To become a follower to Darlene's blog, click on the "follow" tab at the very bottom of the screen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Oh, my, what a gift from God.

Actually, it's a gift in two-parts. It began when I told an aide about my mother's jingle bell necklace, with a white bell decorated to look like a reindeer. She wore it every day during Christmas. I lost track of it since, and I miss it.

A couple of days later, the aide returned--with a jingle bell necklace. I have worn it every day, with many happy thoughts of Mom. The warmth is increased when I realize the aide really listened to me, and gave me something from her heart to mine.

A thoughtful, wonderful gift.

What happened last night gave me chills.

My roommate gave my grandchildren stuffed animals. I asked my granddaughter, Jordan, what she would name her bear.

Now, her mother says Jordan said "Kaylie," the name of her best friend at school.

What I heard was "Katie." And my heart stopped.

My daughter, Jolene, named all of her dolls "Katie."

In case you don't know. . . or have forgotten. . .Jordan was conceived when Jolene died. Aunt and niece share a special connection.

Hearing the name "Katie" from Jordan's lips felt like Jolene had come down from heaven to wish me a blessed Christmas.

Thank you, God, for the gift of family, on earth and above.

Monday, December 23, 2013


They [the scholars from the East] could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! (Matthew 2:10, MSG)

The first two chapters of Matthew give us a glimpse behind the Christmas story. The first Christmas. Or maybe the second--Jesus was probably about two years old.

And of course Jesus wasn't born on December 25th.

But, the Christmas story happened in real time and space. And people chose to believe or not, each in their own way, even back then.

We looked at Joseph a bit in chapter 1. The angel appeared to him a dream, and gave him very specific instructions. He obeyed. No questioning the dreams. No complaints. He speaks through his actions, not his words. Although he was asked to believe the impossible, at least the message was clear.

Then we have Herod. God sent the message to him via three foreigners. The message was confirmed in Micah's prophecy. An unlikely source--but he gave it enough credit to assassinate them when they returned to Jerusalem. Herod could have joined them in worship of the Messiah. So could the priests.Instead of rejoicing in the birth of Israel's Messiah--the hope the priests at least claimed--Herod feared it, and sought to kill the Messiah. Instead of obedience, he wanted the death of the threat.

Finally we have the wise men. The Message calls them "a band of scholars." The traditional number three is assumed because of three gifts, but the exact number is unknown.

They had no direct revelation, but they were students of God through nature, especially the stars. Somehow they also knew about Israel's king, and his importance.

With nothing more than an interpretation of the sky--no verbal instructions at all--they invested a lot of money and four years of their time (going and coming) into worshipping Israel's Messiah.

What do we choose to do with the Christ of Christmas today?

My son told me that he was going to ask friends, "Why do you give gifts at Christmas?"

In one of those proud-moments-to-be-a-mother, he went on. "I remember that you taught us that we give gifts because God gave us the greatest gift of all, His Son."

He went on to mention those who said they did it to show love for their families and friends, or because of the gift of the wise men. Or even just because of the tradition and the commercialism that urges us to buy, buy, buy.

Today we have the three ways of receiving God's message.

We have His message in the Bible, and we can choose to obey.

We have His unwritten message in the songs of Christmas, in the traditions in which I see the gospel about the Great Gift, the Light of the World, the eternal life represented by an evergreen.

If we are Christians, we hear His message in our hearts, since He lives within us.

Why do you give gifts at Christmas?

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

Disappointment. . .failure. . .humiliation. All three of those emotions visit me, during the ups and downs of Christmas and on into the crushing deadness of January, "cold within and without." (One of my favorite opening lines, from Bolt by Dick Francis)

Disappointed . . .because no matter how much I tell myself that I can't expect anything for Christmas, because my remaining family, Jaran's family, celebrates Hanukkah instead, my heart wants more. Disappointed when the few things within my control go wrong.

Failed. . .when my plans fall through, for buying and giving presents, for sending cards, for going to church or having my daily quiet time or any of a dozen projects.

Humiliated? When my family comes and I'm in bed, undressed. When I wait too long or can't get away and soil myself. . .

All of those are true but none of my reasons comes close to what Joseph must have felt when he learned his betrothed was pregnant. With someone else's child.

In the kind of quiet and strong goodness Joseph exhibits over and over, he doesn't go public with his pain. He doesn't seek to judge Mary. He does decide to end the betrothal. And when God tells him to marry her, in spite of the pregnancy, he doesn't hesitate. In spite of all the public humiliation which would come their way. In spite of the gossip which was bound to peg him as the baby's father.

Joseph. Chagrined I understand. Noble I strive for.

I wrote this several days ago. When I read it again today, I realized how close it hit me to the mark. I feel as though I have fought a battle. Feeling very "chagrined." God can and will heal my heart and restore my spirits.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The nursing center where I live has changed hands. Which means a change in procedures, several of which I just don't like.

I understand (even if I'm not crazy about) having a roommate. State pays for double rooms. Period. Residence is so low at the moment that we can stay in half the building and so they moved us all around. I have a roommate. She has even more things than I do, so things are tight, and she's a chatterbox. :) We'll adjust (I hope).

They are making all the aides wear one color, the nurses another, and so forth. I feel badly for them. And I'll miss the whimsical scrubs, from Eeyore to rainbows to hopeful sayings.

Now they've assigned us seating in the dining room. In a world where I have very little control, getting told where to sit when I eat goes one step too far.

In spite of all of that, I am happy.

I turned in my latest book (Saving Felicity, coming next August) on Thursday. Oh, it feels so good!

A publisher has asked for a full manuscript from me. So the one that was turned down by the one publisher may find a home. (Now to find time to edit it. . .)

I told an aide about a jingle bell necklace my mother always wore, decorated to look like Rudolph. Bless her heart, she brought me a jingle bell necklace, said she looked for a red nose without luck, and also brought a box of chocolates!

I brought out my foot tall gold wire Christmas tree to put on my nightstand.

I got to see my grandbabies open their presents.

And I'm reading a charming Christmas story, A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman.

Even sharing my table with the same people is a blessing. I try to involve everyone in the conversation (even the rarely verbal Wanda). And today I mentioned how I knew two of the women were huggers, and maybe we should share a hug at lunchtime. They were more than eager for a hug. Their faces lit up like Christmas (how's that for a cliche? LOL) And I felt like I made a difference in their lives today.

And a very brief Christmas thought.

The angel told Joseph to name Mary's son Jesus, "for he shall save his people from their sin." When Mary gave birth, Joseph named him--what else? I never questioned it before--Jesus. But this year I was struck. By naming the baby Jesus, Joseph expressed his faith in his Savior. And that is beautiful.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I have a few pet peeves when it comes to nursing home life.

Okay, maybe more than a few. :)

Often, I overhear the aides saying, "Jones want to get up for lunch."

"Jones" is Annie Jones. (not a real name). But the aides often refer to patients by their last names. I respond, "I prefer that you call me Darlene. I will accept Mrs. Franklin. But please don't call me 'Franklin.' I am not now nor was I ever a female version of my (ex) husband."

The issue is: See me as a person. Not as a last name (or even worse, in hospitals, as room numbers) At worst we should have a cordial working relationship and at best, we can be friends.

This week I have received a few reminders that respect runs both ways..

How about the time I hollered an after-thought to my request for aide out the door. The nurse passing by asked, "how about a please?"

Oh. Duh.

Or the morning I screamed in the shower--throwing a toddler-like fit--that they shouldn't ask me to walk on the wet floor. This aide does everything she can to make me comfortable. After I finished my fit, she asked, in her broken English (she speaks about a little more English than I do Spanish): "Do you not want me to be your aide any more?" And the next day she asked someone else to help me. We worked it out.

Today was another one of those times. I watched the clock go past eight (when my meds are scheduled). . .past nine (the legal deadline for delivery for meds scheduled at 8) . . .until nearly 10. I prepared to confront Janie.

