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Sunday, December 30, 2012


This has been a year of new beginnings for me personally.

Biggest of all is, of course, is the change to living in a nursing home.  I didn't expect the decline in my health, nor the two hospitalizations. But God has brought me, and it has become a shelter and a time of great blessing, to me and through me to others.

2012 has also seen a new beginning for me in nonfiction, with the first contract for a complete nonfiction book written by me: It Is Well with my Soul, a series of devotions, prayers, Bible verses and quotes on different phrases from the beloved hymn. I believe God wishes to continue and increases that calling, and am working on a nonfiction proposal.

2012 saw a new beginning of Heartsong under Harlequin's management--and my renewed association with the book club. My three books in the Maple Notch Dreams series, a continuation of Maple Notch Brides, will all be released in 2013.

In fact, next year I expect to have six books in print--the most in a single year for me.  Given the challenges 2012 has brought, I consider that an enormous blessing.

Life in the nursing home has brought a certain maturity and wallowing in spiritual gifts--a recognition and ease that spills over into my writing and thinking.

2012 is the first time one of my books has shown up on the top 20 in any category on Amazon: since River North Publishing put all six of the Texas Trails books on sale for one week at a time, both of my books have stayed below in the top 30 for two months.  For one heady day or two, I was even in the #1 spot.

This is not a new beginning, but my first-ever book, Romanian Rhapsody (2005), now for sale in a Kindle edition, continues to sell well.  It is a little gem of a book which continues to minister to people (and yes, perhaps I am suggesting that you buy it.  Join the trend.)

My son has a new job, my granddaughter Jordan started preschool for the first time, and Isaiah is growing up strong and healthy. My daughter-in-law says he sees color when he listens to music--like his Grandma (or, as he called me, "mamam.")

All in all, God has fulfilled His promise that He has more books for me to write. Now I also feel His promise that He has nonfiction books for me to write (as well as my beloved fiction). This year could have been the worst--and instead it has been the best.

Praise the Lord with me. I can't way to see what 2013 will bring.

**Last week's winner is Patti Shene.  Double (or triple) your chances for a win this week by answering one of both of these questions: What is your single most memorable moment from 2012? What is your great  hope for 2013?**

Sunday, December 23, 2012


How can I stand up before God
    and show proper respect to the high God?. . .
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
    my precious baby, to cancel my sin?
Micah 6:6-7, MSG

Following my read-through-the-Bible schedule, already past Isaiah's prophecies about Emmanuel, even past Micah's prophecy about His birth in Bethlehem, I wasn't prepared for this zing from the prophet's vision.

Would God be moved if I sacrificed my first born child to cancel my sin?

In the chapter, God is building a case against Israel, calling the earth the jury. "How have I wronged you? Remember all the things I have done for you!"

Although God is addressing the nation, Micah takes the question personally and seeks an answer. How do I show proper respect for the most high God? He proposes the sacrifice of his firstborn child to cancel his sin.

God gives him his answer--Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously. (Micah 6:8, MSG)  One of my favorite stop-and-think verses of the minor prophets.

The sacrifice of Micah's innocent, precious child would not cancel his sin.

The sacrifice of God's innocent, holy, precious child would.

Did Micah's question stab God's heart? Did He look down the road, about seven centuries later, when He did sacrifice his firstborn? Did His heart wrench when He told Micah about Bethlehem--the place that would both welcome His Son to the world, and then drown in sorrow at Herod's cruel slaughter?

God knew Christmas was coming before He put Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

He made that sacrifice--for us.

Join me in praising Him this Christmas.

**Reminder: I will give away one of my books for every five comments left on my blog. Earn an extra entry by answering the question: What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?**

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

Some of the people in the nursing home remind me of these verses from Psalms. Directionless, they wander around, asking, "Where do I go for dinner? Where should I sit? Will they bring my food to me? What should I do?" 

There are times we need to wait, as eagerly, as helplessly, for the many good things God has for us. Asking, seeking, knocking (literally opening doors to other people's rooms) until we receive an answer.

Then there are other times . . . There are those of us who are aware that lunch time is half an hour away and if we want something that's not on the menu, we only need to ask. The repetitive, unnecessary questions aggravate us, because they don't like the answers. Where should I go? Wherever you want. What should I do? Whatever you want. What color should I use for the turkey's wings? (in arts and crafts)  Whatever color pleases you. 

Does God ever say that to us?  Where should I go? "Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you." (Genesis 13:17)

What should I do? "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8)

What color should I use? "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

All three of these commands from God invite the reader to explore a wide variety of experiences (within set boundaries). There is no single way to taste and see God; no specific place to go; no specific topic to think about. 

At times, God will lead us by the hand.

At other times, He invites us to choose. 

