life. Chock full of firsts. First book, first writer's conference, first Kentucky book fair and all the rest. It's been a year of tremendous change personally and otherwise. And here I am about to repeat everything again. Yet authors tell me the second book is no less a thrill. Maybe there's some truth in that as I remember holding my second son and it was just as wonderful as my first. But there's no comparing babies to books:) I'll take a baby anyday.

We're going to have a small Christmas this year. With all the needs around us it's easy to get caught up in the must-haves and we've decided to concentrate on the have-nots. My mom reminded me of my grandfather in turn-of-the-century Kentucky feeling especially blessed when he found an orange, some horehound candy, and nuts on Christmas morning. We've been hearing reports of children going hungry in Seattle. Seattle! One of the most affluent cities in the U.S. Home of Microsoft's Bill Gates and all the Boeing biggies. But I know there are needs everywhere, not just here.

I have done a little decorating but am expecting the galleys soon and then everything will return to the 18th-century in a big way. But I'm not complaining, mind you:) I have a terrible hankering to be in Colonial Williamsburg right now. Every December there's a contest there to determine the best wreath. Here are two. This second one is so charming I'd like to snag it for my front door and replace those flutes with little fiddles. Over Thanksgiving Randy went into the woods and cut down a Noble Fir for the deck. It's twinkling brightly with colored lights just beyond the French door. So that'll have to do.

Have a blessed start of December!

Friday, November 27, 2009

music that fires the imagination

Not every writer wants music to write by. It has to be the right kind of music. I have a friend who needs absolute silence and no distractions. Earplugs, in fact. Me, I'm a bit of a mix. I cannot write to Spongebob Squarepants no matter how hard I try. Ditto Scooby Doo and all those boomerang cartoons! But lately I've found the perfect music for writing or editing - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Brooding, intense, romantic, moody. Perfect for those Colonial battlefield scenes and the untamed Kentucke frontier. The violin and cello therein are divine:)

I've never considered Russel Crowe a catch but in uniform he's quite respectable and his acting here is quite fine. Plus he plays the violin. Could I ask for more? I'm also a huge fan of the Horatio Hornblower series. I'd thought of writing a series on the British Navy (well, the Americans) but Kaye Dacus beat me to it!

On the publishing front, the Baker Books catalog for next summer is out and Morrow Little is in it:) I found my copy in the mailbox today and it was an extra blessing. I'm always humbled that I have such a fine publisher and I hope my books do well for them. They really have a heart for new authors. And their covers are the best out there:)

Some upcoming books I can't wait to read: Masquerade by Nancy Moser and She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell. Any in particular on your wish list? How about music?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

happy thanksgiving

Once more we come, Lord, to the day of special thanksgiving. Our thoughts are turned backward. The days have rolled into the seasons, the seasons into the year. Each day has been crowded with Thee. Each season has brought forth new proofs of Thy loving forethought. May we this day pledge Thee our gratitude anew. Continue, we pray Thee, to surround us with Thy care, in Jesus' name. Amen.

-Grace Before Meals

Sunday, November 22, 2009

the thankful week

If I wasn't writing so much I'd try to create these cookies, only I wouldn't eat them afterwards as they are too pretty:) Only mine would never look this artistic so I could consume without guilt! In honor of the season I thought I'd post my ridiculously easy cookie recipe. I made a batch when our power was restored Saturday to celebrate. And then I hid them afterwards so the boys wouldn't devour every last one of them. They're very rich and not so good for you. But they taste divine and you can't eat just one:)

Laura's Quick Holiday Cookies

1 box Devil's Food cake mix
1/2 cup butter or oil
2 large eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cake mix, softened butter (or oil), and eggs. Mixture will be dry so keep mixing! When combined, add chocolate chips. Drop by 1 tablespoon amounts on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Let sit 2 minutes on counter before removing with spatula onto wire rack. Makes 2 dozen.

Eat one of these and you'll quickly get into a thankful frame of mine, plus they make your kitchen smell like a chocolate shoppe. If you're one of those poor souls like my mom who isn't fond of chocolate, I'm truly sorry!

One of the joys this week is planning Thanksgiving Dinner. I do miss our Kentucky Thanksgivings which include candied sweet potatoes and all the rest. Northwesterners keep it sort of simple though I refuse to serve salmon instead of turkey:) So we'll have the big roast bird, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, deviled eggs, cranberries, and rolls, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Do you have a signature dish that just has to appear on your Thanksgiving table? I'd love to hear what it is!

More things to be thankful showers, wood stoves, tacos, clean sheets, Christmas lights, autumn leaves, windstorms (the kind that leave the lights on!), healthy boys, shared recipes, wrapping gifts...

Friday, November 20, 2009

by candlelight

The most wonderful things happen when the power goes out and you're forced offline a few days! Since Wednesday when a major storm blew through with torrential rains and wind, we've lived by candlelight and everything is so very soft and quiet and, well...18th-century-like. Last night I lit my courting candlestick from Fort Boonesboro and Wyatt asked if I wanted to have the lantern instead. As I began that first chapter for this next book I thought of Ben Franklin who liked double-wick candles to better see by. But the light from that single taper at least made it to the page I was working on. And I was thrilled to meet four new characters:)

So today, Friday, still no power. I'm sitting in Starbucks 30m from home, laptop open and latte steaming. Randy is out shopping for a generator. The boys like the adventure of being off school. Grilled cheese sandwiches really do taste better cooked on the woodstove:) And after being offline for awhile, it's fun to see what emails await. Like the one from Allan Eckert and his lovely wife, both of whom are reading TFD! And then another telling me the galleys will come in mid-December.

