Saturday, May 30, 2009


Here's my hard-working (and handsome) husband and sons weeding the garden on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I'm exempt as I can't weed and write at the same time. We're having amazing weather with temps in the 70's. Seattle is up to 80! Hallelujah:) Tomorrow they're planning on hiking past Sol Duc Falls and fishing at Hidden Lake, a national treasure. I'm exempt from that as well, thanks to my deadline. I just have to pack them lunch (jalapeno bagels, string cheese, beef jerky, goldfish crackers, chocolate chip cookies, etc.). I think they really go just to eat all the way up and back, though if I was trailing along I'd bring very different edibles. Only garlic cheese grits are hard to stuff in a backpack.

So tomorrow after Sunday school and church I get to be home alone and that, dear readers, almost never happens.

Friday, May 29, 2009

friday's frontier fact

Here's a short and sweet frontier fact about a weapon that was neither. The Kentucky rifle was known across 18th-century America as a formidable weapon. Most were generally five feet long or a bit less. Loading the gun took about a minute though some could perform this feat faster. Imagine loading under fire! Daniel Boone was one of the very few who could actually reload his rifle on the run. He also became an expert on repairing these guns which earned him great favor with the Indians.

Sometimes men were shamed by women who could out shoot them. At Fort Boonesborough, two women in particular would dress as men in hats, shirts, and breeches and take positions at the loopholes in times of attack. I'm afraid I would have still been wearing a skirt, melting pewter plates for bullets in the back room. No bravado here.

According to one source, "Kentucky rifles had more personality than any guns ever made; they were loved by the men who used them and were given feminine pet names." I'm not sure if I'd like my husband naming his firearm "Laura" but there you have it. Some did. I suppose it was a high compliment. I've read that some men, given the choice, would have picked their rifles over their wives!

Only 9 more Fridays till The Frontiersman's Daughter is on shelves.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Frontier Living, Edwin Tunis

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

cabin in spring

I think this cabin looks like the cabin on my book cover. But I'm glad the artist chose autumn for Lael's cabin as it looks so dramatic with the fall color. It seems to fit the novel better, too. Plus the book is released in August which always seems like the start of autumn to me. I think those old settlers must have breathed a big sigh after the corn crop came in and the dog days of August were done. I used to think I'd been born two hundred years too late but after all the research into that time period, I see that I was right on time:)

Now that we're drawing close to release day, I'm hearing much ado about my "debut." Growing up in Kentucky where debutantes had "coming out" parties and balls, I always wished for a debut. Well, I'm about to get one (a book debut, anyway) which probably makes me the oldest debutante in history. So I'll simply call it Lael's debut since she's about the right age. I've heard The Frontiersman's Daughter is getting some attention from book clubs which makes me very happy. My publisher asked me to create some discussion questions for readers which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. They're starting to appear on internet book sites but I hope you don't peek since I consider the questions a spoiler! Read the book first, then take a look!

If anyone missed my mailing bookmarks and bookcards, I'd love to send some to you. If you email me at and leave your postal address, I'll get those in the mail to you. Bless you:) If you want to be entered in a drawing for a free copy of the book, just leave your name and state and I'll put that in the hat, too, so to speak.

A small drop of ink produces that which makes thousands think. -Lord Byron

Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book.
-Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

clear blue sky

I've often thought the title of this post would make a good book title. We had some amazing weather the past few days so thought I'd post a picture of the beach a mile from our house. We live with Olympic National Park at our back door and beautiful Crescent Beach at our front, so to speak. Here's Paul again, son #2. If you're wondering where Wyatt is, he's photo-phobic at age 12-1/2. It always rains on Memorial Day here (and the 4th of July) but yesterday it didn't for the first time we can remember. I hope you had a good Memorial Day and took time to remember those who made it possible. Our rain has returned today.

I've been writing my heart out and not spending much time in the sun. We did get our tomatoes planted and Randy put half the garden in. We're growing a lot of wildflowers instead of vegetables this year as I don't have time to do much gardening and canning like I used to do. I miss my big pantry with jar after jar of salsa, green beans, vegetable soup, jam, apple rings, peaches and pears, and all the rest. It looked positively Amish! That's been the downside of writing about 18th-century life. You can't do much elaboration on the food - it was mostly meat and cornbread through the year, though those early settlers did grow watermelons and vegetables at Fort Boonesborough.

