Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Sound of Music

Total nerd alert!  I love the movie and can't wait for tonight's version with Carrie Underwood.  My husband's not big on kids dancing around in leiderhosen, so he's going to finish decorating the tree while I indulge in one of my favorite things.

What makes this movie so special to me?  The happy ending is part of it and I adore the love story between Maria and Captain Von Trapp, but mostly I enjoy the hope and the courage inherent in the story. It's about love in all its different shades--romantic, family, friendship. 

Seven hours to go! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


So I'm three weeks post-op and my first big outing is to Staples to make copies of the line edit for Until I Found You.  My husband was with me, but he headed to Walmart while I went for copies.  Should have been easy . . . I have money on my Express Card and about 220 pages to copy. 

How hard could it be . . .

Harder than you'd think.  Copier #1 jammed every ten pages or so. About 70 pages into this, I'm sweating, fatigued and ready to throw my hands in the air.  I switch to Copier #2 -- same thing. Jamming, low on paper. I'm thinking, "Okay, it's the ms paper. I have to get through this." Or maybe it's humid and the paper is just sticking. Either way, I need these copies.

God bless the store manager who came up to me without me asking. "I bet you're ready to throw this thing through the window."

"Just about . . ."

She restarted the copier, added paper, and the last 120 pages went through the machine like a dream. 

Whoever this manager is, THANK YOU.  You have know idea how much you helped a battle weary author at a rough moment. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Getting Back to Normal . . .

Tonight is Family Tuesday. Later today we'll be headed over to my mother-in-law's house and my husband will barbecue hot dogs for everyone.  No one does hot dogs like he does . . . it's the hickory smoke that makes them so good.

I'm looking forward to a tad bit of normal, but I'm reminded hourly that my body took a beating. A twinge here, a twinge there. Fatigue sets in when I don't expect it.  Anyone I know who has had surgery nods sympathetically and tells me to take it slow.  They understand the weirdness of it, the strange loss of energy, the mental  . . . fuzz . . . that comes and goes. I'm grateful for friends who pat me on the shoulder and say, "It'll get better." 

I'm sure it will, but for now I'm taking it easy. It's a good place to be. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not a TV Person But . . .

I've been recording Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and watching them after my husband goes to bed or during the day when my body demands a rest.  Cheesy?  Yes. Corny? Yes.  But I tear up at them, enjoy the romance, and celebrate the Happy Ever Afters.

In general, I watch very little television.  I just can't get into it except for American Idol (though it's pretty old now) and Dancing With The Stars (mostly because a friend watches we enjoy critiquing).  As for horror flicks and TV series, I just don't need the gloom and doom in my head. Cheesy or not, Hallmark movies are real for me.  No one's life is perfect, but neither are we doomed to misery and suffereing. If I never see another end-of-the-world type show, I'll be happy.

I wonder . . . what's the attraction?  Why do viewers enjoy the gore and the fear?  What makes some of his Hallmark fans and while others are fans for horror films? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Reboot

My youngest son cooked dinner this year.  We kept it small, just the four of us because I still wear out quickly, but we had a wonderful day.  The food came out perfect--turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans with bacon, mac n' cheese, sweet potatoes, rolls, cheesecake and cherry pie.

It's times like this when I think of my mom. What a joy to pass these traditions on to the next generation.  One tradition that isn't getting passed on is rutabagas.  Looks like I'm the last of the Bylins who actually likes mashed yellow turnips. In the back of my head, I hear my entire family shouting, "Good! Rutabagas are awful!"

So much to be grateful for!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

One Last Trip Around the Mountain

So back to last week and the hospital. It's Wednesday night.  I'm one week post op from the hysterectomy, and the kidney failure is resolved. At this point I'm waiting to get rid of the catheter and to have the stents removed. I don't want to cross into TMI (too much info, and some might think I already have) but here's what happened: they took out the cath and left the stents in with plans to remove them in the morning. 

