Facebook Party Time


Come hang out with me and my friends! We really are friends in real life so it might get crazy!

July 20th at 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) my good friend and fellow author, Jennifer Lynn Cary (will be throwing a Facebook Live party with a few of our author friends while we share about our latest books.

Here’s who is coming!

Jennifer Lynn Cary—author of The Crockett Chronicles and Relentless Heart, our hostess for the evening.

Kristin Billerbeck—author of The Ashley Stockingdale SeriesThe Spa Girls Series and SO many other wonderful books. She’s just released Room at the Top (on my TBR pile!).

Jennifer Crosswhite–author of The Route Home Series, her latest release is Finally Home, the final book of The Route Home series.

Liz Tolsma—author of Melody of the SoulThe Refrain WithinSnow on the TulipsThe Pink Bonnet (part of the True Crimes Series). She’s releasing The Green Dress, next in the True Crimes Series.

These are wonderful women and friends and authors! I’d love for you to meet my friends. I hope you will join us on Jenny’s author Facebook page for our party. There will be fun and laughter and behind the scenes info. You’ll be able to ask questions, AND there will be giveaways from all of us! Yes! I am so excited!

Facebook Live Party Link: https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferlynncary Monday, July 20 at 4 pm PDT, 5 MDT, 6 CDT, 7 EDT

Jake Miles- A Bride’s Journey

It’s fun making up characters! Getting them to know them. And when it’s a character you already know like Jake it’s even more exciting. When I ended A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee Jake well… he wasn’t exactly hero material.

Jake is a troubled man and if you’ve read A Bride’s Dilemma you understand why but you probably didn’t care much for him. But he’s going to change I promise!

One of the first things I did was write this interview before Jake boards a steamboat bound for St. Louis.

Article from the Cairo Evening Times

Hey, you there! Sir! Can I catch you for an interview for the Cairo Evening Times?

Jake: I suppose. Don’t know that I’ll have much to say.

You never know. People are curious about other people. Where you headed too?

Jake: Up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, then onto the Colorado Territory.

Thought the gold rush was over, think you’ll have any luck?

Jake: Probably not. My luck hasn’t been what I’d call good for quite some time. I figure it can’t hurt to try and turn it around. Then again maybe, if I stop thinking luck has anything to do with it, just hard work and pray more I might find what I’m looking for.

Leaving a sweet girl behind pining for you? Maybe a family?

Jake: No. There’s no one. Not even family that will miss me. My horse didn’t even look back when I sold him. Moseyed on like he’d found his new best friend. You might say I burned all my bridges and tore up my railroads and they aren’t likely to be rebuilt.

You don’t plan on returning East?

Jake: Can’t think of a reason why I would.

If I use your story, I’d like to print your name with it.

Jake: Jake Miles, but I doubt anyone will care what I have to say.

Like I said you never know what people will find interesting. Thanks. Hey you, over there, can I get an interview with you before you board?

large ship in the river

She’s running from grief. He’s running from war memories. Can they find love on this dangerous journey west?

Cornelia’s parents send her to America hoping to heal her heart. Accompanied by her protective brother, they’ll travel by covered wagon to the Colorado Territory to search for gold. When Cornelia meets a man who seems as troubled as the friend she lost, it seems she might be given a second chance to save someone before it’s too late.

Jake, once a prisoner of the Union Army leaves Tennessee in disgrace. He wants nothing more than to find enough gold to start a new life. The last thing he wants is to fall in love.

Can the feisty Cornelia make him leave his past behind?

As the wagon train brings them together, will they look beyond past promises and old pain and discover treasure worth more than gold?

You will love this sequel to A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee because everyone craves a second chance.

If you like stories about the Oregon Trail, happily-ever-after, and Christian romance, this book is for you. Start your journey with Cornelia and Jake today!

What I’m Reading Monday

Room at the Top by Kristin Billerbeck can only be described as non-stop reading pleasure.

I’m a Billerbeck fan, no doubt about it. I devoured her first books and wanted so much to be able to write like her. I can’t and that’s okay because now I read her books for pleasure.

Room at the Top is funny, witty, and has a bit of a who-done-it feel. Relax, this is not a book that will keep you up for hours check out noises outside your door. This is a fun read, think Murder She Wrote kind of stories. Or if you’ve seen the movie Knives Out and enjoyed it, you will love Room at the Top.

This Italian family will steal your heart. Sophie touched my soul in so many ways, one of them is the way she dresses, and her love to help others.

This is a great beach read, on the couch read, and just because you need a break read.

Get it here!