***All book winners (except one copy of Beacon of Love) were mailed this week. Please let me know if you don't receive your expected book within a week.***

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Cozy Mysteries of Christmas Ebook Giveaway!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me--a Spyglass cozy mystery!

Hello, from Susan Page Davis.
Spyglass Lane is giving away 12 cozy mysteries in their Christian mystery e-book line, including one of the Mainely Mysteries series I wrote with my daughter Megan.
I’ve loved cozy mysteries since I was a child, and one of my favorite series then was Trixie Belden. Trixie’s adventures wowed me then, and I read them all. Later, I rediscovered them in reprints—and several new titles that had been added by the publisher—and read them to my children. There are 39 books total. Of course, some stand out in my memory. I love horses, so ones where Trixie and her friend Honey do a lot of riding were among my favorites.
The first Trixie book that was set at Christmas time was Mystery in Arizona, the sixth in the series. Trixie and her friend Honey, along with their brothers and their friend Diana, got to spend the holidays at Diana’s uncle’s ranch in Arizona. Wow! Growing up in Maine, it was hard for me to imagine either taking a trip like that or having an uncle rich enough and generous enough to finance it!
Poor Trixie, that sandy-haired kid from Sleepyside, N.Y., had to study hard during vacation, as her grades had slipped. But she still managed to help out with chores on the ranch, learn about a new-to-her culture, and solve a mystery.
I loved learning with the kids in the book about the Mexican Christmas customs. I had never been outside Maine the first time I read this book, and to me, Arizona might as well have been on another planet. As an adult, I’ve visited that gorgeous state a couple of times, and finally was able to see the beauty that Trixie saw.
If you’d like to enter the contest to win a free e-book cozy mystery, follow the instructions below. You can also enter my drawing for traditional printed books and e-books on my website at: At the end of each month, I draw several winners who can choose their prize from among all my book titles. Use the painless contest form on the left side of my home page for that drawing.

For the 12-day Spyglass Lane contest:

’Tis the season for a great whodunnit!

If you love cozies as much as we do, then you’re in for a holiday treat! From December 12 – 23, we’re giving away one cozy mystery EVERY DAY!
So light the fireplace and grab a cup of hot cocoa, because you just may have a free cozy mystery coming your way!
There are two ways to enter:
  1. Create a Pinboard entitled My 12 Cozies of Christmas. Fill it with 12 Spyglass Lane titles that either you want to read, or have already read and love! Be sure to use the #12CoziesofChristmas hashtag in the description of each pinned book cover. Leave a comment and link to your board at: One pinboard will automatically enter you in each daily drawing!
2.       Tweet about Spyglass Lane mysteries. Simply Tweet about the giveaway or one of your favorite Spyglass Lane Mysteries or authors and include the #12CoziesofChristmas hashtag along with link. You may Tweet as many times as you want each day! Only Tweets sent out the day of the giveaway will be considered for that day’s drawing.
Follow us on the Spyglass Lane blog, Twitter @SpyglassMystery or Facebook for the latest info on the 12 Cozies of Christmas giveaway! Each day, we’ll reveal which Spyglass Lane cozy mystery we’ll be giving away.
1.       Each day, we will reveal which Spyglass Lane mystery will be given away that day
2.       A “giveaway day” runs from 12AM EST to 11:59PM EST.
3.       There will be one winner per day
4.       Winners will be announced the following morning
5.       A Pinboard (see rules above) counts as one entry each day of the giveaway. Tweets (see rules above) only apply to the day in which they were originally Tweeted. For example, if you send 10 Tweets on Thursday the 13th, you will be entered 10 times in that day’s drawing. But those Tweets will not apply to the next day’s drawing.
6.       Winners will be chosen via, with Tweets and Pinboards each assigned a unique number
7.       Winners will be announced via our blog, Twitter @SpyglassMystery or Facebook. Winners will be contacted via email or social media. If a winner does not hear from Spyglass Lane, they may contact us at SpyglassLaneMysteries (at) gmail (dot) com.
8.       Winners will receive their prize in the form of a Smashwords coupon that they can redeem at Smashwords accommodates all ereader devices, though it may require the device to be directly connected to a computer for proper download.
9.       The same person may win more than once!
10.    There is no entry limit
11.    Participants are expected to play nice! Inappropriate behavior (including but not limited to foul language, bullying, trolling, arguing) will not be tolerated and Spyglass Lane reserves the right to exclude such people from these and future giveaways

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Last night at supper my computer friend said, "Today refused to stay bad." He went on to explain why--how he had expected a bad day upon awakening, but the day went well in spite of his forebodings.

Today was like that for me.

A cold front is pushing through Oklahoma today. For "cold front," as anyone with arthritis knows, read, "PAIN."  I woke up at 5 a.m. with my legs cramping. They didn't stop until noon. On a day like this, I keep my mouth closed (except for an occasional whimper from the pain) and pray that it gets better. 