Do you enjoy being without power? Offline? Wonder what would happen if the entire country was shutdown like this and not simply the Pacific Northwest? If this post contains typos and I don't reply to any comments you'll know why:)

Happy weekend to you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

character quirks

I think one of the reasons characters come to life on the page is because of their quirks. I never start a character off with any idiosyncrasies but they quickly appear. Morrow, beautiful as she is, tends to stammer terribly when under pressure. And my very virile Irishman, Colonel Cassius McLinn, brings my manuscript to a screeching halt in strategic places, not to relieve himself, but to lose his lunch! He has a weak stomach. Not an admirable trait for a Revolutionary War officer but not that uncommon either, per old letters, diaries, and other documents. War was not pretty and the sights, smells, and impressions of the frontier could try the strongest stomach.

My next novel is unfolding in my mind more slowly than I like but right on schedule. I don't ever get another novel idea till the one I'm working on is almost done. I don't know how other writers keep 3-4 books going at once. I wish I worked that way. Call me a poor multi-tasker! My research for this next one is daunting as so little has been written on this particular apprenticeship/trade and the books available are upwards of $100 or so. Thank heavens for inter-library loan!

One of my first things I think about when creating a new book is character names - guess you have to name your babies first before you begin to live with them and really know them. And I like unusual names, if you hadn't guessed, like Lael and Morrow:) Roxanna stars in The Locket and that's a pretty tame name. I like to go over historical records and peruse names but they were usually very mundane or highly undesirable - Wealthy or Cotton or Ichabod or Hepzibah, etc. Many were Biblical. I recently came across the twins, Love and Mercy Minott, born in Massachusetts in 1702. Sweet! I'm not as fond of the names Submit or Silence. And in the case of my own family, you have two hundred years of William Blantons and then a Christopher Columbus Blanton pops up in the mid-19th century.

Hmmm...writing history is never dull! Do you have an unusual name or like any unusual names? If you're a writer, what's your favorite part about beginning a book?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

another beautiful book

I thought I'd post one more book cover as I enjoy them so much. This is from Sara Donati's upcoming release in 2010. She writes for the secular market and her 18th-century novels are very long and multi-faceted. 300,000 words for this one! I've only read one and really enjoyed her descriptions of the natural world though I can't sanction some of the content. This cover is like I imagined Lael's would be prior to publication. The colors are so rich and there is a wildness about it as well as an air of unreality. Per this reviewer, anyway:) I'm sure each one of us has very different reactions which just makes it all the more interesting. Sometimes the publishing sales team has the final say on a cover and it gets tweaked or redone altogether. I'm blessed to have a publisher that asks for my input regarding my protagonist, her dress, and the background. Wonderful stuff! I just had to wait a long time before it finally happened:)

Do you have any best loved ideas for your own book cover? Or, if you aren't a writer, are there any book covers that really "pop" for you?

The covers of this book are too far apart. -Ambrose Bierce

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

splendid isolation

This Kentucky cabin just speaks solitude to me. It's from the Hensley settlement in Harlan County where folks once lived in the "splendid isolation of the 18th-century." Nearly everything here was handmade - "food, clothes, tools and horseshoes, furniture, packsaddles, musical instruments, medicine, toys, quilts and coverlets." No electricity except for pine splinters or oil lamps, no running water except for a well or spring. One resident recalls "when dark time came, we went to bed and didn't rise till daylight." This settlement was built in 1903 by those who longed to return to the simplicity of former times and was abandoned in 1951. Since then it's been maintained and kept open to the public. Add it to your list of must-sees:) Love those old chestnut fence rails meandering across that fading fall ground.

While home I realized some worthwhile things. Distance is a fine teacher at times:) I had little room to be on my computer except for blog posts and found it so very freeing. Sometimes I feel absolutely married to it. Since the release of TFD my days have been a bit of a blur. I've lost a bit of myself and feel the need to get that back. Being home showed me who I used to be and who I've become. I miss that Laura I've lost along the way. Time to go looking for her again.

So how does one do this? By praying, for starters. I've felt the Lord telling me to measure my time for several months now, even before the book's release. I'm getting a little overcommited in some areas. Being online has an addictive quality to it that I don't like. Thankfully, it took a trip home to remind me of how important it is to place hedges around the gift of time.

How do you guard and treasure your time?

Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4

I invite you to hop on over to Carla Gade's wonderful blog at as she's posted an interview about The Frontiersman's Daughter and is hosting a book giveaway. I love the name of her blog and all the whimsical features therein. Bless you, Carla! It's so fun to have writing/book loving friends!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

kentucky book fair 2009

As one local newspaper said, Kentucky doesn't simply produce writers, it celebrates them. The book fair was solid proof! Authors were given candy for their book tables, corsages, hand sanitizer, speciality boxed lunches, cold drinks and more. Kentucky has a pretty tight writing community and 211 authors were in attendance. Here I am before the action began with two cases of TFD. I was thrilled to learn it's been selected by Kentucky's Talking Books program to have on audio for the visually impaired. Apparently any book having to do with Kentucky history is in big demand with these readers. The program prefers that authors come to the studio and do their own recordings. Sadly, my distance prevents this.