“What a Girl Wants” comes a funny and romantic new series that celebrates family and sisterhood, even when the relationship seems impossible.Sophia Campelli likes the structure of her predictable life in a rundown Victorian house in the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach.

She’s always told herself her father can keep his wealth and his acknowledgement of her and her twin sister. She’s surrounded by her noisy but lovable Italian family, and that’s all she needs.When she and Gia receive the news their fraternal grandfather has left them something in his will, they meet their three half-sisters for the first time—and receive the astounding news of a massive inheritance. But Sophia can’t celebrate yet, not when she and her sisters hear the conditions attached to the money. The “real” daughters loathe Sophia and Gia on sight—and the feeling is mutual. But they have to work together if any of them hope to inherit the obscene amount of money left to them. They must live together and restore the large mansion in Pacific Heights for an entire year. Otherwise the entire estate will go to charity.Gia tries to convince Sophia they have to walk away, but Sophia isn’t so sure.

For once, their mother might get a chance to rest instead of working every minute. She could help a lot of families in her job as a social worker too. It’s tempting. And once she catches sight of Joel Edgerton, she can’t resist the temptation to get involved in her unwanted family.The path to happily-ever-after is fraught with missteps and the treacherous waters of sisterly undercurrents.

Can Sophia persevere when everyone seems to be against her, even her own twin?

Ha! You have to read the book to find out!

Diana

What I’m reading Monday

I think this is going to be a new thing for me. I’m a writer but I read a lot of books and not all of them are in the genre I write in. I’m wondering if you are that way too.

Do you only pick one type of book to read?

Do you avoid certain books? That I do. I avoid any heavy-duty crime books that have details that won’t let me sleep. Otherwise, I read a lot of genres.

I read this book A Man Called Smith after meeting the author Tanya E. Williams at a writing convention. We spent a break sitting by the pool discussing writing and our careers. She’s from Canada and I’m from Illinois. (USA). It was fun to discover what we both liked or disliked. She’s a planner and a plotter. I was neither at the time but I can say after meeting her I now plan.

This time period spoke to me as it’s about the time my own mother was searching for her place in the world. The details are spot-on as Tanya is an excellent researcher. You’ll feel the desperation and splendor of the settings.

It’s a great story and from June 22-28 it is on sale for 99 cents. You can’t go wrong picking up a book at this price and discovering a new to you writer.

Here is a description of the book:

A battle-scarred father. A disillusioned daughter. Can a grieving widower rebuild his splintered family to find peace at last?

South Dakota, 1949. WWII veteran John Smith longs for the life he lost after the tragic death of his wife during childbirth. But in the desperation to provide for his two small children, he is manipulated into an unsuitable marriage by a young woman with a dark neurosis. Tormented by his own grief and the ravages of war, John is blind to his children’s turmoil and pain.

Washington State, 1964. John’s sixteen-year-old daughter Calla dreams of a life beyond her vindictive stepmother. Forced to care for her younger siblings with a list of household demands larger than she is tall, Calla knows it’s only a matter of time until she can escape the abuse and begin anew at college. But her dreams crumble when her heartless stepmother claims the college fund for her own selfish purposes.

As John fears he is too late to stop the war within his home, Calla vows to build a new life worth living.

Can John survive the consequences of war on the home front? Can Calla find the strength to rediscover the meaning of family?

A Man Called Smith is the heartwarming and heart wrenching story following the life of John Smith. If you like courageous characters and narratives told over multiple generations, then you’ll love Tanya E. Williams’ emotional tale.

Get it here https://books2read.com/amancalledsmith

Box Set-Read non-stop

What do you feel like when you grab book 1 of a series and have to wait for the next one?

I”m usually sad because I personally have no–let me see what does my husband call it? Oh yeah, lack of impulse control and patience. I don’t want to wait I want it now like a 2 year old.

I don’t throw tantrums I promise. I just want it and don’t want to wait.

Here’s some good news! All of these books are on sale and they are series! Yes! Books 1-3 or sometimes more are packaged together for those of you like me that really wants to know what happens in the next story!

These are all Christian Romance! I’m super excited to pick up some I haven’t read. My set A Time to Love is also in the $2.99 sale. Usually book one is $2.99. It’s a great deal! Go shop!

How big are satisfying rewards?

How big do rewards need to be to give you satisfaction?

Do you ever finish a project that takes forever and think, now what?

That’s me.

A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory is done… at least the first round of edits are finished. There are many more times to go through it. I had a big plan for when the book was ready to purchase and that looks like it will be on July 30th. At this time, I’m not sure if my plan will be possible with traveling or finances.

