Wednesday, June 30, 2010


These colonial hats make me smile so thought I'd share with you. Straw hats just say summer to me. And since ours hasn't started yet, I keep dreaming:) Of course I'm hearing from friends around the country that summer is in full swing. Author friend Sarah Sundin enjoyed a 101 degree day in California yesterday at the pool. Michelle and Regina say it's 90-something in Kentucky. Here it's a cool 53 and raining ~ again. I've always had a hard time with Washington weather (though it is wonderful for writing). It just plain makes me blue. So thought I'd post about praise.

I've been reading Streams in the Desert for my devotional each morning and it seems to be a perfect fit for my life right now. Here's a portion of today's reading:

Nothing pleases the Lord as much as praise. There is no greater evidence of faith than the virtue of genuine thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough? Are you thanking Him for the countless blessings He has bestowed on you? Are you boldly praising Him even for the trials in your life, which are actually blessings in disguise? And have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come?

Hmmm...I'm so thankful for healthy kids, a weekend away, a wedding this Saturday, the 4th of July, a stack of books to read, grilling hot dogs (even in the rain), blog buddies, a clean house, roses in bloom... Really, the list is endless when you think about it! But I have a harder time giving praise for the stomach bug last week, the birthday I forgot, credit card fraud that resulted in several expensive plane trips charged to our account, the picture that fell off the wall and shattered, the unexpected death of a friend... And then there are the praises for answers yet to come: future books, conversions of dear friends or loved ones, Christian mates for my children, safety, good health, employment, etc.

Can you praise Him for a current blessing, a trial, and a future answer yet to come? It's kind of a fun exercise and flips your perspective on the trials that come into our lives. I'm going to try to praise Him more and memorize this verse, among others. If you have a favorite praise verse, I'll add it to my list.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! ~Psalm 57:7

Monday, June 28, 2010


"On this route you traverse a considerable wood, and after having passed over two hills, you discover a country house of an elegant and majestic simplicity."
~J.P. Brissot de Warville upon visiting Mt. Vernon in 1788

As a stay-at-home, homeschooling, mom and author, I don't get away very often. Last year I took some book trips which I loved. This year I haven't been away but have been feeling the need. And I found the perfect place for my history-loving heart. Given my infatuation with George Washington and the 18th-century, I've been wishing I could fly to Virginia and spend a couple of days at Mount Vernon. So I did ~ sort of:)

If you look at the top picture closely, you'll swear Virginia has sprouted some huge snow-covered mountains and the Potomac River has turned into the sea. Alas, this isn't the south but Washington state's amazing attempt at recreating George Washington's beloved homeplace. It worked very well for this writer:)

This beautiful inn is only about 45 minutes from our house. The owners, Dan and Janet Abbot, are admirers of Washington and have dedicated each room - um, bedchamber - to a certain phase of his public or personal life. I was happily ensconced in the "Surveyor's Retreat." Washington was a surveyor for the Virginia colony in his younger days before he married Martha.

There were so many things I loved about the place ~ blackberry french toast, fresh fruit parfaits, egg souffles, incredible coffee. Lavender fields lining the entrance. A mountain and water view. The cupola and weather vane. A library filled with books, old and new, on 18th-century life and historical figures. A circular staircase, sun-drenched porticos, a chess set of Patriot and British soldiers... Everything was so graceful and peaceful and lovely.

I've been wanting to iron out a few wrinkles in The Colonel's Lady before my deadline next month. Nothing like a change of scene to do it. Thanks to the inn's library, I found just what I needed to make the story sing. If you ever visit in future, you'll find Morrow and Lael there on the shelf:) I returned home inspired and thankful (but wishing I could stay at the George Washington Inn forever).

Many places provide inspiration. You don't need a trip to find it. Sometimes it's as simple as a favorite chair by a sunny window in your home. Or a walk in the woods or your garden. God is so good to give us green pastures and still waters. Have you had any lately or felt the need for some? If so, where would you go?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Seeker winner...

Today's winner for a new, signed copy of The Seeker is...


