Saturday, November 11, 2017

When Duty Called

There have been many in my family who served, back to the Revolutionary War, I'm told, all with their own stories. These are the pictures and stories I grew up with, of those closest to me.

  Serving in World War I--My grandfather Henry Rowlette, who never left Ft. Lee, VA in the year after he enlisted.

My great-uncle Levi Yeatts, my grandmother's youngest brother, who is buried in France.
Levi left behind his mother, ten brothers and sisters, and his fiance.

WWII Veterans--My uncle, Anthony Rowlette, who became a surgical nurse by the end of the war. He talked about serving on board the Queen Mary carrying troops to Europe, and bringing back the wounded, some of the same men, after D-Day.

My father, Guy White, Jr., who failed to meet the Navy's weight requirement and "hung around Washington, DC eating bananas" until he gained enough to enlist.

While I'm told my father would much have preferred a few combat tales to pass along, he never saw action while "floating around the Caribbean." Still, he was able to put his talents to work for his country. He not only chronicled the ship's travels, but photographed the entire crew and all of their adventures. (I still have many of the photos.) Of, course, his greatest service was painting this portrait of Buggs Bunny on the side of the ship!

Monday, November 6, 2017

And One Shall Become Two--FREE

If you were here from the beginning, you may recall the saga of my first novel, Hearts Unfold. It began like this. . .

Icky green and over 600 pages. 😥 A few people read and liked it, though. All an aspiring writer needs to keep going, right?
Eventually, as I kept writing on what was first Book Two and later, Book Three, Heart of My Own Heart, it dawned on me--remember, I was only "aspiring" at this point and learning slowly--that I had a series going.💡 But instead of continuing forward, I went backward. A series should be balanced, with installments more or less the same length, my OCD self insisted. So I split my first baby right down the middle--just as painful as it sounds--and thus the second book, Entreat Me Not was born! With new covers-- no icky green this time--I had a three book series under the title of Miracle at Valley Rise, with a fourth book under way. It looked something like this when all was said and done. Much better! 😌

This post is really to tell you that right now you can get all of this→
FREE! My gift to you. 📦

Miracle at Valley Rise Books One and Two are FREE from Amazon today and tomorrow. Just click here and you're on your way to Valley Rise.

"It's refreshing.... I look forward to sitting down with this wonderful couple each time I am able to snatch a few minutes to read. They are just like family."
". . . flawless, emotional, heartfelt and memorable!"
". . . compelling, exciting, thought provoking, and very hard to put down."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Raise Your Glasses, Please!

Today is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the smartest choice I've ever made. Marrying John set my life on a path that, for the first time in my almost 40 years of twisting, turning, often jolting travel, felt absolutely right. I've decided that if there is no doubt about your choice of partner for a journey, there should never be doubts about where it leads you, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs. We've had plenty of those, still do, but I don't for a moment question the rightness of "us."

My first novel is dedicated "to John, who makes me possible."  I'd lived decades locked in relationships that dictated my every step, because any independent ventures were in some way threatening to my partner. With John, I was free to be, even encouraged to be, whatever I believed I might be. He has never questioned my ability to do whatever I dared attempt, whether it be taking on a starring role in a play two weeks before opening night, or tearing apart and reconstructing a 1940's kitchen. He has far more confidence in me than I have. It's that confidence that finally made "me" possible.

When I started writing, and amazingly continued writing, my first novel, I had no idea it would ever become more than a little story I wrote to affirm the shaky belief that I did indeed "have a book in me." I wasn't even willing at first to share it with John, but eventually it became perversely vital to me that he read what I'd written. He did. At the appropriate points, he laughed, he sighed, and he wept. It was then that we both knew, without knowing how, that this story could do more than exist for a time merely taking up space in my hard drive. I'm certain that without his encouragement, his patience, and his 20-plus years experience as an editor, I would never have attempted to send my little book out into the world. He's made so many wonderful things possible through our years together, and my writing life definitely ranks near the top.

The book John made possible, Hearts Unfold, is currently free wherever ebooks are sold. We can't offer you all a glass of  champagne, but won't you join us in celebrating this special day by helping  yourself to, or sending your friends a copy? We'd be honored to have you share in a "toast" to one more year of "us."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Take My Heart--and Other Broken Bits

The other day John called our pastor to give him an update on all of our various health issues. "The cat is the only member of the family who's well," he began with a slightly weary chuckle. These calls have been a regular form of communication for the past two years, thus the weariness of placing yet another one. Going on to fill in the current details, first his, then mine, and finishing with our cocker Raleigh's, he wrapped things up with gratitude for continuing prayers and all the many practical ways our little congregation has helped to keep us afloat.