The pain did get better. I added a blanket over my legs, walked a few steps, and took my noon time pain pill. Much better. The day was on its way to being "not bad."

Then one of the residents made the round of the lobby, asking each and every woman if she wanted to have her nails painted. As she painted my nails a shiny pink, I told her how I admired her generous spirit--whatever she has, she shares with those around her. 

Next, a church arrived. They stayed for a solid hour, singing hymn after hymn and then passing out Christmas cards. At the end the pianist (clearly uncomfortable behind the piano) said she was the third or fourth string pianist and she wished she didn't have to play. Of course, I offered--and so I have a new "job."

They left . . . I returned to work. One of the residents, who had missed the hymn sing, came in, and begged me to play. So I did, until my leg hurt and my throat grew sore. 

Oh, and an aide went out for me to buy the hot chocolate the kitchen was missing as well as a box of chocolates.

Supper time. For supper on this cold, cold day, we hat piping hot chili with cheese. Just my kind of meal. 

And although I haven't spoken with her, today is precious Jordan's fourth birthday. 

For a day I didn't expect to be good, God turned it into an extra special day. 

An early Christmas present from a loving Father. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


My heroine in Golden Dreams, my current WIP, Winnie Tuttle, is loaded with guilt from her family because she focuses on preparation for the 1932 Olympics instead of helping the family more. Even though she tells her coach (the hero), that like Eric Liddell in the 1924 Olympics, she feels God's pleasure when she skates.

Just this morning I realized that my current struggle mirrors what I am writing about Winnie. As I look at writing nonfiction, preparing a proposal and daring to dream that God has worthwhile for me to say, not in a fiction format.

I haven't questioned my calling like this since . . . perhaps since the early part of the millennium, when I was writing a book about the Montgomery bus boycott and wondering if it was time for me to give up this foolish writing dream. 

Eight years and twenty-six books later, I have that answer. But nonficton is a different animal, and once again I doubt.

Yesterday I reached out to friends, asking them, "Do you think I have the gifts needed to write this kind of book?" 

I didn't ask it that directly. And I got different answers. Some of them, yes! Some of them, I'm not sure. 

Then I realized . . . as much as I would like a clear, neon-sign answer, God more often asks me to act on faith. He won't give me the assurance I crave. Any more than Winnie knew if her dreams of Olympic gold were well-founded or foolishness.

But like Winnie--like Eric Liddell--I feel God's pleasure when I work on this book. Published or not, bestseller or not, I am blessed as I write it. 

***Normal giveaway schedule  this week: 1 book given away for every five comments. Please answer the following question in your comment for an additional chance to win: Do you struggle with the question, what does God want me to do?  Describe the journey a little bit. If you leave a comment and answer the question for both of today's posts, you will have four chances to win a book next week. I also must have your email address to send you notification.***

A Ranger's Trail : 99 cents Book #4 in Texas Trails series

Christmas at Barncastle Inn $1.99 A contemporary B&B in Vermont offers "Christmas Any Time"

A Woodland Christmas $1.99  An itinerant woodcarver in the Piney Woods of East Texas brings love to the people he serves.

***Normal giveaway schedule  this week: 1 book given away for every five comments. Please answer the following question in your comment for an additional chance to win: What is your favorite Christmas song?  I also must have your email address to send you notification.***

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Writing Resource

I have started a Facebook group called "Darlene's 5 Questions a Day."  In the forum, I will answer the first five questions asked on any given day. Group members are also free to respond. Readers and writers and anyone else interested in the writing life from my perspective are free to join.

Hmm, if you join the group, tell me in a comment below. I will combine all comments between this post and the one on "Something to be thankful for" in choosing winner(s) for this week.


Congratulations to Kathleen, winner of the 6-book Texas Trails giveaway from week. Other winners of one of my books are: Dana W.S., Veronica S., Kris M., Angela H., Maxie, and "Eyeballucy." If you don't hear from me, please e-mail me at

Thanksgiving at the nursing home. I didn't expect much. My son, as I expected, spent the day with his wife's extended family (which involves 2-3 meals throughout the day.) The food would be good, but not the variety I'm used to. After all, state-mandated nutritional guidelines still apply, and they wouldn't have mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls and stuffing all at the same meal. 

Was I ever wrong. On Wednesday night, I expected canned soup and cold cuts. Instead, we had oven-fried chicken with carrot cake. Ten people crowded around my table. We represented four generations: from our 87-year-old Calling bird to me to our 30-something paraplegic to her 10-year-old daughter. 

The meal was everything a Thanksgiving meal should be. There were tears, there was laughter. There were memories shared and friendship and, I dare even say, love flowed among us. We sang songs of praise. By the time the meal ended, we all knew we had been blessed.