Congratulations to Regina and a big thank you to Ann for providing a copy of her latest release. For those of you who would still like a chance to win yet another copy, please stop by Ann's blog and comment there. She has some great giveaways going on and always picks interesting topics to blog about.

See you Monday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

giveaway friday!

Our giveaway winner for a signed copy of Courting Morrow Little this week is...


If you'll confirm ( your snail mail address, I'll mail the book right out. Happy reading to you!

I'll announce the winner of The Seeker by Ann H. Gabhart this Sunday. Till then I'll be away from home on a little prayer/writing/brainstorming retreat. Can't wait to tell you about it when we meet again!

Bless you all!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

morrow's world

Have you ever given any thought as to what you would have been doing as a woman in the 18th-century? Most women were stay-at-home moms even then - homeschooling their children and taking care of their often big families. Few women owned businesses. For the most part, colonial law prevented women from being independent though they were able to work as seamstresses and own millinery shops. There were quite a few poets, artists, and writers among them but they used male pseudonyms for the most part or stayed anonymous.

I made Morrow a seamstress in Courting Morrow Little because it suited her personality just as much as Lael was unsuited to be a teacher in The Frontiersman's Daughter. Elfreth's Alley actually exists in Philadelphia and is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in America. I thought it was a charming place for Aunt Etta's millinery or mantua (gown-making) shoppe. Benjamin Franklin lived there as well but no one really knows which house was his. There's the sweetest little courtyard along the alley and one house has a spinning balcony, a tiny porch on the second floor where, in pleasant days, the lady of the house set her spinning wheel.

Some fun facts about milliners/mantua-makers:
~Milliners sometimes used bread to rub out stains in clothing
~Ready-made clothing was not considered fashionable
~Red dye was the most expensive for fabrics and came from ground cochineal beetles
~To attract business, some advertised they could sew a gown in one day!
~In summer, women wore green silk half-masks to protect their skin from the sun
~Some cities had as many as fifty tailors and seamstresses

Below is a short video that shows what you'd have to endure to be in fashion back then. Wonder what our colonial sisters would think of our Levis and t-shirts and flip flops?!

Lady Dunmore Ball Gown

Sunday, June 20, 2010

surprise giveaway!

I'm so pleased to surprise you readers with a giveaway, compliments of my author friend, Ann Gabhart. This is her brand new release and it's bound to be as wildly popular as her first two bestselling Shaker novels: The Outsider and The Believer. All three of these stories are set in Kentucky's historic Shaker Village. I had the privilege of endorsing The Seeker and I think it's Ann's best novel to date.

If you'd like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment here and tell me so. I'd love to hear why you think the Amish/Shaker genre is so popular right now and why it appeals to you. I have my own ideas and will share them but wanted to ask you readers first as I always learn something! The names will go in a separate Shaker bonnet and I'll announce the winner this coming Sunday, June 26th. Then Ann will sign a hot-off-the-press copy and mail it out.

~Please join me Wednesday for another peek at Morrow's world
~On Friday I'll be drawing our second winner for a signed copy of Courting Morrow Little
~On Sunday I'll announce the winner of The Seeker

Bless you all!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

early american life

I couldn't wait to tell you about this little treasure. If you're a history lover like me, specifically early American history, this magazine is a must-see. It appeared in my mailbox this weekend, thanks to another beloved reader, and I promptly left the 21st-century and time-warped to the 18th. Since I'm currently dreaming up another story world, this provided a whirlwind of ideas and inspiration.

If you write historical fiction, this is an amazing resource. If you just want some colonial eye candy, this fits the bill, as well:) Don't let the staid covers fool you. Inside is a treasure trove of articles on historical figures, crafts, fashion, furniture, homes, customs and the like.

I must confess that I have a love-hate relationship with magazines. Some make me covetous (Southern Living) while others make me homesick (Kentucky Monthly). I actually felt convicted to discontinue the first a few years ago but subscribe to Kentucky Monthly as they review my books. I also love cooking magazines but stopped A Taste of Home and others because I don't have much time to read them - or cook! Oh, those were the days:)

Do you subscribe to or buy any favorite magazines? Or are you mostly a book lover?

Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life. ~Marcus Aurelius

Friday, June 18, 2010

things reader friends do...

