My photo

I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Week in the Life

Some weeks go by in a routine blur without a single notable occurrence.  Five nights at work, two days off to recuperate, and then round the bend to more of the same.  Hours at the computer that raise the word and page counts but barely keep up with the story percolating in my brain.  Calendar days marked off, just so I can remind myself of today's date.

Not this past week!  In case you missed it, I had a week to remember!

It started off on Monday with this.  http://www.lilybearhouse.com/2013/06/big-announcements.html,
the announcement of my signing with LilyBear House.  I have a publisher!  I'm no longer alone on this journey.  I have a team of wonderfully creative and supportive folks traveling with me now.  I frankly never saw this one coming.  It popped up out of the blue, thanks to a serendipitous FB friendship and a nudge from God reminding me that we are never really alone. 

On Thursday, I had a double dose of excitement.  I took part in a FB "likefest" with hundreds of other like-minded people.  As a result, I now have 125 new connections on my fan page.  Writers, illustrators, editors and collectives who are filling my newsfeed with exciting and provocative posts.  I'm spending way too much time on FB right now just soaking it all in!

In the midst of that, on Thursday morning I hauled myself out of bed earlier than usual to "put myself together" in advance of the dreaded photo shoot.  If I'm going to be a real published author, I should have a real professional headshot on my new covers, right?  Ugh!  I wish I could use a picture from 1970 and pretend that's what I still look like.  But no, I'm going to put my current face out there for the world to see, sags, bags and all!

Thanks to a very skilled photographer who understood how self-conscious I was feeling, the shoot was painless, almost fun, and the results were surprisingly okay.  Any woman my age is lying if she says really likes the way she looks to the camera, even in the best pose and focus, but I didn't cringe (maybe just a little, right at first) and I immediately put my two favorites up for my FB friends to see.  My face is now all over the place, and shockingly, I'm feeling pretty good about that.  We all get older, we all change, and I suspect when we look in the mirror, we all wonder how that happened so quickly.  The woman in this picture looks like someone I wouldn't mind sitting down to coffee with or even introducing to my readers.  I hope they'll see a love of living in her eyes, and the humor lurking behind those laugh lines, someone who hopes they get as much pleasure from reading her words as she got from putting them on paper. 

And now on to another week.  After this one, I think a little routine blur might be okay.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Big News!

These are my books, or at least most of them.  So far I've done everything myself, written them, published them, promoted them.  It's been a huge learning experience and one I'll never regret taking on.  But now something really wonderful has happened.  I've been signed by the family of wonderfully talented creative minds at LilyBear House Publishing.  Now my books and I will have the support, encouragement and expertise of a team as we move on to the next leg of the journey. 

Did you click on the link?  Go ahead, click it!  And keep checking in here for more on my journey as a "published" author!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Controlling Turns the Tables

I just finished reading all the various and sundry ways to apply the word control.  I won't take up this entire post with the numerous definitions, but I will tell you what I came away thinking about this much-used and possibly misused word as it applies to my life as a writer.

Back when I first started writing for real (as opposed to writing to prove I couldn't) I kept it a closely guarded secret.  I told no one, not even my husband, who knows everything about me if he chooses to listen to my free-flowing self-revelations.  I think I wanted to conceal my activity so there would be no need for excuses when it came to a disappointing halt.  I left myself an easy out--nobody would get hurt when I put down the smoking keyboard and chose to walk away, guilty of the demise of yet another floundering story-line.

But that didn't happen, obviously.  Five books later, I'm still writing and now I'm willing to tell the world about it.  Still, I've kept a tight rein on how I told the world.  I chose to self-publish because I made the decision that my work would never be picked up by an agent and certainly not by a publisher.  It's too long, not the most popular genre, my characters are not the typical brooding business tycoon and down-on-her-luck beauty queen, or alternatively the rocker bad boy and repressed geek girl.  I chose instead to throw my babies to the wolves, in hopes of getting a little feel for what readers, should there be any, thought about my sweet little red-haired violinist and my practical,/mystical farm girl.  Control over readers is not a thing anyone gets, but seeing instantly if and when a book sold, who posted a review, where I placed my random promotions, and when the pennies dropped into my bank account gave me a sense of having the upper hand.

