Wednesday, August 31, 2011

farewell to summer...

When I think of June, July, and August I don't think of books and travel and work but family and home. Here are a few candid shots from our summer...

We had a bumper crop of raspberries in our garden this year. Oh, what a joy picking a fresh bowl nearly every day...

My humble flower barrels, one of them...

Love the sound of splashing water, even in a little fountain...

Wyatt and the garden...

Paul and his fiddle...

The big hike ~ ropes are needed to scale the heights to the beach...

Paul swinging in his beach swing...

I call this the "Robinson Crusoe" shot:)

Lots of islands on the Pacific coast. Makes you want to row out to one and investigate...

My camera shy Wyatt. Pardon the shirt!

Paul took this last picture before going to sleep the final night camping...

What summer memories are most memorable for you?

Monday, August 29, 2011


If you're feeling rushed on this summery Monday, feel free to slow down and come to a cyber tea party over at Colonial Quills with MaryLu Tyndall, CJ Chase, and yours truly. We're giving away copies of our new August releases today.

Then stop in at Inkspirational Messages where Lorna hosts another giveaway of The Colonel's Lady and, with trademark Making Waves/A Great Catch humor, tells some secrets about the author;) I'm always amazed that Lorna knows me better than anybody in the publishing world and still likes me:)

We're both with Books&Such Literary Agency, write for Revell, and have the same editors. We've been conference/retreat roomies and chat regularly by phone. She's such a wonderful friend and it's an honor to be featured on her group blog.

If you've already read TCL, please enter for a friend or loved one! Or just stop by and say hello. I'll close comments here in hopes of seeing you there.

Happy Monday!

*The CQ post isn't available yet and this may have something to do with the hurricane as both webmasters are on the east coast. Prayers with you all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

two more winners...

It's another summery Friday. I'm spending the morning editing this next book while Paul swims with friends at the lake and Wyatt stays home and keeps me company:) We've been busy picking raspberries, cherries, peas, carrots, potatoes and more.

I'm so looking forward to meeting this next deadline and having some more time to read and research and play in the garden before beginning that next book. I'm dying to tell you all about it but mum's the word;)

My friend Britt blessed me with this creative picture of TCL - I laughed out loud when I saw it as I think her wording is delightful:) Wish every reader felt that way! Thanks to those of you have read the book or want to! And to those who have left kind reviews!

Here are our Friday winners...

Scarlet M. and KarenK!

Congrats, readers!

If you'll email me your snail mail addy, I'll mail those books right out.

What are you doing this last weekend in August?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

c.s. lewis says...

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.

Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, unpenetrable, irredeemable.

The alternative to love's tragedies, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.

For the only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Monday, August 22, 2011

readers, readers everywhere!

Joanna's comfy reading chair. Love that pretty cup!

My silly son, Paul, wanting a part of the action:)

Susan and Sam in South Carolina ~ I so want to join her on her porch!

Ariel in Oregon! We're practically neighbors;)

If you haven't seen your photo yet, it means I haven't received it. But I'd love to! Just email and I'll post.

Happy reading...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

happiness is...

Somehow August is slipping away and I'm wishing it back:) Pretty soon the book buzz will die down, my boys will return to school, my next deadline will be met, and the garden will need harvesting. I'm already missing sitting in my porch swing and editing and looking out on the wildflowers in our garden and woods.

I've decided happiness is not a book but a bowl of fresh raspberries or a handful of dried lavender. Sunshine. Splashing water. Whirring fans and open windows. A trip to the beach. Dinner by candlelight. And new characters swirling in your head:)

On Monday of next week (the 29th) I hope you'll join us at Colonial Quills for a cyber tea party and book giveaway with MaryLu Tyndall, C.J. Chase, and yours truly.

All this week Amber will be having a blog party at Seasons of Humility with daily giveaways of new releases. Please join Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, and others as we celebrate books.

Roxie is also at Romantic Times in the spotlight if you want to take a peek. Thanks so much, Patsy and RT staff!

