Candied Ginger and a Novel?

It occurred to me as I was making my new favorite snack candied ginger that the process is a lot like writing a novel.

A book idea is one big knot with a lot of possible roads to take to writing ‘The End.’

Ginger has a palm (at least I think it does) and fingers all in different lengths and thicknesses. There are even knuckles which makes peeling ginger tricky.

A character is like one of those fingers. There are stubborn spots like the ginger’s knuckles that fight against discovery. It takes effort to peel it and find the true spice which brings the heroine or hero to life.

Once you get your ginger peeled it has to be boiled in sugar water (stevia for me) until it’s just right. It takes patience to wait, the ginger spice aroma floats through the kitchen and you just want to be at the end of the process and snacking.

With the book, as the author I almost always know the ending way before I get to it. I want to rush through with my story so I can get it to my readers. But I can’t. I must use patience or the end result will be unreadable.

Once the process of boiling the ginger and coating it with sugar or in my case Trim Healthy Mama gentle sweet (stevia and erythritol), then baking it in the oven you get this delight.

If this makes you hungry search Pinterest for some recipes. I can’t give you mine because it’s copyrighted. I hope you try making this because ginger is good for you and candied ginger is as satisfying as a good book.

As for books? These are the process of taking my time and discovering the character’s story.

Love Finds an Outlaw

It’s the book birthday for Love Finds an Outlaw!

Can a pistol-packing spinster and an adventure-loving reporter find love amidst the mishaps and trials of the Sana Fe railroad’s ill-fated inaugural excursion?

Mary Outlaw has a ticket to ride the Santa Fe train on a sight-seeing excursion from Topeka, Kansas to Pueblo, Colorado.  She intends to live life unrestrained on this trip because it may be her only chance unless she can convince her father to let her choose her own husband. A future of cooking and babies is not the life she wants.

News reporter, Wyatt Cross bought the last ticket for the excursion, hoping one of the 84 women (he knows because he checked before buying his ticket for this scenic tour) would be someone he could love and who would share his sense of adventure. This is a last-ditch effort to keep his father happy and to preserve his inheritance. While waiting to board, he notices a tall, beautiful woman, Mary. The speed her hands move while she speaks fascinates him. Hope sparks inside of him. Maybe the trip will turn out to be more than a scenic ride up the mountain.

Amazon Link



Barnes and Noble

*This story originally appeared in the Rails to Love Collection titled Outlaw on the Pueblo Excursion.


What’s it like for a reader when a book releases?

If you are an avid reader and you love an author you’ve probably grabbed the book when it came out on preorder.

If you are new to the author, you might think that looks interesting.

If it’s the genre you like to read you’re likely to go and read the backcover and take a good look a the front. If you like what you see, you stick it in your cart.

All three readers are different and yet they are the same. The minute they get time to themselves they retire to their favorite reading spot and open their e-reader or print book and sometimes they aren’t heard from for hours, dinner doesn’t get made, laundry stays in the dryer, and if it weren’t for that reminder on their phone they might not get to where they need to be.

From a writer’s point of view, release day is harrowing. We wait for those first sales, the first reviews, the good ones make us feel like we’ve climbed a mountain, the bad ones make us want to jump off a cliff.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions for a few weeks.

Dinner doesn’t get made, pizza is the main food and sandwiches lots of those because our fingers, brain and backs are tired from the writing, the editing and the watching of numbers. I wouldn’t recommend writing to anyone who is mildly interested. It is not for the weak. Well, maybe it is because as long as your mind, your fingers and Amazon delivers–you can write a book.

Did I mention that release day/week makes a writer a bit distracted? I probably shouldn’t drive a car today.

I might start thinking if a reader likes Jake or hates Raymond– his is hard to like, but give him time.

Was that light red?

Or maybe I should have written in the scene about using buffalo chips in the wagon to keep mosquitoes away. It could have been funny, but that’s part of the hard writing, knowing what to leave out. It didn’t fit. But still it bugs me that I didn’t write it. Maybe I will someday and give it to my newsettler subscribers to read just for fun. Right after I finish book 3.

Oh, didn’t I mention that? Release day is fun and exciting but it also means you need to get started on the next book.

Cornelia Taggart

A Bride’s Journey to the Colorado Territory releases July 30th. And we’ve learned about Jake Miles in A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and we know what he’s thinking before he boards the steamboat.

Now it’s time to meet Cornelia who will shake up his world.

Cornelia Taggart und Bruder reisen nach Amerika

Translation: Cornelia Taggart and brother to travel to America

Sind Sie nervös, was auf Sie zukommt?

Translation: Are you nervous about what lies ahead for you?