In fact, one man said it was the best Thanksgiving he had had for ten years. For me, it was easily the best Thanksgiving since Jolene died, four and a half years ago. 

Jaran and Jordan showed up for a visit Wednesday afternoon as well. That made the day more precious than ever.

All day Thursday we basked in the memory of that meal. We knew we had seen a glimpse of what heaven might be like.

***Normal giveaway schedule resumes this week: 1 book given away for every five comments. Please answer the following question in your comment: What single thing are you the most thankful for? I also must have your email address to send you notification.**

Sunday, November 18, 2012


THIS WEEK WE ARE SPONSORING A GIVEAWAY OF THE ENTIRE TEXAS TRAILS SERIES!!!  Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win. For additional chances, (1) become a follower of my blog (2) tell us about your experience (or dreams) of life on a ranch (3) tell us one thing you learned at the website

VICKIE MCDONOUGH wrote today's post. Her book, Long Trail Home, is on sale in the Kindle store for 99 cents this week. 

           I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching the westerns of the 1960s with my Dad, and my affection for horses and cowboys has never waivered. When I was young, I read every horse book I could get my hands on, from Misty of Chincoteague to all of the thick books in the Black Stallion series. Here’s a tidbit that might make you smile. I grew up in a Christian home, so when I read Son of the Black Stallion and discovered the horse’s name was Satan, I changed it to Satin. I didn’t want to keep reading the other word over and over.
            When I was 10, my cousin decided to sell a pinto yearling colt she owned. I begged and pleaded and talked my dad into buying him for $50. My lofty dreams of training Patches remained only dreams. He had lived in a pasture his whole life and was wild—and mean—and I was a ten-year-old greenhorn who grew up in the city. We didn’t keep him long and sold him after he bit me several times. I guess my dad felt bad about that experience, because he turned around and bought me a bay gelding named Buddy Boy. He was ¾ quarter horse and ¼ thoroughbred. I loved Buddy and rode him all over my side of town. I raced cars down Riverside Dr. and rode through soybean fields that now house a high school. We lived right on the city limits, so I was able to keep Buddy just two blocks from home. I’d walked over everyday and feed and brush him.
            I had a friend named Carl who attended the same school as me, and he raised Palominos. I took Buddy over to his house, and he trained Buddy to jump. Bad mistake. Buddy turned out to be a fabulous jumper, and before we knew it, he was jumping the four-foot fences where we kept him and getting out. After he escaped several times, Dad said he’d have to go. L
            It wasn’t long afterwards, Dad—did I mention he was a softy?—bought me a roan mare named Dolly. I honestly can’t remember how long I had her, but it was a year or two. As I got older, my interests moved from horses to motorcycles. Sad but true. I knew I couldn’t drive a car until I was 16, but I could get a motorcycle license at 14, so I saved up my babysitting money and bought one.
            I never owned another horse after Dolly. I do know that the knowledge I gained from reading so many books about horses and from owning several helped me to be a better writer of western fiction. I certainly don’t know everything about horses, but God has blessed me with writer friends who have greater knowledge and more recent experience to help me when I need it. I never once dreamed as a kid that I’d grow up to become a writer. My dream was to grow up and marry a rancher, but instead, I married a sweet computer geek who’s scared spit-less of horses. My love for horses continues still, and it’s evident in the type of stories that I write—mainly western romances set in Texas. God knew way back then that owning horses would help me to become a better writer, even if I didn’t know it.

Vickie McDonough
Award-winning author of 25 books and novellas

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Weeks like this come maybe once a year.

I met all my writing goals. Exceeded a few. I also finished a complete book edit on Hidden Dreams (coming out from Harlequin/Heartsong in April 2013)--mercifully light. And I even got a lot down on two new book proposals.  All of that, along with having people time . . .

In working on my devotional book, I needed to quote from one of Jolene's poems. Those of you who have followed me from the beginning have seen this before:

Daddy I say as I run to you
I then fall in your arms
As you give me a big squeezy bear hug
I look into your face
A face of love and wonder
I shall find a place called home in your arms
You say loving and comforting words to me
Tell me that I am all right and no harm shall come
And though I close my eyes you put me
on a soft cloud and sing a lullaby
Oh Little One you shall find peace in me

I read it and wept, shaking shoulders, sobbing, tear-giving, grief.  My calling bird was in the lobby at the time, and I called her over. I've held her when she cried. Now it was her turn. She held my hand, and softly sang "Oh, how I love Jesus. . . because He first loved me." A simple human touch can mean so much.

Another morning, one of the perennial bright spots of the lobby was angry, close to tears. I asked an aide to wheel me closer. She'd had a bad run-in with an aide, and by the time we finished talking, she felt better.

