Thursday, April 30, 2009

the bookmarks are coming!

Just wanted to say my publisher has shipped a great many bookmarks and postcards of The Frontiersman's Daughter and I should get them any day. I'm not sure what they'll be like but I'd sure like to share them! If you'd like some please email me at and I'll be happy to send them to you. And I promise to keep your mailing info confidential. If you'd like some for friends or family members I can mail extra for you. Thank you to those I've heard from already. I love the bookmark pictured here. Wish I had one. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

messy desk

This is my beloved messy desk tucked into a little corner of our house. I dream of an office with bookshelves and a big dictionary on a stand and huge picture windows. Instead I have books stacked beneath the desk, one small casement window with a view of the garden, and a washer and dryer sharing my space. But it has lots of good writing memories. Everyone needs a space of their own even if it's just a little corner tucked away somewhere. I hope you have yours.

It's very wet and windy here - good writing weather. Or letter writing weather. I wrote two yesterday but am afraid letter writing is becoming a lost art. When I was at Barnes & Noble on the way to Oregon last week I bought a quill and ink set just to see how it feels to do things the old fashioned way. Going to the mailbox and getting a letter is right up there with chocolate-dipped twinkies. If you want to make someones day, write a letter!

By words the mind is winged. -Aristophanes

I have told my passion, my eyes have spoke it, my tongue pronounced it, and my pen declared it... Now my heart is full of you, my head raves of you, and my hand writes to you...
-George Farquhar to Anne Oldfield, 1700

Sunday, April 26, 2009

celebrating spring

We've had some sun here in the Pacific Northwest and I took this very unprofessional picture of the boys this weekend. Somehow at this age Wyatt always manages to look goofy and Paul is goofy so ... Check out those flowers instead! We're in the process of potting and planting. Can you believe that grass? I didn't do any color enhancement. One thing I can say for Washington State - it has a million shades of green. Mostly wet green:)

I've been sitting in the sun editing my heart out. The creative writing of a book is such a rush I can't even describe it but editing is another. Right now I feel this book and I have been married for a long time. I miss the courtship phase as it was the sweetest. The creative getting-it-down-on-paper for the first time is bliss. I don't like looking at it again and again and seeing all the warts and wrinkles:) Editing is like that. Sort of spoils the love relationship. Necessary, I know. But it kind of kills the magic. Still, Red River Daughter is dear to my heart.

I have wonderful book news. Crossings Book Club is going to carry The Frontiersman's Daughter in their catalog. And come August I'm going on a book blog tour through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I can hardly wait to see what happens next:) If you'd carried the writing dream around for as long as I have you would feel amazed and humbled that it has come to pass. Abundant life, indeed. He gets all the praise.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me?
Jeremiah 32:27

Friday, April 24, 2009

friday's frontier fact

Welcome to Lael's Kentucky cabin. This is how I pictured her homeplace when I wrote the novel. I like all the historic details shown here. The hand-hewn hutch and pewter dishes. The woven baskets. The huge hearth that you can't really see - you just have to imagine. There would be a bed in the corner with a cornhusk tick and quilt and a little key to tighten the rope springs. Hence the old saying, sleep tight but don't let the bed bugs bite. And then above would be a loft.

But as cozy as this cabin looks, it was in fact quite uncomfortable. Austere in the extreme. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Dark. Few people could afford glass windows and they were very difficult to transport, thus oiled paper and wooden shutters sufficed if you had windows at all. Many didn't because of the danger. Indians were good at climbing in openings and so settlers opted for safety over light and fresh air. Loopholes just large enough to ram a rifle barrel through were good enough.

Often furniture had multi-purposes. See the table? It folded due to cabins being cramped. Sixteen by twenty feet was the standard cabin size. Simplicity reigned on the frontier, at least in 1777 Kentucky. Those big houses with the cavernous front porches came much later. Floors were mostly dirt at first, then puncheon logs. Folks had no use for frew-frew-raw, as one frontiersman called extravagances. They were simply concerned with staying alive.

