Monday, August 30, 2010

sunny monday

I love book giveaways and wish I had a book for each one of you. Today's winner for Kaye Dacus's Ransome's Honor and Ransome's Crossing is...Ashley R.! Congratulations, Ashley! May they provide you some refreshing reading hours:) The other names will roll over to this Friday when I'll host new historical author and friend, Lorna Sielstad. Her debut historical, Making Waves, really is making waves right now. If you like history, humor, and characters who feel like friends, then Lorna is the author for you!

Another friend of mine, Carrie, is hosting a double giveaway of Courting Morrow Little and Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach. So please visit her site and enter for these books if you haven't read them. Thank you, Carrie!

It's Monday morning and my Washington sky is blue:) Much to do this week as the boys start school Wednesday. Prayers appreciated for both of them, especially Paul who, after being homeschooled, will begin 5th grade. He has a terrific male teacher and his class is very small - only 9 kids. And 7 of them are girls! I am a bit melancholy about it all for some reason. But it's the first time in my parenting life I'll have a quiet house from 8 to 3 every day. Think of all the writing to be done (or so I hope)!

My parents have been visiting and we've had a wonderful time. Right now they're up on Whidbey Island for a couple of days being tourists. I've actually had some time to watch a rare movie and am so smitten by it I wanted to add the trailer here. Some of you are new to the BBC drama North & South, just as I am, and have asked me about it. So take a deep breath and watch this beautiful trailer. I need not say another word:)

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

more north & south and a giveaway

Here is a wonderfully romantic collage Kaye Dacus created and Ruth recently posted of North & South. I thought those of you who are fans would appreciate it after my last post, which was the most popular to date, thanks to the Richard Armitage fan club convening here:) After tiring of no TV, I watched episode one on my laptop, earphones and all:) Needless to say, I'm very anxious to get to the romantic scene at left here but am glad I have so much in between to look forward to!

My impressions so far... What a hero! I like my leading men somewhat intense and unpredictable and John Thornton qualifies on both counts:) And I appreciate Margaret Hale's plump-faced prettiness which is so unlike those Hollywood types. And I even like John's strong-willed mother, Mrs. Thornton, though I think she might spell trouble for the lovebirds later...

I couldn't wait to show you what Kaye did with my heroine, Eden' Lee's, hair ~ she added a bit of red and turned her into the template I'd had in mind all along. Bless you, Kaye! I really like these BBC actors as they come in period dress so they fit the bill quite nicely. Speaking of Kaye...

I'm so pleased to give away two of Kaye's historicals in her wonderful new series: Ransome's Honor and Ransome's Crossing. And no, they aren't supposed to be this small but I erred and don't have time to redo this post! I'll draw a name from my hat full of names on Monday. Bless you all!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Ballantyne Legacy

Two sisters...

One man...

When he chooses one, will the other destroy their love?

The Ballantyne Legacy

Coming in the fall, 2012

I've been so very excited to share my new series with you here! Since I just signed the official contract this past Saturday, I feel free to talk about it now. But since I don't want to give too much away, I'll just let you, my readers, ask questions about it:) So go ahead, make my day...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

she walks in beauty winner...

The winner of She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell is...

Virginia C.!

Congratulations, Virginia ~ just confirm your snail mail addy @

Please stay tuned as this Friday I'll be posting about Ransome's Honor and Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus. If you haven't read this historical series, you're in for a real treat. Her books are like rich BBC productions on paper! I'll roll all the names in my hat over to this next giveway so one of you will receive both books.

Bless you all!

Friday, August 20, 2010

movies and books and such

This has been a wonderful writing, reading, and research week for me, probably because it's been so cool and foggy and one of my sons is missing (at camp). Actually I'm a little worried that my new series is going a little too well. Writing is work and when it seems more like play I become concerned. Right now it's "all the playground" to quote Stephen King. I'm about 75 pages into this new series and it's just clipping along at such a happy pace I think I need to take a look for depth and quality before going further. I have a horror of writing a book as shallow as a puddle! Hmmm. Maybe some of you struggle with this, too. Or maybe by our 4th, 5th, or 6th books, we just get better and it's easier so my fears are unfounded?