I have been thinking it was hard to get to the end of that book. I was working part time at the preschool and then being at home has taken an emotional toll I didn’t expect. After all, I am an introvert and love being home. That took me by surprise, and I had to adjust. Then an extended family member came down with Covid-19 and was on a ventilator for a long time and didn’t make it.

Big rewards didn’t seem as fulfilling any more.  

So what’s a writer to do?

Do it anyway.

First, let me say that small celebrations when you complete a difficult task are important. The thing is they don’t have to be giant expensive rewards. One thing I have always known but have come to understand well these past few months is the importance of what I have.

Sure, I’d like a new laptop. That would be an amazing reward, or maybe a keyboard that doesn’t stick on the letter zzzzzzz—even though I haven’t pushed it. Or someone to clean my house—like deep clean it, outside and inside windows, and baseboards that I never seem to get to.

I took a step back and thought about the small things I could reward myself with that I could use and enjoy. A teacher appreciation gift I received contained an envelope of zinnia seeds. I love flowers! All I needed was a warm day to plant them and we had frost last week.

Today I planted them! I can’t wait to see them grow!

The other thing I’ve been wanting for quite some time but didn’t get was a set of measuring spoons with the ‘donk’ spoon. That’s 1/32! I’ve been using pure stevia instead of sugar for a long time. It came from Trim Healthy Mama with a tiny plastic spoon. The handle broke, and I’ve kept on using it. I decided it was time for a reward. I ordered the spoons. They were under $10.

But why would you care what I choose to reward myself with or that I did?

Because I want you to do the same.

You might be homeschooling like my daughter-in-law who is doing an amazing job even though it’s not what she loves. She is a numbers person and an engineer. Every Friday she should honor her work, even if it is with a book and a soak in her tub. I don’t know if she does that, but she should.

Maybe you started a garden and you have no idea what you are doing, but you did it anyway. Reward yourself! Get a glass of tea and sit outside and admire the beautiful work you did.

Or perhaps you great at sewing and now you’re making masks. Not something you love, but you are putting your skills to work. Reward yourself! Spend some time sewing something you love—if your shoulders and back can take it! I have a friend who has made over 85 masks in one week. I hope she does something to make her smile.

Not every reward has to cost a lot of money. Think about it. What can you do for yourself that would give you a feeling of satisfaction? An ice cream cone? That’s my husband’s favorite reward. A bike ride? A walk in the park? What about phoning a friend?

Tell me your ideas in the comments. We can all benefit from growing our reward list along with our to-do lists. Because life is difficult and no one else can pat us on the back right now for a job well done.

Possible new Christian book for you in all genres.

This one is great if you have Kindle Unlimited as the books listed are all available with the KU subscription.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/christianfictioninku/rne006n9jo

D is for Done

For now, that is. It’s been a crazy ride since I started A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory at the end of December.

Being stuck at home in mid-March thought I’d write every day and have it finished by the mid-April.

My brain said not so fast, you need to process a few medical issues you have and then there’s this virus issue that is going to plague your mind way more than you expected.

I’m not going to lie and say I miss leaving my house and seeing people. I’m not built that way. I love being home and can find lots of things to do or watch–I’ve attended way too many webinars since being home.

The thing is, I eventually settled down by doing research. Since A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory happens in 1865 and my characters Cornelia and Jake are traveling the Oregon Trail I had to figure out what it would be like.

I do know–sort of. We had an RV for a while and loaded up the kids and took the trail. It was easy except for the “stop touching me” and “he did it, Mom” coming from the back. I suspected it was similar to traveling with a wagon full of kids but there had to be so much more. I mean there weren’t rest stops and pizza places, right?

I discovered quite a bit of information and while it won’t all go into the book, there was enough for me to realize how parallel what the women were going through was to what we are going through now. The separation from family, the concerns about how to cook a meal, and how to live with less.

Once I got into that mindset the book started to write itself…sort of. My fingers are aching from days of 3,000 words. 🙂 I’m not complaining I’m rejoicing to find a satisfying end to this book.

Next? Glad you asked, I’ll be editing, writing the back cover copy, waiting for my editor to send me suggestions. I’m great at murdering commas. Look for this book around mid-August or early September.

Do I have a cover?

Yes, and it’s beautiful.

Can you see it?

Nope. 🙂 You have to wait.

Meanwhile, I need to do what a lot of people have already done during the shelter-in-place order. Clean my house, empty a few closets, and goodness, go through that spice cabinet! I tried to use cream of tarter this week and it had an expiration date of 2014. How many more of those lurk in there? I’m about to find out next week.