Getting the mail each afternoon doesn't always feel like Christmas:) It's so refreshing when something amazing and jaw-dropping pops up (other than a bill). And something did! These beautiful address labels just arrived. The big ones are for mailing packages like books and the smaller ones are for letters, etc. One of my dear readers on the east coast gifted me with these. Bless you! She was even savvy enough to contact my publisher for permission which they gladly granted. I don't expect gifts from readers so am always humbled and surprised when they come.

You all are gifting me all the time and probably never think anything of it. Every time you buy one of my books or blog about it or post a review or take time to read and comment here is HUGE. I've been on the other side when no one commented and I had no readers. I'll never forget those days. They were discouraging and made me wonder if coming out of my writing closet was worthwhile. Now it's a true wonder to get to know you personally. Bless you for that privilege. God is so good to have brought us together!

Meanwhile, summer is in full swing and there are so many good books releasing. I'm going to be doing a double book giveaway of two signed copies of Kaye Dacus's wonderful The Ransome Trilogy soon. If you haven't read Ransome's Honor or Ransome's Crossing, you really must. They're Regency romances that deal with a very handsome, oh so honorable Royal Navy captain and the lovely Julia Witherington and other intriguing, very memorable characters. You'll go on a high seas adventure without leaving the comfort of your chair:)

Without further ado...

Our first blog giveaway winner is: runner10
The Family Fiction giveaway winner is: Becky Wheeler Guinn

If you want to join in an interesting discussion of The Frontiersman's Daughter, please pop in over at Amber's blog. Will be fun to see who shows up and what's said. Who knows? Captain Jack might even be there:)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

morrow's world

For the next few Wednesdays I thought I'd give you glimpses into Morrow's world, though these pictures, lovely as they are, fail to capture the real essence of the place. Since setting is so important to a story, I'll start with the Red River area of Kentucky. These photos give you a peek into the wild beauty of Morrow's world. Of course an author can only guess what it must have been like two hundred or so years ago. When I was a girl wandering the Kentucky hills and hollows, I used to pretend I lived back then. So it's not a wild leap for me to be there in my imagination. When I saw this picture, I immediately smelled the dry woods and felt the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. It's autumn in this picture and the woods are especially memorable then.

I have one scene in the novel where Morrow goes with a certain suitor into the mountains. For a young woman who rarely leaves the shadow of her own cabin, this is a memorable trip. It's one of my favorite chapters and contains almost no dialogue. Speaking would ruin the beauty of the moment. When you come across a beautiful sunset or feel something intensely words are unnecessary:) Imagine that!

This is a pencil-thin falls that becomes one big icicle in winter. The Red River isn't a large river but I made it large enough to pose a danger for Morrow both physically and emotionally. Another of my favorite scenes happens at the river early in the novel. But I'll not spoil it here:) There are many unusual red rock formations and natural bridges and arches in the landscape that make it especially unique. I had to cut a great deal of descriptive narrative though I enjoyed it immensely while I was writing. Praying the story is blessing you in some way or providing you with a blessed escape!

Have you ever been to Kentucky? Ever wanted to go? Some of you are Kentuckians. What do you like most about the Bluegrass state?

I'll announce our first giveaway winner this Friday. Can't wait!

Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words. ~St. Francis

It is a good plan to have a book with you in all places and at all times. If you are presently without, hurry without delay to the nearest shop and buy one of mine. ~O. Wendell Holmes

Monday, June 14, 2010

porch ponderings

The sun is finally shining - it's officially summer here! The wind is also blowing the chairs off the deck which makes me long for a calm front porch like this one:) And some sunflowers and a cat, to boot. We do have a black and white kitty called Oreo (formerly Domino). The boys couldn't make up their minds which name they liked best, so of course the edible version won out.