I've been so excited to watch North and South after one of you told me about it here. Only now I can't remember which of you it was:) But thank you! I ordered it recently from Amazon and am expecting it any day. I think Randy will like it, too. As soon as I ordered it, our TV died:) Isn't that just like life? You get all ready for lemon pie and are served a lemon instead:) Time for some garage saleing! If you've seen this BBC production, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I read Ann Rinaldi's The Family Greene this week and highly recommend it. But today I'm giving away a new copy of She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell complete with a bookmark. If you'd like a chance to enter, please leave a comment here. I'll announce the winner this coming Sunday.

Special thanks to Rita Gerlach, author of Surrender the Wind, for hosting me on her wonderful blog today! If you like 18th-century settings for books, don't miss Rita's debut novel. Also heartfelt thanks to Michelle Sutton for her review of CML on the Favorite PASTimes blog. Michelle is a terrific author and friend. Nothing like being doubly blessed today:)

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

study to be quiet...

Study to be quiet. ~1 Thessalonians 4:11

We cannot go through life strong and fresh on constant express trains with ten minutes for lunch: we must have quiet hours, secret places of the Most High, times of waiting upon the Lord, when we renew our strength and learn to mount up on wings as eagles, and then come back to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint.

The best thing about this stillness is, that it gives God a chance to work. "He that is entered into His rest hath ceased from his own works, even as God did from His"; and when we cease from our thoughts, God's thoughts come into us; when we get still from our restless activity, "God worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure." ~A.B. Simpson

Monday, August 16, 2010

giftedness or just plain loving it?

Can't believe August is almost over! But there's still lots of summer to enjoy. It hit 95 degrees in Seattle over the weekend and we went to the lake to cool off. Wyatt is at church camp as of yesterday. Paul is recuperating from all the fun of fiddling for hours on end. My folks fly in from Kentucky next week. The garden is coming in nicely. So far we've had peas, potatoes, chard, beets, kale, and raspberries. Our wonderful dog, Digger, ate all the blueberries! Yep, he's the dog that didn't make it past the prologue in Courting Morrow Little:)

An interesting discussion came up at fiddle camp and I thought I'd share it with you here. With over 400 musicians there, there were plenty of differing philosophies about music and the people who make it. The subject of giftedness came up. Paul's teacher said that she believes far more in persistence than in giftedness. Progress, not perfection. She mentioned the belief that 10,000 hours (at least) are required to master something like music (or writing). Another grand champion fiddler said he doesn't believe in giftedness, only "the gift of loving something."

I'm not sure what I believe. Is there such a thing as giftedness? Or do people become gifted at something by just plain loving it and doing it so much that they reach the level of mastery that earns them the gifted title? Hmmm. I don't know how to explain those folks who come along once in a century or so ~ individuals like Mozart and Dickens and Shakespeare and Einstein. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Our winner for Melissa Burton's historical, With Purpose and Promise, is...


A man of genius is unbearable, unless he possesses at least two things besides: gratitude and purity. ~Nietzsche

Niether a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of a genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. ~Mozart

Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can. ~Owen Meredith, Earl of Lytton

Thursday, August 12, 2010

with purpose and promise

I'm so happy to have fellow Kentuckian K. Melissa Burton here today! We met at the Kentucky Book Fair last November and shared our love of Kentucky history and good books. She'd written a fine review of The Frontiersman's Daughter for Kentucky Monthly magazine. I fell in love with her book on Daniel Boone and knew she was a kindred spirit.

Now that her new historical novel, With Purpose and Promise, is releasing this month, I wanted to introduce her here. She's graciously provided a signed copy of her new book for one of you (and for me, too!). Isn't the cover beautiful? So without further adieu, here she is...

You write historical novels. What makes a historical setting more appealing to you than a contemporary one?