When she walked through my door, I gave her a piece of my mind. She looked ready to cry, mumbled some kind of excuse, and left the blood pressure cuff on my wrist while she counted out my meds.

While I waited, I realized that I had overlooked the person behind the job. I hadn't greeted her, hadn't asked after her health, or made any friendly gestures before launching into my tirade.

When she came back in, bearing gifts of pain killers and cough syrups and other such wonder pills, I said, "let's start the morning over. How are you today?" We affirmed our friendship for each other.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Even in--especially in--a nursing home.

Most of the aides get it.

It's time I got it, too.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


This week I faced a crisis in conscience.

I was asked if any of the staff had ever made any sexually inappropriate comments to me.

My mind flew to one individual. I associate "sexually inappropriate" with rude and crude. He is anything but. He is funny, quick-witted, always cheerful, in a good mood, and willing to help.

But his tongue gets the better of him sometimes. I have, in fact, told him on more than one occasion, "That kind of remark could get you into trouble."

I guess it did. Someone else reported it, and the staff was asking others for corroboration of her story. (I assume it's the same individual. They don't say, but he's no longer here so I put two and two together.)

At first I said, "No." I justified my answer partly because I can't remember the last time he said something like that or when he said it.

But overnight I wrestled with the question. I had lied, because I like this person, and because he's good at his job.

And just the same as I shouldn't report someone only because I don't like them, I shouldn't let my affection stop me from reporting wrong behavior.

Worse than that, I realized, my silence was the same as enabling an alcoholic to drink.

And perhaps worst of all, my silence hurt my fellow resident (identity also unknown.) Being a known troublemaker (I suspect I also know the identity, but not quite as certain) doesn't mean her rights should be violated.

I did what I felt was right and, as a result, lost one of the highlights of my days.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


One of the most colorful characters at the nursing home is a lady I'll call the Storyteller. She has a loud voice and speaks in a sing-song style that is grating to here. She dominates any room where she is present.

What's more, she tells the same stories, over and over. Once she starts with, "I had four brothers," we can repeat the rest of the story with her, word for word. I have to believe most of her stories are true, because the details remain consistent.

It comes as no surprise that she is not the most welcome table mate. I consider a meal spent listening to her my good deed for the day. She welcomes anyone who actually appears to care for her. She has led a difficult life and her mental problems keep her from realizing the care her family lavishes on her, making her lonely and unhappy. I sympathize.

A few months ago, she received a doll. She brought the doll with her everywhere. She laughed at the man who asked why she didn't feed her baby. Her granddaughter gave her an outfit so the doll could change clothes. Our storyteller slept with the doll.

One day, when she woke up, someone had stolen in during the night, stolen the doll and left her with her two-year-old daughter. Her mother-in-law had taken custody of her baby and the Storyteller just got her back. She showed off her baby to everyone, every bit as proud as a new mother.

I tried to point out it was still a doll. Where was the belly button? Pointless question, of course.

At lunch today she was discussing problems with another resident, our Dancer. She wanted to give the baby a bath and she was begging her husband to bring her a bottle.

The overnight decline into clear delusion has saddened me. Having crossed that line, I doubt she will return. Instead, she will continue to decline further and further into a world where past and present are intertwined.

With the Lord's strength, I hope I hope I can continue to be a friend, whatever reality the Storyteller finds herself living in.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I wrote on Facebook last night that I wanted to cry crocodile tears. I don't feel much better today. But I had several wonderful moments, which I will share (the crocodile tears are for a disappointment that I don't need to "feed" by blabbing here.)

For one thing, I met two new readers. Actually met them, in person. They came to the nursing home for other reasons, learned I was an author, and stayed to visit. On most days that would send me over the moon for a couple of days.

Then my son and granddaughter came to visit. I had a puzzle to put together with my granddaughter. She said, "I don't know how to do a puzzle--but proceeded to put it together.

Jaran (my son) sat behind me, his foot tapping my chair. I asked him if he was nervous. He said, no, he was always doing that. Son, son, have you inherited my restless legs syndrome?

When we finished the puzzle, Jordan asked I had any more. I said I had another puzzle I was saving for her brother because that was a little boy puzzle (24 pieces) and not a big girl puzzle (45 pieces) like the one we just finished. She must have liked me calling her a "big girl," because she asked me to get more big-girl puzzles. :)

And Dom won Project Runway, not the super-fashionable but ugly fashions by Alexandria (even though she is an inspiring, wonderful woman.)

And tonight I get to watch my beloved Broncos play on national TV.

So the weekend isn't all bad.

Visit with you next week.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I call one of my favorite people here at the nursing our Calling Bird. She is spunky and funny and sweet and we share a love of Jesus and hymns. Even today we sang "America, America, God shed His grace on thee!" at lunch.

Calling Bird is prone to loud, foul utterances when provoked. Her propensity to violent anger coupled with her deep love of the Lord and His grace is part of what I love about her. If I need living proof of God's love and grace, she is it.

But those angry words usually come out when she's giving voice to things that irritate all of us. It is an overblown response to a common irritant, something she might not have done before dementia set in.

It takes a lot for the Calling Bird to shock me. She did, though.

One day at lunch, she was exchanging barbs with one of the aides. Her final zing used the "N" word. If it makes any difference, the aide happened to be white.

That set me back on my heels. I spoke up immediately, telling her I didn't like it and reminding her of the reasons why. Sheepishly, she nodded her head, as if embarrassed.

The aide returned. He spoke to another employee. "You won't believe what she said."

The Calling Bird repeated her offensive remark--even louder than before. This time, at least two other people told her not to speak that way.

I see a certain amount of prejudice here. Seniors born before the baby boomers grew up in a time before the modern Civil Rights movement, into a former slave territory. The prejudice is soft-spoken. Why does so-and-so win so many Bingo games. That lady should sit at a table with those people.That kind of thing.

As a New Englander whose childhood hero was Martin Luther King, I rate myself fairly low on the scale of prejudice. Until a close friend pointed out an obviously prejudicial statement I made in one of my devotionals.

I described a former boss's materialistic attitude (he who has the most money is the most successful), contrasting it with what the Bible says. But in describing him, I called him "a New Age Jew" or something along those lines.

My friend said I was perpetuating a stereotype. "Would you saw a Baptist or a Catholic?"

Yes, I would.

But I thought about it. I wouldn't have said a Black or Asian or Latino or Italian. So I was making a critical remark against a specific race, as if his race made a difference in the attitude of his heart.

So the moral of my sad story is: racism pops up when we least expect it. When we aren't thinking about it all, not putting up the barriers our conscience has erected.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Today I worshiped the Lord through song. One of the churches that comes regularly always brings red folders with the same fourteen hymns. All of them, except for Jesus Loves Me, speak of heaven. So, I thought, why not a list of some of my favorite songs about heaven? Here are the top dozen, for or less leading up to number 1.

1. Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. No wonder the king stood to his feet when he heard this classic for the first time. I have heard it and sung it as both soprano and alto. The words are based on different verses in the 19th chapter of Revelation.

2. I Can Only Imagine. I heard this first at church before I ever heard Mercy Me's version. Even so, I was instantly transported to heaven, kneeling at Jesus' feet, imagining my quadriplegic friend Vickie Baker dancing before the Lord.

3. No More Night. This song became popular during the 1980s. It captured my heart's cry for the perfection and end of trials that is heaven.

4. Homesick. Mercy Me's other song about heaven made me long for my loved ones who have gone before me. I want to join my family, to standard shoulder to shoulder with my grandmother, mother, and daughter.

5. Amazing Grace--For the eternal life awaiting me in heaven.

6. I've Got a Mansion--a favorite from childhood campfires that only grows more precious with age

7. Will There Be Any Stars in my Crown?--a reminder that I want to bring people along with me, to have crowns to lay at Jesus' feet.