How far we have fallen! Wonder what old Boone would think of central air and flushable toilets and microwaved meals? Personally I think he'd run for the hills as fast as his arthritic legs could carry him:) I hardly blame him.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

coming home again

Now that I'm back from Oregon and those chocolate-dipped twinkies are a delicious memory, it's back to work:) Funny how things can change when you go away a mere 72 hours or so. My 12 year old, Wyatt, who was still sort of short when I left is now as tall as I am! No kidding! Paul looks the same and was sawing away on his fiddle when I returned. Now that the house is clean, the laundry caught up, the cat buried (yes, sadly, our cat died this weekend), I am in need of another retreat:)

For now it's back to Red River Daughter. I printed out a hard copy and sat on the deck in the sun today and worked through 60 some pages with a blue pen. Red pens are kind of scary. Blue is better! At this point the story seems solid so I'm paying attention to the rhythm of the writing. Some sentences just don't sound right and any wordiness needs to be eliminated. So I'm back in Kentucky again if only in my imagination and it's late fall in the novel. I like the story so much it's a pleasure to be there. I'm having a hard time letting go of this book. It means that much to me. I hope it means something to someone else:)

A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. -Anonymous

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I just returned from a women's retreat (Christian and Missionary Alliance)and feel so blessed. Oregon is an amazing place! No sales tax. Tall trees. Mount Hood. Lots of wild and scenic rivers, not to mention all that surf. I also celebrated my birthday there and enjoyed an almost too pretty to eat fudge-dipped twinkie from Ladybug Chocolates in Canby:)

But back to the retreat... Author Bette Nordberg spoke on "A Daddy You Can Trust." I must need the lesson again because trust was the theme of my first retreat several years ago.

Here are some highlights:
* God knows more about how to live life than you do
* He is a God of perfect timing
* God wants a woman He can trust
* He wants a woman who trusts Him
* God's character makes Him a Father worth trusting
* He has a plan for both your calling (your ministry) and your character
* He never intents you to walk the plan alone, and when he reveals His plan you will want it as much as He does

We drove by this incredibly beautiful mountain there and back. The sun was out and it smelled like spring everywhere. I didn't even mind turning 48:) The scripture for the retreat was fulfilled - He satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

Now back to those books!

Friday, April 17, 2009

friday's frontier fact

There was a quaint custom in the 18th-century that made its way to the frontier and seems a bit risque even today. Back then a man often had to travel a long way to court a woman. Once there, he spent the night with her family. If he was both besotted and clever, he would do this in the dead of winter when bundling was practiced. Candles and firewood were never wasted so this came about as a means of keeping the couple warm and saving on light and heat.

Simply put, the parents wrapped the fully-clothed courting couple in separate quilts and put them to bed with a bundling board between them so they could talk to one another through the night. If a man truly loved a woman he'd make sure her reputation wasn't compromised. Besides, in those one room cabins, Ma and Pa were likely within spitting distance. And Pa's rifle was loaded, no doubt. Public penalties for the bundling board giving way included fines and whippings.

It looks like young women were given greater freedom in the frontier settlements than their Colonial sisters in the east. An itinerant preacher traveling through Kentucky in the late 18th-century said that nine out of ten couples he married were already expecting.

The original bundlers were Biblical. Ruth and Boaz seem to have done this in Ruth 3:6 and 3:13.

In the movie "Witness" there is a scene in which the protagonist, Harrison Ford, spends the night with an Amish woman with a bundling board between them.

Would you have been a bundler in that day? Sounds pretty cozy to me!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

kentucky tote

I just had to take a picture of my Kentucky tote as I think it really is a work of art. I found it in the February issue of Kentucky Monthly magazine:) It appeals to me because it has so many places dear to my heart. Check out the guy in the coonskin cap! Should be fur felt, per Mr. Boone! See Mammoth Cave on the left? I spent the first 5 or so years of my life there. Not in the cave but in a little house close to it. Of course there's Churchill Downs and all the other landmarks. Makes me sort of homesick!