While you’re here check out this promotion full of KindleUnlimited books and fill up your reader!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/christianfictioninku/rne006n9jo

Let the Children Be Little

Can your appearance make someone’s day better?

I know! Don’t judge a person by the way they look has been my motto since my mother instilled it in me at a very young age. It was traumatic, please don’t ask me to share that horrifying memory…but to be fair I was  3 and curious about someone’s size.

Which brings me to the reason for the post. We are all wearing masks of some kind in public now. Some of you have been wearing them much longer than we have in the US so you’ve probably figured this stuff out.

We are new at this game. I’m seeing some fun possibilities here—saving money on lipstick and liner, who cares about those drooping jowls, or those marionette lines on the side of the face? And in the winter, how nice it will be not to have a frozen face before I get inside a store.it

While that is a positive there is a negative side.

I’ve seen some creative masks (mostly on Facebook because I don’t get out much) and many of them are scary—monster faces and skeletons. Right now, it’s not a big deal. Most parents are keeping their small children home.

Don’t do this please.

This week many of the states are relaxing some of the stay-at-home mandates. Parents will be taking their children out in public. Older children are used to video games and tv shows that have scary parts.

A small child will not know what to do with those feelings because none of us—parents, grandparents, teachers had the experience to teach them about the safety of masks. Consider the fact that in October in the US, we have fire safety week to teach the little ones not to be afraid of firefighters, fire alarms, and the sounds the fire trucks make.

Small children are always trying to make sense of what is happening around them. The 2’s, 3’s, and 4-year-olds have been in preschool or home where they have learned to read and understand facial cues and expressions. The first few times they go to a public place there will be no normal faces. Nothing will look the same to them as before.

In the preschool where I work, the children are asked to look at another child’s face after a toy is taken from them, someone knocks over a block tower or is hurt. This is how they learn what facial expressions mean. (We do make sure the child who is wronged is first asked if they are okay to validate their feelings of being hurt or wronged.)

Remember how you felt the first few times you went to the store with a mask and the shelves were empty of toilet paper? Unsettling, wasn’t it? For me, my anxiety rose to a level I have never experienced and I’m still fighting against it.

When they go into a family-friendly environment in the next few months what will they see on your face?

You have a choice to make them a little more comfortable or to increase their confusion and fear. I hope you choose to make them comfortable because there is going to be a lot of adults with issues when this is over. If we can let’s protect the children from having them too.

10 Things to do While Sheltering in Place

Much of the country is sheltering in place either voluntarily or by orders of the government. While it’s difficult to think of being away from those we love or from doing things we enjoy like meeting at the movies or dining out it’s necessary to keep us safe. And we all want to do our part but after twenty-four hours those extrovert friends are going to be looking for something to do. The rest of us like me who are introverted are having a party celebrating that we don’t have to go anywhere.

a list of 10 things to help pass the time while sheltering in place

That’s why I made this list because so many of my friends, God Bless Them! Make me leave my house often and yes, I do have fun. This time I hope I can help them understand there are things to do at home.

  1. Go through your friend list on Facebook and unfriend or unfollow people you don’t know. When I first got on Facebook I accepted any friend request, somewhere from games I no longer play. Don’t worry, when you unfollow or unfriend that person is not notified.
  2. Clean out the junk drawer. You’ll find lots of silly memories in there along with pieces of something you were going to fix. If you know what they are for, put them in a fix-it pile. If you don’t have a clue, then recycle or trash it.
  3. If you are working from home but have a break instead of searching the cabinet for something to eat, sweep off the front porch. Ugh. I need to do that one myself. If you don’t have your own outside space continue searching the cabinet for a snack.
  4. Go to Amazon and just for fun create a wish list for things you’d like to own. Pretend it’s Christmas and the new catalogs have arrived. This works only if you remember drooling over the JC Penny and Sears catalogs after Thanksgiving.
  5. Open the cabinet where you store your medications. Look at the expiration dates and toss those expired bottles.
  6. How many photos do you have on your phone? Do you really need 17 shots of the rose bush you saw in Texas? You can delete a lot of pictures and while doing it your serotonin levels will go up as you revisit all the memories. You know the ones you said you’d print out on Shutterfly? There’s an idea, make some photo books!
  7. Grab a subscription to KindleUnlimted and read as many books as you can for free. they are doing an unheard of free 2-month trial. Write the date on the calendar of when to cancel https://amzn.to/395FsxH or if you like to watch movies grab a month of Amazon Prime https://amzn.to/3dfRg3Jfree for a month. Again, mark the date to cancel on your calendar.
  8. Get out your pen and write letters to your relatives or if no one can read your handwriting (putting my hand in the air) use the computer. Think about those people you know from church who are elderly and not a computer person, write to them and brighten their day. Maybe you have a stockpile of cards, you know it’s okay to cross out the Happy Birthday or cover it with another piece of paper with your own words. Happy Lock in Month, Happy Shelter in Place, Happy anything will work. Or use your computer and make your own card.
  9. Move! Your body! Not your living space. Search youtube for Classical Stretch videos. I enjoy these because anyone any age can do them and it feels great, if you like to MOVE body grove Misty Tripoli it’s a fun way to dance like no one is watching and hey nobody will be watching except those at home with you. She is offering a 30-day free trial.
  10. Journal your thoughts about what is happening in our world today. Make sure you add a list of things you are grateful for each day.
  11. Bonus! I just learned from a new friend that she is meeting online with her friends and having dinner.