Today I learned that man I've never talked to before studied classical piano for thirteen years--a lot like me. We spoke briefly about the grief of not being able to play as we used to.

Yesterday a reader/resident introduced herself to me. Her husband mentioned going to the store. I asked if he would buy me a muffin or a cupcake. . .I had promised myself one when I finished Hidden Dreams  a month ago. He brought me both.

Little things . . .a minute here, a shared concern there. . .these people are becoming family. Not just my work place.

**Cathy Shouse won this week - please contact me at about your book.**
***For every five comments (five minimum required) left, I will give away one book.***

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NO SAFE HARBOR by Elizabeth Ludwig

I thoroughly enjoyed this story about love and betrayal, faith and fear, set against the Irish factions fighting each other in 1896 New York.

No Safe Harbor is one of those books that make me as a fellow writer of historical fiction want to give up; Ludwig’s attention to detail is so well done, her knowledge of 1896 New York so intimate, that I know I can never measure up.

What makes me despair as a writer brings delight to the reader. Any book is as good as its plot, and Ludwig has created a zinger, one that pits Protestant against Catholic (Ireland), brother against sister, father against son. The characters’ faith does not come easily. And for this first of a series, I can’t wait to learn more about the residents of Miss Amelia’s boarding house.

Product Details


Over three months, I have come to know my fellow residents. Or not.

This week, I have seen different aspects to our "characters."

Our mutterer, who repeats "I want my mother, I want my mother. Where is my sister? Where is my sister?" endlessly, had visitors this week. I watched and wondered how much she understood.

Since then, her sentences have changed. "They're going to be married. I'm going." She understood and is clearly looking forward to the event.

Another lady is usually quiet--until she erupts in profanity. She was fussing at the mutterer earlier this week.

Our greeter always talks about himself. Pleasant, sweet. . .nonstop, like listening to water drip in a sink.  Until he heard the one lady speaking profanity to the mutterer. He spoke up several times, "Be gentle with Grandma!" I was so proud of him.

Our songbird adores children. When they came through on Halloween night, she hugged the babies tight, gave them handfuls of candy and announced "God told me too!" (in defiance of directions to give each child one piece. How can the activity director argue with God?)  She ate half-a-dozen packages of Skittles and sang happily for the rest of the night.

Everyone protects their things for the wanderer because she tends to pick up things that are unattached (she keeps a stash of toilet paper in her room and walks off with pens and food and almost anything.). But as I've watched her, I see a little girl. She loves anything shiny and pretty and sweet. She wants to touch and taste (and keep, if she can get away with it).

The storyteller almost always has sad stories--she's had a difficult life. She repeats the same, sad, lengthy stories and we get tired of listening. This past week, I asked, "Do you like hugs? You look like you need a hug." She came over and grabbed ahold of me as if she never wanted to let go.

And then she told me a happy story.

Everyone here is good and bad, difficultand understandable, unpleasant and yet loveable. I pray that God will continue to open my eyes and ears.


Lone Star Trail is available for free on Kindle today!

I expanded an earlier blog, A Tale of Three Fridays, and it's posted at  My articles right after one by Steven Curtis Chapman. I feel like I've arrived!

**We were one comment short of a book giveaway last week (my entries don't count). Once again a free book is up for grabs for every five entries.**

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Stop by Shannon Vannatter's blog tomorrow for an interview and a chance to win Postmark: Christmas, a 4-novella collection set in Christmas, Florida.

This makes three posts this week where you can leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books. Please answer the question: What is your favorite Christmas story?

I Am Here - Again

Joel Osteen quoted a parishioner who said, "I'm in pain, but I'm still here." I thought of what God had shown me about Abraham. When God called him to sacrifice his son, Abraham said, "Here I am." Sometimes that's all we can give--and it's enough.

This week I took the step I should have weeks ago. I haven't had a regular quiet time for quite awhile. Mostly because I have a hard time figuring out a way to carry my Bible in my weak hands.

I use Bible gateway all the time for Bible study, and I've noticed they have a reading plan on the website.  The computer, of course! I spend hours here. Now to see if there is an online prayer journal; there are, of course. I started using

Forgive me, Father, for not looking earlier; and thank You for meeting me there.  "Here I am."

God has shown me so much in a few short days, much of it specific to writers.

Good ol' Jeremiah. I'm so glad I'm not in his shoes. This week, I read where he confronted God, not once, but twice. The first time he asked:

You are right, O God, and you set things right.
    I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?. . .

Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
    You don’t let me get by with a thing!

Jeremiah 12:1-4, MSG

God's answer was, as usual when asked "why?", a non-answer:
So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
    what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
    what’s going to happen when troubles break loose
        like the Jordan in flood?

Jeremiah 12:5-6 MSG

If you think you have it bad now, it's going to get worse.

Later, Jeremiah made a bold statement:
You’re nothing, God, but a mirage,
    a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!