I've decided to not try for the Kentucky Book Fair this year. I'd love to go but felt a little nudge telling me not to. With one book coming out and another due, I won't have time for trips. I do have to return next year as I have a second date with George Rogers Clark at Locust Grove and must also mosey up the Ohio River to Fort Steuben for some research. So much to do, see, read, write - and so little time!

So this time next year, Lord willing, I'll just grab my Kentucky tote and go!

Monday, April 13, 2009

would you have been at the tomb?

Hope everyone had a blessed Easter. Ours was quite unorthodox and I missed all the hard-boiled egg hoopla along with the big dinner. Paul did see a live rabbit in our yard and declared it the Easter bunny. It's the first time in 15 years I haven't cooked all day and had a big ham, garlic cheese grits, asparagus, deviled eggs, angel biscuits, and a three layer cake with edible Easter grass and chocolate eggs on top!

We did get up early for the sunrise service but it was "rainrise" instead and not at the beach as planned but at the church. The kitchen staff made a wonderful breakfast for all early risers and that was sure good. Sadly, the boys declared egg-dying and Easter baskets "too baby" so we lacked that excitement. Our dog usually eats all the eggs we hide anyway.

I'm almost ashamed to say it, but after church we went to town and our Easter dinner consisted of a burger and fries and then we shopped for a digital camera. I'm feeling the crunch this week as we are very busy. Early Friday I leave for Oregon for a women's retreat with, of all people, the Galloping Gourmet and author Bette Norberg!

But back to Easter. I took time and read all four gospel accounts starting with the tomb. It was like reading it for the first time. John is my favorite. Start at John 20:11 and you'll see what I mean. I find it very moving that Mary Magdalene was the first at the tomb. She had quite a past, remember. She was standing outside the tomb weeping and then she stooped and looked inside. Two angels were there but HE was not. Jesus stood behind her and he said, "Mary!"

My commentary says, "Perhaps the reason why Jesus first appeared to Mary was to demonstrate grace by His personal, loving faithfulness to someone who formerly had a sordid past: but clearly also because she loved him so dearly and deeply, that she appeared before anyone else at the tomb." (MacArthur Study Bible).

I love the fact that He called her by name. Notice the exclamation point! This was no casual greeting. I wonder if I would have been at the tomb that first Easter morning. My prayer is to have a heart like Mary so that I can, above all else, love him as dearly and deeply. I want to hear Him call me by name.

Friday, April 10, 2009

friday's frontier fact

Any Kentuckian should recognize this man like I learned to do long ago. It would hardly be fair to post these Friday frontier facts without first paying tribute to Daniel Boone. But before we go further you need to unlearn, as I did, anything Fess Parker taught you. The real Boone is much more interesting and complicated. And no, he didn't wear a coonskin cap - he thought them uncouth!

Dr. Benjamin Rush, noted colonial physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, had little good to say about frontiersmen. But I doubt he ever met Boone. As a child I used to wonder what it was like being the famed frontiersman's daughter (he had four). Jemima was my favorite (his, too). The typical frontiersman roaming the 18th-century woods was infested with vermin, foul-mouthed, superstitious, belligerent, and illiterate. More than a third of them couldn't write their names. Then there was Boone.

Boone stood out, not because he was a character, but because he had character. One relation described him this way: "he had a soft, almost effeminate voice, and extremely mild and pleasant manners." Surprised? Here's more. He lived with the Shawnee and liked them. Two of his sons were killed by Indians yet he never bore a grudge. He fathered ten children though he spent more time away from home than at home. He was swindled out of thousands of Kentucky acres. He only admitted to killing one Indian and then in the most genteel terms. His only autobiography was lost when his canoe hit a log and capsized. He was plagued with severe arthritis. He moved to Missouri and died there at age 86, but his bones were brought back to Kentucky. Boone has always been my hero.

Only 16 more Fridays till The Frontiersman's Daughter is on shelves!

Happy Friday.

Boone: A Biography, Robert Morgan.
Frontier Living, Edward Tunis

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

which writer are you?