As I begin yet another book, I'm in need a bit of creative input from you dear readers. This involves the 2nd novel in my upcoming series, The Ballantyne Legacy. Characters are jumping onstage that just plain aren't in the synopsis! I now have two heroes (sorry, you'll have to fall in love twice and then choose between them) and a heroine who is struggling to be christened. So...

For those handsome heroes, which 2 names do you like best?


For the lucky heroine?

Libby (Liberty)
Ellie (Eleanor)


If you could comment below, I'd love some help! Names are so very important to novels, just like titles. Feel free to be as creative and crazy as you want. This author truly values what makes a reader tick. Your idea might very well end up in print:) Bless you...

p.s. Heartfelt thanks to the creative, giving heart who fashioned these lovely cards and sent them to me snail mail ~ I treasure them and you!

Friday, August 19, 2011

more winners!

Happy Friday!

I've been getting lots of reader mail, something I love - and yes, I answer every one:) Here's a line from a reader that gave me a great chuckle:

Those of us who are avid readers can appreciate how many "frogs" one has to "kiss" to find a "prince" of a book!

Our winners today are:

Amanda and Claire R.


If you could email me at, I'll mail your signed book or non-book gifts to you.If you'd like to send a photo of TCL and you, I'm posting those as they come in and have some wonderful ones for next week.

*This just in...Seekerville, one of the most popular blogs out there, is hosting a round the clock giveaway of books today and The Colonel's Lady is on the list, along with some other great authors from Bethany House. Please stop by and say hi and enter!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Take the hardest thing in your life - the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously on that very spot. Just then He can bring your soul into blossom.

~Springs in the Valley

Monday, August 15, 2011

more readers and roxie:)

Hardback copies (love that golden glow) from Brenda in Minnesota!

Katie from way down south! Love all those books behind her!

TCL has arrived in the Netherlands! Dank je wel, Marian!

On the shelf at Tates Creek Library where I grew up in Kentucky. Bless you, Michelle!

If you'd like to send a photo to, I'd love to post!

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

within the pages

The Colonel's Lady is finally out there, creating impressions in your head and heart if you're turning those pages. Here are a few images from Roxanna's world as I imagined them while writing the novel. No doubt your own imaginings might be quite different!

This coming week is Revell's blog tour for the book and I wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to all the bloggers for taking part - and for those readers who have left reviews or emailed me to talk about the book.


I also wanted to extend heartfelt thanks to those bloggers off the tour who have hosted me or will be hosting me...

Colonial Quills
Carrie and Diana at Overcoming Through Time
Jeannie at The Character Therapist
Rel at Relz Reviewz
Jill at Jill Kemerer
Pat at AmHisBooks
Christy at Southern Sassy Things
Amber at Seasons of Humility
Renee at Steeler Girl
Naomi at Making Home Work

More to come...
In the midst of my own release, I'm so happy for author friends who have new titles out this month, too. Here's a huge huzzah for Kaye Dacus and Ransome's Quest, Sarah Sundin and Blue Skies Tomorrow, and MaryLu Tyndall and Surrender the Dawn!

In the meantime, my TBR stack is teetering and toppling but I can't do a lot of reading as my first book in The Ballantyne Legacy series is due September 1st. It's finished, of course, but still needs a bit of spit and polish:)

Once I press SEND and it's off to my editor, I have A BOOK waiting in the wings to read. It's sitting on the very top of my stack beside my writing chair. I even had the privilege of helping pick the final cover. Here's the first few lines to tempt you...

"No moon. Wispy clouds hid most of the stars. He could not have asked for a more perfect night."

Can you guess the book and author? She has a distinctive style that I love and her research is impeccable.

Care to share the first line or two of the book you have in hand right now?

Happy reading!

Friday, August 12, 2011

friday winners!

Our two winners this Friday per random. org are...

Mary in Idaho!


Sweet Peripety!

