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Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Life Imitates Fiction

REMINDER: This is your last chance to leave a comment (each one counts separately) for a chance to win one of my books or A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer or The Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis.

CHECK OUT for an interview and book giveaway about my next release, Prodigal Patriot.

I just finished reading U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton. In addition to solving her PI mystery, heroine Kinsey Millhone has to come to grips with a grandmother she thought had rejected her when her parents died.

Interesting. Kinsey is a complex character that has sustained the mystery series from A to U so far. But, like most mysteries, nothing I expected to experience in real life.

Enter email from a cousin I have never met. One I didn't even know existed. If I'm understanding her email correctly, she's my father's first cousin.

Forty years ago, I spent a summer with my my father's second family and met his sister's family. I know my aunt's first name: Juanita. That's it. Not her married name, not her children. I don't recall meeting any of the rest of the family, although I might have.

Now this total stranger invades my email box and shares bits of family history that confirms our relationship.

She also told me one piece of news that I didn't know: my father died a few years ago. (She didn't realize I didn't know) I've lost both parents in the space of four months.

I'm not sure how I feel. At odds and ends. This poem by my good friend Roberta Brosius sums it up well:


He’s gone now—
Though he died to me
Decades ago,
And I mourned what might have been.
Today I rue what never will be.

© 2003 Roberta Tucker Brosius

Good news: My oldest granddaughter Savannah was baptized this morning! She received Christ as her Savior a couple of years ago, but now she has made it public. Praise the Lord!

Monday, June 21, 2010


... And the living ain't easy, all apologies to George Gershwin (and Fantasia, who reinterpreted the song!). At least if you don't like heat. But it's mid morning and I'm comfortable in my snug little study. I will let the the sweat-soaked afternoon take care of itself.

Reminder: Increase your chances to win a copy of The Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis, A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer, as well as any one of my books by leaving a comment on each post in the month of June.

The heat zaps me of any creative thought. Father's Day was yesterday. But I rarely saw my father, so it's always a touchy subject and not a day for celebration.

But yesterday was different.

Jaran invited me to join them for breakfast. I love seeing my son as "Dad." I love the ad for Verizon that says "Today you went from Dude to Dad" and shows the man taking the picture of his newborn son. A profound effect on any man. I've eaten with the family twice this week. What a delight to hear Jordan say "Dadadad." Even more surprising, when he called out "Mom!" she echoed him. (Forget Gramma if she wants to call me "mom" too!) When we ate with Shelley's mother, Jordan looked so confused. She pointed to her parents, and then to me, and then to "Omi." Omi I know and Gramma I know, but I never see you together! I wondered if yesterday was the start of understanding that I am her Dad's "mom" the way Shelley is her mother.

Then a friend invited me to go see a movie. We chose "Date Night" at the bargain theater. Too heavy on sexual references (warning), but hilarious and sweet and heartwarming about a couple falling in love again.

So a day I generally let slide by unnoticed went well, thanks to my Father above.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I have been in my new house for 2 weeks now. Hurray! Things are slowly coming together.

With the house, I decided to celebrate Oklahoma. I have chosen to live here, and I want things to remind me to enjoy all that Oklahoma has to offer.

That's why I've included the art work today. When it came to ordering address labels and business cards, I looked for things that made me think Oklahoma.

Pictured Left Above: "Bison at Sunrise," an address
label availble through Colorful Images.(No, I don't know
Paige, I'm sure she's an imaginary person. It came with
the advertising.) Buffaloes make me think of the days
when herds of thousands roamed Amerca's plains, and
Oklahoma was the last place in this country with open
plains. One of my favorite places in Oklahoma is the
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve; the name is
derived from "woods, lands, rocks." Bison range free
in the preserve. We took Mom there pre-Jolene, so
Jaran would have been younger than four. We still
have a toy buffalo he purchased on that trip. This
label reminds not only of Oklahoma's heritage, but
happy memories from my own past.
Pictured Right Above: This image is available from
Vista Print. Oklahoma is also Tornado Alley Central;
this year we've already had two major tornados.
My new house comes complete with a storm shelter,
and Jaran's housewarming gift was a weather channel
radio. I tell him I survived tornado alerts before
he was born! There is something majestic about
nature's wrath crashing overhead. We had a
knock-down drag-out fight outdoors this morning.
Unusual because storms usually arrive in the early
evening. Now that I have taken steps to celebrate
Oklahoma, I may turn my study in my Colorado
mountain retreat ...
A reminder: Leave comments on any or all blogs this month for an opportunity to win one of my books (see sidebar for details). Already I know I'll be giving away two books! Also in the hopper this month are The Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis and A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer.
A final note of rejoicing for another book contract, Plainsong, the sequel to Romanian Rhapsody, my first ever book.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moving Woes