This is the time of year I dream of porch swings and lightning bugs and sweet tea and sunshine. Not deadlines and editing and such. It's wonderful to have a new book out, however. I've been rereading my favorite scenes in Courting Morrow Little on the run. But since this isn't a Morrow post, I won't go there:)

It was a busy, crazy weekend with a bridal shower and two fiddling/violin gigs, a fishing trip for Wyatt and Randy and church activities. Glad every weekend isn't so busy. All I want now is some iced tea with lemon and a good book to read on the porch - um, deck. This is Wyatt's first day home for the summer and the boys have already ridden their bikes to the little general store down the road while I whipped up some chicken salad, faced my laundry pile, critiqued a chapter for dear Lori B., answered email, and am now ready to edit again.

I'm about to snatch a discarded scene from CML to insert in TCL. Sound crazy? Maybe I'm the only writer who does this? I doubt it:) Those deleted scenes, or outtakes, as I think they're called in the movies, come in quite handy. I've decided they have one too many dances/frolics in TCL. But what other options do you have penned up in a fort 24/7?! Best not go there either!

I'm going to show you a little of Morrow's world later on this week with some pictures of the Red River area. And I'll pick our first giveaway winner this Friday.

I have a question for you readers:) One Facebook friend suggested I begin a quarterly newsletter (instead of or in addition to this blog). So I'm wondering which you favor? Blogs or newsletters ? Since you, the reader, are the reason I write, I'd love to know!

Friday, June 11, 2010

creative clutter

This is my life right now:) Lots of creative clutter that comes after a book's release. But you only see part of the disarray. There's more! Strangely enough, I know where everything is. My desk is actually in another room. I won't show you that! Usually I 'm quite tidy so I can only bear this for a short time. Then it's back to dusting and sorting and subduing these stacks.

Yes, that's Morrow you see there on the right. And Kaye Dacus's newest ~ Ransome's Crossing. I'm so anxious to see how William and Julia are weathering both the seas and their new marriage aboard ship:). I'm still on page 80-something in Heart's Awakening. But my real focus right now, aside from Morrow's debut, is the manuscript bottom left. Yep, that's The Colonel's Lady and I'm writing the epilogue. It's due next month but I like to turn it in a couple of days early.

This summer is off to a roaring start with Morrow in stores early. Some of you have finished the book, some are reading, some like Morrow's story more than Lael's, etc. I'm hearing all sorts of interesting things! Sorting through lots of email is always an interesting experience ~ I love hearing from readers.

You have stellar vision if you spied the box of books for the giveaway. I'll announce the first of four winners next Friday, June 18. If you have your copy or are still waiting, I'd love to know. If you're done, I'd love to know what scene or character you liked best or least! (Don't worry about spoilers or mark your post with an * to serve as a warning). Hearing what readers liked always makes an author's heart sing:) If you're tiring of Morrow, I promise to throw in some historical tidbits here and there to keep us all grounded.

On a non-bookish note, Wyatt officially ended 7th grade today! My homeschooled son survived a year of public school! More amazingly, his mom did:). Now we're off to a bridal shower, a violin recital, a fiddling jam, and who knows what else this weekend.

Bless you all!

By words the mind is winged. ~Aristophanes

I love the smell of book ink in the morning. ~Umberto Eco

Monday, June 7, 2010

little book in the big woods

At last my little book made it to the big woods! Here's a quick photo by one of my boys showing my glee:) I feel like my insides are made of confetti on release days! Morrow is even prettier in person and I was oh so delighted with the back cover. The font is even perfect, not to mention the scene portrayed! Like something straight out of The Last of the Mohicans:) But I'd best not spoil it and say more.

So much goes into a book from conception to shelf. So many hopes and dreams. So many people involved. I'm always aware of those who want to be published and are waiting on this day. I know it will happen in God's time if it's right for them the way it did for me.

My mom called bright and early Kentucky time to tell me she'd gotten hers today. The FedEx truck finally rolled in this afternoon only I almost missed it as I was picking Wyatt up from school. Not sure what they do when the author isn't home:) Anyway, I tore open the package as carefully as I could, read my editor's letter which said she hopes I am delighted with the finished product (a gross understatement), and then I proceeded to touch it and smell it and examine every tiny detail from dedication to page count. Kind of like holding that new baby, as I've said before.

Hope you've gotten yours or will soon! Thanks for sharing the moment with me. So busy. And joyful. And thankful!