I've been thinking a lot about writers and what makes them tick. I think there are two very basic types - those who are born to write and those who are self-made. The first discover early on that they have a penchant for pen and paper and would rather write than do anything else they can think of, maybe even eat. You don't have to pay these writers to write - they just write for the sheer joy of it. To them, the act of writing is reimbursement enough. Dollars have nothing to do with it and never will. Often they have to discipline themselves away from writing. It takes precedent over everything. Their problem lies in keeping their priorities in place. These are the folks who "write by ear," so to speak. They may know next to nothing about story arcs, pacing, characterization, and 'the big trouble' that should surface early on in a book. They find that knowing these things are interesting but unnecessary. They are able to craft a solid story, a novel, without outside influences or help. They are hard-wired to write. If you took writing away from them, they would have a hard time with life as writing is their life.

Then there are the writers who come to writing as if by accident or later in life. They like words but aren't driven to put them on paper. A writing class or book about the craft sparks their interest and they begin to seriously study the mechanics of writing. Or they read a book and think they can do better. They are creative and ambitious and persevering enough to complete the task. Sometimes they have to make themselves meet a daily word or page count and find it hard to show up every day and write. Often they have many other interests and do those things equally well. If you took writing away from them they would simply go on and do something else with the same determination and enthusiasm. These writers make good writing teachers. Their head is stuffed full of the mechanics of writing and they are able to convey what they've learned to others. They are living proof that if you try hard enough you can write or publish a book.

Which writer are you?

I remember soon after my first major label album was released I was doing a radio interview, and the DJ asked me how I write songs. It's a question I have heard repeatedly over the years. My short answer is, "I don't know how not to write songs."
-Michael Anderson

I never wrote with the idea of publishing anything, of course, until I began working on Mockingbird. I think that what went before may have been a rather subconscious form of learning to write, of training myself. You see, more than a simple matter of putting down words, writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they're quite different from people who must write.
-Harper Lee

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I just had to share an answered prayer here as tonight about 6pm we entered the world of wireless internet and bade dinosaur dial-up goodbye forever! I don't think I've been this excited since I signed my book contract! I still can't figure out how to post pictures but my brother, bless him, said he will resume the pics here as soon as his own internet is installed in Spain. I've really missed him (and them). While I was fooling around trying to figure out the pic angle tonight, I did post a picture of my hero, Daniel Boone, but when it uploaded he was certainly NOT larger than life but more the size of a pin head, so I deleted the post and counted the days till brother Chris is back online.

Today received the back cover copy for TFD. Now we're one step closer to holding the book in hand. I'm dreaming of what the design team will create for the back cover art. I'd love some mountains and a river and maybe a cabin. Since the front cover was designed I've been a bit surprised that Lael's hair was left long and not braided as it often is in the book. But there is a reason her hair is left undone. With 1 Corinthians 11:15 in mind, pioneer women usually didn't cut their hair and often it fell to their feet. Lael is among them. I'd love to know who the model is that posed as Lael for the cover art. I hope she reads the book!

Tonight all is quiet. One son at youth group. Another son watching Johnny Test. One husband on another laptop (wireless internet)! One tired and excited Mom courting a sore throat. Happy Wednesday.

Lord, make me see thy glory in every place.

Monday, April 6, 2009

chocolate fountains

It's early Monday here and I'm in my writing chair. The sun is shining and the boys are still in bed. Easter, one of my favorite days, is right around the corner. April is full of fine things. We spent Saturday at a wedding amidst calla lilies and a chocolate fountain. You know you're getting older when the bride and groom look like they're in the 5th grade. Paul thinks there will be chocolate fountains in heaven - with lots of marshmallows, pretzels, and fresh strawberries to dip and eat. Someone remarked that I'll be attending one of my son's weddings soon. Hope not! I was 33 when I married Randy so my Wyatt, only 12, has a long way to go. I do love weddings. Especially if they're happy ever after:)

I have almost finished reading Susan Meissner's The Shape of Mercy. I don't read much contemporary fiction but this has an historical element that drew me - an old diary from the Salem witch trials. It is a very good book! Tomorrow night I'm going to drive an hour east to Sequim to attend a book club meeting about this book. I'd like to see how a successful book club functions as there is one starting at our church in September. Yesterday the lady who is hosting the one at our church told me my book is their first selection! I think I smiled all day.