C. Of course. It’s hard for me to remember to speak English and my brother Raymond says I must. He’s right. If I get lost from him, I need to know how to ask for directions.

Ist die Sprache Ihre größte Angst?

Translation:  Is the language your biggest fear?

C. Nein. Leaving home on a huge ship is scary. I have never been on a boat before, except for the little rowboat in the pond. This boat we are taking is groBe—big, my brother tells me it is taller than the church steeple.

Was werden Sie an zu Hause vermissen?

Translation: What will you miss about home?

C. My mother and father but they will follow us when we are settled. First, we must find enough gold to buy good farmland. Though I don’t know why we don’t try to find another way to buy land. My brother wants an adventure, I think.

I will miss my sweet horses too. I wonder if they will notice I am gone, though father promised to give them treats once in a while.

Was ist mit deinen Freunden?

Translation: What about your friends?

C. I don’t wish to talk about Frieda. I miss her and always will.

Woher weißt du, was du für eine Reise über den Ozean und dann durch Amerika packen sollst?

Translation: How do you know what to pack for a trip across the ocean and then across America?

C. Raymond has a book that tells us what we will need. I tell him we will need more than what that book suggests. He doesn’t listen, but then he never does hear what I have to say.

Haben Sie keine Angst, dass Sie miteinander streiten könnten?Translation:  Aren’t you afraid you might argue with each other?

C. I have no doubt that will occur. We are sharing a cabin on the ship and then we will be in the wagon. I don’t see how we will keep our differences from banging against each other. Too much closeness but we will have to learn to be more than family. Freunde—friends, I hope.

Full Vector illustration of a Vintage Highly detailed Transatlantic Ship Engraving
Book 1
Book 2

Part 1: Jake’s Interview read here

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!

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!

7 Romance Stories

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7 Contemporary Christian Romances for 99 cents!

Second chances at love and the excitement of new romance brought to you from USA Today and bestselling authors. Waiting for you inside…

Sun KissesJackie Castle

A love for history drew Karen and Kelvin together. Just when they’re willing to give their hearts to each other, will their own histories threaten to tear them apart?

All in Good TimeDiana Lesire Brandmeyer

She’s clinging to the past. He’s looking for a future. Can they find happiness together in the present?

The Inn at Cherry Blossom Lane Jennifer Vander Klipp

Can the summer magic of Lake Michigan bring first loves Claire and Alex back together? Or will the secret they discover inside the old farmhouse jeopardize everything they love?

Since You Went AwayCindy Flores Martinez

Recently widowed Violet and Tom are struggling to deal with the tragic loss of their long-time spouses. The last thing they want is to fall in love again, but when their paths keep crossing, will their unspoken desire for each other ruin their friendship?

Getting to YesAllie Pleiter

Suzann’s been waiting–and waiting–and waiting–for Adam to pop the question. She’s more than ready, he’s trying to get ready, so why would God throw obstacle after obstacle into the mix?

Beauty WithinRachel Skatvold

A young widow with two children searches for a fresh start in her hometown, and a cop runs from dark shadows in his past. Together, will this unlikely pair be able to heal after a tragedy and discover the Beauty Within God’s plan?

The Way To A Man’s HeartSuzanne D. Williams

Liberty Unick has turned her weight problem into a successful hometown bakery. But when her friendship with a wealthy businessman, Eric Spader, blossoms, will her lingering insecurities threaten their chance at romance?

Fall in love again with some of your favorite stories and discover new ones. Be Still, My Heart is ready to take you on a romantic and heartwarming journey. Buy this Christian romance collection today!

Available for 99 cents at these retailers!





From a Distance explores the Orphan Train

Writing  From a Distance for the Spinster on the Orphan Train collection took me down quite the research road.  Or rails if you wish.

While this book is more about Shanna Becket, an agent on the train, than the orphans, to write it I had to understand how the orphans were collected and dispersed out west. Most of my research didn’t end up in the book, but that’s the way it is with writing. Under every story, there is a hidden glacier of knowledge gleaned by the author.

Did you know there were no “Orphan Trains” instead, regular trains were used, sometimes a car would be filled with children? Most of the time there were small groups who were looked after by a few agents.

The agents took food along with the utensils they would need for the children. The also took along emergency bags that included wash cloths, soap,  blankets, and medicines, like Larkspur, in case vermin (lice) had snuck past the caretakers. Talk about a packing for a road trip!

The saddest part of the research book was reading about children separated from their siblings. In later years, some of them were able to reconnect but many were not. Their family history would be lost forever because they were too young to remember.  And then there were those who were given to families looking to supplement the farm labor. Those children were often housed with the livestock and when they turned 18 they ran away (if not sooner) or told to leave. They seldom shared in any family inheritance.