If you could email me at and tell me if you'd like a signed book or a non-book gift, along with your address, I'll mail those right out! Next drawing is Friday, August 19...

If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kindgoms of Europe, were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all.
~Sir Francis Bacon

Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


If you are a guide on a sightseeing trip, and you know that the people are longing to enjoy the beauty - even willing to risk their lives to see it - and you come upon some breathtaking ravine, then you should show it to them and urge them to enjoy it. Well, the human race does in fact crave the experience of awe and wonder. And there is no reality more breathtaking than Jesus Christ. He is not safe, but He is stunning.

God has put eternity in man's mind and filled the human heart with longing. But we know not what we long for until we see the breathtaking God... Hence, the famous prayer of Saint Augustine: "You made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you."

When our back is to the breathtaking beauty of God, we cast a shadow on the earth and fall in love with it. But it does not satisfy.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them... For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not yet visited. ~C.S. Lewis

The Dangerous Duty of Delight

by John Piper

Monday, August 8, 2011

more reader pics:)

Heather always manages to make historical hearts beat a little faster. She's included a few of my/our favorite things - a book, a cup of tea, lace doilies, and biscuits:) And we mustn't forget those gloves! Aside from hats, I miss the beauty and grace of gloves and heirloom lockets...

I love this picture of Amber, holding a pendant given to her by her grandparents, alongside Roxanna's locket. Bless you, Amber!

I think TCL looks right at home with those chocolate bars and Vegemite from Oz! Brought to us by our very own Rel:) I feel a trip to Australia coming on...

If you'd like to send a photo, I'd love to post it here. Just email me at

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What I've learned from my first 3 historicals

When I first came to publishing an editor told me to "enjoy the learning process." I was so ignorant about the CBA then. I was without an agent, didn't have internet access here in the woods, had never been to a conference, had no writing contacts, and hadn't entered any contests. I was only marginally aware that these things existed. I simply knew that if I was ever to realize my dream of publication it would take a miracle. Since then it's been quite a ride. The door did open miraculously for me and I signed with a CBA publisher, Revell/Baker Books in 2008.

Often readers and friends ask what I've learned along the way. While every author's journey is unique, I can tell you what's been true in my own experience and what the Lord is teaching me. Since He's an infinitely personal God, my lessons are specific to me and my own writing journey. My struggles may not be your struggles, nor my joys your joys. But here are a few highlights...

*All writing, as Emerson says, is a gift of God. I write the stories God places on my heart and have found that they're not standard CBA fare. But I remain true to the vision He gives me. I work as hard as I can on each novel and leave the results to Him.

*Critique partners are truly valuable. I didn't have a CP till my third published novel. Now I realize how much harder I had to work to get those first two manuscripts into publishable shape.

*Know your history. During the editorial process, questions will be asked of you regarding the history you've included in your manuscript. It's almost like a test. You need to be able to explain or document anything you've included. Oftentimes editors aren't historians but you, the author, should be able to back up your handling of history.

*Good editors are allies, not enemies. Trust them to know what works and what doesn't during edits. They're usually right. Mine are:). Often you're so close to your story you can't see it objectively.

*Bestseller lists don't tell the whole story. Big box stores like Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, as well as other accounts, don't report to these lists. Bonnet books really do sell twice as many copies, be it Shaker, Quaker, Puritan or Amish, according to a Baker Publishing Group marketing executive. Stories set in the 19th-century American west and those about mail-order brides are also said to be top sellers. Oftentimes lists are made because of an aggressive marketing campaign. But a book can become a bestseller simply by word of mouth long after release day. More importantly, many overlooked books leave a lasting impression on readers' hearts. Only God knows the good your words do.

*Reviews are a two-edged sword. And they're simply one person's opinion, as an author friend reminded me. I've seen books I love given very low ratings and books I think aren't quality writing on bestseller lists. But then, that's just my opinion;) Some authors never read reviews, others check them daily. As time goes on I think less and less about them.