Jeremiah 15:18 MSG

This time God's answer is more direct:
Take back those words, and I’ll take you back.
    Then you’ll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining.
    Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me.
Let your words change them.
    Don’t change your words to suit them.

Jeremiah 15:19-21 MSG

I want to speak for God, so I'd better pay attention!

I'm thankful for God's word--powerful, alive, sharper than a double-edged sword.

**Last week's winner was Cindy Regnier. All comments on this post as well as the one on my new book covers qualifies for a chance to win one of my books. There must be at least five comments for the contest to be valid. Also to be valid, please answer this question: Have you ever asked God a question?**


Cover art arrived this week for two of my spring titles!

My novella Angel in Disguise is in this amazing collection.
Texas Rangers and Outlaws
May 2013
I wrote all 4 stories in this one.
Kansas 1875
June 2013

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.--1 Thessalonians 5:14, KJV

Apparently this single verse in 1 Thessalonians caused translators quite a bit of problems.  The phrase including "unruly" ("disorderly" is some of the more modern translations) is often interpreted as lazy, idle, or unwilling to work. "Feebleminded" comes out as discouraged, fainthearted, afraid, timid, disheartened. 

Today "feebleminded" is an offensive word. What is the PC word today? Intellectually challenged?  In any case, I think the definition of feeble applies:  physically or mentally weak; lacking physical or mental health.

I especially like the translator who turned "be patient toward all men" into "put up with everyone."  Patience suggests an entirely different attitude!

I stumbled upon this verse in the King James version recently and came to a complete stop. One version, five short phrases, captured the essence of life and ministry in a nursing home:

Warn the unruly: I've seen that several times. Once a couple of residents even resorted to fisticuffs. There was the man who insisted on his removing shirt and trying to stand . . . the brain-injured man who shouted obscenities at the top of his voice . . . oh, yes, we have unruly people here.

The folks here are more than willing to work. Those who can walk love to push residents in wheelchairs (even when they don't want it). One lady is trying to find everyone here jobs. Another gentlemen treats the home as his office and often approaches me as his secretary, since I work at a computer.

Comfort the feebleminded: While all the other words. . . discouraged, fainthearted, timid, afraid, dishearted. . . may apply, I like King James' generic (if not PC in 2012) term feebleminded. That's true of so many people here. Their minds might be locked in the past. Or they might need instant (and repeated) answers. For some, all we know of what is going on in their heads is the expression on their face. Are they smiling? Fearful? Angry? Confused?

Support the weak: Physical weakness abounds here. It's the reason I'm here. The staff does most of the "supporting," of course. But I find comfort in being in a place where everyone has some kind of disability. I am not an object of pity here, but a fellow sufferer. We don't have to pretend to feel better than we do. 

Be patient toward all men. Patience--while I wait for the overworked staff to take care of me. Patience--when a fellow resident insults me (I'm not the only object of her spite). Patience--while the noise level rises.  Patience--when my personal rights are minimized. All of that, and more. Even if at times all I manage is to "put up with everyone." And I confess, sometimes, not even that much. 

Look at your own life.  Do you know people who are unruly (or lazy),  feebleminded, or weak? How do you manage in the patience department?

**DANA is the winner of last week's book giveaway. Leave your name & contact information, along with an answer to the above question, for a chance to when one of my books this next week. A minimum of five comments is needed for giveaway to be held.**

Saturday, October 13, 2012


God had to use a Thor-sized hammer to get this insight through to me.

Perhaps a hammer is the wrong image. It wasn't a single blow, more of 58 years of living finally spilling over the dam of my mind.

People consider me sweet. They call my books sweet. And for some reason, the characterization bothers me.

Perhaps I am too literal minded.  I love "sweets," desserts of all kinds. When people say too much frosting makes a cake too sweet, I laugh. I LOVE the corner pieces with frosting on two sides as well as big flowers on top. I love to fill every hole of a waffle with syrup. The more sugar the better.

There are books like that, with so much sweetness and light that the layers of plot disappear under the heavy frosting.  I guess my mind equates a "sweet" story with those that are "syrupy" and "saccharine."

So I did what I often do when stumped by the nuances of meaning of a word: I looked it up in an online dictionary. I discovered that in addition to defintions for "sweet," there are also meanings given for "sweet person." Aha!  Just what I needed.

I found the first definitions on one of those answer sites.  Six years ago, someone else was struggling with this same question.  Someone else asked how to become a sweet person. Hmm, so I'm not the first person to ask what on earth does that mean?

One answer includes the downside, the reason I don't like being called sweet: someone who is sweet is easily manageable, who doesn't know how to stand up for herself. With my background of abuse, I refuse to accept that description.  I also don't like to be called "soft spoken."