I have a terrible hankering to be in Kentucky about now. Hope you're planning the trip I can't take. Hope you toss my book in your bag for vacation if you're leaving August 1st or so! I'd sure appreciate it!

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, May 22, 2009

friday's almost forgotten frontier fact

I must confess that I've been so buried in the 18th-century that I nearly forgot it was a Friday in May, 2009. But Paul just came in wearing a coonskin cap he'd found for 25 cents at a church sale and I was catapulted back into the present. So here's my fiddle-playin', coonskin cap-wearin' 9 year old son reminding me of our Kentucky kin of long ago.

Back then, my mother's family (paternal side) resided in Virginia. The oldest records we have of them are around 1730 when the head of the clan was a magistrate and lived in a stone house known as 'the Blanton house'. At some point they moved to Botetourt County on Virginia's western frontier, a very dangerous place at that time period. We're not sure when they crossed the mountains into Kentucky, or more interestingly, why they moved, but they appear on the tax rolls there in 1790. Even at this late date "the woods were alive with Indians," as one settler said. Yet they and many other Virginians moved west. They settled an area known as 'Blanton Flats' which still exists. Shortly before she passed away, my almost century-old granny visited there with her son and my mom, who live in nearby Berea and Lexington.

Kentucky was known as a daughter of Virginia until Kentucky achieved statehood in 1792. Interestingly, West Virginia didn't separate from Virginia until 1863.

Happy Friday. Have a sunny Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

upcoming book give-away!

If any of you readers out there would like to have your name entered in my first official book give-away, I'll be collecting names starting today. Please leave your name and the state where you live in the comments section below or email me at The winner will receive a signed, complimentary copy of The Frontiersman's Daughter around August 1st with a bookmark to boot:)
Bless you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

a day at home

5:00 am: Up and packing Randy's lunch, making coffee, trying to be quiet.
6:00 Quiet time, then coffee time, answering email, etc.
7:00 Writing for as long as I can before homeschooling begins.
9:00 Official homeschool start. Books open and boys fidgety. Violin for 1/2 hour or so.
10:30 Walk rain or shine (it boosts creativity, don't ya know).
11:30 lunch (love to have a personal chef, then remember I am the personal chef).
12:00 Writing again - bliss! Boys doing schoolwork/chores.
4:00 Dad comes home.
5:00 Time to start supper.
6:00 Supper
7:00 Back to writing, reading, research.
9:00 Bedtime for all.

I know of one writer who homeschools NINE children and writes books! So 2 kids and a tiny house and books are really no problem. Or so I tell myself:) I wouldn't be doing this with any semblance of grace if my boys were still small. That's why I put my writing away for 5 years back then. Writing is expendable. Children are not. Some writer moms might be able to do both well. I could not.

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. -John Whitehead

It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.
-Frederick Douglass

Boy, noun: a noise with dirt on it. - Not Your Average Dictionary

Monday, May 18, 2009

the view from our backyard

This is the view from our backyard - well, almost! It's beautiful Lake Crescent, just a mile down the road from our house. We live on the edge of Olympic National Park and had such incredible weather this weekend, I thought you might enjoy a bit of Washington scenery. Glacier-fed, this lake is up to 900 feet deep in places and is very cold even in summer. Both our boys were baptized in this lake, as was Randy. Me, not being the hardy type, opted for the big, warm baptistry at a Baptist church in Lexington, Kentucky at age 12.

So now we're off to busy week with writing at the forefront as I do a little extreme manuscript makeover. Meanwhile, Paul has been fiddling his heart out. He packed up his fiddle and went down to the old general store near here on Saturday, opened his violin case as he heard street musicians in Seattle do, and made a whopping $3.00 in about 30 minutes playing a few tunes. Wyatt went with him as his "manager," he said. Not many people came by but he was thrilled. He can't wait to do it again but I don't know if our rural road can handle it. He's only 9, after all.