So the pain starts around 9 pm. It's not all that bad, but enough for a pain pill.  An hour later, it's worse and it's different from the surgical pain I'm used to. This is on the right side in the back, isolated, and equivalent to a glowing red brick.  The nurse and I do the "what would you rate your pain" game for a while. 1 to 2 -- headache level for me. 3 to 4 -- worth taking something.  5 to 6--bring on the heavy stuff.  7 to 8 -- knock me out.  This pain hit 10. That's the point where my mind checked out.  All I remember is praying one words, "Jesus . . . Jesus . . . " over and over. I can't begin to describe how vivid that moment still is to me.  Pain, yes.  But there was such comfort in that prayer.  And peace. 

At some point the nurse called the doctor and he had her replace the catheter.  The pain ebbed in a breath and eased even more with a second breath. By breath #3, I was comfortable enough to fall sound asleep.  I woke up six hours later feeling . . . perfectly fine.  No pain. Completely rested.  It all felt like a dream.  Turns out a bladder spasm caused the trouble. We waited another day; the doctor took the stents out; and everything worked like it should.  My son drove me home on a gray day that was anything but gloomy.

Home!  Finally. It's been almost a week now and I'm feeling better every day. I'm glad, but part of me is clinging to these memories because they changed something deep and internal.  I don't ever want to be flippant with my faith or to take God's hand lightly. Or to turn him into an errand boy -- "Get me out of here, Mr. Wizard!"

My biggest take away from all this -- That little yellow flower in the tapestry belongs to a world far bigger and more beautiful than it can comprehend. There's beauty in pain, beauty in healing. There's joy in coming home, but there's also joy in a hospital bed when the future is uncertain and you know that somehow God knows, and it's okay--whatever it turns out to be.

It's Thanksgiving. That strikes me as the perfect to say it again, "Thank you God! Amen and Amen!"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Amazing Grace & Blooming Gardens

So back to the story . . . I'm in the hospital for the second time, hurting, nauseous and miserable.  To be honest, I was pretty much everything but scared.  It never occurred to me that the nausea was more than just that. I figured I'd get fixed up and be on my way home.  But they did a CT scan and the blood work came back.

The next day it was definitive: acute renal failure. 

I'll never forget hearing those words, but at the same time, the moment wasn't real.  A good looking young doctor stood at the foot of the bed and very carefully walked me through the events that led to the moment--the pain meds, the nausea, the stomach stuff, the blood pressure medicine. Then he said that my kidneys had essentially stopped working.  The chances of them coming back? He declined to say which I understand. He had a stethoscope, not a crystal ball.  The IV treatment stuff started big time. The pastor of our church and a good friend came and we prayed. I can't remember a single word, just that sense of abiding in God's presence, that certainty that that He knew all about this mess and that I was safe in a way that defied test results.

That night I had a cystoscopy plus stents put in by a doc who could have been an extra in MASH.  Seriously, he reminded me of Alan Alda. Turns out he's an old trauma surgeon. Compassion oozed from that man. When he looked at me and said he did this all the time and could do it in his sleep, I believed him.

So they knocked me out again, I had the procedure, and the waiting began to see if my kidneys would jumpstart. 

Still, no fear.  Just that sense of God is God.  If I can trust him with my eternal soul, surely I can trust him with my earthly body.  This doesn't mean I expected to be healed. It means I knew God would be with my family and me wherever the path led, even to a life on dialysis as remote as that seemed.  I had a dream that night about a tapestry being woven.  I was a little yellow flower. Friends and family were other types of plants and flowers, but the main thing about that image was that the tapestry was being woven by God one needle prick at a time, and that those flowers were all connected in an amazing garden of beauty.  

It's sounds a little pain-induced now, but that dream is embedded in my brain.  The oneness I felt with God and community--everyone from family to friends to church friends to nurses and docs--was beyond description.

We got word the next afternoon that my kidney function was back to 100% normal.  That's when it hit . . . I was on the mend.  As things turned out, there was one more ordeal . . . more on that later.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just Two Weeks Ago? Really?

