Saying Goodbye

Two years ago I started a new job somewhat reluctantly. Going to work meant I had to leave my writing behind, and I’d have to interact with people I didn’t know. GASP! I would have to smile and be present.

Writers are often off in their own worlds thinking about their book even if they are standing right next to you. We forget to smile, instead, we make strange thinking faces. Or so I’ve been told by my husband.

After a few weeks of settling in, I loved my position at PYC-programs for young children. Smiling faces of little ones brightened my day. Laughter and silly actions lifted my heart. Watching them discover the amazing in the ordinary helped me see it too. Helping with zippers, mittens, and coats could have frustrated me but instead reminded me how fragile childhood can be.

Turning in my key

While I started this position thinking I would be able to serve well with my social media skills it didn’t take long to realize there was so much more.

I met incredible patient women who taught there. I learned to sing everything because preschoolers listen when you sing instructions. I didn’t hesitate to hop into a substitute position when needed because joy is a child who paints and tells you a story.

Then Covid-19 became a reality.

The preschool had to change a lot of things to be able to open. I was one of the changes, wanted but no longer needed at this time. It breaks my heart to step away but I understand. I will miss the women I worked with, the children, and their families.

I am walking away with good memories and new people skills because God sent me here–not so much so I could help at PYC, but that He could help me.

I am a better person for working at PYC and hope to be a better writer, because without people skills how can one write about people?

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

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

The Perfect Reading Day

Outside our home rests 8.5 inches of snow and 2-3 more are predicted to land before tomorrow morning.

Bliss.

It’s Saturday and there is no need to go anywhere and we couldn’t if we wanted.

The best thing to do is curl up in the chair next to the wood stove with the cat, and the latest book by Sibella Giorello The Wind Will Howl.

I may even put my phone on airplane mode.

Slow down time

Once again time has blasted past me!

November has come and gone so fast that I barely remember Thanksgiving. I wish there was a way to slow time.

hmm, if I could slow down time I would:

  • Get my to-do list done
  • Have more time to play with my grandkids
  • Get my to-do list done
  • Clean my house
  • Do things with my friends
  • Read more and sew more
  • Write more books

What would you do if you could slow down time?

Dreams Realized

Dreams Do Come True

 

Hosting a mini writer’s retreat can bring to the surface dreams of the past. This retreat was small–me and another writer/editor Jennifer Vander Klipp at my house. We were comparing when we knew we wanted to write and I remembered I had two of my first books hidden away.

creative, novel, to read, faith, for women, romance

Check out that amazing binding I used. Reading through them would give any editor a headache because there is so much repetition and the grammar-oh my!

If You Wish Upon a Star was about bumping into a movie star and having him over for dinner. I was dreaming big time.

Tragedy Strikes is equally painful in the unfolding of love and death.

I’m not sure why I saved these but I’m glad that I did. I can see how my younger self truly wanted to write books, not just short stories–evident because they’re more than two pages long and bound.

After these two came many more written pages, then typed on a Royal typewriter my mother found somewhere, but I no longer have the stories or the typewriter.

Along the way, I learned how to use punctuation, how to write dialogue, and pull readers into the story. I’m still learning something new as writing for publication often changes.

Looking back, I had a dream. I didn’t know then how it would be realized, that I would be blessed with contracts with traditional publishers, that I’d get to hold a book not bound with rickrack in my hand.

I have to thank you–my readers, for helping me achieve this dream.  You’ve been a big part of this journey. I write and you pick up the stories and leave reviews. Thank you!

If you have a little one writing please save their work for them so they too can look back and see how far they have come some day.

And if you’re considering writing a book check out these books.

Chopped or what are you making for dinner?

What’s for dinner? Don’t get Chopped

one pot cookbook meal

Street Fair Sausage and Potatoes

Sometimes, no make that most nights I have no idea what I’m going to cook for dinner. It’s not a lack of planning a menu but forgetting to take a major ingredient out of the freezer to thaw.

One night, I was in control of the remote ( a very rare occurrence)  and discovered the food channel. For once, they were speaking my language.

Chopped on foodnetwork was the name of the show. The contestants are given a basket of ingredients some of which most home cooks, chefs, or those of sound mind would never put together to make a dish. Bacon candy was one ingredient. Fascinating for me as I’m often flinging open cabinets searching for anything that will work and count as a real meal though I’ve never found bacon candy to use.

The more I watched I became convinced I could do this kind of cooking. Then it hit me.

Then it hit me. I would be chopped out of my kitchen (meaning I’d have to leave like a chef who didn’t do well on the show) because I don’t live in a chef’s world.

There isn’t fresh produce, cream, fresh herbs, fruit and spices to pick from in my house and no bacon candy. No wonder they can make magic out of strange foods.

My conclusion? Anyone can be a great chef if you have access to a fully stocked fridge and pantry just a few feet away. I’ll never be that kind of chef but I can whip up a grilled cheese sandwich or bacon and eggs in mere minutes. 

I’m going back to my tried and true cookbook. One Pot Cookbook even though it isn’t a gluten-free specific most of the meals, like the one above are easily adapted for my consumption.

I almost always have the ingredients or can substitute from the pantry, plus the food tastes great. Clean up is fast too.

 

Did Last Year Get Away From You How to Track the Seasons

Last year slipped away from me. When Christmas arrived it was almost a surprise. I missed spring and summer. How did that happen? It used to be easy to know when to switch out holiday decor because I had little ones telling me. Now that I’m an empty nester I don’t decorate for every holiday.

Is time passing by too fast for you? 

Do you suppose this happens because the retail stores are muddling with our internal calendar? Before Holloween is over, Christmas trees are displayed and on January 2nd this year, my store had Valentine’s Day decor to purchase. 

 

This year I am stopping time! You can too!

The plan?

Decorate for each season. I don’t mean full-out window gels and wreaths on the door. I don’t have the time or money to purchase and make decorations that will also need to be stored.

The solution?

Find one place in your home that you pass by every day. It might be a shelf, a small spot on the kitchen counter or like me the fireplace mantle.

Yes, I have one. No, it doesn’t get changed except for Christmas.

Until now.

Winter Decor

I refuse to go through another year of catching up to the seasons. I have this stunning mantle. It is part of a log cabin from my home state of Missouri. This old log has seen a lot of seasons!

Winter decorating can be a challenge because it’s right after Christmas and the house looks so dull.

I wanted to have some sparkle to reflect the snow and ice of winter. I spray painted a few pinecones from our tree, let them dry, and then put them in this small vase. The rest of the decor on the mantle didn’t change. By adding this one piece, I know at a glance what season it is.

Next month I’ll be taking away this  piece and adding something red for Valentine’s Day.

So tell me in the comments, “Do you decorate for the seasons and holidays?”