Here is the madness in the morning - one small corner anyway. So many good books, so little time. Here are some that went into my basket: That Dark and Bloody River, The Court-Martial of Daniel Boone, The Believer, Hawk's Hill, Blue Jacket, Nothing Like an Ocean. Lots of good winter reading in this stack, each signed by the authors. I think Allan Eckert may have gotten tired of writing my name in all of his!

This is Silas House whom I sat beside at the book fair. He is without a doubt Kentucky's best-loved author. He used to be a mail carrier in rural eastern Kentucky before wowing the literary world with his Appalachian books. He has an incredible voice, both speaking and writing, and I was in awe of his long lines. He quickly sold out of his latest book and hardly got a minute to himself. I didn't tell him that Silas is the name of my hero in my next novel:) I don't have much beyond the names of characters at this point but it's not all shadows. My favorite Silas House book is A Parchment of Leaves. He's also a musician and playwright among other things. But I think that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Hats off to my dear friend, Gin Petty, for sharing these photographs!

Blessed, blessed day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

a very old inn

Welcome to the Meeting House B&B on Ann Street in Kentucky's capital. Sadly, these pictures don't do this very old house justice. Photographer I am not! This is my second stay in this particular room which is on the second story and right beside the library. It's 64 degrees in Frankfort today. Would love to build a fire in the antique fireplace. Love this old writing desk:)

Can you see that pewter plate in the middle of the bed filled with homemade, fudge-dipped cookies? The inn's proprietor, Rose, has a special touch. This was the master bedroom and the door you see at the head of the bed leads to a nursery. Sadly, two children died in this room way back in the 1800's. This is one of two old homes in town reputed to be haunted.

This is the Meeting House from the street. It's in the historic district and has extensive outbuildings and a garden. During the Civil War the daughter of the house brought her treasured horse into the dining room so Union troops wouldn't take it. We ate breakfast in there this morning and I swear I could smell horses and hay! But it didn't affect my appetite:)

The author reception last night was very nice and I sat with Allan Eckert, author of many incredible 18th-century books. My favorite would be The Frontiersmen. He is an amazing historian also and this was really a divine moment for me. Move over James Thom! His wife has a copy of TFD which made me smile:) Now on with the book fair...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

almost to the top

Today I went out to one of my favorite childhood haunts but only made it part way up the mountain. This is the view from the top. I just wanted to hear the crunch of leaves underfoot and smell the autumn air. It has a peculiar scent this time of year and ushers in a world of memories.

In The Frontiersman's Daughter, this is where Lael and Susanna went and stood when they had their heart to heart talk about Ian. I called it "the knob" in the book but it's the East Pinnacle in reality. You can stand on this ledge just as Lael did and you'll have one of the finest views anywhere. Ian bought this piece of land - and the lookout - for Lael as a wedding gift. I used to sit down and scoot out to the edge of this amazing rock. And I always wondered if Boone did the same:) Only he wasn't scooting, I'm sure! But I always felt him in these woods, as I did today.

On a lighter note (or is that heavier!) I had a sweet potato slathered with butter for breakfast, then coffee and pecan pie for lunch:) Now I'm heading toward garlic cheese grits, pork, deviled eggs, kale, and who knows what. It's great to be home!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

going home

This is my kind of front porch, compliments of Paris, Kentucky. Love that scarecrow! I won't hit Paris this trip but will be swinging through Berea, Lexington, and Frankfort:) Kentucky has had a lot of rain but it's supposed to be sunny this week.

It's always a bit of a whirlwind getting ready to go. Spent the morning in town getting library books and groceries for my men. Promised to bake them a pumpkin pie. Luckily that's just about the easiest pie you can make from scratch. Gave them haircuts yesterday. Now down to finishing laundry and cleaning a bit. The plane will be a vacation:)

I'm having novel withdrawal. Miss my characters very much and wish I could take them with me. I did buy a new journal to take along. I'm always keeping a journal of life in general and jotting things down as I go, much of which is Scripture. Plus I picked up a library book of Ann Rinaldi's, The Secret of Sarah Revere, for the plane. Need to get my hands on that Guernsey book everyone's talking about.

On the publishing front, the November issue of Kentucky Monthly magazine is out and has a very nice review of TFD on page 59. Hats off to a great magazine! Perfect timing with the book fair this weekend. If you're in the area I'd love to meet you! If not, stay tuned and I'll try to post from the Bluegrass State.

Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune. -Daniel Boone

Sunday, November 1, 2009

another beautiful book cover...

This is just a delicious looking book to me. Some covers just "pop", which is the industry term for a magical cover. There's something about this one that makes me want to read it right now. Maybe because it's another one of those "daughter" books, but mostly because I love lighthouses and a bit of a mystery. And I like Colleen Coble very much. This one doesn't release till January but that's right around the corner. Might be a good, light read for a dark winter's day. Think I'll add it to my wish list.