Make sure you write the dates on the calendar or set a phone reminder to cancel anything before your card gets charged unless of course, you love the new thing you’ve discovered.

Please comment and give me more ideas!

Free things! I love free things!

Spreadsheet of all the live videos out there for kids.

Disney is offering their course Imagineering in a Box for free

How about Coloring Books from 113 Museums, that’s fun!

How about taking a virtual tour of 10 ionic Museums

Here’s a list of 75 museums to virtually tour

Visit 31 National parks virtually!

How about a Tour of the Peterson Museum’s classic car vault you can find coloring and building activities here too.

12 World-Class Museums to visit online

Google Arts & Culture has a lot to offer

From a newsletter reader:

Some free websites to research your family tree is familysearch.org and findagrave.com

Musings of a Procrastinating Writer

If you can’t finish it don’t start it. That’s been my hidden mantra for way too long. It’s a mantra for procrastination and you could add to it, if you can’t do it perfectly don’t do.

Until this January, I’ve been a fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to living the author life. The last few years have derailed my production and I thought I had good excuses.

  1. I work part-time
  2. I was watching my grandkids one day a week–who could resist that? 🙂
  3. I have to get the housework done–who am I kidding? It never got started because I didn’t have time to finish it.
  4. Grocery shopping and menu planning –can I get an Amen? Well no. I can order groceries online and my husband picks them up.
  5. The cat is too needy today. I can’t get to my keyboard because he wants attention.
  6. If you make a plan it something will always change it.
  7. I’m tired. I need to take care of myself and rest.
  8. Sitting in my chair makes my back hurt so I’ll write when that goes away.
  9. Math. Yes, math, figuring out what my ROI (return on investment for those of you who are like me and had no idea what that was) is too hard.
  10. Writing blog posts are great but I have the most boring life.

Pretty pathetic when I look at my list of reasons–Okay okay! They are excuses and nothing more.

book cover of atomic habits

So what happened in January? I read finished reading Automic Habits for the 2nd time (slow to pick up or rather I didn’t want to follow the advice). the idea behind it is to start one task and do it daily but add to it the next day. For instance, I want to write so I make sure the first thing I do when I sit at my desk is open my file and read yesterday’s work. The book explains the method well. It’s not just for writers it’s for anyone who struggles to maintain good habits. Because let’s face it maintaining those bad habits is so easy one doesn’t need to read a book on how to do that.

Another thing I started to use is a word tracking spreadsheet made by Jamie Raintree. If you are a writer and terrible at spreadsheets check out her tracker. It’s $10 and amazing. And I bought a planner from Audrey Hughey You can find my post about the planner here and here.

So back to what made the change. I picked a few habits to try–easy ones. I plan our meals for the week and I sprint (that is: write as fast as you can no editing) with a friend I met on the plane to a conference. Thank you Sally Henson! She and I also share photos of our planners on Sunday evening. Accountability plays a bit part in getting things done.

Has it worked? Yes! Those 15 minutes aren’t long enough for me to think I can finish anything but I found I can do between 500-700 words during those minutes. We sprint early in the morning and that either gets me going for more time if I’m not working that day or I have a feeling of success because I’ve written on a book I want to write.

And ta-da the book is now coming up to being halfway finished!

The meal planning has gone well! I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating or I did and had great success, then life got to busy and I went back to old habits like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sugar is a mean beast once it gets a hold on you. Now I make them at home with stevia and I’m satisfied. I’ve been back on plan now because I have our meals planned and sometimes my snacks.

Am I seeing great success in other areas of my life? Not as many as I want but I’m getting more done than I let myself believe that I can. And guess what? Plans can be easily changed by writing in pencil or erasable pens. I like these from Fixon.

How about you?

Have you tried breaking things into small chunks of time?

Were you surprised by the results?

Be sure to pick up your free book if you haven’t already!