8. On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand--I love folks hymns. I remember hearing this one for the first time on a television drama (can't remember which one). It wasn't in our church's hymnal, or most others that I've used, so I was a little surprised to see it in our 14-hymn red folder.

9. When We All Get to Heaven--always a popular favorite, sung with rousing enthusiasm.

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today--which is more about the second resurrection than about heaven but I love the triumph. "Ours the cross, the grave, the skies! Alleluia!" The same theme is repeated in the chorus "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High."

11. Oh That Will Be Glory for Me--to look on His face. Amen!

12. When the Roll is Called up Yonder--a rousing affirmation of assurance in my salvation. I'll be there!

What are your favorite songs about heaven? Let's hum them together, joining in anticipation of the coming day.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I recently had a brilliant insight into mysteries (fictional).

I'm allowed to say brilliant. This is my blog, after all, and I've been an avid fan since I read Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes as a child and Hercule Poirot as a young adult I am an avid lover of mysteries. In a bookstore or library, I head for the shelves of mysteries. On television, mysteries form the core of my favorite dramas. Comedies, too, if you count shows like Monk and Psych.

So here it comes:

Sherlock Holmes is to Hercule Poirot as CSI is to Criminal Minds.

Holmes is the father of detective work, a master of deducing facts from physical clues. A century later, more or less, CSI broke new ground on television by detailing the scientific methods used by contemporary police forces to catch criminals.

Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie's other creation, Miss Marple, solved cases by a different method. Both would interrogate suspects. Poirot would put his "little gray cells" to work. Miss Marple would recognize "types," comparing suspects to people she knew in St. Mary's Mead.

Criminal Minds works a lot like Christie's characters. Their goal is to understand the psyche of the "unsub," determining what "type" of serial killer works that way. A St. Mary's Mead full of serial killers, if you will.

Sometimes a show has both. In Castle, for instance, best selling mystery author Rick Castle states, "I am highly paid to think like a bad guy." His insight into predicting a criminal's next steps make him a valuable asset. Kate Beckett, of course, is the hard-boiled, by the book, detective--looking for real clues.

Biology vs. psychology. Evidence vs. interviews. In today's judicial system, physical evidence carries more weight. It's not enough to know who committed a crime; the DA's have to prove it.

Do you cop shows on television? How would you classify your favorites? Hmm, here's a few. . .

Perception: Dr. Daniel Pierce is a schizophrenic university professor whose illness gives insight into crimes. Sounds a bit like profiling rather than forensics.

Rizzoli & Isles: Although the show is more about the relationship between two strong women, Dr. Isles is very much a evidence-first medical examiner.

Bones: Classic of forensics (Brennan) vs. profiling/people skills (Booth)

The Mentalist: Patrick Jayne's ability to "read" people made him successful as a fake psychic--and as a police consultant. Definitely profiling.

Oh, yes, mysteries that I read? That could take a chapter. :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts. . . how would you classify your favorite fictional detectives, in print or film?

P.S. I've been sick the last couple of weeks. I'm baaaack.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I started trying to write a post for this week. A subject that excites me, even.

But . . . my mind doesn't want to wrap itself around the words and wrestle them to the page. I'm fighting a respiratory infection and I drainage-clogged, medicine-befuddled, and downright achy.

So I will give myself a pass this week, wish all my fellow ACFW-ers a blast at conference, and hopefully return better than ever last week.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. Don't tell your neighbor "Maybe some other time" or "Try me tomorrow" when the money's right there in your pocket. Proverbs 3:27-28. MSG

I'm a hugger. Are you? Workshops at my last employer included unwanted hugging as a form of "sexual harrassment," so I have learned to ask.

But, oh, how I long for that touch. No wonder the kisses of the man who stole my heart earlier this year tingled me from head to toe.

The nurses and aides, on a few rare, time-wasting occasions, have stayed with me. Massaging my aching legs and neck. Wiping sweat from my head and brow when night sweats rule. A hug.

And of course, there are other residents. No one has yet refused a hug when offered. The hugs are awkward; connecting with both of us in wheelchairs doesn't come easily. But both of us cling, almost with an air of desperation, hungry for that human touch.

On those occasions, my hands are very much God's hands and arms, hoping His love flows through me and wraps my friend.

A hug is the easiest way for me to help another person. Time doesn't come so easily. Nor does patience.

I chose a different dining room, so I wouldn't get stuck with a lady who repeats the same question every five minutes (reading a wall placque and asking what it means.) She's sweet, most of the time, just forgetful.

So yesterday, when she said, "I miss talking with you. We used to laugh about fun times we had."

Guilt slammed me. I should be willing to spend more time with her. The "money" needed--time--is right there on the wall, as the clock ticks away.

Who in your life that can benefit from your hands today?

Is there someone who only wants your time?

P.S. I got a new contract for three more Maple Notch books! Praise God with me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


After my bedrest for a pressure sore, I changed my routine. I stay in my room except for the noon meal and an occasional activity (when we have them). I get up later and return to bed (not to sleep) earlier. And I changed dining rooms, to spend my primary social time with people who can carry on a conversation. God reminded me that I can't encourage fellow residents if I don't spend time with them.

I'm getting more work done. I don't feel as isolated as I did when surrounded by residents with dementia.But, I'm missing my colorful friends. I need more stories of my songbirds and mutterers and other, newer friends.

This week I have eaten at different tables, getting to know different people. And rediscovered--

Friends. Companions. Kindred spirits.

The youngest member of our company (late twenties, but paralyzed) recently moved into the room next to mine. I am used to her loud voice and demanding spirit. However, she has been very quiet. She says she lays in bed, not watching television, just getting more and more depressed. I see her faults (and I'm sure she sees mine), but I'm in a position to be a friend. And that's what I offer. I love her. She loves me. She called me her mom, because her own mother refuses to visit.

I realized, when things don't go our way, or we don't like the latest rule, we both get angry. She projects her anger outward (and gets into trouble). I stuff it inward, and get depressed. But we both struggle with anger about our situation. I have been in shoes similar to hers. She cares for me, and in turn, I feel validated because she cherishes me.

Today I sat at a different table. A man I have never spoken with a great deal immediately started talking to me. "I knew, as soon as I met you, that you are a nice person. You never have a mean word to say against anyone else."

What a kind thing to say. I told him my first memory of him. At a Bingo game, he was on a winning streak. But because he can keep up with the numbers--because he is black--because he won about five times that day--vicious rumors started that he was cheating. I didn't tell him that. I'm sure he knows. But he laughed at the memory.

And then he shared Paul's testimony that he had learned to be content. He cheered me by not quoting the obvious verses from that same chapter--Philippians 3--that I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me and that God will supply all my needs. The secret lies not in what I have, but in my attitude about what I have.

Fellow travelers on the road to Somewhere.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Barricade the road to Nowhere. . .I choose the true road to Somewhere. (Psalm 119:30, MSG)

I recently wrote about my birthday, and the intense soul-searching (and depression) that followed. Last night I ran across the above verse in writing My Daily Nibble blog ( if you're interested).

That's what I need to do. I felt like I was staring down the future road to Nowhere. Instead, God wants me to choose the road to Somewhere.

What or where that road leads, I don't know. I probably don't want to know, for the path there is rarely strewn with roses. At my age, I can't escape declining health and possibly mental faculties. If I didn't already know it, living here gives me a close-up view.

That sounds depressed, but I don't mean it to be. I'm saying, what else it out there on my road to Somewhere?

Part of it is purely prideful. I don't just want to make the difference in the lives of a handful of people. I never expected to be president. But I hoped for something BIG. Something as heroic as serving as a missionary. Or as grand as becoming a best-selling author. As astonishing as writing 100 books.