I'm trying to pack and go south. Since I last posted, I've been armed with the biggest can of Lysol I can find! We've had two boys very sick with the flu, a missed Halloween (of all the holidays, this is one I mind missing least, though Wyatt and Paul would say otherwise!), hammering rain, a windstorm, lots of Vitamin C and hot tea, etc. Editing through this hurricane is not an option as I play nurse. Though it does make me want to escape to my fictional world more than ever. There I only have to deal with misbehaving soldiers, a sassy spinster, and a misspelled word or two:)

There were some bright spots overall like walking to the mailbox and getting an old hard bound copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Ann Bronte from my Kentucky cousin, Leslie. Bless you, Leslie! And ordering the soundtrack from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World which has plenty of old style music to write by.

Do you have a favorite book cover? Any upcoming ones that catch your eye and make you want to read right now? I'd love to know!

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts. - Charles Dickens

Congratulations to these winners of the current book giveaway!
Mary - The Fire in Fiction (ready to be mailed now)
Stacey - Courting Morrow Little (signed and sent in June prior to release)

Happy November 1st!

Friday, October 30, 2009

colonial repast

There's something about this picture that I love. It was taken aboard an 18th-century ship and has a quality about it that doesn't look quite real. Things like these can really jump start your imagination. Before I started this 3rd book, The Locket, I kept seeing a shadowy figure of a soldier at a distance. Only I didn't know what to do with him! He just kept reappearing in my mind till I got used to the idea that he might possibly be the hero in my next book. At first I thought he was just regular army. Then I noticed he was wearing a uniform so he became a Continental officer. I was a bit dismayed because I knew very little about that aspect of 18th-century life. But my Colonel McLinn has taught me a lot:) And military life in that time period was not dull. Mix in a few spies, malarial fever, swords and muskets, black powder, a spinster of 29, and a mute child and you have quite a recipe.

A book begins with falling in love. You lose your heart to a place, a house, an avenue of trees, or with a character who walks in and takes complete possession of you. Your imagination glows, and there is the seed of your book. -Elizabeth Goudge

The winners for a copy of Courting Morrow Little and Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction will be posted Monday. Anyone who has left a comment in the last week has been entered:) Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

meeting morrow little...

My wonderful publisher has officially posted this on their website. Thanks to Ruth for giving me the heads up! Would love to hear any and all comments. Bless you!

a cup of tea

Since that last post, I've been so caught up in counting my blessings I think it's making me sick:) But since we're in thankful mode, it could be worse. I could have the flu and not just a bad cold. And instead of being this Tuesday it could be next Tuesday, the eve of my Kentucky departure. And I could be so sick I'm unable to write, which I'm not. The Lord was so good today in parting the clouds after our weatherman vowed we'd not see the sun till next July (no kidding). I found a hot spot on our deck in which to edit. My granny always said the sun can bake a cold right out of you. And if I take an extra Tylenol I can almost pretend I'm not sick at all. So there, cold bug, begone:)

I never want tea unless I'm sick - ever try Tazo Wild Sweet Orange? It's great! No sugar needed. Put it in one of these lovely teapots and you'll perk right up. This china reminds me of Morrow. I'm just dying to post her book cover. I finally printed it out last week and had it laminated so I don't have to retrieve the e-file every time I want to look at her. Yesterday the blurb for Courting Morrow Little was posted on Amazon (back cover copy) if you want to look. I didn't write it but it's the gist of the novel minus a few dozen threads. I'm not a back cover copy kind of gal. Cramming a 400 page book into a paragraph is not my idea of creative fun. But I appreciate the intrepid editor who did that.

Better get off here before I sneeze! Hope you're happy and healthy today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Since it's so easy to focus on what's lacking in our lives I try to keep track of all the blessings that come my way. God is so faithful even when I'm not. And He gives each of us so many undeserved gifts, large and small. In the last 48 hours or so I've enjoyed some really good coffee, taken my boys to a costume party, edited several chapters of The Locket, fixed a great meal or two, slept 10 hours one night, heard that The Frontiersman's Daughter is being read in Moscow, Russia (amazing, huh? God is good!), received a wonderful letter from a reader in Ontario, enjoyed your blog comments, and so much more.

Here's a short list of things I'm thankful for. I could, of course, hand you a list of all that's not so nice in my life but what a downer that would be. So here goes...

* healthy kids
* a husband who's my best friend
* windy walks
* maple trees changing color (those evergreens are stubbornly green)
* sassafras tea
* Scripture that speaks to your heart
* salvation
* candles
* sleeping in
* a real live letter in your mailbox
* leftovers
* chocolate
* coming home
* fiddle tunes
* childrens' laughter
* fresh apple cider
* too many things to count...

Can you add anything to the list? Or is yours so long you can't possibly find enough paper?

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. -Willie Nelson

No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has escaped the kingdom of night. -Elie Wiesel (accepting Nobel Peace Prize, 1986)

He said he got up to the line and thought about his wife and daughter, and everything he had to be thankful for. (Interview with Derek Parra, immediately following his silver medal winning performance at the Olympics, 2002)

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, October 24, 2009

rain-spattered windowpanes

I nearly dropped my laptop when I saw this photograph because it is so like my own casement window and the wet, lush, very green view of our woods. So here you have it - a look from my rain-spattered windowpane. I don't do drapes but the rest is uncanny. Perfect writing weather. It's taken me a few years to appreciate Washington State. If I still lived in sunny Kentucky I'd not get as much done. So count your blessings, name them one by one...