I'm grateful, too, don't get me wrong. But the truth is, I'd rather not be in need of their gifts. I'm tired of being broken, not to mention broke. I'm sick of being sick, taking pills, seeing doctors, making appointments, taking tests, all at the expense of the life I'd love to be living. There was a time, a few years ago, when I regularly remarked at how healthy I was as I got older. I figured I'd put in my sick time in my twenties and thirties (that's a sad tale all its own.) Now I was able to enjoy doing most of the things I loved at the risk of nothing more than a few sore muscles. I actually anticipated being one of those tough old ladies, one like my grandmother, who at seventy could swing a grubbing hoe with zeal, can fruit and vegetables all day and then cook supper, and heft a load of wet laundry without so much as a grunt. Things are definitely not working out the way I expected.

After John's leg fractured in June of '15, my strength was put to the ultimate test. A non-ambulatory husband is more work than a newborn baby. Laundry, meals, baths, plus dressing changes, wobbly one-footed transfers, and restorative exercises, and don't forget the endless bills and paperwork, kept me steadily moving pretty much around the clock. Sure, I got tired, but who wouldn't? If I had a pain, I kept it too myself. I was prideful enough to insist I could handle things, mostly because who else, in all honesty, could or would?

I had a little secret, though, which I even tried to keep from myself. I was peeing pink. Whatever the cause, it wasn't going to be seen to until I could leave John for more than an hour, so why worry? That little secret turned out to be bladder cancer, and it was at that point, in June of '16, that I really started to fall apart. I went through a year of tests and treatments and at the moment, things look pretty good on that front. However . . .

I wonder now if I should have just kept some other things to myself. I know all too well that once you mention chest pain and profuse sweating to a doctor, they're not going to just let it ride. I'm having a cardiac cath  next week. And this nasty sinus infection that hasn't cleared up after two years of treatment? The ENT, who looks like he recently finished high school, predicts only surgery will do the trick. And sadly, I expect he's right. I'm not worried about myself, but I do fret over leaving John alone so much and not feeling up to taking care of him as I want to.

Enough about me. Recently, we noticed John having what looked a lot like TIA's and discovered he has a "smallish" cerebral aneurysm. Since his mother died with one, and his brother had one treated, we're certainly not ignoring that! Neurologists are as scarce as fresh seafood out here in the heartland, but we finally got an appointment with one in November. Meanwhile, I'm watching him like a hawk does a newly mowed field. He says he's not worried at all about himself, but he does admit to worrying about me. We're even on that front.

Of course, along with all of the above mentioned ailments come the bills--for every test, every unseen doctor who reads the results of said tests, every doctor's visit to get the order for the test and hear the test results. That's before the bills for the actual treatments, which would make my heart race even if it's perfectly healthy. Thank heaven for all the generous souls whose gifts at least keep us in groceries and more. Those gifts are more than money, they are love. They remind us that, worthy or not, we are cared for.

I so long to go back to becoming a tough old lady. My hope is that repairing all these broken bits will give us the time to do things we still want and even need to do. I even hold out hope of becoming a writer again some day. While we accept we'll never have money to spend the way we used to, money is nothing compared to days and nights spent together doing what we love. If you're one of those praying for us, just ask for that--time together to watch the garden grow, time to listen to the music, to read the books, and just be.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lost Love Found--Now on Sale!

 Ever dream of coming face to face with the one that got away? That very dream led me to write Katie Lost and Found. While the story is fiction, the inspiration came from a long ago summer in Europe, a charming young tour guide, and a few brief moments of innocent romance. Tess and Peter's story is much more complex and exciting, but at its heart is a dream many of us secretly cherish--one more chance to make something wonderful of a love that ended too soon. 

 ON SALE for a limited time! 
"A modern twist on 'Persuasion'. Lots of love, lots of heartache, a bit of suspense as history and flashbacks unfold." Amazon Review

Monday, July 17, 2017

Don't Miss Out!!!

Don't miss out on this great deal! July is half over already! 