He who neglects the present moment throws away all he has. ~Johann von Shiller

Life in the presence of God is life at its best. Nothing in our circumstances may change - though often things do change when we are in step with His Spirit - yet the radiance of God's love within warms, strengthens, comforts, and satisfies our deepest longings. ~Janie Seltzer

Friday, June 4, 2010

beach reads

June has always conjured up images of the beach for me. More than a few of you are headed there with some great beach reads. Wish I could join you! Guess I'll have to pretend. If I could tag along, this is what I'd stuff in my tote - She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus, and Heart's Awakening by Delia Parr. All historicals, of course:)

Hearing Courting Morrow Little is on its way to you has been so much fun! Amanda from Rhode Island just got hers today! I'm looking for the FedEx man as I haven't gotten my copy yet. Haven't seen the back cover either so that will be a surprise. Other than that, I pretty much know the book inside and out:)

Some of you have asked me to post reviews of CML. I'll give a small sampling here. One early reader said the novel is "full of romantic intensity and fascinating historical detail." RT Book Reviews said, "While there are familiar characters from Frantz's first book, this novel stands alone. The vivid descriptions will bring the landscape to life and the excellent writing will keep readers turning pages." I especially like Christianbook's review ~ "a gripping tale of survival, secrets, and spirituality...finely tuned development of fascinating characters...a breathtaking love story that doubles as an exciting history and destiny lesson!"

Since reading is such a personal, subjective experience, every review will be unique. Some of you may like TFD more than CML - or the other way around:) Not all books are created equal. It takes courage to put your heart out there as that is what publishing a book amounts to. Then you have to take the bitter with the sweet. Generally, readers are very gracious. Sometimes I'm tempted to follow in the footsteps of Francine Rivers and James Scott Bell as they don't read reviews. I like to remember what author friend Ann Gabhart said - a review is simply one person's opinion, good or bad.

My friend and fellow 18th-century fan, Carrie, is hosting me today. We'll be giving away a copy of CML or TFD if you stop by and leave a comment. If you already have them, feel free to enter to give as a gift. Thanks so much, Carrie!

Have a wonderful weekend! If Morrow arrives at your door I'd love to hear!

Remember the day's blessings; forget the day's troubles. ~Early American Proverb

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

in fine company

As a new author I'm continually learning about the publishing process and how it works. A lot of thought is given to when books release within a publishing house even a year or two ahead of schedule, at least for my publisher which is a large, traditional house. I think the turnaround time is shorter for smaller houses. Anyway, it's fun to see just who you're releasing with as there is so much variety. Since my world is made up of historicals, I always gravitate toward those. In this case, you have three Kentucky books on tap any day now. And I'm thrilled Morrow is in such fine company:)

I think Jan's cover is so lovely. I met her at the Kentucky Book Fair a few months ago. She's so easy to talk to and brings her Copper Brown series to life in wonderful ways. She won the Writing for the Soul contest a few years ago and is with Tyndale. Aside from writing, she's a nurse and lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Then you have Ann, my dear friend and mentor. Early on in my publishing journey, I wrote Ann and introduced myself as we write for the same publisher. Everyone needs a sounding block and she is such a gem! She was my first writing friend. If I have questions about the process, I go to Ann. I try not to bother her too much but she is so easygoing and patient and knowledgeable. She's been writing a long time, since childhood. And she manages to pace herself and stay active with her many grandkids and a husband who's in a gospel quartet and travels all over. All this with her bestselling Shaker books! I was thrilled when she asked me to endorse The Seeker. I practically had to stand in line as there were several other authors who wanted to do it!

Just received word this morning that Morrow has arrived in the Baker warehouse. Hope that raspberry silk gown of hers didn't get dirty:) This really is a very exciting time. Yesterday was an amazing day as I heard from my agent, my editor, and my publisher. Another blessing was finding a copy of RT Book Reviews magazine in my mailbox and stumbling upon a beautiful full page ad for Morrow in the inspirational section. Unexpected things like that mean so much. I'm so thankful. Anyway, I plan to take Keli Gwyn's advice and post a pic of me with my author copies when they arrive. If you see Morrow anywhere, I'd love to know!

Verse of the Moment: Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17