Speaking of work, I've been editing away on The Locket, praying the galleys for Courting Morrow Little don't coincide with my Kentucky trip. I used to dislike juggling books but it's good to set one aside while editing another. Distance lets you see all sorts of glaring things you miss otherwise. And I don't mean typos. I've used a different last name for one secondary character and changed my hero's eye color:) Among other things.

For those of you who care about such things (the rest of you can yawn without guilt), here's the word count on these last three books:

The Frontiersman's Daughter: 121,835 words
Courting Morrow Little: 108,120
The Locket: 104,829

I just noticed the titles are getting shorter, too! I hope my editors are reading this as it will make their day:) I'm so excited to post this next book cover when I get the green light. In celebration, I'm going to hold a book giveaway. For a copy of Courting Morrow Little, of course. It's going to release a month ahead of schedule - July 1, which means it will probably be in stores by mid-June. Also, for you writer-types out there, I'm going to give away a new copy of Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction, as I picked up an extra copy at the ACFW conference. So please keep coming back for a visit. Fun things ahead!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

barefoot and packing

There I am barefoot and standing on my vintage suitcases, thumbing a ride to Kentucky:) Wonder how many days driving it would take to get from extreme western Washington to central Kentucky? If flying, it takes a full day of airports, layovers, and all the rest. There's no such thing as a direct route. I take 3 different planes before landing in the Bluegrass State. I leave before dawn and get in after dark. But it sure beats a covered wagon!

My sweet momma has already started cooking. She only has 13 more days to get ready:) She asked what I'd like to eat. This is definitely a southern thing. We decided on garlic cheese grits and pork roast, maybe some fried apples and deviled eggs. Nothing fatty about that! I'll have to fast on the plane. Not hard to do these days.

It's always hard leaving my boys. At 10 and 12 they're old enough to take care of themselves but a mom just has to fuss, you know. I pray over them before I leave (and my china cabinet and every other breakable thing I own). Not really but you know how it is with all that testosterone floating around and no feminine influence. My husband will be here but not really as men don't multi-task well and he sometimes forgets to referee sufficiently and things get ugly. Yes, that's a run-on sentence. Can you tell I'm a little nervous about this trip?

A literary agent I know just took a literary pilgrimage of sorts to Ann of Green Gable's Prince Edward Island. I love all of L.M. Montgomery's books but my favorite is her adult novel, The Blue Castle. If you love romance this book should be in your library like mine. It's an amazing read from an amazing woman. It's available on Amazon and has a multitude of 5 star reviews.

Do you like to travel? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. -Saint Augustine

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

We must go beyond books, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey. -John Hope Franklin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

writing essentials

This is my desk, or a small part of it, dust and all:) There are lots of family photographs, some old, some new, and a crystal inkwell from my great-granny. Throw in some bookmarks and emails and a printer and page proofs from TFD and that's my work day. But there's so much more that you can't see that's necessary for a writing journey. Here's a short list:

1.Faith. You need to trust God for the gift He's given you as well as His timing in leading you to the right agent, publisher, and managing your writing future.

2.Courage. No one told me that publishing would move me far beyond my comfort zone. But that just makes me rely on the Lord in new, creative ways.

3. Organization. I've always been organized...and then I got published. Be prepared to have a hard time staying on track with writing, email, marketing, book events, speaking, traveling, blogging, Facebook, twittering, etc. Mix in your husband, kids, church activities, cooking and whatever else you love and it can be quite daunting. Pray for hedges around your time. Fortunately, the love of family and writing usually win out.

4. A business mindset. While wonderful in many, many respects, publishing is a business. Be prepared to feel that the publishing world is sometimes cold and unfair. Really good books don't always make the bestseller lists. Killer covers sell mediocre books. Diva authors do exist. Book sales are the bottom line. Writing is work. It's a competitive field. I'd rather not acknowledge these things but to ignore them would be less than honest.

5. Humility. There are many kinds of authors and many kinds of books. Some will sell better and receive more earthly accolades. In the end none of that matters. You are responsible for the gift you've been given. You are ultimately writing for an audience of One.

Feel free to add to the list! What do you feel is necessary for the stage of the writing journey you're on?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

happy birthday, mr. boone

I can't let October slip away without acknowledging the birthday of Daniel Boone. If you hadn't guessed, he was the prototype for Lael's father in The Frontiersman's Daughter, though Boone, a believer and former Quaker, had fewer rough edges than Ezekial Click. There is some dispute as to whether Boone's birthday was in October or November. This just lends itself to his legend.

I love these little known facts about him... He disliked coonskin caps (he thought them uncouth) so wore fur felt instead. When courting his future wife he decided "to try her temper" so cut her precious cambric apron with his hunting knife. She kept her cool and he married her. He lost everything he owned in Kentucky and moved to Missouri. Kentucky had quite a fight to bring his body back.

I love this photograph of Boone's last cabin in Kentucky on Brushy Creek. Very simple but beautiful in its own way. He was a simple man who did extraordinary things. I think the cabin was mostly for Rebecca's benefit.