Anyway, here's a bit of verse from two of my favorite poets:

A flash of dew, a bee or two,
A breeze
A caper in the trees,
And I'm a rose!

Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

In a garden suspended in time,
my mother sits in a redwood chair
light fills the sky, the folds of her
dress, the tangled roses beside her...

Mark Strand, American poet

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

friday's frontier fact

In keeping with the upcoming release of my first book August 1st, I'm going to devote Fridays to posting a fascinating frontier fact (at least I think they're fascinating!) or a bit of family lore (sometimes this is stranger than fiction!). So if you like frontier fiction or family history, stay with me. I'll post the first next Friday.

Here's an update on all that frontier fiction I'm working on:

The Frontiersman's Daughter
I just finished reviewing the page proofs and making some minor changes. My editors asked me some very interesting things this go round, such as "What is salat?" For those of you who don't like greens or are non-Kentucky natives, poke salat is a plant that settlers ate in spring as they considered it a good spring tonic. Another question asked me: "What does 'light and tie' mean?" This is an archaic expression meaning to literally alight, or get down, off your horse/mule and tie it up so you can visit. Never heard of it? You will in my book.

Red River Daughter
If I ever wanted to be a character in a novel it would be Morrow Little on the Red River in Kentucky. This story is close to my heart in ways I can't begin to understand. I think it will always be my most beloved book. The idea was given to me on a flight home to Kentucky two years ago. I wrote the middle of the book first and then filled in all around it. Sounds strange, I know. It was a joy to write. I'm still editing it but all attempts to put this big fat historical on a diet have failed, though I recently trimmed 14, 000 words. The manuscript is due to my publisher August 1st, the same day as The Frontiersman's Daughter is released.

The Scrivener's Daughter
Am up to page 228 on this one and am using a male-female perspective throughout. I've fallen in love with my male lead, always a good sign! This book takes place at the Falls of the Ohio during the late 18th-century. It looks like it will come in at the contracted 352 pages or so. I can hear my editors sighing with relief:) Echoes of George Rogers Clark are throughout this book. James Thom's incredibly moving epic, Long Knife, inspired me to begin this book. When I visited Locust Grove in Louisville last fall where Clark spent the last years of his life, I knew that I should keep going.

Anyway, happy Friday. Hope you have some sunshine and a good book to read - or write!

april 1st

Happy April 1st! I turned the calendar over this morning and was reminded that spring has sprung and April is a busy month with two birthdays, a wedding, baby shower, fiddler's jam, and church retreat down in Oregon. Who has time to write, right? And I just saw an add telling me I can fly to Spain for $192.oo. Temptations abound. But it's raining in Spain and my deadline for book 2 approaches. And we're no further with wireless internet than we were 4 months ago. I think the phone company is digging that promised ditch with a teaspoon:( Maybe we'll have a faster connection by this first book's release. It's on my prayer list. I have a very eclectic prayer list!

So this morning it's a rainy 40 degrees here and I've written a bit on book 3 and now have to go practice violin with Paul. Yesterday we were in town driving around, just the two of us, while Wyatt was getting braces at the orthodontist. Paul turned to me and said, "Mom, I want a dairy." A dairy? "Like, with cows?" I asked. He looked puzzled. "No, the kind you write in." OH! I said. A diary. But my heart was SINGING! He is only nine and he wants to write in a diary!!! It's a moment that makes a mom's heart melt. At least a writer mom's heart. And so when I parked the Jeep to run an errand at this little store, there on a rack was a little book - a diary - with a dog on the front. Only one. Some things you don't even have to pray about - they just appear. So I bought it. Last night he spent a LONG time composing his first entry. And I know you're not supposed to read other people's diaries but I can't resist sharing his attempt:

me, josh, wyatt, and ean were going down to the creek to have fun. we saw fish.

Anyway, I was about 9 when I started my first diary. So maybe Paul will grow up to be a fiddler and a writer. Only God knows.

Here's some Scripture to start the month from The Message Bible:
God's love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. How exquisite your love, O God!