I do feel like I have a lot of wisdom to share with the next generation. But as is typical of our society today, not too many younger people are knocking my door down to learn from me. But there are staff members here, and fellow residents, whom I can encourage. This is my current stop on the Road, and I shouldn't ignore my family in my desire to do something big.

And My Daily Nibbles are also an expression of my knowledge and life and perhaps even wisdom every now and then about the Bible, which has been my greatest study since I was a child.

I would like my health to improve well enough for me to go to my grandchildren, to participate in family events. I don't know if I can. But I can write letters. They will know me, that way.

I have opportunities to teach writing classes online. I am training new writers from around the country, which is another goal.

In terms of 100 books. If I add the 23 books that have a story or article of mine in them, I am up to 55 books. More than halfway there. Hmm. Wow! I just might make it.

And I would like to explore of e-publishing.

So. My home. My family. Mentoring. Writing--and new avenues of writing.

And then, just possibly, something new. Something that has the possibility of being "big." Something which could take a lot of time:

Creating a website/blog for nursing home residents. Something to educate and encourage and raise awareness.

There are websites about medical problems and legal issues and government regulations. I have no desire to compete with them, but rather, to shed light into daily life, the joys and struggles.

(By the way, I'd love your thoughts about the above).

This probably feels repetitious. I guess I'm sayiing, there is plenty to feel like I'm on the true road to Somewhere.

God, barricade my mind against the road to Nowhere.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Okay, folks, I had nearly finished a post ruminating on the thought of external transformation (a la TLC's show "What Not to Wear"), the importance of looking our best, but the overiding importance of internal beauty. And it disappeared. So I will close with Peter's words, which say it best:

There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated. (1 Peter 3:2-6, MSG)

When I strive for the best--inside and out--I feel better about myself, period. I can face life unanxious and unintimidated.

That's a goal I want to pursue.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Yesterday I began the sixtieth year of my life; I celebrated my 59th birthday.

Somehow sixty sounds a lot older than fifty-something. People who are 60-something are senior citizens. Young seniors, but definitely senior. I have already outlived those members of my mother's family who died in their fifties. The longest any of them lived was 78. My dad died that young as well. My health is already precarious and genetics indicate I have less than two decades left to live. Which is a short time. But if I spend all of that time in a nursing home, the years stretch an impossibly long time ahead.

I am suffering a depression that is part midlife crisis and part end of life regrets.
There is a sign in the nursing home that reads, "A hundred years from now, it won't matter what kind of car I drove or where I lived, but the difference I made in other peoples' lives."

Mentally I add to the list, "how many books I wrote."

Midlife crisis? I had big dreams as a young adult; and I'm smart enough to be able to get the answers right, at least on paper. I demanded perfection of myself and my life has been a long lesson in my lack of perfection. So, I have to accept the fact that there are certain things I will never get to do.

And an end of life accounting--have I made a difference in anyone's life? Well, I know I have. I have not only taught children in my church, I have written curriculum used with thousands of children. I have not written only for myself, but I have been blessed to have books published, books purchased by enough people for them to take a second and third and so on chance with me. Thousands of people have read my devotionals ( this year and almost 30,000 people have read this blog over the years. Hopefully my words have done more than entertain.

For that matter, I even touch people I know primarily through Facebook say that I encourage them. My birthday greetings from relative strangers called me dear, sweet,precious, beautiful.

I get to train another generation of writers through online classes and I have had a part in leading a few people to the Lord. And even in those dearest to me, my precious son and his family, God has seen fit to continue the essence of me. I see myself in my son's writing and his commitment to the Lord. I see the child I might have been apart from abuse in my granddaughter's sunny disposition and ready laugh.

So I have had an impact. Of a sort. I suppose.

So the question becomes--what do I have left to look forward to? I feel isolated. Little hope of change. Precious little joy or purpose.

But this one thing I know: God has me here, at this time and in this place, for a reason. If that reason includes daily pain and sleeplessness--so it does. He will comfort and speak to me in the pain, and He will use it to help others as well.

So after feeling bummed all day long on my birthday, today I feel hopeful that I will feel joy and hope again. Maybe not today. Maybe not even tomorrow. But the sun will shine again, and I can say, in the words of the song by Casting Crowns:

For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

by Bernie Herms

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Is anyone out there as caught up in TNT's series "The Hero," hosted by the Rock, as I am?

I watch a lot of TNT, since they broadcast drama 24/7, and I enjoy all their programming with the exception of "Franklin and Bash."

The first few minutes of Hero didn't impress me. People doing scary stunts gets old pretty quick. Besides, a hero is more than brute muscle strength.

And then . . . and then . . . middle-aged mom Patty walked up open stairs on top of a 70-story building in spite of her fear of heights. With each step, she chanted, "I will not fail."
I fell in love with her before she refused Rock's bribe. Since then she has walked through tear gas and crossed a tight rope 500 feet off the ground--all to make things better for someone else.

The show tests the contestants' physical strength and mental acuity, but the true tests measure other qualities. Courage, honesty, integrity, team work, self-sacrifice. This week, cop Charlie (who was the best of the men, IMO) quit, saying he found his answer: he is a hero and doesn't need the title to claim it. Thus both clinching the title for himself at the same he eliminated himself from competition. Self-sacrifice. He and Pat have shown it, in spades.

When asked to name my childhood heroes, two names spring to my mind: Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. I admire Eleanor Roosevelt for embodying the characteristics of the Democratic Party I joined: helping the poor, fighting discrimination, exemplifying all a woman could be. I admire her bravery in the face of trials, her husband's health, the demands of his job, his mistress.

And Martin Luther King? Physical bravery in leading a dangerous fight against discrimination. For fighting for the right with peace and love. For inspiring others to do the same.

People say my persistence in writing in spite of my physical challenges inspire them. Perhaps--I feel strange even saying this--perhaps I am a hero in some small way to people around me. A very human hero with feet of clay.

This week I received results of a blood test which suggested I probably have rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis I already knew, but not what kind. As strange as it may sound, learning that it's a blood disease and not due to my poor physical shape and weight (although I'm sure that makes it worse) lightens the burden of illness from me.

Whatever our definition of "hero" is, Pat demonstrates my definition of courage. Courage (and faith) isn't the absence of fear. It's acting in spite of fear.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Lately I've been thinking about what I want to leave behind. There is a plaque on the dining wall that says, "A hundred years from now, it won't matter what car you drove or where you lived, but the difference you made in other's lives."

I will have very few things to leave behind. As part of the move to a nursing home, I've had to get rid of 90% of my things. I have certain things that I desperately want to keep. My son prizes other things.

The nibble I wrote for today (@ if you're interested) dwelt on this verse from Psalm 30: When I'm "dust to dust," my songs and stories of you won't sell. (Psalm 30:12, MSG) Again--what legacy will I leave behind in books?

Then there's family. A very small family, but with my precious grandbabies, God has renewed my life--my line--the essence of "me" will live on. Perhaps I will live to see greatgrandchildren, as Mom did (Isaiah being God's gift when Mom died, as Jordan was when Jolene died.) I love the children, but I also thank God for affirming my life through theirs.

I rejoice that my son is a solid, committed believe in his Messiah-Savior, and committed to the Word of God. He practices his faith and seeks to instill the truth in his children. He is a good husband and father, a hard worker, fiscally responsible--a driven oldest child, perhaps, but a good man. I am proud of my son and thankful that he turned out so well in spite of my many parenting faults.

Things, now. The one thing I collected to tell the story of my family is Christmas ornaments. A golden ski boot from the Salt Lake City Olympics. A paisley-colored partridge that I bought in Boothbay Harbor when my children visited the grandmother in Maine the last time. A blue delft disc from a trip to the Dutch Festival in Denver. Thing 1 and Thing 2, celebrating my childhood memories of Dr. Seuss. Santa with a soccer ball to remember the children's love of the game. And many more.