Last week I heard from my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Buckner, who reminded me that I'd studied Kentucky History in her class. I'm sure this helped me keep my facts straight in the novel! Two of her ancestors were at Fort Boonesborough with Boone himself, one having come into Kentucky in 1775. She and her husband belong to the Boonesborough Society and First Families of Kentucky. It's a thrill when someone from your very distant past reads your book and is thoughtful enough to write and tell you about it. That certainly went into my scrapbook:)

Anyway, happy birthday, Mr. Boone! I'm sure you wouldn't like the fuss being made over you today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

a question for you...

I'm posting an unprecedented amount this week and I apologize! I promise to leave this one up through the weekend:) But I do need your input as I think about my next book(s). Many of you have certain time periods in history that you prefer and specific reasons why. I'd love to hear them. My readers are so important to me and I'd love to write what you like. So the question is...

Which books would you like to see from me in future?

1. Colonial period (just like The Frontiersman's Daughter)
2. Regency (either here or in England)
3. Victorian
4. Civil War
5. The old, wild west
6. Turn of the century/1900
7. WWI, etc.

Do you like mail-order bride stories? Amish fiction? Romance? Suspense? I think I could spin a story about the intriguing photo at left. Comments appreciated!

Readers! Had you in your mind
Such stories as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! You would find
A tale in everything. - Wordsworth

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

kentucky countdown...

Next month I'll be at the Kentucky Book Fair. As part of the invite, I promised I'd post about it and invite any of you bibliophiles to come to Frankfort. Two hundred or so authors will be there signing books and the profits benefit schools, libraries, and literacy in Kentucky.

I really like Frankfort, Kentucky's capital. It's a small town and has a wonderful little inn called The Meeting House where I'll be staying. Lots of fascinating literary things went on in this house two hundred years ago:) I spent time there last fall while researching at the history center down the street. Right up the hill is Daniel Boone's gravesite and then the famous (or infamous) Rebecca Ruth and her bourbon candy downtown.

Here's the schedule:
Friday, November 6th, Author Reception, Frankfort Country Club
Saturday, November 7th, Book Fair, Frankfort Convention Center, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

I was sent the program recently and found that I'm on it. Yep, I'm one of 12 doing a "reading" at day's end. I'm thinking everyone will have cleared out by then:) No idea how I got on the schedule but there it is. I consider it one of those God-given opportunities to make me grow, like it or not:)

I'm thrilled one of my very favorite authors will be there - Allan Eckert. He writes incredible frontier fiction such as The Frontiersmen, among other amazing stories. He and my hero, James Alexander Thom, are in a class by themselves. Hope to see you there! Or here:)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a world of research

This post is for my friend and fellow 18th-century writer, Lori Benton, over at She asked me to post about the research I did, or the bibliography, for The Frontiersman's Daughter. Lori is very close to publication and has a terrific blog about her writing journey. Since she creates (and illustrates!) incredible children's stories I wondered why she even bothered with historical fiction. But then I read her excerpts of Kindred:) She writes in the style that I like - rich, detailed, and lyrical. And she has a fondness for Scotsmen like I do:)

Recently I went out into the garage and found a drawer full of research notes for TFD in an antique dresser. Since my house is small I have to keep things out there and I smiled when I saw them. I'd forgotten all the research involved in that 412 page book! Loads of it:) But I love research almost as much as writing itself so don't feel sorry for me. Once I was accepted to law school and nearly became a research attorney. But I think book research is so much better!

When researching TFD, I couldn't afford many research books so I used inter-library loan A LOT. It's free and fast and you can get nearly any book out there, even the very expensive ones. The only drawback is your time limit. So I hauled the books home and took copious notes and saved my pennies to buy my favorites. Here are the primary sources for Lael's journey:

The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining (I love all the Foxfire books - there are many and they are exceptional)
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America by Dale Taylor
The Land of Saddlebags by James Watt Raine
Southern Mountain Speech by Cratis D. Williams
Smoky Mountain Voices by Harold Farwell and Karl Nicholas
Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave by Margaret Bennett
Colonial Living and Colonial Craftsmen by Edwin Tunis (my very favorite research books which I now have - Tunis was a master writer/illustrator)
The Frontiersmen by Allan Eckert (each and every book in his Winning of America series is incredible and gave me a feel for the people and events of that time)
Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution by George Neumann and Frank Kravic
A Sorrow in Our Heart, The Life of Tecumseh by Allan Eckert
My two favorite Boone books by Lyman C. Draper and Ted F. Belue, The Life of Daniel Boone and John Mack Faragher's Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer

This is just a partial list. I'm not able to include all the books and history I grew up with or those that are secondary sources. But I love every one and they helped make Lael's journey believable.

Do you enjoy research? If you write, what parts of the process do you enjoy most? Least?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

an 18th-century weekend

This was a perfect weekend. Combine a little sun, some research books, a bit of fiddling, and lots of writing and I'm happy. I fell in love with the photo at left, taken at Colonial Williamsburg in a silversmith's shoppe. I'm studying trades of two hundred years ago for an upcoming novel. This picture tells a story all its own.