There's a fabulous sale going on over at Smashwords this month. Don't miss out on the special deals on all of my Valley Rise books there! Just type my name in the search box, click on each book for savings codes, and rack up on Free and Half Price books that will carry you away to cool mountain streams and warmhearted romance.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Small Town Inspired

In the real world, small towns are love 'em or leave 'em kinds of places. In fiction, they are often  airbrushed with rainbow colors of innocence or brutalized in darker shades of prejudice or worse. It's no secret that I grew up in a small town--well, to be honest, a small village--situated on land first granted to my ancestors by the King of England in the 1720's. I've since lived in towns with populations of 1,000 to 10,000, and the dynamic is pretty much the same, regardless of the number of souls within the city limits. Unique to small towns are treasures such as unsolicited support in hard times, shared celebration and grief, life long friendships, time honored feuds, and mutually respected secrets.

I keep in touch with a childhood friend who unequivocally declares the years he and his family spent in our little village are the foundation for his life. "Everything I needed to know I learned there." I agree that the lessons were simple and straightforward, possibly purified by memory and softened in the haze of experience by now. While his memories are idyllic, mine include the bumps and bruises of living where everyone not only knew your name, but those of the skeletons in your family closet, the transgressions of your ancestors, as well as your daily business.

My friend's family were not "from there." They came from a nearby city and eventually returned there. While they were welcomed and accepted  during the years they spent with us, they never experienced the deeply rooted ties of those who shared DNA with the generations who pioneered, timbered, plowed, and constructed everything in sight. My friend enjoyed the benefits of a close-knit community without the obligations history passed down to some of us.

I eventually left what I saw as the confines of that little village, only to find myself in similar places time after time. Of course, in those places I wasn't one of the "original settlers" but I clearly recognized the inner workings of a small town. As happens with experience and age, I came to appreciate the value of those deep roots, despite their obligations. All of those benefits my friend had enjoyed came into focus for me, too. Sadly, I can't go back to apologize to my village for my lack of proper respect. It barely exists today and bears little resemblance to the place where I grew up.

Instead, without setting out to do so, I memorialized my small town experiences when I started writing Hearts Unfold. Once I saw what I was doing, folding the best of my memories into Emily's story, I wondered if anyone would believe a single, small community could possess so many sterling qualities. But the memories were truth, from the town fathers at the coffee shop to the postmistress who passed on the latest news along with the daily mail. I hadn't fabricated the "courthouse" or the characters who populated the surrounding farmlands.They were carefully preserved in a benevolent corner of my mind.

Stani gently brushed a windblown strand of hair from her cheek.  “You really love it here, don't you?  You positively light up when you talk about it.”

Emily blushed, turning to lead him further along the street.  “I know it's all very ordinary, but yes, I love it.  When I was a little girl, I would come into town with Pop.  Everywhere we went everybody knew us and seemed to genuinely care about us.  It made me feel important when someone asked how my mother was doing, or how the garden was coming along.  Now that I'm back, everybody makes me feel included, like a part of the community.”  She swept her hand through the air, taking in the four blocks of the square and all of the shop fronts.  “These people are my family, although I'm not related to any one of them.  From Mr. Harris at the bank, to Katie Malone at the flower shop, to Mr. Brown at the market, to Martha Jean at the boutique, I know I can count on every one of them to be there if I need anything.”--Hearts Unfold 

Like Emily, I was raised by a small town. As a fatherless child, the daughter of one of the founding family's daughters, I was gathered to the collective bosom of my village. If at times I felt more smothered than cherished, I know now that was not the intention. They, like Emily's neighbors, recognized a need and were called to address it. Unlike Emily, I can't go back, and probably wouldn't chose to if I could. Still, there's no doubt growing up in the secure embrace of a small town inspired not only my writing, but much of what is best in me. Thankfully, my village lives on in the memory of those of us who grew up there, not only as inspiration for written word, but also for life well lived.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Years of Seven

Numbers are not my thing. I don't have a lucky--or unlucky--number. I'm pathetic with phone numbers, house numbers, even birth and anniversary dates. I'm a word person. From grade school on, I chose to nurture my vocabulary and leave the numbers to fend for themselves.

There is one major exception--the dreaded seventh year of every decade--The Year of Seven. Now, I know how that sounds, but I categorically deny being the least bit superstitious. I love black cats and have been owned by several in my lifetime. I'm blessed with the lack of inches that allows me to walk under ladders without even noticing them. On rainy days,  I leave my open umbrella to dry in the foyer. I frankly don't have the nature or the time to indulge in superstition. But these years of seven aren't about superstition. Instead, they are about a a very real story about grief and loss. Yes, you can argue that there is all of that in other years. But over time these particular years earned a badge of mystical significance in my life, first through my mother and then for myself. I hope the story speaks for itself.

In 1947 my mother's fiance drowned at a party celebrating her birthday and their upcoming marriage. His death resulted in a very different life than the one she was looking forward to. She eventually married a brilliant young school teacher, gave birth to a daughter, and fought tooth and nail for the happy ever after that was never to be.