While these are sad stories of failures it is likely these children would not have survived the cold New York winters living on the streets.  Could it have been handled differently? Sure but back in the late 1800s this was new and those with kind hearts wanted to help the children. And many were treated like members of the families that took them in.

Shanna’s trip from New Your City to  Trenton, Illinois was close to 1,002 miles! She would have left on Monday and arrived at her destination on Wednesday evening.

While From a Distance is not a true story, but  I did discover there was an orphan adopted in Trenton who later moved to Marion, Illinois–or so the story goes. Sometimes history is not exact.



To save her life, a spinster runs from her brutal stepfather. But what she runs to might be more than she can handle.

Shanna Becket, abused for years by her stepfather, runs away from him. When she secures employment as a Children’s Society Agency agent, her travels bring her dangerously close to meeting him again.

Aidan Sollar, trying to please his wealthy father, oversees the building of a Chicago hotel in the hopes that his father won’t give it to his older brother.

They meet while traveling the country, but Shanna can’t trust any man. A sick orphan brings them together, and Shanna is forced to place her well-being in Aidan’s hands. But accepting the love she’s only observed from a distance is another story. And Aidan must choose between his family’s wealth or love.

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.

Holidays Cooking and Gifting

It’s that time!

Holidays, cooking and gifting!

12 Brides Giveaway

Do you like cooking the Thanksgiving and Christmas meal?

Do friends and family have you over for dinner or parties?

Do you delight in gifting hostess with something different?

Might I suggest you enter the rafflecopter below?

The 12 Brides of Christmas makes an excellent hostess gift or gift yourself! Twelve short stories about Christmas brides in the 1800s. Go ahead and order a few to give away, the authors would be delighted–hey you’d be gifting us if you did!

Make sure you enter below for a chance to win the ultimate hostess gift or keep it for yourself! What can you win?


Christmas in the post-War United States

So while we’re still six weeks out from Christmas 2015, the authors of The 12 Brides of Christmas are sponsoring a raffle!

Over the next twelve days, we’ll give you an opportunity to win TWO books:

12 daysWhat better way to prepare for the Christmas celebration, than to have one book to read for fun and one to concoct treats for your family!

The two books are not connected except for the title, so you’ll be moving from 12 Brides on the American frontier to 12 Days of recipes to try yourself.

What can be better?
We’re giving away four sets of the two books through Rafflecopter.

You have 24 different opportunities to toss in your name for a chance to win.

The raffle runs from today, November 6 to Tuesday, November 17 at midnight–12 days away.

Just sign up through the form:

Each author newsletter you sign up for counts as one opportunity to win. (12 authors x one each newsletter = 12 opportunities)

Each of the 12 days, we’ll post a new Tweet. If you’re on Twitter, retweeting that tweet will give you another opportunity.

12 days x 12 tweets = 12 more opportunities to win the two books.

Winners will be announced here on Friday, November 20, on the 12 Brides Facebook page, and by email.

My first attempt at fancy, schmancy christmas ...

Winner should receive their two books well in time for . . . their own 12 days of Christmas!

Join us, starting here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Questions? Make a comment.
Here are descriptions of the two books.

The 12 Brides of Christmas:

Christmas is the time for love, and twelve historical women are on their way to the altar, whether they know it or not. In settings across the heartland of America, readers will experience heartfelt gifts, old-fashioned Christmas traditions, sweet romance, and inspiring faith from twelve acclaimed Christian authors.

The twelve stories center on festivities, nutcrackers, stars, trees, creches, gifts, gingerbread and fruitcakes; they also are festive, advent-related, snowbound, evergreen and my favorite, yuletide.

All set in the mid and western United States, they cover the country from Illinois to Mississippi to Arizona to Wyoming and everywhere in between in the 19th century.

For detailed descriptions of the individual stories, see the 12 Brides of Christmas webpage here.

The 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook:

Wonderfully unique, The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook: 2015 will delight taste buds and make your Christmas even merrier! Featuring tasty recipes organized into fun categories including:

Appetizers on a Platter; Beverages a-Blending; Breads a-Rising

Breakfast Dishes a-Baking; Candies a-Boiling; Cookies a-Cooling

Desserts a-Delighting; Kids a-Cooking; Main Dishes a-Mixing

Salads a-Crunching; Sides a Steaming and Soups a-Simmering

With easy entertaining tips and ideas, this sure-to-be-a-favorite cookbook is overflowing with fantastic recipe ideas for the entire holiday season and beyond!

Merry Christmas!


Raffle: 12 Days of Christmas; Brides and a Cookbook Click to Tweet

Christmas brides and cooking: what could be better? A raffle! Click to Tweet

Celebrate Christmas raffle: two books, romance and food! Click to Tweet