Books I fell in love with this weekend:
George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen
Eyewitness Books/American Revolution by Stuart Murray
Welcome to Felicity's World 1774 by Catherine Gourley

Yesterday Paul and I went to Old Time Fiddlers and he played a lively Celtic tune called, "Britches Full of Stitches." He was the youngest player there. The oldest? Ninety-three! This senior member has never had a lesson and doesn't read music but plays anything and everything extremely well. When he was a boy his mother threw his trumpet down an outhouse hole so he took up the violin. And he's been thanking his mother ever since:)

Now back to that colonial battlefield scene...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

living water

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
John 7:37-38

I think there is something so beautiful about Jesus comparing himself to living water. When I look at photos like this He takes my breath away. He offers us an endless supply of spiritual water yet often we feel dry or at the very least thirsty. What can cause us to feel this way? Hurts and disappointments, getting tired, sickness, needing a break, the sameness of it all, too much activity. Just being me:)

Lately I've been feeling very thirsty. I'm in between Bible studies, having done several Beth Moore ones which I love, and then a wonderful one at our pastor's home, followed by two at church. There have been years when I was Bible-study-less, so to speak. Sometimes it's good to take a break and sometimes you need a season of study on your own. I think this craving for something more is a good sign, one I need to heed. Right now I'd love to know how you replenish yourselves.

Do you ever feel a need for more of Him? What do you do about it? Ignore it? Or embrace it?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

pure october

I love this picture. It's pure October right down to that colorful leaf lying by the pumpkin:) I even see the shadow of a mountain beyond those trees. Wish I could say this is the view from my porch. But our house is in the woods and those tall cedars and alders block our view of the mountains. We do have a fine view of our garden but I forgot to plant pumpkins and sunflowers this year, two of my favorite things. We've been eating a lot of corn which I take off the cob and fry in butter with a little sugar, salt, pepper, and cream. A Kentucky specialty:) The boys love it.

In the past I did a great deal of canning - jams, soups, vegetables, applesauce. I love to can but don't have time anymore. Now I make jerky and help with cider. Randy and the boys have made one batch with our old cider press and now our apple trees are hanging low with nearly-ripe fruit. We had 11 record-breaking days of heat this summer so everything ripened a bit early this year.

I've been thinking about seasons in my novels. The Frontiersman's Daughter opens in spring and ends in spring several years later. Courting Morrow Little opens in June, 1778 and ends in winter two years later. Not sure why time is so short in The Locket. A mere eight months! I think I skip autumn altogether, sadly.

Here's another wonderful quote by one of my favorite radicals, Martin Luther. He wrote, If you want to change your world, pick up a pen. He certainly did!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

things readers say...

For a newly-published author it's been so interesting to hear what readers say about my book - the nice things, that is! Till now I've really not thought much about my writing style or what particular literary devices I use or don't, and which writing rules I break - but readers are sure to tell me:) Thus far I've been hearing some consistent things about The Frontiersman's Daughter, which will probably hold true for every book I write. Every writer's voice is unique. So here are some things readers are saying:

1. You don't write formulaic fiction.
2. Your plotting is full of unexpected twists and turns.
3. I didn't know how things would turn out until the very end of the book.
4. You don't write dialogue-driven novels.
5. I am beside myself about what happened to Captain Jack.
6. You must write faster.
7. There must be a sequel.
8. I couldn't put the book down and stayed up half the night.
9. I read for 5 solid hours and no housework got done.
10. My husband was mad at me when I read your book.
11. I fell in love with Ian.
12. I can sure see why Lael was attracted to Captain Jack.
13. You create great romantic tension.
14. Your characters have depth.
15. Etc.!

I treasure each and every comment and put them in my notebook for TFD. I wish I had the talent to save them in a scrapbook but don't so they just go into a fabric covered binder. By the way, I went to a baby shower last night and guests were given oodles of scrapbooking supplies and each of us made a scrapbook page for the new mom. A great idea! No, I wouldn't post last night's pitiful attempts here if you paid me - my talents do not lie in the scrapbooking arena, but it was fun (sort of). But I digress.

Once again, I appreciate you readers so very much. I pray for you every day. My books would still be sitting in the warehouse if it weren't for you. I would have no ministry. This blog, small and insignificant as it is, wouldn't exist. I wouldn't know anything about Twitter, Facebook, or Shoutlife. So you really bless me. And I thank you very, very much!

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1

Thursday, October 1, 2009

love at first look

Today I opened an email file and saw the cover of Courting Morrow Little for the first time. My heart was singing! Morrow is just right. Her 18th-century gown is exquisite. The setting around her is quite dramatic and fits the tone of the book. She looks tense, determined, vulnerable - an unusual medley of things. It left me wondering how the art team could know just what to do when they likely haven't read the book. But then I remembered something a famous Chinese artist (and Christian) once said - that all creative gifts spring from One Source. And I really believe Revell's art team is inspired:) I liked the cover for The Frontiersman's Daughter very much. But I love this one.

I can't wait to show it to you readers here. I should be able to post in early November. If that sounds far off, remember it's October as of today:) I think the sales team and other departments have to have a look first before it's finalized. Covers do change. When I posted the cover for The Frontiersman's Daughter last year, I think I had one reader - my mother! So it will be fun to hear your comments. I hope you leave lots of them.

Book-love, I say again, lasts throughout life, it never flags or fails, but, like beauty itself, is a joy forever.
Holbrook Jackson

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

first fire of the season

I can tell it's autumn because the wind picks up and we need a fire in the wood stove. Brrrr. For this southerner, the northwest falls are beautiful but a touch cold. Randy accuses me of stoking the fire to a balmy 90 degrees which is just about the right temp to me. When we have company everyone starts shedding clothes so they must not like my southern-style heat:)

October is right around the corner and I'm wondering where September went! In Courting Morrow Little, Morrow is on her way to a wedding in late fall and she laments that, "autumn speaks of endings, not beginnings." Do you have a favorite season? I sure do.