Two weeks ago tomorrow I went "into the shop" for some routine girl surgery -- a laparoscopic hysterectomy and some other related stuff. No worries . . . the docs do stuff like this every day. I'm extremely healthy and generally heal fast.

Everything went just fine and I felt better than I expected when leaving the hospital after an overnight stay.

 Twenty-our hours later, the nausea hit. 

I don't know if it was the pain meds, eating too much too soon, or what . . . but once it started, I was in trouble and didn't know it.  I toughed it out from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning with doctor calls, different anti-nausea meds, different pain meds, tried to drink a lot of water, kept some down, but not all.  It was just awful, and my poor husband went through it with me.  I kept insisting that healing takes time, which it does, but it's important to know when the healing isn't happening at all.

Finally I stopped arguing and we went back to the hospital. Trying to "tough it out" was one of the stupidest mistakes I've ever made . . . That's the start of tomorrow's story.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Coincidence? I Don't Think So

I'm going to "out" myself as a bit of a nut with this post, but this really happened.  I posted yesterday about the Multiply simulcast and how it impacted me. 

Today I started the day with flat-on-the-floor prayer, the kind where you smell the carpet and it scratches your nose. You're a little bit cold because it's 5 a.m., but that's okay because the chill wakes you up. The dog probably thought I was dead. He came to sniff, decided I was breathing and curled up back under the covers. 

That prayer time was for family, friends, the book, and for me to remember who God is.

I hit the computer, worked on Chapter 8 some more and took the dog for a walk. So here are the coincidences that made my jaw drop.

1.  Two blocks from home I saw a car with California plates. That alone is fairly unusual here in Lexington, but these plates were in a frame that said Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is my old stomping ground and it plays a part in "Until I Found You." I've never seen Bakersfield plates in KY before now.

2.  A block later, I saw an old car in a driveway.  Super old . . . like vintage. I get closer and it's a 1960-sometning Chevy Impala SS. Not just a Chevy Impala, but an SS.  Would you believe the hero in my book has a classic Chevy Impala SS?  His is 1962 because that's what my dad had, but still, it counts.  I've never seen this car before. What are the odds?

3.  A friend at church often tells me about her granddaughter.  Today she told me about the little girl's mermaid costume.  My jaw dropped, because . . . you guessed it. The little girl in my book is infatuated with mermaids.  Mermaids? At church?  I don't think I've ever talked mermaids at church before.

Here's why this stuff matters to me.  I believe in a God who has supernatural power.  Make that:

People often argue against the resurrection this way: It didn't happen, because it couldn't happen, so it didn't happen.  But what if it COULD happen and what if it DID happen?  What if Jesus Christ really is Who He says He is?

What if he's the kind of God who loves a tired, struggling writer enough to send her love letters in the form of license plate holders, vintage cars and mermaid costumes? 

What if? Make that:


Coincidence? I don't think so.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Multiply Simulcast

Last night I attended "Multiply," a three-hour video conferences with David Platt and Frances Chan about making disciples. 

Three hours on an uncomfortable chair.

Three hours with the uncomfortable realization that I'd lost my first love. 

But it was also three hours in the presence of a loving, almighty, merciful God . . . the God who sent his son first, then the Holy Spirit, to empower us to do his work.  Make that:


That was my biggest take-away last night--a reminder of who God is. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords gives us supernatural power to do the work he's called us to do. We are connected to God the Father. Make that:


I don't need to sweat out Chapter 8 (it's a tough one). I need to pray and give it to God.  This book is his--not mine.  I'm the scribe, or maybe an empty tube of a pen in need of spiritual ink. Frankly, I'm a lousy writer and a fairly good editor. No wonder I've been tired, dragging, and a little burned out. Like the Little Engine that Could, I've been chugging along in my own strength, writing this book to a schedule, pushing myself at the day job, and juggling some family/health things.

Go! Go! Go!

Do! Do! Do!