In 1957 my father committed suicide. It's fair to say, my mother never stopped grieving for him,
never lived fully without him, and never stopped reliving their time together. His death was the defining moment of her life.

In 1967 my maternal grandfather, a wise and gentle man who saved this fatherless child when her five year-old world imploded, died unexpectedly two days after Christmas.

At this point you can see the pattern, but you might also say this rule of seven was more about my mother than about me. You wouldn't be wrong. For years, I tried to lay it at her door. Hard things happened every year. But even I was impressed with the fact that the hardest things, the kind that change the color of our worlds forever, seemed to strike in the seventh years of each decade.

Then came 1977. I was a young, but dedicated, wife with two small children by this time. Short version--the marriage ended when my husband literally drove off into the sunset without a word of explanation or farewell. I ended up hospitalized for months with a major bipolar breakdown.  That was the year I embraced the truth of what many might call coincidence.

That said, 1987 was just one more year in the horror story of my second marriage. It might have been worse. It certainly wasn't better.

On Valentine's Day of 1997, my dearest friend died of cancer. I was blessed by her invitation to share her journey toward eternity, to sit by her, read to her, plan her memorial, and make sure all her pet projects were brought to a satisfactory end. I remember '97 as the year I cried almost daily, often at something we'd laughed at; the year I started talking to the familiar angel perched on my shoulder.

In 2007 my mother passed to her well deserved reward, exactly fifty years and twenty days after my father left her. If I'd never believed the seventh years held a special place in our lives, that would have confirmed it for me. I remember early that year, as she grew weaker and, between the two of us, we accepted that her fight was almost over, she stopped talking about my father. I sensed that she was thinking of him and that her thoughts were private. I knew she was hoping he'd waited for her.

Was I hoping during the past ten years that just maybe the cycle had ended? After 2015, when our lives were changed so drastically with John's fall, I couldn't imagine '17 topping it. Not that I was challenging fate. More like asking for a pass for this decade. Or forever. 

It's now 2017. Maybe it's just coincidence that I've been diagnosed with cancer?  Not the worst diagnosis, specifically bladder cancer, but one I hoped would never be entered in my medical history. Juggling all I have to do and want to do with surgery, treatments, and tests seems to be asking a lot, just when I've begun to realize I'm not as young and strong as I once was.

Whatever I think about these symbolic seventh years, I certainly do not expect the worst. Much like what I recall as the Black Hole of '77, I intend to fight my way out of this and survive. I have a husband I adore who needs me, literally, every hour of the day. I have family, friends, my old house, and my garden, to spend time with and care for. I have stories to tell, and possibly new ventures to undertake. Most of all, I have my God, who has held me close and carried me forward in the worst of times. I know I have nothing to fear and everything to look forward to beyond this seventh year.

This detour may be unknown and certainly unwelcome, but I'm looking forward to new things to learn and new people to meet along the way. I hope you'll join me.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

To Blog or ???

   Would you believe I almost gave up on this blog? I mean, most days I hesitate to even call myself a writer anymore. My muse seems to have wandered off without even bothering to write home. My books are still selling, but very, very slowly.  Frankly, I don't have much time to worry about it, what with taking care of my husband, the bills, the house, the yard and, when there's a free minute or two, myself. Maybe I should cross blogging off my list and move on?

    Instead, because I hate quitting anything I enjoy, I decided to spruce up the look of the blog a bit. I decided to keep writing about the things I love--my garden, my old house, even my writing life, such as it is. Just as it says at the top of this page, I decided to continue my journey on the road less traveled, and explore some of the wonders, the puzzles, and the potholes along the way.

   Please join me if you can. There's a lot of road left to travel. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Celebrate the Luck o' the Irish!

Can an Irish American Princess find true love with a struggling English musician? Discover this unique story of love and loss for only 99 cents this month. Also available in Audiobook and paperback, or read free with Kindle Unlimited.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Lost in the Plains: Double Deal

Lost in the Plains: Double Deal: Begin at the beginning! For the next few days, BOTH of the first books in BOTH the Valley Rise and Walnut Lodge series will be FREE . K...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Double Deal

Begin at the beginning! For the next few days, BOTH of the first books in BOTH the Valley Rise and Walnut Lodge series will be FREE . Katie Lost and Found is FREE FEB 9-11 from Hearts Unfold is FREE every day wherever you buy your ebooks. Find these two special love stories, along with all my other books, right here~