I like contemporaries, too, but have always been fascinated by history. It's a comforting escape for me. I don't enjoy military or political history so much as how people lived day to day. I derive great pleasure in finding out about their daily routines and struggles. I like knowing about the culture of the time and learning from it and contemplating about how I would react under the circumstances.

History is also personal. I have a great-grandfather who lost everything in the Great Depression. My husband's grandfather lost a parent and three siblings in the flu pandemic of 1918. Learning how major historical events impacted the average person is what appeals to me. That's what I enjoy reading about, so that's often what I enjoy writing about as well.

Tell us about your newest book, With Purpose and Promise.

One of my novel's settings, Kavanaugh School, was actually a well-known institution in my hometown back in the 1930's and 1940's. It was respected because its founder, Mrs. Kavanaugh, was a formidable taskmaster and excellent teacher. Even though the school was public, it operated like a private institution since it was her own home. She housed some students there and was most notable for prepping young men for the military academies. In its heyday, it was also known to be a basketball powerhouse.

I was aware of this growing up. My grandparents had met there, so it has a personal appeal to me. While in college, I chose the school as a subject for a research paper and ran across an old article that had 2 pictures from 1912. Both pictures showed five girls in middy blouses and skirts standing on the porch of the Kavanaugh school. One girl in each picture was holding a basketball.

The article accompanying the photo went on to explain how these young ladies introduced the town to a new game called basketball in the spring of 1912. They put on an exhibition at the local opera house as a means of raising money for the school library.

I was stunned! The boys got all the glory a few decades later, but it was the girls who started it all. This fascinated me. For years, I carried this little nugget of info around in my head and wondered about those young ladies, their trials and triumphs at a time before women could even vote. Yet they had the moxie to play an organized sport in public.

In my book, With Purpose and Promise, I take one of those girls and develop a story around her starting her childhood on a farm and follow her experiences on up through senior year when she plays forward on one of the teams.

How long have you been writing?

I've got journals that go back to the '80's, but professionally, I've only been writing about three years. I know that in this business, I'm still a newcomer. I'm learning and growing a little every day.

Being a Kentuckian, what do you like most about its history? Do you have a favorite historical figure or happening?

Kentucky's history is wonderful because there are so many colorful characters. Some were noble, some were not! That's what makes it fun.

My favorite is Jane Todd Crawford. In 1809, she was a patient of the esteemed Dr. Ephraim McDowell. What she thought might be twins turned out to be a massive tumor in her abdomen. Knowing any surgery was experimental, at best and with no anesthesia, she allowed Dr. McDowell to remove a 22.5 pound tumor! And by some miracle, she lived!

Dr. McDowell went on to become famous and even had a statue in the capital rotunda but I've always felt more credit should go to Jane Todd Crawford. Some day I'd love to write a book about her.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set a daily word count? How long did it take you to write With Purpose and Promise?

I'm not one of those people who operates at a set time. Rather, I set small goals. If I'm working on a novel, I may set a daily word count. (And believe me, it's not something crazy high!). If I'm writing for magazines, I might break it down into research, write, and rewrite and work a little each day.

Part of what I love about writing is the flexibility, so I'm not going to lock myself in a room from 8-5. I'm sure I could achieve more, but I wouldn't be as happy.

What are you currently reading?

Oh my! I'm one of those whacky people who juggles several books at a time. Let's see...
The Greatest Life of All: Jesus - Chuck Swindoll
The Secret of Sarah Revere - Ann Rinaldi
Courting Morrow Little - Laura Frantz (Yes! It's true! Started it 2 days ago!)
Love and Respect - Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I also have two books waiting to be reviewed and at least half a dozen books that I've purchased to help me with research for my next children's books.

You are also a reviewer for Kentucky Monthly Magazine, a teacher, and travel a great deal. How do you find balance in your very busy life?

I don't teach now. When my first book was published, I left the classroom, but I feel very much like a teacher at heart. I do visit a lot of schools, but unlike teaching, when I leave, I'm truly finished. There's no homework to grade, plans to make, meetings to attend, etc. So, in a sense, that's much easier.

Still, life can get hectic. A writer has many elements to juggle.