And all the time, God's been whispering, "Pray about it, Child."  Make that:


This isn't the first time I've been around this mountain. It probably won't be the last, but for now I'm back on track. The Little Engine That Could is taking on fresh coal today. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Research & POV

My current manuscript has a child's POV in it.  Wow, that's tough to write . . . much harder than I imagined, especially since my character has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  A few weeks ago I asked for recommendations of books with the child's POV over at Facebook, and I'm working my way through them.

This one is just amazing . . . Mockingbird.  It's about a ten-year-old girl with Asperger's who is processing her brother's death.  Not only is it a study in Asperger's, it's a terrific example of deep third person POV, where you are in the character's mind so thoroughly that feel every word. 

Highly recommended!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Brush With the Government Shutdown

I'm sending my fictional friends (characters) on a camping trip to Anacapa Island.  It's one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California (think Island of the Blue Dolphins) and is part of a national park.  While researching ways to get to the island, I clicked on "make reservations" on a website and received a "Closed due to the Government Shutdown" notice.

My research can certainly wait. But I couldn't help but think of the countless people affected by the closure. Tourists. Business owners. Employees. Some Federal workers. All of us, really, because of the insecurity and insanity lurking in the air.

In fiction, a novelist works to resolve conflict, or at least to understand it. If a scene doesn't work, we start over.  And if a character doesn't cooperate , he or she gets rewritten or sent to the recycle bin. Like fiction, our government is a work in progress.  I hope the powers-that-be get their act together soon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Picture In A Wallet

The guy in front of me in line was dressed in old dirty clothes, including a baseball cap with the American flag.  He walked with a crutch and had the glittery eyes of someone struggling to understand his surroundings. A veteran from the Vietnam era?  Maybe. Cigarette smoke wafted off his shirt. So did the smell of the street--a mix of sweat, grime and exhaust.  Or maybe exhaustion . . . It can't be easy to live in his skin.

He opened his wallet to pay.  The leather was in the same condition as the rest of him, and so was the stack of smudged business cards, wrinkled ID cards, other notes. The wallet held a grimy, depressing mess except for one full-color photograph of a girl in her late teens, smiling with perfect white teeth, her brunette hair long on her shoulders.

The picture had been taken recently judging by the girl's clothing and its pristine condition. A daughter? A niece?  I'll never know, but I wonder who she is, and if she knows what a bright spot she is in this man's life. I hope she does.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Favorite Bookstores & Book Covers

I'm a regular Amazon customer. My favorite birthday / Christmas gift is an Amazon gift card so I can load up the Kindle or order hard copies.

At the same time, I visit brick-and-mortar bookstores as often as I can. Browsing online has some advantages (I'm sucker for the "if you like this book, you'll like this one too" sections), but it's not the same as randomly picking up a book because . . . well just because. Anything can grab my attention: a catchy title, an author I enjoy, or just as likely, a new-to-me author; or the cover, the blurb . . . even the font on the spine.

This is on my mind because I'm hoping to see the cover for "Until I Found You" in the next few days.  I can hardly wait! In fact, it feels the same as my very first book, maybe because UIFY is a true book of my heart--a story conceived while I browsed old style bookstores B. Dalton, Waldenbooks and Crown Books.

Sometimes the past and present . . . this is one of those days.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thoughts on Worship . . .

At Southland Christian Church last night, the pastor said something that struck me as both kind and respectful. He was talking about the church's vision to involve young people in church when he stopped in the middle and focused for a moment on the older folks in the crowd--the ones who aren't so thrilled with modern music and loud praise bands. 

I can't quote exactly, but basically he thanked the older folks (and there were a lot of them) for giving up their musical preferences in order to meet the needs of the next generation(s). There was no rancor, no "you're not hip and cool if you don't like loud music." Just simple respect.  I have to say, it touched me deeply.  My husband too.