I finished a fascinating historical novel by Ann Rinaldi this weekend entitled, Or Give Me Death, about the family of Patrick Henry, the famous statesman. The author said it was the hardest book she'd ever written because, unlike George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Henry left no paper trail. We do know that his wife, Sarah, had a mental breakdown and had to be confined to the cellar of their home in a strait dress where a slave woman cared for her. Legend has it that he would go down every day and feed her. By all accounts, Henry was a wonderful father to his 17 (yes, seventeen!) children. The author wove an interesting thread into the novel by suggesting Henry's wife, Sarah, begged him to give her her freedom or let her die. She did die in February of 1775 at the age of thirty-seven, just weeks before her husband gave his famous "liberty or death" speech. A very moving, intense novel.

On a lighter note, happy Monday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

friday's frontier fact

Ever wonder what those first Kentucky settlers read on long winter nights by the fire? I do know some burned double-wick candles to better see by. Deep in the wilderness, the standard reading fare, if you could read at all, included the Bible, history books, Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver's Travels. Daniel Boone had a fondness for all of the above, and even read the latter to his hunting cronies around the fire. He even christened a Kentucky creek, "Lulbegrud," after a town in Swift's book.

The Virginia Gazette was also circulated through the settlements and this newspaper provided more than the goings-on in England and the Colonies, runaway slaves, horses for sale, etc. I had fun researching some very old editions bound to have made those first settlers cackle (or tsk in dismay). Here are two very common notices printed in the Virginia Gazette, February 4, 1779:

Whereas my Wife Lucy hath behaved in a very unfriendly manner to me, this is to forewarn all Persons from trusting her on my Account, as I will not pay any Debts she may contract, I intend to leave the Colony soon, and return in a few months. James Atherton

Poor James. Suffice it to say, I couldn't find a single notice by a wife complaining about her wayward husband! Here's another:

Whereas my Wife Delphia hath been a naughty, furious Housewife for some Years past, and hath invented, and reported certain slanders, to the Prejudice of my Character, and have often threatened to ruin me...

Wonder what old Boone thought when reading that?

Only 11 more Friday's till The Frontiersman's Daughter is on shelves.
Happy Friday!

Boone: A Biography, Robert Morgan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the happy sandwich

Back in the days when I loved to cook, as my husband says, we discovered this sandwich. Since everyone in our family loves it I call it the happy sandwich. Here's hoping it makes you happy, too:

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Sherry
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound jumbo shrimp (peeled and cleaned)
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
4 slices sourdough bread
1 avocado
4 slices tomato
2 lettuce leaves

Combine 1/2 teaspoon garlic, oil, Sherry, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp and shake to coat evenly. Marinate 15 minutes.
Fry bacon till crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Combine mayo with 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and chipotle: set aside.
Drain shrimp and saute' in hot skillet over high heat till slightly pink and opaque, 2-3 minutes. You can also broil or grill shrimp.
Toast bread. Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon chipotle mayonnaise. Divide shrimp between 2 slices. Top with avocado, then bacon slices. Place 2 tomato slices on top of bacon and top with lettuce. Cover with remaining bread slices. Use toothpicks to hold sandwiches together. Cut in half and serve.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

books, blog posts, and delete buttons

See these sweet book charms? They're all that remain of my blog post of yesterday. Bobbi and Lisa, I hope you read my replies to your great comments before my computer ate that particular post! Operator error on my part, I'm sure! Sometimes that delete key is a little too handy. But at least the picture remains. I've often thought how wonderful it would be to write and be computer savvy. Now you know which I am and which I'm not!

Computers, when they work, are wonderful inventions but I still love plain old paper and ink. And handwritten notes or letters. And journals. I'd love to know if you currently keep a journal or if you've kept one in the past. Some people keep journals for their kids which I did do in the boy's early years. Now I keep a writing journal. Some folks keep Christmas Journals which I think really add to the holiday spirit. Spiritual journals filled with Scripture and what God is teaching you are always meaningful, especially in hindsight. My mom always says that if you are doubting God's care of you, look back at how He has met your needs in the past, then you can trust Him with your future.