My safe little corner!
Funny thing about that.  The upper hand has taken control of me. While I'm still selling and hearing nice things from readers, the work of promoting and the frustration of being out of my element when it comes to selling myself is taking its toll.  I sometimes wish my writing were still a well-kept secret, that I was still hidden away at my little desk, free from the sense of responsibility I now feel to these books.  They've been well-enough received that I want to see them do even better, reach more readers.  But if I spend all day worrying about how and where to sell them, I won't get any more written, and amazingly, I think I have more to write!

It may be time to change the game plan.  I admit I need help, support, and probably some form of intervention to break the routine that's fragmenting my focus between writing and selling.  I would  still want to be closely involved with the books, their content and promotion, and I would never relinquish the direct contact with readers, but I think I'm ready to share some of the decisions with someone who can take a more business-like (and less parental) approach.  That said, I'm waiting for a sign, just as my favorite farm girl would advise, to point me to the next step.  Keep your fingers crossed, will you, that I recognize it when it lands in front of me?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Shannon's Daughter--A Look Inside

After a lot of debate, internal of course, I've made a decision.  You've read about my work on Shannon's Daughter, you've even seen the cover.  How risky is it to show you a sample chapter?  Not terribly, or at least that's my hope.  Just keep in mind that this is still draft, subject to my proofreader's scrutiny and my own revisions before it's ready for primetime.  This bit takes place at the opening of the second chapter in the saga of Kendall Gregg and Peg Shannon, set in 1952 in New York City.  They've already met briefly some years earlier, when Kendall was a student at Oxford and Peg was only twelve.  Related only in the sense that Kendall's widowed mother married Peg's Uncle Patrick, they are part of the same family, but not actual cousins.  While their relationship has thus far been warm, at times intense and even humorous, things are about to escalate to a whole new level.
Cue the lights, and . . .curtain!
Chapter Eight

In the five years before they met again, Kendall would frequently wonder about the little girl who had made his first encounter with the Shannons so memorable.  He had reports of course, from his mother, from Adelaide and Maeve and even Agnes.  Now residing in London, the McGill ladies were a larger part of his social life than he’d have liked, given a choice.  That said, he’d become accustomed to playing escort when required and learned to tune out much of what annoyed him most about each of the girls, specifically Maeve’s unceasing discussion of her romantic escapades and Agnes’s constant censuring of the same.  If those two were actually sisters, offspring of the same parents, he had difficulty understanding how they could be such polar opposites.  Maeve, he worried, would end up in serious trouble if she kept up her pursuit of men, in particular those of dubious reputation, and Agnes would most likely become a nun. 

His only direct contact with Peg had been a card each December, an engraved Christmas card—apparently one of hundreds designed for Michael’s annual social and business mailing list—on which she had hand-written “Happy Birthday, too!  Peg.”  He had not responded.  After his return from Ireland, Peg had been so much on his mind, he’d become concerned for his own mental stability.  Leaving her had been a gut-wrenching experience, one he had taken months to completely recover from.  He had worried about her trip back to the states, fretted that her father would not take proper care of her once they were home again, lost sleep countless nights fantasizing about sailing to New York to rescue her from some unknown but awful state of affairs.  Only when he returned to Oxford did he begin to shake off the effects of his encounter with Peg.  He’d thrown himself single-mindedly, and a little desperately, into his studies and eventually found some relief. 

Gradually, the image of her intelligent eyes and impudent smile had faded.  He ceased to hear the echo of her voice in his mind and the worry stilled to mild concern.  She was not his responsibility, and he had no influence over any aspect of her life, he reminded himself regularly.  What had happened during those days in Ireland—he still wasn’t sure how to label it—had little to do with his real life.  It had, however, spurred him to new hope for that life, for which he was profoundly grateful.