It's been a wonderful day at home. Lots of writing time today tucked in between taking Wyatt to school, violin, homeschooling Paul, sitting on the deck, taking a walk, answering email, cooking a pork roast with cornbread stuffing, shallots, and apples. And several dozen chocolate chip cookies:)

Out of desperation today I finally got out my Christmas CD's as some of the Mannheim Steamroller ones make fine music to write by. I think I've worn grooves in the soundtrack to The Last of the Mohicans! Not long ago I ordered Ken Burn's Civil War soundtrack but it is too full of spirited war tunes and I like moody music:) I always enjoy my Scottish fiddle tunes. Do any of you readers know of any good, moody, writing music? The final homestretch of The Locket might depend on your insights:)

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all. -Stanley Horowitz

Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We'll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, and sense of sadness and departure. -Thomas Wolfe

Sunday, September 27, 2009

love those book clubs

Recently I met with a book club which is reading The Frontiersman's Daughter and we had a wonderful time. I talked a bit about the inspiration behind the novel and then there was a question and answer time. Judy, the hostess, has a lovely home right on the beach and we bookies had a hard time leaving. Some suggestions for future reads: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (905 customer reviews on Amazon!) and those Alexander McCall Smith books all the rage right now. Someone volunteered Mere Christianity, always a biggie. Also, A Cup of Tea. The problem is there are so many great books it's hard to make a short list:) I'd love to hear from you readers if you have any books that shout, "read me!"

I'm getting very excited as I should see the cover for Courting Morrow Little this week. Nothing like looking your protagonist straight in the face! Revell has been turning out some stunning covers this year. As soon as I get the green light I'll show it here. Last time the cover was up on Amazon in November, a good 8 months ahead of release date.

I've been having an amazing time finishing the last part of The Locket. As I write lately I literally move sentence by sentence, unsure of what will happen next. That has never really occurred before as I usually have some inkling, at least a little bit, as to what will transpire. So here I am sentence by sentence, praying in between, not sure how it is going to end. And I'm thrilled to find it's better than anything I could have thought of on my own! It's His book, after all.

Okay, any good book recommendations out there?

Reading and weeping opens the door to one's heart, but writing and weeping opens the door to one's soul.
-MK Simmons

How little people know who think that holiness is dull...when one meets the real thing, it's irresistible.
-CS Lewis

Thursday, September 24, 2009

the locket

Flying home from Denver I had the privilege of plotting out the end of book 3 (actually book 8) and renaming it. What was the rather mundane, The Scrivener's Daughter, is now simply, The Locket, which just proves that you never know where a novel is going when you start as it always takes some unexpected turns and twists, at least for this writer. I like this picture because of the antique locket and that old skeleton key, both of which figure in this book. But I like anything old. Except old age!

Some writers believe that you should never talk about a work in progress - that it's bad luck to share what you're currently working on. But I don't believe in bad luck and love to talk books, enough to tell you about old lockets and keys, anyway.

I'm already dreaming of that next novel, maybe because it's painful to finish the one I'm working on. Right now The Locket is at 93,186 words and I'm dragging it out as I don't want it to end. Ever been sad when a best-loved book is finished? When you write one and come to the end it's even more distressing! Maybe that's a good sign? I remember thinking when I'd finished The Frontiersman's Daughter that I couldn't possibly come up with another good book idea or care about a book as much. But it's happened, thankfully, three times since!

A BIG thank you to Greg at for updating my blog/website. I decided, out of deference for economy, to keep it small and simple so we didn't change too much. Maybe later. I love my new view of the Appalachian mountains and hope you do, too. Bless you, Greg!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It's wonderful to be home, even if I arrived to a mound of laundry and dishes and a hectic school schedule:) While I was in Denver it was very warm - hot even - and yet I heard it just snowed there on the first day of fall! Everything changes, right down to the weather. My mountaintop experience at the conference is no exception. I've been feeling a bit blue as reality rushes in and the Denver Marriott and chocolate mousse recede from memory. Ever wonder why a low follows a high, or a valley a peak?

I think the key to dealing with either is attitude. Sometimes blessings have to be yanked from us before we appreciate them for the gifts they are. I remember all too well losing the gift of health for a time and it scared me to death. After that I began to thank Him for the simple act of waking up feeling normal. This week when I mentally stewed about my to-do list, I was reminded that I have the health and time to deal with a busy schedule. And His Amazing Grace to get me through!

Some of us are naturally cheerful. My mom is one of those people. I don't think she's ever had a down day. Or she hides it well:) JOY should be her name. I'm sure she wonders why she's been blessed (?) with a melancholy daughter. Many writer types get the blues. But there's a great anecdote. Scripture tells us to live a lifestyle of praise. We're to offer "a sacrifice of praise," which tells me we're to give thanks even when we don't feel like it, even when we're blue. He's working behind the scenes of all those dark days and we can take heart in that, if nothing else. And that's huge!

This morning I woke up at 5:00 am and read this anonymous quote, "There is no damage of developing eye-strain from looking on the bright side of life."

Can you think of five things for which to be thankful? I can think of fifty!