Other people gave lists of things sweet people don't do: wouldn't hurt a fly (or even think of hurting a fly); doesn't pass judgment or condemn; doesn't gossip or talk about people behind their backs; doesn't fight, threaten or intimidate.  I actually have done a lot of those things. That explains why I don't see myself as sweet. I know all the bad things I still do.

The award for a humorous definition goes to the person who said a sweet person must be good-looking!

At last! The positive attributes that I can admit to: caring, genuine, thoughtful, compassionate, sympathetic.

This one makes me smile: "To become a sweet person requires inner strength. That is what we must first have in whatever situation, which can then help you to help others and achieve whatever you wish to achieve. You should have firm belief and optimism."

My favorite defintion says, "Someone with a big heart. Not someone to be run over, but simply someone who cares, and who is open to other caring persons."

My prayer is that whatever sweetness I possess goes beyond that.

I want to be open to people who don't return the favor, without becoming a doormat. I want to  love them as Christ loves me. Unconditionally.

**For a chance to win one of my books, please leave a comment that answers the following question: How to people characterize you and/or how do you feel about it? There must be at least five answers to give away a book, and there are one book given away for every five comments.**

Sunday, October 7, 2012


While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.  Acts 7:59-60, NIV

When I read the story of Stephen's trial before the Sanhedrin, the final three words of Acts 7 stopped me as I read: He fell asleep. 

At first, I wondered, did he literally fall asleep as they were stoning him? No. But I decided it didn't matter. Stephen was enduring one of the most violent deaths possible. His accusers were stoning him for his faith in Christ. 

He prayed, "Receive my spirit. Forgive them." After that? He passed from this life to the next as easily as falling asleep. As peaceful, as restful, as desirable, as anyone desires their experience of death to be. 

God turned death into a nap for Stephen.

God made a fast-day lunch for my friend Karla into a feast. She shares the story:

I went to the store closest to my house, and grabbed this funky seaweed snack which tastes . . . well, funky . . . but it somehow adventurous and fun. I grabbed some antioxidant juice that was on sale. I went home and made a chocolate protein shake. I looked at the bounty--all healthy and good--and said to myself: "Funny how God can turn a fast into a feast."

If God can change death into a nap and a fast into a feast--what will He do with my day?

**For a chance to win one of my books, leave a comment (including your email address) answering the question: How has God transformed less-than-pleasant circumstances for you? One winner for every five comments will be chosen. Amy Campbell won last week's contest.**

Sunday, September 30, 2012


A couple of weeks ago a tiny, 80-year-old black woman joined our "family."

Quickly I dubbed her our songbird,  because she sings, sometimes for an hour at a time.

The rest of the time, she wanders around the building, from exit to exit, testing all of the doors. At the moment she has removed her shoe and is pounding it on the door. She desperately wants to escape, because she always sees smoke and she's convinced we're all going to die.

An aide speculates she might have cloudy vision due to cataracts that create the illusion of smoke. She must be terrified.

And as a friend commented, the nature of songbirds is to fly. No wonder she doesn't like a cage.

But I have come to appreciate our songbird. Even when she's wandering the halls at any hour of the day or night, opening residents' doors and turning on the light. She's done it to me three times already. Either she is trying every door in her desperation to escape. Or she's wanting to warn us all of the fire.

Other times she just sings, though. She still sees the smoke. But she digs deep into the faith that sustains. In spite of the threat of imminent death, she sings, "It's all right, it's all right now. Jesus is all right, He's all right now."  She sings the same 2-3 note melody with variations on the same words. The theme is constant: it's all right now. When she praises the Lord, her fear goes away.

Oh, to have that rock-solid faith when my mind starts going and I'm eighty years old . . .

Not enough people left comments last week to give away a book. A reminder: I will give away one book for every five comments left on my blog this week. Please answer the following question: Does our songbird remind you of someone you know? Talk about a senior who has influenced your life in some significant way.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


My mind is blank today, blank as an artist's canvas with only cloudy grays for a palette. Maybe that's what happens when my body is fighting some kind of sinus infection and my voice disappears.

Ah, there's  subject. My VOICE. And so a writer's secret is revealed. Write rubbish until something clicks. I should delete the previous paragraph except I like the phrase "with only cloudy grays for a palette."

My voice, literally, is like a squeaky toy, to quote the med aide here at the nursing home. A terrible case of laryngitis and a hurting throat. My writing voice is doing okay, as I'm closing in on the final quarter of my book Hidden Dreams.

I have a hard time describing my writer's "voice." The question "who would you compare yourself to?" still stumps me. (Gulp. Have I come far enough for people to start comparing themselves to ME?)