During his remaining two years at university, he discovered something quite encouraging about himself—a renewed desire to become a success.  Ambition seemed to seize him by the throat and force him to strive harder than he’d ever thought he could, with the result that he caught the attention of his teachers and eventually one of the deans, whose connections with the London Philharmonic led to an audition.  He hadn’t been offered a chair, that was too much to hope for so soon, but he believed he’d made an impression, and that had served to further fuel his ambition.  With focus and determination, he began to think he might actually achieve his goals and build a life around his work, if nothing else. 

Patrick Shannon had been wholeheartedly supportive of Kendall’s ambition, that support taking the form of purchasing a very fine violin as a graduation gift and providing a temporary monthly supplement to his meager earnings as first violin with a loosely organized quartet.  That, combined with the small income from a trust fund left him by his father, enabled him to lease a quite decent flat, where he could give lessons by day, and entertain friends by night.  The students, youngsters whose parents at least had a passing interest in music and funds to waste, and the friends, mostly female and rarely the sort he’d ever introduce to his mother, kept him sufficiently occupied to keep his mind off weightier matters.  For the first time in years, he was actually content and felt more his old, optimistic self than he’d ever thought possible. 

He’d discovered that there were a surprising number of independently minded women who admired a musician’s ambitions while respecting his limited means.  He seemed to attract slightly older women, thirtyish, often married to by their account boring barristers or businessmen, who liked his looks, his manners and his skill on the dance floor.  They invited him to clubs and parties and then invited themselves back to his flat where they took advantage of whatever other talents they felt he possessed.  Often, he was no more than a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board or someone to sympathize with the humdrum of their lives.  Other times, he was called upon to provide support of a more intimate nature, which he had learned to do with sensitivity while resisting any emotional involvement.  If he occasionally looked in the mirror and called himself a pathetic gigolo, the taunt was something he felt he could live with in the short term in exchange for the material benefits, the meals, theater tickets and even gifts of clothing and jewelry his grateful friends provided.  It wasn’t as if he had hopes of finding a nice girl to fall in love with and marry.  Perhaps someday he might consider a relationship of a more permanent nature, but only if he had the good fortune to find that rarest of creatures, an undemanding and open-minded woman.

In July of 1952 he was called to audition again for the Philharmonic.  Cautiously hopeful, he’d given what he felt was his best performance, had a nice chat with the conductor and the concertmaster, and then, with breakneck determination, finished his packing, wrapped up a final social engagement or two and with his mother and stepfather, boarded a train for Southampton and from there a boat to New York City. 
Michael Shannon had been in poor health for the past two years, and unable to make his annual trip to the British Isles.  While the family gatherings in County Carlow were now a thing of the past, with the farm leased and Adelaide relocated to London, the siblings had continued to meet at least once a year.  Adelaide and her daughters had made the trip to New York earlier in the spring, in time for Peg’s debutante ball, and Patrick had chosen to go in July, planning to meet up with Sean and Maureen, currently on an extended vacation in Canada.  At Patrick’s insistence, and expense, Kendall was included, with the understanding that Michael would introduce him to at least a few of his impressive list of associates in New York’s classical music community.

In the frantic preparations for departure, Kendall had worn himself ragged.  The stress of the audition alone had cost him sleep, and the social commitments had been of a nature to further deprive him of rest.  In fact, on the morning of their departure, he had barely sent his bleary-eyed but immensely grateful companion packing, before the taxi occupied by his mother and Patrick had pulled up to his door. 

“Kendall, you look positively awful, darling!” had been his mother’s chipper, pre-dawn greeting.

“Sorry, Mother.  But I’ve been over-booked this week, trying to get all the lessons in and then there was the little matter of the audition.”

“You look as though you haven’t slept a wink.  You really need to relax a bit on this trip, dear.  You can’t burn the candle at both ends and hope to keep your looks, you know.”

The plausible excuse, which wasn’t quite a lie, came easily to mind.  “I was too excited to sleep last night, first trip to the states and all.  I’m fine, Mum, really.  Don’t fuss.”  He added a fond pat of the hand for good measure. 