The only problem? Jaran doesn't celebrate Christmas. But I want to catalog the ornaments, tell their story, and hand them on to my grandchildren. They may follow in Jaran's footsteps--or they may choose a different path, as Jaran did. I want the choice available to them.

Beyond that, I want the cross-stich that I spent hours creating, the books I've written. And that takes all the space I have available, and I little bit more.

Ah, finally, my books. I don't expect my books to still be selling fifty years from now. I once developed out-of-reach goals for my writing:

  • To write a New York Times best seller, that represented a book that "crossed over" from Christian fiction to mainstream. That dream is as unlikely now as it was when I put it into words.
  • To mentor hundreds of writers. I have come to realize that I don't have the time to mentor fledgling writers individually. But I have the potential to train writers as my opportunities to teach online have increased. Most recently, ACFW invited me to return next year to teach another course. Next March, I will be presenting my workshop on "Fearless Research" to the all those interested in the hundreds of ACFW members.
  • To make enough money to leave something for my family. At the moment, I can't afford to make too much money, or else my aid will stop. But there is a possibility of royalties, etc., so it's not entirely impossible.
  • To write 100 books. Well, after ten years in print, I (will)have 31 books.Even if I keep at the same pace for twenty years, I won't reach 100 books. And in 20 years time, I will be knocking the door on 80 years of age. I can barely imagine writing at that age at all, let alone three books a year. But . . . that one is on the edge of possible. I won't knock it down, quite yet.

The thought of the people my books reach staggers me. Thousands of people have read something I have written. Dozens of people read My Daily Nibble every day. Somewhere, somehow, God uses me to plant seeds in the lives of others.

Family. Ministry. The Future.

God willing, it's all in place.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


It's July. Almost mid-summer. (It tickles me that my birthday comes right about mid-summer, on August 3rd). My room is just as cold as it was a year ago; aides come in, delighted to stand beneath the air vent (the coldest spot in the building, I've been told)while I freeze.

Tornado season in Oklahoma. We've been holed up in the dining room three times while tornados stormed down our path. Didn't hit here, thank God. But my son lives in Moore, which was devastated. His house and his family were unharmed, but the images have stamped themselves on my granddaughter's memory. Talk about trauma.

Speaking of Jordan, she starts public school preschool next month. My darling girl! All sunshine and giggles, with shiny pink cheeks, long, curly, dark brown hair, almost black eyes, tall like her daddy. I got to see her last Sunday, and she always finds a way to play with me, even when I'm in bed.

Jordan was born in a time of grief, renewed life in our loss of my daughter. I spent days taking care of her that first summer. I regret that I don't know my grandson nearly as well. He knows me, but there is not the ease and joy as with Jordan. Of course it may also be his personality as well. :) I love watching the two of them play. So glad they have each other (21 months apart). Or maybe it's the fact that Jordan makes at least the sixth generation of brunettes in our family (going back to my greatgrandmother, Sarah Eady Anderson.)I'm not that superficial.

Since I turned in my last manuscript on June 1st, I have made very slow progress on my next book, making it to about 30K total on two projects. Sigh. I can lay part of the blame on bouts of pain but it's mostly due to too much time spent playing games on the computer.

Oh, yes, so there is summer TV programming. Since TNT runs dramas 24-hours-a-day, it's my default channel. Favorites: Falling Skies, Perception, The Hero (Patty won my heart during the first episode). And how Mary McCormack has taken over Major Crimes and made it her own! Looking forward to the return of Face Off and Project Runway. . .

So. . .there's my boring, every day life. Hours interspersed with leg cramps and pain. Increased activity--walking, wheeling my chair, moving my arms beyond the keyboard. It was either that or a brag on how God recently told me (when I wanted someone to tell me my devotional about imminence vs. transcendence made sense and not too academic) "shut up already and just do it. I gave you the gift of teaching, stop doubting it."

Like I have learned (mostly) not to doubt my fiction writing. . .the process works. I start out with something boring and slow. It ends up being light and entertaining, even if I do have to cut 10-12% of every manuscript.

With a wave of the red, white, and blue, and a wish for a sunny birthday, I will bid you adieu.

BOOK GIVEAWAY RESUMES: I still have books available for 10-20 more people and possibly more. Please leave a comment here with your email address, and I'd love to hear which of my books you've read/enjoyed the most. You are most likely to receive either Hidden Dreams, Pride's Fall, or It Is Well With My Soul.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


You have o love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.--Erma Bombeck

Three days late, but that's okay. Watching Independence Day made me feel patriotic all over again. (Holidays at the nursing home are usually ignored or celebrated early. The actual day is pretty awful, from low staff to yucky food.)

Erma Bombeck's words rank at the top of my favorite quotes about our Independence Day. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite memories.

1985--We traveled to New Jersey and back on a week-long trip. "We"--my husband and our two children. On the 4th, we stood across the river from the Statue of Liberty. A highlight of a memorable trip. We also touched the Liberty Bell as we stopped in Philadelphia along the way.

1992--the year I discovered country music. We went to see a day long country music concert and picnic.

1993 or so--Jaran, Jolene and I spent the day at Six Flags/Elitch Gardens. From there we went to a professional soccer game--the only one I ever attended. Another unique day.

1996 and following: The spate of Will Smith blockbusters: Independence Day, Men in Black, and the less memorable Wild Wild West. Reviews I had read of Smith earlier all said "surprising good turn by Will Smith." After those movies, Smith became a superstar.

1999-2003. We lived on the third story of a condo. We watched fireworks all over Denver from our balcony.

2003-2008. Watching Memorial Day and 4th of July concerts on TV with Mom.

Not to mention fireworks . . .

Ah, the 4th of July.

A couple of my books feature July 4th events: Beacon of Love and Lone Star Trail.

July 1st saw the release of my first nonfiction book and my 5th book this year, It Is Well with My Soul. The book includes scripture, prayer, devotionals and quotes based on the lyrics of the beloved hymn. I don't have my copies yet, so I'm holding off on doing a giveaway.

The 200 book giveaway is done. Stay in touch to learn about upcoming giveaways.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


We're still in the middle of my 200 book giveaway! Plenty of good books available!

Today I thought I would try something I don't usually do anywhere except on my writing resume: List my published/to be published books in the order they appeared. Hopefully that will whet your appetite for more! No pictures, unfortunately, because my computer is acting up and I haven't figured out how to add the pictures in this new format. Sorry.

If you are interested in receiving two books: Please email me with your mailing address at belovedfranklin (at) msn (dot) com. If you wish, I would love to hear your answer to the following questions (but not required to receive books):

How did you hear of the book giveaway?

Which of my books is your favorite (if you have read any)?

Note: I am not able to send requested title. It's a grab bag kind of giveaway.

Romanian Rhapsody (2005), my first baby: Contemporary Romance, available in print and ebook.

Gunfight at Grace Gulch (2008): Oklahoma, Cozy mystery, available in print

Dressed in Scarlet in Snowbound Colorado Christmas (2008): 1913 Colorado, historical romance, available in print.

A String of Murders (2009): Oklahoma, Cozy mystery, only second-hand copies available.

Beacon of Love (2009): 1815 Rhode Island, historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Lucy Ames, Sharpshooter in Wild West Christmas (2009): 1870s Texas, historical romance, available in print.

Prodigal Patriot (2010): 1777 Vermont, historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Seaside Romance (2010): Repack of three Rhode Island romances, including Beacon of Love: historical romance, available in print.

Face of Mary in A Woodland Christmas (2010): 1880s Texas, historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Bridge to Love (2010): 1816 Vermont, historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Love's Raid (2011): 1864 Vermont, historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Plainsong (2011): Colorado contemporary romance, available in print and ebook.

Maple Notch Brides (2011): repack including Prodigal Patriot, Bridge to Love, and Love's Raid, available in print.