Stay tuned for a great spring recipe tomorrow and then Friday's frontier fact. Hope you have some good spring reading handy. I do!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

the cat in the hat

Here is our latest family member - Domino. Paul is holding her here and he loves her. She's black with a little white on her chest. She tends to look like a black spot on camera so he snuck her in this hat so you could see her better. Wyatt keeps calling her "Oreo" but to Wyatt everything is food-related so no surprise there. Randy forgets and calls her "Callie" which was our poor deceased cat's name. But Domino doesn't seem to care and comes running no matter what she's called:)

Things are really heating up book-wise. As publication day draws near, I am busy addressing book cards and bookmarks and mailing them out to Kentucky, California, Kansas, Georgia, Ohio and other parts. I even have a cousin in Russia and an old high school friend living in London so off they go across the pond, so to speak. If you've pre-ordered my book, I thank you from the bottom of my very grateful heart!

I'm sad that my granny isn't here to hold a copy in her hands as she prayed for my writing for so long and passed away before anything happened. But the book is dedicated to her. I like to think she'd have loved the story. Hope you do, too!

Before I sign off I just want to say that if you want a spring treat, please go to my friend Lisa's blog called Life With 4. She's created a wonderful list of things she loves about spring with some great photographs. A great reminder of God's many blessings! Just scroll down toward the bottom of this page and click on Lisa's photograph and you'll see a link to get there. She's my first follower and I'm so glad she is!

Friday, May 8, 2009

friday's frontier facts

Here are our Colonial sisters, many of whom left the east to come into Kentucky in the latter 18th-century. I like this picture because the dress is authentic. Fabrics were primarily linen and wool and the straw hats shown were popular at the time. There's only one thing in error here - these dresses are quite modest. Most bodices were very low-cut even by today's standards. Kerchiefs were common and helped retain some sense of modesty.

I like this next lady as she's wearing a very common cape of the day in the color of the day - a bright scarlet red. No hiding here! She's also wearing a common cap which is not flattering in the least, I'm afraid. I much prefer the straw hat at her side.On the Kentucky frontier a woman preferred a sunbonnet "made without pasteboard" so the brim was limp. She wore a linsey skirt and a smock like Lael is wearing on the cover of the book. Most of the time women went barefoot, at least in warm weather. Her children often went naked, as clothing was so scarce. Later on, spinning wheels and looms helped clothe these first pioneers. If a woman had a "good" dress it was saved for her wedding or to wear on the Sabbath.

Once a woodsman came home after an extended hunt in late 18th-century Kentucky and found his wife at work in the garden with her hair down. He was mightily offended and called her a "proud woman" and refused to go into the cabin. Needless to say, women wore their hair up and not down as Lael is doing on my book cover. But there's a reason her hair is down. I won't tell you why - you'll just have to read the book!

Only 12 more Fridays till The Frontiersman's Daughter is released. Happy Friday!

Frontier Living, Edwin Tunis
The Pioneers/The Draper Manuscripts

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

lemon trees

I thought I'd best give a Spain update. My brother and his family live in Granada and right now in their garden the roses are blooming and I counted one lemon on their lemon tree. Considering they've not had grass in the places they've lived the last 20 years, this is sort of like Eden. Granada is the historic home of the Moors and Spanish Gypsy's, sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and is only 30 minutes from the Mediterranean Coast. Needless to say, they are loving Spain. I love imagining flying over there!

Their VISAS were recently approved and Chris flies back to the US to pick them up in a few days. He's being certified to open an English language school and has one student already - their landlord who isn't a Christian. Christianity is regarded as a cult. So the term "missionary" is not popular there or anywhere, really. Prayers for them are always appreciated.

If you want to check out their lemon tree and new home and ministry, please go to

Monday, May 4, 2009


Have you ever prayed the "growth" prayer? It's about as dangerous as praying for patience! It's a bold prayer. I think of the Psalm that says, "You made me bold with strength in my soul." (138:3) Think of all the bold Biblical characters like Joshua, David, Paul, John. The Lord must love them because He filled a book with them.

Sometimes I'm sad when I look at my sons and remember how sweet it was to hold them or collect all those baby teeth. But then I think how boring it would be to still be doing that 12 years later. Now I'm passing out allowance and cooking for a crowd. That's the great thing about kids - they're always changing. Sometimes they get up in the morning and they look different to me. They've grown in the night! When I left for Oregon a couple of weeks ago, Wyatt was shorter than I was and when I returned he was exactly 5'6. Now he's about to pass me. Must be all those garlic cheese grits!