I don't think of myself as old, but I'm definitely on the border. Just about any kind of worship appeals to me.  When we went to a Lutheran church in California, I fell in love with the liturgy that included a chant-like hymn called "This is the Feast of Victory For Our God."  It was easy to lose myself in the music because it became embedded in my brain from repetition. The melody is simple, lilting and just beautiful.  I still hum that hymn and find peace in it.

I can lose myself in some contemporary songs too.  My current favorite is "Oceans." Wow. Just Wow. It's God-focused, poetic and about the struggle to live by faith. I'm less enamored by songs that are "me" focused. They're fine on the radio or as a personal prayer, but they strike me as more private than a song that's written to be sung by a group that's come together for the purpose of praising our Lord and Creator.

I personally think rock n' roll is inherently narcissistic in its performance style.  Just look at Mick Jagger, even Springsteen (whose music I like a lot). We're focused on the performance, on the person singing, the rock star.  The audience may join in on "Born to Run," but the focus is on The Boss (and I mean Bruce here). 

What if churches did something that was done in the Middle Ages? Back then, the choir was in the back of the church, and the people faced the altar in the front. What if we put the band in the back of the church and we all faced forward and simply closed our eyes, or stared at the cross?  What if we just turned around for a few minutes and blocked out the noise and lights and graphics and paused to  be still and know that he is God? 

I'm fine with light shows and graphics, but mostly I close my eyes to block out the distractions.  Of course, that's just me. Other Christians find God in the very things I find distracting.  No problem. I can worship wherever God puts me.  As a dear writer friend often says, "We're snowflakes and thumb prints."  Let's embrace our differences.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Act of Kindness

Allergies . . . ugh.  I could really do without the sore throat, stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy throat, etc., but what happened yesterday is the sort of thing that puts the silver in the silver linings in the Kentucky clouds dotting the sky. 

After a long morning at the day job (I work p/t in a doctor's office), I headed to Kroger's to pick up pistachios, peaches, and . . .  something else. What was it? Aha!  Allergy medicine . . . but I didn't realize it until I was out of the store and on New Circle heading home.  Bone tired and miserable, I decided to run into Walgreen's.

So there I am in the Cold / Allergy / Pain Reliever aisle, looking sneezy and befuddled because I can't find the brand I want, which is Coricidon.  It's the only thing I can take . . . Anyhow, the  aisle is huge and after a long day, the boxes were floating in front of my itchy eyes. 

"Can I help you find something?" 

I turned and saw that the pharmacy clerk had come from behind the counter. I told her what I needed and she fetched it immediately from behind the back room. This young lady made my day . . . You know that moment when you see God at work?  I've been thinking a lot about kindness lately--both the giving and receiving it. 
I want to give it,  generously and always. But  today I received it . . . I hope this young lady has a wonderful weekend, because she made me feel a lot better.  The medicine is helping too!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Plans for Saturday . . .

Up at 5:30 a.m. when my hubby leaves for work.

Write until 7:45 a.m.

Walk the dog . . . his favorite part of the day.

Breakfast with friends at Windy Corners here in Lexington.

Home around 10:30 a.m.

Internet time and more  writing.

A phone call or two to out-of-state friends.

Chores . . . laundry never ends.

Saturday evening service at Southland Christian Church.

Somewhere in there I need to get in a two-mile walk. Nothing helps creativity like exercise and healthy eating.  Can't say I enjoy it all the time, but I like the results.

Oh!  If the horses show up at the back fence, I'll break out the carrots. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I'm Reading . . .

I just love it when I get lost in the story and forget that I'm actually reading . . . Melissa's book--her first--is doing that for me. Love both characters!  I'm on page 103 and have no idea how it's going to end.

Take a look over at Amazon . . . Made To Last

I should see my own cover any day now. I'm as excited as I was for my first book . . . maybe even more so!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Fun Moment . . .

My sister-in-law was browsing at a yard sale when she saw a big box of Love Inspired Historicals.  She spotted Brides of the West.  It's always fun to imagine someone reading one of my books, then passing it on.  Mass market paperbacks are meant to be read, not put on display. 