First Christmas in Christmas at Barncastle Inn (2011): contemporary romance, available in print and ebook

Lone Star Trail from the Texas Trails series (2011): 1830s Texas historical romance, available in print and ebook

Knight Music (2011): Colorado contemporary romance, available in print and ebook

A Ranger's Trail from the Texas Trails series (2012): 1870s Texas historical romance, available in print and ebook.

Pride's Fall (2012): 1899 Colorado historical romance, available in print and ebook

A Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas (2012): 1890s Texas, available in print and ebook

Merry Christmas, With Love in Postmark: Christmas (2012): Florida contemporary romance, available in print and ebook.

Hidden Dreams (2013): 1920s Vermont historical romance, available in print and ebook

Angel in Disguise in Texas Brides (2013): 1870s Texas historical romance, available in print and ebook

Barncastle Memorial (continuing series begun in Christmas at Barncastle Inn) (2013): Vermont contemporary romance, available as ebook only.

Calico Brides (2013): most recent title. 1870s Kansas historical romance, available in print and ebook.

It Is Well with My soul (2013): coming in July: my first complete nonfiction book: devotions, available in print.

Golden Dreams (2013): coming soon. 1930s Vermont historical romance, available in print and ebook.

New England Brides (2013): coming soon. Repack of historical romance from all six New England states, including my Bridge to Love, available in print and ebook.

Homefront Dreams (2014): coming soon: 1940s Vermont historical romance, available in print and ebook.

and more titles close to contract. . .

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Hey this week I have even more reason to celebrate! This is post number 500 on this blog. Those of you who have been with from the beginning have followed my path through grief after my daughter's suicide to celebration over a grandchild to my book writing career taking off, a move, my mother's death, another grandchild, my increasing health problems--and God's great, ongoing goodness through it all!

I have a great reason to celebrate with my 200 book giveaway.

How appropriate that my thoughts at my daily devotional blog ( have centered on celebration this past week. Giving away books is my way of celebration. That, plus the cheesecake I had for lunch today.

Every person who contacts me at belovedfranklin (at) msn (dot) com sends their mailing address will receives 1-2 books from me.

I would also love to  hear your answer to one (or both) of the questions below.

How did you hear about this giveaway?

Which of my books is your favorite? (if you have read my books before)  And why?

This week's featured book (not everyone will receive the featured book) is Hidden Dreams

Mary Anne is on the run. Her father's been murdered, and now the mob's after her, too. Leaving New York City behind is the only way to stay alive. Yet Mary Anne Lamont finds herself stuck in Maple Notch, Vermont, when her car crashes straight into Wallace Tuttle's truck. Wallace and his family offer her warmth and welcome, no questions asked. But she doesn't dare give them her real name—not without risking their safety too. At first, Wallace chides himself for being distracted by the glamorous flapper. Mary Anne certainly doesn't fit his image of a future wife. But underneath the bleached bob and big-city ways is a courageous, caring woman. When the danger she's been running from draws close, Wallace must risk everything to prove his faith in Mary Anne, in God's plan, and the dreams they've come to share.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


About the author: Susan J. Reinhardt's journey to publication began as a non-fiction writer. She's been published in The RevWriter Resource, Devotions Magazine, A Secret Place, Vista, Live, and numerous other compilations and periodicals. Her appreciation for using fiction techniques inspired her to use fiction as a vehicle for truth. Her novel, "The Moses Conspiracy," was released on March 16, 2013.

A widow, stepmom, daughter, and active church member, Susan enjoys reading, couponing, gardening, and searching for small treasures in antique shops.

About the book: A trip to post-terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2025 and a
buggy accident in Bird-in-Hand, PA set in motion events that expose a diabolical plan to destroy the Christian community.  Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.

The small community is shattered when the unthinkable occurs. Will family, friends, and neighbors band together or allow fear to prevent them from taking action? in Trust

"That's it! That's your book! And you'll write it in four months and call it Ghosts of the Past."

It's not often that someone, especially one's husband, makes such a startling declaration. We were discussing an experience I had in Gettysburg eight months before. I "heard" the voices of the forefathers as echoes fading in the distance. There were a couple of problems: 1) I had no idea what to write, and 2) I was a non-fiction writer, not a novelist.

Yet, I couldn't shake the sense that something important had occurred, both in Gettysburg and in my heart. I sat down at the computer and started writing. In exactly four months, I held a manuscript in my hands with a revised title of, "Echoes of the Past."

I soon discovered my skills didn't match my enthusiasm for the project and set about learning how to write fiction. In the midst of this process, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia and died 14 months later. Six months after that, I broke my elbow and went through two surgeries.

Once some semblance of order returned to my life, I picked up the thread of my book. I was determined to finish it, not only in my husband's memory, but also because the story burned within me.

After eight years of rejection, hardship, and much discouragement, the re-titled book, "The Moses Conspiracy," was released by Helping Hands Press (an ACFW-approved, royalty publisher) as an e-book. I'm now working on the second book in the trilogy.

As I look back, I can see many of those rejections kept me from going down a wrong path. Throughout the years, I learned much about patience, perseverance, and trusting the Lord with every aspect of my life.

To God be the glory! Great things He has done.


And now, Behind the Book:

Lessons in Trust

"That's it! That's your book! And you'll write it in four months and call it Ghosts of the Past."

It's not often that someone, especially one's husband, makes such a startling declaration. We were discussing an experience I had in Gettysburg eight months before. I "heard" the voices of the forefathers as echoes fading in the distance. There were a couple of problems: 1) I had no idea what to write, and 2) I was a non-fiction writer, not a novelist.

Yet, I couldn't shake the sense that something important had occurred, both in Gettysburg and in my heart. I sat down at the computer and started writing. In exactly four months, I held a manuscript in my hands with a revised title of, "Echoes of the Past."

I soon discovered my skills didn't match my enthusiasm for the project and set about learning how to write fiction. In the midst of this process, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia and died 14 months later. Six months after that, I broke my elbow and went through two surgeries.

Once some semblance of order returned to my life, I picked up the thread of my book. I was determined to finish it, not only in my husband's memory, but also because the story burned within me.

After eight years of rejection, hardship, and much discouragement, the re-titled book, "The Moses Conspiracy," was released by Helping Hands Press (an ACFW-approved, royalty publisher) as an e-book. I'm now working on the second book in the trilogy.

As I look back, I can see many of those rejections kept me from going down a wrong path. Throughout the years, I learned much about patience, perseverance, and trusting the Lord with every aspect of my life.

To God be the glory! Great things He has done.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Hey this week I have even more reason to celebrate! This is post number 500 on this blog. Those of you who have been with from the beginning have followed my path through grief after my daughter's suicide to celebration over a grandchild to my book writing career taking off, a move, my mother's death, another grandchild, my increasing health problems--and God's great, ongoing goodness through it all!
I have a great reason to celebrate with my 200 book giveaway.
Every person who contacts me at belovedfranklin (at) msn (dot) com sends their mailing address will receives 1-2 books from me.

I would also love to  hear your answer to one (or both) of the questions below.

How did you hear about this giveaway?

Which of my books is your favorite? (if you have read my books before)  And why?

This week's featured book (not everyone will receive the featured book) is Hidden Dreams

Mary Anne is on the run. Her father's been murdered, and now the mob's after her, too. Leaving New York City behind is the only way to stay alive. Yet Mary Anne Lamont finds herself stuck in Maple Notch, Vermont, when her car crashes straight into Wallace Tuttle's truck. Wallace and his family offer her warmth and welcome, no questions asked. But she doesn't dare give them her real name—not without risking their safety too. At first, Wallace chides himself for being distracted by the glamorous flapper. Mary Anne certainly doesn't fit his image of a future wife. But underneath the bleached bob and big-city ways is a courageous, caring woman. When the danger she's been running from draws close, Wallace must risk everything to prove his faith in Mary Anne, in God's plan, and the dreams they've come to share.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


I was debating what to write about today (like the spirit-lifting performance of the 40-ish Mom of three climbing open steps at the top of a 60-story building, with each step, I will not be defeated [by her fear of heights].  Patty has already won my heart for The Hero.)