But I have learned a few things about myself in writing this book. One is, I tend to emphasis internal conflict over external, and I resolve those internal conflicts before beginning the more action-packed sequences of the story. Hidden Dreams includes a heroine in danger and a grand chase scene--all in the last quarter of the book. Her hiding place isn't discovered until 3/4s of the way through the book.

Another is, people often speak to my eye for detail. I've developed a theory about that: I research a specific question: what children's picture books were published/popular in the 1920s? Winnie-the-Pooh. I chased the rabbit trail further. Where did "pooh" come from? Further research led to Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Lord High Everything Else from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. All of those facts add depth to my heroine's character and worked into a fun scene.

I'm also beginning to wonder if I will become more of a New England writer than  Western author. I am working on books 5-7 set in Vermont (an eighth book, Beacon of Love, takes place in another New England state, Rhode Island). Vermont isn't known as a "popular" state the way Texas is, but my Vermont books have been well received. We'll see what doors God opens in the future.

My question to you this week: for those of you who have read my books. Who would you compare me to or how would you describe my writing? For those of you who are writers, what have you learned about your own voice?

**We had TWO WINNERS last week: Dana and Kendra. For a chance to win one of my books, leave a comment answering my question above on today's blog.  I will give away one book for every five comments left (except by me, of course).**

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Three copies of Postmark: Christmas, a contemporary Christmas novella anthology set in the town of Christmas, Florida, are being offered today at:

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I seldom review books on my blog, except to offer a few comments in my side bar. But I had to make an exception for Laurie Kingery's upcoming book, Preacher's Bride. 

On the face of it, Preacher's Bride spins a fairly predictable romance between a bachelor preacher and one of the town's spinsters. The setting is familiar--Texas in the late 1860s.

But Preacher's Bride is so much more. The heroine, Faith, has lost her faith. A great premise. It is a story of lost faith, the nature of faith, of sacrifice and heroism, of deceit and reconciliation. It stands as a clear example of a book that transcends the genre, profound and touching, yet ending with the perfect fairy tale romance ending so loved by readers.

On top of that, I appreciated Kingery's seamless writing. I wrote a book (A Ranger's Trail) in the county next door to San Saba and Lampasas in the 1870s. This is an area and time period I researched thoroughly. Kingery blew me away with her integration of everyday Comanche life and faith, the threat from both Comancheros and Comanches (I want to go back and read the book that included the raid).

As far as I'm concerned, this book is a must-read!

**Leave a comment here AND in the blog entitled "Dancing With Grief: Unexpected Surges" to double your chances to win a copy of one of my available books. Be sure to leave your email address or your entry is invalid.**

Saturday, September 15, 2012


But now, as it is, sorrows, unending sorrows must surge within your heart as well—for your own son’s death. Never again will you embrace him striding home. My spirit rebels—I’ve lost the will to live, to take my stand in the world of men.

From Homer's Iliad

For some reason, Jolene and Mom have been on my mind fairly often this last week or so. Oh,  I could trace the sequence of events . . .a woman posted somewhere that her son had committed suicide. I suggested she read the early posts here on this blog, when every day was a struggle and I wrote about it.

I went back and read those posts again. And even more than Jolene, I felt the loss of Mom. She was so much a part of what was happening. By this point four years ago, I reported that Mom no longer looked up on a Friday night, expecting Jolene to walk through the door. We had accepted the reality that she wasn't on an extended trip. She was gone from this earth, permanently.

But Mom wasn't. And yet, looking back on it, Jolene's death marked the beginning of the end for Mom. It was that summer that her heart began to fail, that fall when she had her heart valve replaced, the next spring when she went into an assisted living center permanently, and two years from Jolene's death when she went home to be with the Lord.

I lost them both, leaving me the single Musketeer. And I am missing both of them, sometimes quietly, sometimes fiercely.

I am working on devotional readings from the hymn "It Is Well With my Soul," and, at the moment, the phrase "when sorrows like sea billows roll."  As I examined many quotes on sorrow, I was surprised that over and over, sorrow and joy were mixed together.

I guess that makes sense. If I cut myself off from sorrow, I also cut myself off from love and joy. Loving someone leaves me vulnerable to hurt. If pain is a measure of love, then I loved them with everything in me.

When I read Homer's poetry, oh, how I related. I will never again see Jolene or Mom walking through the door. Jolene will never again crush me with one of her hugs or rid my back of tension with her magic fingers. My spirit, too, rebels. I have the will to live, but I've been there. It hurts. It's hard. 

And yet I know the truth that God comforts those that mourn. He comforts me. And like Paul, I pray that God's comfort will flow through me to others who are mourning.

**A reminder: I run a book giveaway every week. Leave a comment here AND in the blog entitled "Book Review: Preacher's Bride by Laurie Kingery" to double your chances to win a copy of one of my available books. Be sure to leave your email address or your entry is invalid. (Note: there have to be five comments for a valid giveaway.)**