*Conferences really are important. I went to my first ACFW conference the month after my first book was released. Since I didn't know a soul, I found myself tapping a lot of people on the shoulder and introducing myself, quite a feat for someone who is naturally shy. Many of these people have since become dear writing mentors and friends. The focus of the annual ACFW conference is truly Spirit-driven. You'll feel so honored and blessed to attend. It's worth every cent!

*There's a world of contests out there. I think contests are helpful for unpublished writers in terms of name recognition and agent/editor contacts, etc. But I'll never forget my shock when I learned published writers nominate themselves for awards! My publisher and readers enter my books for the Carol and Inspy Awards and I consider this an honor and blessing. But I don't pursue contests personally.

*Don't shipwreck your family or your faith for your writing dream. You may achieve short term success but long term misery. Heaven's version of success is very different than ours. Being taken captive by social media (Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, etc.) and being preoccupied with stats and lists can spell disaster to your loved ones and the Lord. Time is a gift we need to use wisely and something I'm still trying to manage well.

*Take writing breaks. This is especially important when finishing a manuscript. Put it in a drawer, tell your beloved characters goodbye for a couple of weeks and work on other things. Your perspective will be restored and your book will be better in the end.

*Be gracious. Sending handwritten thank you notes and/or flowers to your editors, agent, writing mentors and others, plus cards/gifts to readers and those who've been helpful to you is so important.

*Be thankful. Writing is play to me but publishing is hard work. When I'm tempted to return to my sane, ordinary life, I remember that there are thousands of writers who would love to take my place. I've been given a tiny sphere of influence for a short period of time and it's all about God's glory, not mine.

*Treasure your readers. Author Robin Jones Gunn brought this home to me during a retreat several months ago. She spoke about our little flock of readers and how God has entrusted them to you as an author. Be gracious and giving of yourself, your time, and your resources with the ones the Lord brings into your life. My readers have enriched my life in countless ways and I'm so thankful for each one of them!

What are you learning in your own writing journey, whether you're unpublished or published? If you're not a writer, what has God been teaching you in the areas He's called you to minister?

Please stay tuned for more reader pics and a devotional post on Wednesday...

Friday, August 5, 2011

first friday giveaway!

Happy Friday!

First, a freebie...

The Frontiersman's Daughter is available right now for free download on Kindle!!!

By now you're wishing I would cut to the chase and announce those two giveaway winner names. But I have a little confession to make. I don't like giveaways! I want to give something to everyone so it's always with a great deal of regret that I can only draw eight names this month. But I will tell you a little secret which shouldn't be a secret at all. You don't even have to buy my book and can still read it. It's a step away at your local library.

As a former library employee, I know that libraries have a budget for new books and often order them if a reader requests a particular title. Our librarians here LOVE when patrons go to the desk and put in a request. I can't tell you how many times readers have written telling me their libraries ordered my books for them and thus we connected this way. I especially love this because not only are you asking for yourself, you're benefiting others who can't buy new books.

Anyway, our first two winners for The Colonel's Lady launch, per are...

Joanna (ZachandZoe's Mom) and Cathy!!

If our winners will email me at and tell me whether they'd like a book or non-book gift, I'll mail those out. Your package will arrive with one of these lovely address labels, compliments of a dear reader:) Heartfelt thanks to you all for entering! Your names will all stay in the hat for the next drawing August 12.

I also want to thank Jeannie over at The Character Therapist for putting Roxanna and Cass on the couch, so to speak, and figuring out what makes them tick from a psychological perspective. I invite you to look at this fascinating site and enter the giveaway for a signed copy of the The Colonel's Lady there on Jeannie's blog.

Bless you!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Thanks to those of you who followed along on my Philadelphia post and asked for more pictures. We'll make the leap to Pittsburgh here, equally rich in history...

After spending a week in Philadelphia recently, I boarded the train and traveled 300 plus miles west to Pittsburgh, leaving at noon and rolling in around 8:00 pm. The scenery was so beautiful along the way! In the 18th-century this was an arduous journey of at least 3 weeks over mountains and rivers on horseback. No official stagecoach route existed till 1821.