However, this past January, my husband had a stroke at age 39! Talk about a wake up call! That certainly puts everything in perspective. Miraculously, he is fully recovered. But now, I don't fret when I tell someone no or berate myself when I'm spending time on the couch watching TV with my husband instead of completing an article. I treasure those simple moments more and my writing successes less...which is as it should be.

Ultimately, I've had to learn to say no to some opportunities, even if they seem good. Success is not the ultimate goal anymore. Fulfillment with my husband is.

What are some of your hobbies/interests?

I love to bake! My character, Lilly Kate, is quite a baker, and that comes from personal experience. However, I'm not a snobby cook. I haven't met a cake mix I didn't like or a shortcut that I didn't think had merit.

I do love to read. I don't think you can be a good writer without first being a good reader. But I don't feel the need to finish a book simply because I started it. If a book isn't holding my interest, I let it go! It doesn't have feelings and won't know the difference, so why waste my time?

My husband and I don't have children (yet), but I love "aunting." I have two nieces and a nephew that I enjoy spoiling and making feel special. They call me "Aunt Missa" which I love!

What are you writing now?

I have articles for Kentucky Monthly and Missions Mosaic in the works, but my biggest project is the next book in the Now That's Interesting series from McClanahan Publishing. This one will be about Kentucky during the Civil War. I hope to not only have information about the battles and skirmishes but also about the daily lives of people and the tension between neighbors because loyalties were so divided. Of course, since it's for school children, I'll have to include some gruesome information about sickness, wounds, and weaponry. They love that stuff!

What do you like most about being a published author? Least?

God put the dream of writing in my heart for a reason, and I feel great satisfaction because I'm in His will. There's a peace that's indescribable. Meeting different people is also wonderful, and since I visit dozens of schools each year, I get the pleasure of meeting many more readers than some authors. I get a lot of hugs, too!

And I won't lie. The flexibility is fabulous. After ten years of teaching and having minutes to each lunch, I'm still amazed that I have a job that lets me get out and run errands between the hours of 7 and 3! Every teacher out there knows what I mean!

The least is the money. Just because you have a book or two published doesn't mean it's a lucrative job. It isn't! But there are other things more important than income.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I have a website and blog! It's You can also reach me via email at

Please leave a comment to be entered in the book drawing. Winner announced next Monday, August 16!

Monday, August 9, 2010

sunburned, tired, inspired

It's interesting how your writing is enriched by new people and places. In our case, we've been in eastern Washington for a week or so for fiddle camp. It's so hot and beautiful on the other side of those mountains. Lots of orchards and sunshine and sagebrush and wind. Lots of history:) Love this photo of an old window in a 150 year old mill we visited.

Randy and Wyatt went sightseeing while Paul and I went to the fiddle workshop. I wasn't sure how he would do playing from 9-3 each day but he loved it. Sadly, my flash wasn't working so the indoor pics of those 400 fiddlers and banjo and mandolin players didn't turn out. But oh, the sound! I'm sure there will be plenty of stringed instruments in heaven. I felt I was nearly at the door:)

I sat at the back of the classroom with pen and notebook and just wrote while thirty or so fiddlers in Paul's class played. It was heavenly. I felt positively prolific with all that period sound - old Scottish tunes like Hurlock's Reel and Seamus O'Brian and Blackberry Blossom. I've been researching book 4 but had to start writing in order to know just who I'm dealing with character-wise. Believe me, there were some surprises:)

By Friday I had a solid 14,000 words or 50 some pages and had fallen in love with yet another book. I always worry that I won't love this next story like my last but inspiration hasn't disappointed me yet. I'll be talking more about this series in another post. Yes, I said series. Any amens out there?! This is a huge leap for me but it's amazing what resources God puts in your path to enable you to do the new or impossible.

So here is my real hero, Randy, with me at the end of a very busy week. I look a little tuckered out but he's still smiling:)

I missed all of you while I was away. Now it's your turn:)

What have you been doing since we last met?

How much a dunce that has been sent to roam excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
~William Cowper (one of my favorite 18th-century poets and hymnodists:)