Anyhow, a church came to sing with us today. The words of one of the hymns struck as so rich with everything I've been learning from my Daily Nibble (my devotional blog) for the past few months. It's never been one of my favorite hymns, but after this, I might change my mind. So I thought I would share the words with you, highlighting the phrases that made me think of the books of history in the Bible.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; 
I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice.
I give up myself and whatever I know,
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, Thou seest I perfectly wait,
Come now, within me a new heart create.
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst no.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
                         --Written by James L. Nicholson, 1872

After this week of physical weakness and emotional despair, I cry with the hymnist, "I long to be perfectly whole."

May I seek the Lord, confess the idols in my life, offer myself as a living sacrifice.

The Lord will always wash me whiter than snow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I apologize for missing last week. I was on assigned bedrest and it just plain slipped my mind. (It's not as bad as it sounds. I have to get pressure off a sore in a sensitive spot. I still can work at my table, just not as easily.)

Not to mention tornado central - they have evacuated all the resident to the dining room three times in the past two weeks. Nothing struck here. My son lives in Moore, which has had two tornados touch down and wrought such devastation. My dil's extended family spent the storms in the storm shelter under her grandmother's property and are safe. Her sister, however, lost her home (90% demolished). And of course they know several people who lost someone close to them. Your continued prayers are appreciated.

Today I will continue to toot my own horn: My book, Calico Brides, released on June 1st. I wrote all four novellas in this anthology While sowing good deeds, four Kansas women reap romance. Gladys Polson helps a crotchety widower. Annie Bliss knits for soldiers. Birdie Landry sews dresses for saloon girls looking for a career change. Schoolteacher Ruth Fairfield takes on three orphan children and their new guardian. How will God stitch love into their lives? Available at

My ebook titles available for 99 cents this month (all of them listed at
 Barncastle Memorial
     Knight Music
     Prodigal Patriot

Speaking of books, it's been very gratifying to see my books popping up on ads for Facebook game applications!

And to end, here is a review of Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell, which was a wonderful read that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Blowing on Dandelions is a gentle love story between a man (Micah Jacobs) whose faith is shattered at the losses (wife, business) life has thrown at him and a woman (Katherine Galloway) who withers under her mother’s critical tongue. 
The romance is authentic, sweet, and well-paced, but the heart of the story is the relationship between Katherine and her mother. There are no easy answers to “why?” and no instant changes, but the promise of love and communication that will allow them to grow together.
For anyone who has ever felt she must be perfect to satisfy her mother—for everyone who has questioned God during trials—Blowing on Dandelions is for you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

HAVE YOU FINISHED YOUR BOOK and other questions

Many people know I'm a writer.  So the question they ask me (instead of "how are you?") is, "Have you finished your book?"

Hmm . . . in the words of my friend Cindy Hickey . . . "Which one?" Since I arrived in the nursing home last July, I turned in two books in August, one in October, one in December, one in February, one in May, and I'm closing in on my June 1st deadline.  It's been an extremely busy year, God's blessing in spite of my physical ailments.  (For a look inside my internal battle this month, check out, "Why did I quit my day job?" 

I have a box in the right column called "What I'm writing," broken into the four category my friend Janice Thompson pointed out: proposing, writing, editing, marketing. If you ever wonder what is involved in being a full time writer, check it out.

May 2013 is a month to celebrate: I have three new releases.  So I will give the pics, blurbs, and descriptions below.  Check them out, and hopefully buy one. 

Barncastle Memorial is my first venture into self-publishing an ebook. It is novella #7 in the Celebrate Any Time series, begun with Christmas at Barncastle Inn. My co-authors are Lynette Sowell (Springs Comes to Barncastle Inn), Susan Page Davis (Revolution at Barncastle Inn) and Janelle Mowery, who is writing a wild-west themed story for Father's Day.

Barncastle Memorial is, obviously, centered around Memorial Day and a tribute to our veterans, past and present. It's available only in ebook form for purchase for $.99 at  ASIN: B00CKVD5B8  

Hidden Dreams starts a new historical romance series in Maple Notch, Vermont. It is my first book with the new owners of the Heartsong bookclub, Love Inspired.  Hidden Dreams brings the Tuttle family into the early 20th century, when Wallace Tuttle must rescue Mary Anne from an accident--and the mob.
It's available for purchase at ISBN-13: 978-0373486564

Texas Brides is a novella anthology that include nine stories by seven of Christian fiction's best authors. It is a compilation of two earlier anthologies featuring Texas Rangers and a family of outlaws. My story, Angel in Disguise, is a Christian take on the Robin Hood myth. 
It's available for purchase at  ISBN-13: 978-1620294635

Also available for $.99 this month only (electronic format) is Knight Music, my contemporary romance on the Colorado plains where art thief meets artist.  
It's available for purchase at ISBN-13: 978-1616265311

Other highlights of the month: I had a "happily editor after" appointment with Emily Rodmell, editor of Love Inspired Historical, and she wants a complete proposal from me. Kathy Davis at Heartsong asked for a title change on the book I'm writing, so that has become Homefront Dreams. (Yes, it's book 3 in the series starting with Hidden Dreams.) 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I had decided not to think (overmuch) about how much I miss Mom and Jolene on this day. Yesterday God gave me comfort from the oddest verse in 2 Kings, and I wrote about it at

I intended positive news today until this morning, on GAC, the first time I have seen the video and never associated with country music, they played "Held" by Natalie Grant.  It goes in part "To think that providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling."

In context, the song appears to be about an infant, but it applies just as well in Jolene's case. And with Natalie, I know "this is what it means to be held."  The only thing that got me through those dark early days was the loving arms of God, holding me close.

If you don't know the song, go ahead and listen to it:

Even more poignant--the song was one Jolene's favorites. We played it at her funeral.

I can and do affirm that God held me and delivered me through a "bitter hard time," the words used in 2 Kings. Perhaps that is the key: As a Christian, the time was hard. But with God, it didn't have to make me bitter. I hope I'm not being "proud" to say that I'm not bitter about it. It was "bitter" hard, mentally painful, but I don't believe it has resulted in "deep-seated ill will."

I will leave it there . . . the room where I work is buzzing people setting up for a mother's day party. Too loud for me to come up with something new to say.  :)

For all the mothers out there with empty arms--my heart goes to you.
For all the daughters out there missing their mothers--we never grow too old for our mothers. (I had a lady with dementia come into my room the other night, calling me "mother."  I'm sure she's older than I am.)

But our God, who like a mother hen protects us under his wings, is here, with us, in the present. May you find rest in Him.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


About Eileen:  "Healing words for hurting hearts," is how Eileen Rife describes her books. Whether through
fiction or nonfiction, Eileen wants readers to come away with love that extends beyond themselves, faith that can see the impossible, and hope that endures against all odds.

As a child, Eileen loved writing and telling stories. Walking to school every morning, she created characters, then talked to them as she ambled down the road, which was often her way of dealing with grief and loss. After the death of her brother, Eileen learned to empathize with the underdog. Many of Eileen's stories revolve around issues that many find difficult to talk about--death, homosexuality, sex trafficking. Through her characters, she offers readers an opportunity to draw close, peel back the layers of their own hearts, and examine what lies within.

And added to the mix--romance, always a romance around one corner or another!