There were a great many Amish in my car. Old order, I think, as they were speaking Dutch. They were very friendly with Englishers like me:) I can see why Amish books are so popular as their way of life is like a living snapshot into the past. The children are just beautiful!

This bronze statue epitomizes Pittsburgh's history. My hero, George Washington, came to the Forks of the Ohio in the mid-18th century and ended up "treating" or meeting with Indians like the Seneca leader here. This statue atop Mount Washington is called "Points of View" and overlooks the city and its three rivers (Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny). You can see the Mon as locals call it, to the right at Washington's back.

This is the Pittsburgh I would have loved to witness when it was just a huge arrowhead-shaped piece of land in the 18th-century and a hotly disputed territory.

Pittsburgh as it appeared in the early 19th-century. This is taken from a sketch drawn by Mrs. E.C. Gibson, wife of Jason Gibson, Esquire of the Philadelphia Bar while on her wedding tour in 1817.

Pittsburgh today. I had a hard time seeing past all the steel and concrete to the history beneath even from my perch on Mount Washington. I so longed for an unspoiled view! I'm sure Ezekial Click and Red Shirt wouldn't recognize the place!

Here's an up close view of the point at which the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet and merge into the Ohio. I was unprepared for how HUGE the rivers are and how very hilly Pittsburgh is after the flats of Philadelphia. The white outline on the green is where the original Fort Duquesne was located. In back of this was Fort Pitt which was far more immense and had a surrounding moat around and drawbridges to access it, much like a castle.

The last remaining blockhouse of Fort Pitt. To the right of this is a huge area called "The King's Garden" which once consisted of orchards and vegetable gardens that supplied the fort. Flowers were also planted and people enjoyed strolling through the gardens in the late 18th-century before the fort was dismantled. Sadly, it is no more.

I took a giant leap in time of 100 or so years from the 18th-century to the Gilded Age when I spent a day at Clayton, the home of Henry Clay Frick, one of Pittsburgh's leading industrialists. The Gilded Age is not one of my favorite periods as there was so much excess. But the Clayton estate is a lovely echo of the past and its owners were very interesting, a true rags to riches story.

The entrance to Clayton. Guests would arrive here by carriage and call on Mrs. Frick in the parlor which was quite plush and overdone. I so wanted to take pictures but none were allowed inside the house. I liked the simplicity of the butler's pantry and kitchen best. On the front portico is an immense orchestrion which is like a player piano but creates orchestra music instead with all sorts of instruments. Mr. Frick played this each evening during dinner and it was something of a Pittsburgh sensation:)

The front view of Clayton. The Fricks had another home in New York City where his renowned art collection is housed to this day.

This was the playhouse for the heir, Childs, and daughter Helen with a charming rose arbor entrance. Within is a little parlor where all the furnishings are small and Helen entertained her friends for tea. There was also a bowling alley for Childs and miniature male guests (see photo above)!

The children's entrance to Clayton. Inside this door is the most charming little sink where the children washed up after playing outside. I guess parents were as concerned about germs then as now! A sad bit of history... Clay and his wife, Adelaide, had 4 children, only two of whom survived to adulthood. Tragically, their oldest daughter swallowed a pin at age 3 which festered inside her until she died at age 6. My tour guide remarked how sad it was that a man could have all the money in the world and not be able to help his little daughter. Despite his faults as an industrialist, Clay Frick was a loving father and husband.

The greenhouse is still full of vegetables and flowers today. I believe it services the tea room just across the way which serves wonderful things. I had some chocolate custard there which was delicious!

My hostess, chauffeur, and college roommate, Heather. I think Heather took me to every museum in Pittsburgh! Here she is at home in her kitchen making her amazing fresh berry tart:) Ummm, did we have fun!

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? In terms of historic places, where would you like to go? Or where have you been that you'd recommend?