Yesterday I resisted whining about the problems I've had moving. Today I've had it. (So, no, I'm not always perky!) I know these are minor things, but do they all have to cause problems when moving?!

PROJECT: New phone line. PROBLEM: Phone line was disconnected twice before we resolved the problem. Without phone service for 3 days.

PROJECT: Get a disposable cell phone until land line was established. PROBLEM: The helpful sales person neglected to activate the phone. 10 P.M. on 2nd night of moving I'm running down to the local convenience store to use their phone.

PROJECT: Get appliances for house. PROBLEM ONE: Promised next day service turned into next week service. PROBLEM TWO: Refrigerator won't fit through doors. PROBLEM THREE: Three phone calls later, no answer in sight yet. No refrigerator.

PROJECT: Wash the clothes that piled up during the move. PROBLEM: After drying one load just fine, dryer won't even turn on for second load.

PROJECT: Get trash bins. PROBLEM: My own shortsightenedness ... bins are by side of house where I never go. And it took two phone calls to get that information.

PROJECT: Get address labels for my new address. PROBLEM: Labels lost in delivery.

PROJECT: Moved on a summer holiday weekend and it was Oklahoma-hot. PROBLEM: Air conditioning wasn't working.

And those are only the major nuisances ... I haven't mentioned the overhead light going out in the bedroom (the one place I really need it), the unassembled bunk beds, the ...

Feel free to share your moving horror stories!

And yes, you may win a book if you leave a comment on this pitiful post.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Granddaughters are Precious

Reminder: Leave a comment on any (or all) posts in June for a chance to win one of my books, 1 copy of A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer, and 2 copies of Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis. See side bar for details.

Moving. Ugh. If I never have to move again before I move into a nursing home or whatever, that will be too soon. I won't bore you with details. I am here! In my own beautiful, beloved home!

Jaran brought all three girls to visit on Friday. Each one reacted in her own unique style.

Savannah (14) bounced from room to room ending in the back bedroom (a converted garage). She announced, "This is my room." (I've love to have her! She's welcome to it. When I finally get the storage boxes unpacked ...)

Jordan (18 months this week) made her presence known next. She zipped through all the boxes and mess and found the one thing that interested her ... a big blue ball I had purchased for her some time ago. I couldn't have found it, but she did. She claimed it as her own and didn't want to give it back upon leaving. I told her she could play with it again the next time she came to visit.

Shannon (almost 11) looked through all the house without making a comment. But she was the only one who said, before they left, "I like the house."

Three precious girls. I look forward to more of their company.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interview with Susan Page Davis


Description: Can the shy gunsmith and the widowed storekeeper find love when everything around them is in an uproar? Hiram Dooley has problems—women problems! His sister’s about to leave him to get married (if Sheriff Ethan Chapman ever proposes); his sister-in-law, Rose, thinks Hiram should marry her, since they’re both widowed; and the woman he truly loves, Libby Adams, is blind to his regard. The schoolmarm has a different problem—a man claiming to be her uncle came to Fergus. . .and then disappeared. Did her father kill him? Can the Ladies’ Shooting Club once again ride to the rescue?

It is my distinct pleasure to have my good friend, soul mate, critique partner, and all-round great writer Susan Page Davis as my guest. Please join me in welcoming her to my blog.

And as an added bonus, Susan will give away two copies of Gunsmith’s Gallantry during June! Leave a comment(s) for your chance(s) to win a copy of her book.