About the book:   One brother's dark secret. Another brother's scorn.
Newlyweds Gavin and Maggie Munsfield return to care for the sick and wounded at The Oasis Compound in Chennai, India, which is still suffering from the recent tsunami. Gavin's brother, Tim, a successful landscape architect, joins them for the clean-up and rebuilding of the Compound. But Tim harbors a dark past that threatens to destroy his relationship with his brother...and a promising new love. Will family ties be strong enough to bind two wounded hearts, once the secret is revealed

Author's links:

And now . . . Behind the book:
I’ve often wondered what secrets lay in the heart of the person sitting in the pew next to me. Is she grieving a lost love? Is he mourning the death of a spouse? Has she recently endured a serious illness or a divorce?
When my counselor husband asked me to write a pamphlet on homosexuality for his office several years ago, I reluctantly agreed. However, after I delved into research I realized I couldn’t do it. What I learned was simply too upsetting and depressing to continue. I wanted to help since five percent of his client case load struggled with this issue, but I couldn’t. So I dropped the project and wished him the best.
A few years passed and I endured some struggles of my own in which God had to reach deep within my heart and rescue me.  When I began brainstorming characters and plot line for book two, Restored Hearts, in the Born for India trilogy, seemingly out of nowhere the idea struck me that a character I’d introduced at the end of book one, Journey to Judah, would resurface in Restored Hearts as a young man who struggled with homosexuality.
I wondered why God would create a desire in me to tackle this topic. Intrigued, I jumped into research, but this time I didn’t give up, even when I thought I couldn’t go on. Even when I worried that my writing would not do justice to the topic.
The more I wrote, the more I began to identify with my central character Tim who desperately wanted to flee homosexuality once and for all. While I have not struggled with this issue, I have been held captive by other equally-destructive habits. My heart softened for this young man. I found myself rooting for him, praying for him, agonizing for him.
By the end of the novel, I celebrated with him. And my life was changed. I began to wonder if someone in the pew next to me suffered in silence with this sin.
Since writing this novel, God has allowed me to encourage several who’ve either struggled themselves or watched a family member struggle. I no longer view one sin as worse than another. I no longer laugh at homosexual jokes. I no longer wince when I’m in the presence of a homosexual.
Instead, I offer the love of Jesus, praying that the same God who redeemed me from all my sin will do the same for this individual.     

Sunday, May 5, 2013


As an author, I put a lot of thought into choosing my characters' names. So recently I decided to compile all the "top name" lists into a single document for each decade from 1800 through today. Not the top 10 names, mind you, but the top 200. So far I have made it through all the men's names.

Along the way, I made a few interesting discoveries: A core of names, maybe about 50 (not sure. I haven't finished my counting yet) of both men and women's names, have remained consistently popular over 200 years. In fact, the top three men's names remained the same from 1800-1910 (well, Charles snuck in as name #3 for a couple of decades): John, William, James.  

Another was how many of the men's names also are used as last names.  John William James is an example--it works as a perfectly fine first, middle, and last name. Here are few other names taken at random from the list: 
  • Herbert Matthew Willis
  • Philip Ira Harvey
  • Tom Herman Martin
  • Francis Daniel Lee
  • Kenneth Jesse Russell
So I don't need to look further than this list for my characters' last names as well. Although I have recently found a great list of the most common last names.

We have all met families where all the children share the same initial. "J" is a favorite of mine: Jesse, Jamie, Julie, Jennifer, John, Josiah. . . Jaran . . . Jolene

I haven't met too many families that choose all their names using vowels. But in Colonial times, "A" and "E" were the letters of choice. A lot of the names are biblical: Abraham, Absalom, Abner, Emmanuel, Elijah, Ezekiel. Then there is one "characteristic" name, Experience. And I have never heard the name Ammiras. 

A few names show the influence of famous people of the time. Roosevelt appears in the decade 1900-1909, when Theodore Roosevelt was president. Ulysses appears in the 1860s, when U.S. Grant led the Union army to victory. "Lincoln" also was popular in the 1860s. Grover Cleveland's influence was felt in the 1980s.  Washington was a popular name for several decades.

Other popular presidents aren't reflected in the name pool: FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan. 

I have decided this much: I need to start using my favorite names for my characters. I only have a limited number of books left to write; I may never use them all!

So Julia and Eleanor, Michael and Craig, here I come. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


 About Amanda: From the time that she was seven, Amanda Cabot dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when she set herself the goal of selling a book by her thirtieth birthday that the dream came true.  A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian historical romances.  Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim; Christmas Roses was a CBA bestseller; and Waiting for Spring, the second in her Westward Winds series, was released in January.

About the book: 

A new identity may protect her family—but can it protect her heart?

After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But she can find no rest from the ghosts of the past and flees to Cheyenne to put the pieces of her life back together.
Wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry must make a sensible match if he is to be elected senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming. He needs someone with connections. Someone without a past. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.
Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?

And now, behind the book: 

“Write what you know.”  I don’t think there’s a writer alive who hasn’t heard that advice.  It’s good advice – no doubt about that – but it isn’t the answer for every writer or every book.  Sometimes it’s important to go beyond your comfort zone and write about what you don’t know.  That’s what I did in Waiting for Spring

I’ve always been intrigued by family dynamics, which is one of the reasons the heroines of the three Westward Winds books are sisters.  Each of them, because of her birth order and her individual personality, views the world differently.  Abigail, the heroine of Summer of Promise, and With Autumn’s Return’s Elizabeth were relatively easy to write, since they’re single professional women.  

Even though I’ve been married for many years, I could identify with them.  Charlotte was a different story.  As Waiting for Spring begins, Charlotte is a young widow with a child.  I’ve never been widowed, and I have no children.  So why on earth did I choose to write about Charlotte?  The answer is simple: I wanted to know what her life was like.  I was writing not about something that I knew, but about something that intrigued me, something I wanted to learn more about.

I started asking myself questions and then searching for answers.  We all know that some women have the strong maternal instincts we associate with mama grizzlies, while others neglect or even abuse their children.  Why are they so different?  And what makes a good mother?  I had to create my own definition before I could proceed.

You won’t be surprised that Charlotte is one of the good mothers, the ones who’d do anything to protect their children.  If I left her at that, the story wouldn’t be interesting, and I wouldn’t have learned too much.  So, I complicated the situation.  Not only did I make Charlotte a single mother, but I made her the single mother of a special needs child in an era when those children were routinely sent to live in an asylum. 

I considered a number of different disabilities and did a lot of research (much of it heart-wrenching, I might add) into mental disabilities before I finally decided that Charlotte’s son David would be blind.  One of the reasons I ultimately chose blindness was that I knew something about it.  Yes, I was listening to those mentors who told me to write what I knew, although I was still stepping out of my comfort zone. 

My maternal grandmother, whose glaucoma resulted in blindness when she was in her seventies, lived with my family for four years when I was a child.  Seeing how Grandma reacted to her changed circumstances made an indelible impression on me, but of course life would have been very different for David, who was blind from birth.  More research was required.  I needed to learn how quickly blind children progressed, how their childhood milestones varied from children who were not visually impaired.  I needed to learn how blind children would have been taught in the late nineteenth century.  And, most of all, I needed to put myself into Charlotte’s shoes, feeling the pain that mingled with her love for her son.

Poor Charlotte.  Her life wasn’t easy.  As if being widowed and dealing with David’s blindness weren’t bad enough, she’s being pursued by an evil man, one who’ll do anything – even harming her son – to find the money he believes she has.  How will she keep David safe at the same time that she supports them both? 

I had to delve deep inside myself to learn the answers to those questions.  There were times when I shuddered, other times when I cried, and still others when I laughed as I created Charlotte and her life.  The process wasn’t always easy, but the result was that I see the world – and ‘see’ is a deliberate word choice – differently than I did before I wrote Waiting for Spring

So I say to those writers who are reading this, consider writing about what you don’t know.  The rewards may surprise you.

Amen, Amanda!  As a writer of historical fiction who has never lived on a farm, I often say, "write what you would like to know about, because you can always research."