I think God is pleased, maybe even delighted, when we want to grow. Sometimes I think He lets us get so bored and dissatisfied with ourselves that we get bold enough to pray the growth prayer. I did this three years ago and look what happened! I think I had to get desperate enough to be willing to endure what those extra inches would require of me. I bought this little rock with that magic word on it and set it on top of my manuscript. Every time I see it I am reminded of my prayer and how it was answered. And how much it hurt! Life is not boring. Every day brings a new hurdle. When I feel overwhelmed I thank Him for the challenges, knowing He's right there with me.

We grow old. We grow tired. We grow rich or poor or wise. I like the spiritual kind of growth. Maybe you're in a spring-like season of new growth. It may be wonderful or uncomfortable but He goes with you. Growth is good.

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.
-Andre Gide, 1869-1951

Sunday, May 3, 2009

book baskets and other necessities

I think I've found a creative way to store books - in baskets! I love these braided/rag baskets but the willow baskets are nice, too. Much better than stacks of books like I've been doing. I may not have bookshelves but I have book baskets! They go with the quilts on the walls and all that Kentuckiana stuff. Come to think of it, a book basket would be a wonderful gift for someone - just tuck a pretty bookmark in and maybe some tea or coffee along with your favorite books. Looking at my baskets (there are more you can't see!), I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Beecher:

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
-Henry Ward Beecher 1813-1887

It was a bit of a wild weekend. Yesterday was Derby Day and we actually attended a surprise birthday party for a former female jockey. She lives here now but used to gallop at Pimlico and other tracks. The party was actually in - surprise! - a big horse barn. There are some interesting people hiding out in the Washington woods. After that we went and picked up our latest four-legged friend - a little black kitty with a tiny patch of white on her chest. The boys can't decide what to name her. If you have any cat names we'd sure love to hear them. I feel very uncreative in that area.

I am really missing the creative side of writing.For the moment I am deep in July of 1779 on book 3 and taking a brief hiatus from book 2 till I figure out what I need to do for revisions. I never realized how many times you may have to revise a book before it becomes a book. Writing was all play to me till I learned this secret. I actually believed that when a writer submitted a book that it went to the printer's with hardly a hiccup in between!

Hope your weekend was a good one. I sure enjoy hearing from my readers. Thank you to those who want bookmarks and postcards! I can't wait to send them out very soon!

Friday, May 1, 2009

friday's frontier facts

If you were a settler on the Kentucky frontier in 1777, you needed a great deal of common sense and stamina mixed with a tremendous amount of courage. The worst brand a man could have in this time period, per my research, was that of a coward. Laziness was also condemned. Men were run out of the frontier settlements for both. It helped if you were quick on your feet and could reload your rifle on the run. Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were among the few who could. Looks like Boone has blue running shoes on here. They were, in fact, moccasins as he dressed like an Indian much of the time. He learned to fight like an Indian, too, which helped in the defense of Kentucky. But I digress! Can you tell this is a favorite topic of mine?

Kentuckians had very colorful, formidable enemies in the woods, primarily the Shawnee and Cherokee. The Shawnee are my personal favorite as their language is so melodic and they had some stellar orators and statesmen among them. There are records of white officials being in awe of their eloquence and intelligence. So much for the ignorant savage!

Kentucky boasts some awesome tales of settlers vanishing in the woods never to be seen again. The two most dangerous occupations in frontier Kentucky were surveying and salt-making. The Indian shown here is a fair representation of what awaited those who chose to live in the territory George Rogers Clark described this way in 1775: "A richer and more beautiful country than this, I believe has never been seen in America yet."

Only 14 more Fridays till The Frontiersman's Daughter is released. If you're wanting a wonderful frontier novel in the interim, I highly recommend James Alexander Thom's Follow the River and Long Knife. There isn't a lot of frontier fiction like it on the market today except for J.M. Hochstetler's very well-written,The American Patriot Series. If you can recommend any good books of this sort that I've overlooked I'd love to add them to my list.

Happy Friday!

Kentucky Ancestors, Volume 44, No.1
Frontier Living, Edwin Tunis