I've seen used copies of my HHs at Half-Price Books here in Lexington.  I'm happy to say Abbie's Outlaw was dog-eared--a sign someone enjoyed it!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Website

I can hardly wait!!!!  After five years, I'm trading in the cowboy boots on  for something modern and upbeat.  I loved those boots. They were a perfect fit for my old westerns, but I'm even more excited about doing something new.

Colors?  I can't decide between bright and cheerful, or subtly passionate and evocative.

I like red and gray together. Kind of odd, but it's looks great on the screen.

My favorite color is turquoise, but it's kind of blah on a screen.

I buy books with pretty landscapes, but I hear that readers like people on covers.  Do I put my new photo on page one or just with the bio?

The book pages need to be organized by the type of book, since I have mainstream westerns, inspirational westerns and an inspirational contemporary.

I like sites with a clean, readable look.  The faster, the better.

"Behind the Book" tabs always get my interest.

I'm sure there's more.   Aiming for October 15th for the big unveil . . .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Researching FAS

My next book features a little girl coping with FAE. That stands for Fetal Alcohol Effects. I just love her and want very much to do justice to her character, to real life kids with FAS/E and to their caregivers who are some of the most remarkable people I've come across through blogs, online forums, etc..

I don't usually enjoy research.  For my western historicals, I viewed research as a means to an end.  I usually needed facts related to a timeline, things like "When were children's picture books first published?" or "Could my hero buy cut flowers for the heroine Cheyenne in 1872?"  Those were for Wyoming Lawman. Accuracy is important, of course. It builds the story and character, but what I'm researching now takes me to an all new place.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Question . . .

What advice would you give someone who has tried over and over to break a bad habit?  Too much alcohol, too much food, too much Internet time, porn, gambling, gossip . . . The list of habits is endless. I'm talking about things that control a person's decisions, things that keep them from changing their lives and being more content. These are things a person wants to stop but just can't.

This question hit me at church today. The teaching was about discipline.  Believe me, I'm all for discipline. I need it badly.  I also have it to some degree. A person can't write to a deadline without plopping one's butt in the chair and doing it on the days when the ideas are flat and the plot just isn't happening. I'm also sorely lacking in discipline when it comes to dawdling on the Internet and healthy eating. I don't like to cook, which leads to unhealthy snacking.  I'd rather wolf down peanuts and string cheese than stop to make a salad or a turkey sandwich. A bowl of cereal is a lot easier to fix than a veggie omelet.

So back to that question . . . What do you tell that person who has failed over and over again?  Do you give them a pep talk?  Do you say, "If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again?"  Do you tell them they wouldn't sin if they had more faith?  Do you tell them that they're dishonoring God and their faith? 

Or do you say what Paul said in Romans 7?  To paraphrase: "I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I do want to do . . ."  Man, I relate to that!

I also relate to Romans 8 . . . it's here that Paul reminds us that Christ died to set us FREE. We're spiritual beings as well as fleshly beings. We struggle with that dichotomy, but Christ defeated sin on the cross. That's a little Christian-ese-y.  Maybe a 12th Step Program paraphrase would help:  We admit we're powerless over sin and humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.  HE did / does the heavy lifting. We approach the throne of grace through prayer and his Word, but when push comes to shove, He's God and I'm not.  I can try and try and try to do what's good for me, a.k.a. uphold the law, but I'm doomed to fail without the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul understood this when he wrote, "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?"  After starting out with a strong faith in the work of Christ on the cross, the church in Galatia slid into trusting their own efforts to uphold the law. 

I don't want to be a Galatian.  I also want to be 20 lbs. lighter.   So . . . a prayer: "Lord, here we go again. Help me to lean on you and not my own strength. Help me to choose wisely. Help to resist those old stupid habits. Amen."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Walking & Creativity

I used to think that the spot at the bottom of the stairs leading from my office to the kitchen was magical.  It worked every time . . . I'd get stuck on a scene, decide to get coffee, and wham-o!  At the bottom of the stairs I'd have a new idea. 