“Leave the lad alone, Eloise.  He’s a good-looking single man in London.  Why should he sleep?”  Patrick’s wink left him with the uncomfortable suspicion that his reputation might have sprung a leak. 

Despite the fact that he was still not the steadiest of sailors, even on a luxury cruise ship apparently, he had enjoyed the crossing, in particular the lively and eclectic society on board, with the result that he’d lost further sleep.  Upon arrival at Michael’s palatial brownstone, he’d begged off dashing out for a late lunch and when shown to his room, fallen gratefully across the bed.  A two hour nap, a pounding shower and he felt almost human and eager to explore what had looked more like an art gallery than a domicile. 

Michael had said something about Peg and tennis, so Kendall assumed she was expected in later that afternoon.  If the flutter in his stomach wasn’t simply hunger, he admitted he was curious to see what an eighteen-year-old version of that captivating little girl must look like.  Maybe she was still knobby-kneed and freckled, one of those raw-boned, athletic types.  The tennis would suggest as much.  He couldn’t imagine she’d blossomed into a real beauty, given the sharp chin and fly-away brows he remembered.  Still, he was pleasantly anxious to see her again.

He found his way downstairs, studying the art work on the wall step by step.  The three story entry way was hung from top to bottom with an astonishing collection of paintings and drawings.  He wouldn’t have been surprised to find an armed guard stationed at the front door.  At the lower landing, he caught sight of a large portrait, framed in guilt and occupying an obvious place of honor on the wall opposite.  The slender young woman, elegantly posed on a red chaise and wearing a formal gown of white tulle, smiled down with a strangely familiar gleam in her bright blue eyes.  “Peg?” he gasped loudly enough to create an echo in the stairwell.

At that instant, the front door burst open and he turned toward the arrival, so quickly that he was momentarily dizzied looking down the remaining flight of stairs.  His initial impression was one of long brown legs and arms, a swish of very short skirt and twin sapphire lights flashing in his general direction.  He repeated his question in the same breathless tone. 

She came toward him, hand extended, eyes sparkling, much as she had at their first meeting in Carlow Town five years earlier.  But this Peg, unlike that first version, came much closer to matching the warm, throaty voice calling his name as she bounded up the stairs.  “Kendall!  You’re here!  I was afraid Dad had whisked you away before I could get a look at you!”

He took her hand with the odd thought that she should become a politician with a handshake like that, reassuringly firm and insinuating familiarity while leaving an indelible impression on his palm. 

“Peg?”  He winched at the catch in his voice.  “Good heavens, look at you!”

“Have I changed?  You haven’t.  Well, maybe a little, but I’d have known you anywhere.  How was your crossing?”

“Fine, although I must admit I’m glad to be on dry land again.  Who knew there was so much ocean out there?”

She laughed, a trifle nervously he thought, and glanced around the entry.  “Has everyone abandoned you?”

“They went to lunch.  I was frankly too exhausted to join them.”  He wondered if she was disappointed, as she turned to bounce back down the stairs.  For the first time, he noticed her hair.  The braids at least were still there, now regally wound into a crown at the back of her head.

“Would you mind following me to the kitchen?  I’m dying to catch up, but I’m also dying for a cold drink.  We were on that tennis court for two hours.  I’m parched!”  She spun toward the back of the house, and he sped down the stairs before she could get out of sight.  It occurred to him that any normal man’s response to her invitation would have been that he’d follow her anywhere.  That thought set off an alarm bell in his brain which competed with the pounding pulse in his ears.  Nothing could have prepared him for this version of Peg Shannon, but it wouldn’t do to let her see the effect she’d had on him. 

The kitchen was dim and cool, a cavernous space with a huge bay window overlooking the garden.  Peg pointed to the table in the bay.  “If you’re hungry, I could find you something to eat.  I still don’t cook, but there’s always food in the fridge.”

“No, thank you.  I’m fine.”  He took a seat, determined to regulate his breathing before he said much more.