1. Gunsmith’s Gallantry is your 30th book in print. In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?
Ouch. You pitch them right over the plate, don’t you? Personally, I spend a lot more time at my desk now, and a lot less time outside. I have turned down a lot of activities because writing novels is now my job. As a writer, I hope I’ve improved over the last 10 years. It’s changed my perspective on success, work, ministry, competence, and many other things. Writing is still work. There’s no substitute for research and rewriting.

2. Gunsmith’s Gallantry is the second book in the Ladies Shooting Club series. As the ads have said, “The ladies of Fergus fight back.” Where did you get the idea for the series?
I wanted to write about a group of women who supported each other but angered their menfolk because of their independence and the way they stepped outside traditional roles.

3. What’s next for the folks of Fergus?
In this book, Poor Hiram has to deal with several women in his life—something he’d rather not do. And what’s buried behind Cy Fennel’s barn, anyway? In book 3, one of the reformed saloon girls, Vashti Edwards, will seek employment as a stagecoach driver.

4. What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
Getting letters and emails from readers who love my characters, and hearing how they were touched by my stories.

5. You have written historical romance, contemporary romance, cozy mystery, and romantic suspense. What’s your favorite genre? Why?
I think historical suspense has it all. The Ladies’ Shooting Club series has some of that, as does my July book, The Crimson Cipher. I like writing romance and history and suspense. Why not in one book?

6. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
After this, my next release is The Crimson Cipher, set in 1915, and then a fun novella collection called Christmas Mail Order Brides, written with friends Vickie McDonough, Carrie Turansky, and Therese Stengel. Look for that one in September.
My Website is at . Thanks for having me here, Darlene!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


NEW MONTH'S DRAWINGS: Leave a comment on any or all blog posts this month for your chance to win one of my books or A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer. New to the list this month: The 365 Day Fun Bible Fact Book. Remember, one person out of every fifteen comments will receive a copy of one of my books. Check the sidebar for details.

Winners of books in May: Julie Jarnagin; Cathy Shouse; and Terry Palmer. Will Rbooth43 please identify herself to me?

Books to bring to your attention this month:

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House, ISBN: 978-0-7642-0755-6)
I once gave a writing prompt for my writers group to come up with a couple with diametrically opposed occupations/world views. Think environmentalist and big oil. It's one way to look at the conflict essential for any good romance.

Karen Witemeyer starts with that premise in her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride. Hannah Richards is a dressmaker who believes beauty is God's gift to us. When she sets up shop in Coventry, Texas, she crosses swords with Jericho "J.T." Tucker, a livery owner who believes fashion=vanity: a sin. When Hannah's first customer is Jericho's sister, the reader knows the going will be rough for the couple before they find true love.

I couldn't wait to read Hannah and Jericho's story as soon as I read the opening lines:

"Red? Have you no shame, Auntie Vic? You can't be buried in a scarlet gown."
"It's cerise, Nan."

Buried in a red dress? That would raise eyebrows even today. Subtleties of red, scarlet, cerise? I don't know them--but Hannah does. I couldn't wait to know more.

Hannah not only makes beautiful clothes, but she also practices an exercise regimen that would shame many of us today. The author weaves the exercises effortlessly into the time period (1881) and into the story.

Check out Karen's story. You'll find it's tailor-made for you.

A Hopeful heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Bethany House, ISBN: 978-0-7642-0509-5)
What would you do if you wanted to marry a rancher but didn’t know a cow from a bull? Why, attend Mrs. Wyatt’s Herdsman School, of course.

Not that Tressa Neill was given a choice. When her only family refused to give her a dowry, they sent her west to Barnett, Kansas, instead. Local rancher Abel Samms wants nothing to do with an eastern girl. He’s already had his heart broken once and for now, he has his hands full finding the rustlers who keep stealing his cattle to the point where he can’t afford to continue ranching.

Kim Sawyer brings her trademark heartwarming style to this entertaining tail. As a city girl myself, I loved the glimpse into how to brand a calf, milk a cow, and assist at a birthing. Each student at the school has a unique personality. A twist at the end regarding the “bad guy” caught me totally by surprise—something that rarely happens any more.

Check out A Hopeful Heart for a well-told prairie romance with its own unique flavor.