Now I know a bit more about how the body and mind work together.  There's something about walking that coordinates the right and left sides of the brain. The movement does something for me.  I don't know exactly what, but the quickest way for me to break through to a new perspective is to get up out of chair and just . . . move.

So, since I'm kind of muddling in Chapter Four of the new book--I always muddle in Chapter Four--I think that's what I'll do . . . get up and take a walk on this glorious August morning. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I'm Reading . . .

I love reading on airplanes. There's nothing else to do, nothing to think about.  I suppose I could have broken out the laptop and worked on Chapter 4, but it's too crowded and who can concentrate on a new story?  Not me. I'd rather read.

For the trip to Denver, I went historical with Elizabeth Camden's Against The Tide.  Awesome book!  It's about the opium trade in Boston, a man desperate to redeem his past and woman working as a translator. No spoilers, but Bane is a fabulously tortured hero and Lydia is his equal in every way.

Fascinating setting. Great characters. Spiritual themes . . . Definitely my kind of book!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writer Moment

I finished the revisions for Until I Found You about two weeks ago.  Once I'm done with a book, I don't like to look at it again, not even when it's in print.  But there's a moment where the finished ms is like wet paint . . . I just have to touch it one more time, to take one more glance to see if it's as complete as I thought it was when I typed "The End."

I just had that moment with Until I Found You.  Whew!  Nothing made me cringe, except one little itty-bitty typo.  On to the next ms . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Favorite Devotional . . .

The fever is spreading among my friends.  We talk about Oswald Chambers like he's in the room with us, when in fact he's been dead a very long time.  We trade notes and stand gaping with her eyes wide and amazed at how personal this little devotional is for each of us. In email exchanges, he's nicknamed OC.

His wife actually put this little book together in the 1930 several years after he passed on. It's from a series of sermons he gave at a college for ministers-to-be.  All that detail is in the intro.

I read somewhere that next to the Bible, My Utmost for His Highest is the best selling book in the Christian market. Why?  What makes it so special?  What makes a devotional more than a flash in the pan, or merely The Next Big Thing?  I'd say it's authenticity. This little book reaches out to the human soul right where it is--short-fallen, suffering, confused and just plain human.  There's no happy-doodle Christianity here. No emotionalism. No feel-good cheerleading. It's about picking up the cross and following Christ, being broken bread and out-poured wine, dying to our own desires and doing what is hard for our bodies but life-giving to our hearts. .

I sometimes joke that it's the "Dear Vicki Book."  It's been that relevant to the ups and downs of the past few years. I'm off to read today's devotional . . . You can too if you'd like . . .

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This n' That

I have a decision to make . . . Do I go with a custom designed website, or do I play here on Blogger and do it myself?  I love being hands-on, but there's something wonderful about big, glitzy, well designed website. 

So . . . I'm experimenting for a few months.  I'm going to try this on for size and see how I like it. 

I have awhile . . . my next book comes out in May 2014, so the plan is to give this try and see how I like blogging regularly.  I'm thinking of a schedule . . . maybe 3x a week. 

Monday:  Books & Writing

Wednesday:  Spiritual Rambling

Friday: The Hartley Chronicles

Hartley's our Jack Russell/Beagle mix and he's uniquely entertaining.  How many dogs do you know who are afraid of beeping cell phones?  We're talking terrified . . . like cringing and slinking under the bed.  Poor baby.  One of the things we love about Hartley is that he's so much like us and God.  We think we're hiding, but we're not.  We're terrified of things that aren't the least big threatening when we understand them. 

Let the experiment begin!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Under construction . . .

Welcome!  After 14 books with Harlequin and Love Inspired Historicals, I took a leap of faith and jumped over to single title contemporary romance. I'm happy to say that my next book is called Until I Found You, and it's being pubbed by Bethany House in May 2014. 

I'm smack in the middle of redoing everything from my website to bookmarks. Until things here are up and running, my current website is