She poured a bottle of ginger ale over ice.  “Drink, then?  If you don’t want ginger ale, there’s coke or beer.”

“The ginger ale would be fine, thanks.”  He felt awkward, watching her moving about the room, his eyes insisting on raking her graceful frame.  How had she grown into such a vision of feminine perfection?  That shapeless little girl, all elbows and knees, had developed curves in precisely the proper places, stretched them to just the right height and filled them to exquisitely slender proportion.  His hands involuntarily spread over the table cloth, as though performing an exploration spurred by his wretched imagination. 

“There you go.  Sure you’re not hungry?”  She sat down across from him, sipping her drink. 

“No.  Thank you.”  Now that he could look into her face, with those legs safely hidden beneath the table, he felt a little calmer.  “So, how have you been?” 

“Fine.  Busy.  You know I graduated, from high school, that is.  I start Columbia in September.  And I did the whole debutante thing.  That’s almost over, thank God.”

“I got a full report from Maeve.  Frankly, I think she was a bit jealous.  Agnes, of course, had nothing to say other than to chastise Maeve for trying to steal your spotlight.”

Peg chuckled softly.  “They’re funny.  I’m afraid I was so busy I didn’t have much time to spend with them.  Do you see a lot of them in London?”

“Quite a lot, as a matter of fact.  I’ve been designated the official escort for the two of them.  If Maeve would find herself a suitable chap, I’d be happy to give up the job.  So far, she’s managed to cause Aunt Adelaide to go prematurely gray and Agnes to swear off men forever.”  Her chuckle turned to delighted laughter.  “So tell me what else you’ve been up to.”

“Let’s see.  Oh, I turned eighteen last week.  You just missed my birthday.”  She made a face, much like that funny nose-scrunching thing the former Peg had favored.

“Did you have a party?”

“Oh, yes.”  She rolled her eyes to the ceiling.  “I told Dad, what with all the parties we’d endured already, the deb thing, you know, that I just wanted him to take me somewhere nice for dinner.  Well, he did, but then when we came home, there were at least a hundred people here, all shouting ‘surprise’ and blowing noise makers.  It was awful, but I should have known Dad would do something like that.”

Kendall started to relax, relieved to see that inside the vision, the old Peg seemed to be alive and well.  “So you’re all grown up now?”

“Oh, yes.  Legal and everything.  We had champagne at dinner, and again here at the party.  I’m afraid I don’t have much of a head for that sort of thing.  Now tell me about yourself.  I hear your career is taking off.”

“I don’t know about taking off.  I’ve auditioned for a real job, but I doubt I’ll get it.”

“The London Philharmonic, very impressive.  Uncle Patrick keeps us informed.  He’s really proud of you, you know.  He’s asked Dad to introduce you to Bernie Silverman while you’re here.  Maybe you could audition for him.  Wouldn’t you like to come to New York?”

“Bernard Silverman?  Good lord, your father’s friends with Silverman?”  His pulse stepped up a beat, in part due to the mention of such a famous name, and also, he realized, because watching her eyes as she talked, he’d been drawn into by their glittering blue depths.  There was something dangerously hypnotic about her eyes, something he’d have to watch out for.

“Oh, yes.  Bernie’s a cool guy, very driven, of course.  Did you know he’s the youngest conductor of a major orchestra in the entire world?  And he can’t even keep his suits pressed half the time.  He showed up to dinner last week looking like he’d slept in his clothes.”  She laughed again, a softly polite but very honest laugh, yet another means of captivating a man’s attention and causing him to lose his focus, Kendall noted.

Getting up to pour her ice in the sink, her expression turned serious.  “I have a huge favor to ask, but if you don’t want to, I’ll understand.”

He swallowed the instant response that no favor would be too great.  Maybe he hadn’t had enough sleep after all.  His brain seemed to have turned to bizarre thoughts of poetry and flowers.  “What sort of favor?”

“There’s a little party tonight at the O’Halloran’s.  Connie’s going away to college and this is sort of an early farewell before we all split up.  Nothing too formal.  If you brought a dinner jacket, that would be great, or just a suit will do.  I sort of told her I’d bring you, if you were willing.  They’re all dying to meet you.”

“Really.  Dying?”  He grinned at her wide-eyed explanation, again seeing the old Peg in her eagerness.

“Of course.  I told them all about you.”  She looked away, blushing slightly.  “Thank goodness you haven’t changed much.  After all I said about how good-looking you were, I got worried that you might have gotten fat, or started losing your hair.”

He tossed back his head, laughing out loud.  Thank goodness, here was the girl he’d known after all.  He’d have to get passed her incredible outward transformation, but there was hope now that he wouldn’t be reduced to panting and drooling after her for the next two weeks.  “I’d be happy to go with you if you’re sure I won’t embarrass you, old geezer that I am.”

Her smile was practically blinding, full lips spread over perfect teeth, blue eyes shimmering with pleasure.  “That’s super!  We’ll leave around seven-thirty.  There’ll be lots of finger food and stuff, and then there’ll be a buffet at midnight.  You might want to eat before we go, though, in case you want to drink.  There’ll be plenty of that too, I’m sure.  Connie’s brother Bill runs a real bar at all their parties.  He’s kind of a show-off, playing bar-tender with his cocktail shakers and all.  There’ll be dancing, too.”  She bounced on her toes like an excited child.  “Oh, Kendall, I’m so glad you’re here!”

“I’m glad you’re glad.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thought you might have fallen in love with some college man and. . .well, not have time for your old cousin anymore.”

“Don’t be silly.  I’m not going to fall in love with anybody.  Ever.  And I’d always have time for you anyway.”  The smile turned affectionate, complete with scrunched nose.  “Now I’m going to shower.  I’m rank!  See you later!”

She was gone, leaving a draft of energy and a slightly earthy aroma in her wake.  He sat at the table for a while, staring out at the manicured garden and trying to superimpose one image of Peg over the other.  She was only eighteen, he cautioned, although she’d always been mature beyond her years.  Just because she looked like the Hollywood-bred, All American fantasy of burgeoning sexuality did not change the facts of their relationship.  If any other male showed signs of sharing his primal response to her, he’d be forced to take him by the collar and toss him to the nearest gutter.  A place he would have to throw himself if he couldn’t keep his mind from wandering up those legs of hers.

Comments, please!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Surrender to a New Adventure

I call myself a gardener, or at least an aspiring gardener.  As with all things, success is sometimes elusive and some years are better than others when it comes to how my garden grows.  To be honest, it's not so much the results of my efforts that feed me as the efforts themselves.  I learned, as a child watching my grandmother digging enthusiastically in her garden, that the turning of the soil and the hopeful planting are as therapeutic and pleasurable as blossoms and fruit.

This year I made a painful decision, although not as painful as the alternative.  I've always loved hauling home flats of fledgling annuals and filling the space I've claimed over the years with as many blooms as I could squeeze in.  Riots of color, layers of texture and rows of trailing blooms to rival the best English gardens were my stock-in-trade.  But no more.  As much as I hate to admit it, my body refuses to go there any more.  My back and knees remind me daily that all that bending and stooping will not be tolerated. This year it's time to bite the bullet and take the next step into my gardens of the future--perennials.

Now don't get me wrong.  Perennials have always fascinated me.  But they're expensive, and I'll be limited this year to a few choice varieties and a lot of mulch.  The shopping has been an education, and I'll won't know if I've chosen correctly until I see the results next spring.  In the meantime, I'll have to adjust to my flowerbed looking sparse and sculptural, as opposed to the overgrown abundance I've always loved. 

I've had wonderful help with this project from my own granddaughter, who seems to have a real interest, which I hope will last her a lifetime, as mine has.  Even though I couldn't get as down and dirty as I'd like to, I've enjoyed the work and the new venture.  While I miss my petunias and marigolds, I love the delicacy of coreopsis and the attitude of coneflower, too.  My husband is thrilled with the garnet and gold of blanket flower, nature's version of his beloved FSU colors. 

I think we'll all watch expectantly for the success or even the failure of this year's garden as we haven't done in the past. Starting something new, as I've learned only too well from my writing, involves letting go of something old, daring to fail and learning from our mistakes.  No matter the outcome, the lessons are worth the effort. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Plus Two Equals FREE!

One day only--June 9--
Book One and Book Two
in the Miracle at Valley Rise Series are
FREE for
Hearts Unfold-Book One
Entreat Me Not-Book Two

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

We Need a Little Christmas

Like I've said before, not everything calls for a song title, but here's a case where it's too good to pass up.  The one above is from one of my all time favorites shows, Mame.  To this day I can see the cast of our community theater production ,including my best friend Nancy in the title role and my husband, dancing around the stage fighting the cruel twists of fate with some out of season holiday cheer.  And it worked!  There may be a few true Scrooges out there, whose spirits can't be lifted by the thought of past and future Christmases, but remember, Scrooge became a convert to the true joys of Christmas, too.

With that in mind, I decided that now might be the ideal time to offer Christmas at Valley Rise at a special price, just to give you a refreshing little break from the heat and hectic schedules.  All this month, you can download this 172 page novella to your Kindle for just .99!

Christmas at Valley Rise, as you might suspect, takes a look at the characters from the series during their annual Christmas celebration, but in the year 2012, long after we left them in the early 1970's at the end of Offered for Love.  If you've read the series, it's a great way to catch up with the Moss family after four decades, and if you haven't read the novels, it's a nice introduction into the world of Valley Rise.  Either way, it's a great deal on a short, sweet read.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"June is Busting Out. . ."

As I'm constantly reminding my husband the music scholar, not everything calls for a song title.  While the one above did come to mind this morning, the one that probably better fits my approach to June would be Que Sera, Sera.  You know, Doris Day in Please Don't Eat the Daisies.  Whatever will be, will be?  (If you're too young to remember, you need to check out the movie for a good old- fashioned feel good.)

June begins that time of year when the days are long but there seem to be fewer of them.  Whether it's heat, humidity, thunderstorms or drought, after rushing around for a few weeks, I've started looking forward to September by the end of June.  I lived in North Florida for almost twenty years and a good part of that was spent running from my air conditioned car to an air conditioned building, venturing out of doors only at dawn and dusk.  I don't like heat, and judging by the way it makes me feel, all stinky and red in the face, I'm pretty sure it doesn't like me!  The only nice thing I can say about Kansas heat is at least it doesn't last nine months out of twelve!

This year I've decided to take the same approach to my writing that I take to summer.  I'm going to seek cool, comfortable places, move slower, and have faith that September will arrive.  Not only have I vowed not to sweat the small stuff--the seasonal slow-down in book sales, fewer reviews (as if that were possible!) and a work in progress that's progressing about like molasses in January--but I'm going to do my darndest not to sweat at all.  Every time I start to feel clammy, worried that I'll never sell another book or that I'm never going to reach the end of Shannon's Daughter, I'm going to remind myself that whatever will be, will be all right.  I'm going to take out my file of reader mail and be reminded that my little books have managed to touch these lives.  I'm going to remember that I never really meant for anyone to read these books anyway, much less have hundreds of them sell to perfect strangers.  I'm going to look back at this amazing unplanned journey so far and just be cool.

Everything happens as part of a larger plan according to Emily Haynes Moss, the heroine of Valley Rise, and I believe that too.  The size and scope of that plan is beyond our understanding or control.  Life is comprised of relationships, events and locales which constantly change over time, yet eventually become familiar even as they change.  If we get ourselves in what my grandmother called a "swivet" every time things seem the least bit uncertain, we'll be worn out with life long before it's done with us.  While, as the song says, the future's not ours to see, I've been here before, faced the unknown, and come through stronger and wiser.  I'm going to hope that by the time the weather starts to cool down again, I'll understand more about my journey as a writer.  Maybe I'll even make my self-imposed deadline for Shannon's Daughter.  Whatever happens, I'm confident it will be what's meant to be.