A fun way to discover new authors!

Booksweep promo

I’ve teamed up with over 50 fantastic WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel COMING HOME, plus books from authors like WENDY LINDSTROM and KARI TRUMBO, MARGARET BROWNLEY and KAREN WITEMEYER.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/western-hist-rom

These contests are a great way to discover new authors that you might enjoy. As always, when there is a large group of authors, these books can range from sweet to spicy. If you decide to try out a new author, please read the book descriptions carefully to ensure you are getting a book that is at your comfort level.

The contest runs from February 6-13, 2017.

Good luck and enjoy!

Giveaway!

Happy New Year!

Most of us look to the new year as a time to start new habits or reboot old ones. If one of your goals includes spending more time with God, I have something that can help you.

Daily Wisdom for Women

I wrote the entries for the month of June in this devotional book from Barbour. The image doesn’t do it justice. The cover is a soft, embossed leather-like material. It’s beautiful to hold and has a ribbon to mark your place.

And I’m giving away two copies to my subscribers. I’ll be drawing names last on January 5, and I’ll notify the winners so I can get their copies mailed out to them. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up using the form to the right. All subscribers get the first chapter of my latest release, other freebies and goodies as I come up with them, and no spam! So even if you don’t win the devotional, you’ll still get free stuff! Share with your friends!

Happy New Year!

Joy to the World?

O Come Let Us Adore Him Christmas ornament on tree

Often when we think of Christmas and its meaning, we use words like joy, happiness, peace. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction of what Christmas is supposed to be. But if we take a step back, we realize that isn’t always the experience for many people. We know many people have a hard time at Christmas, and we ourselves might find it disappointing if not downright painful.

In fact, if we go back to the first Christmas, it would be hard to see much joy, happiness, or peace for many of the people involved. Mary was a pregnant, teen mother surrounded by gossip about her infidelity to her finacé, Joseph. And it wasn’t just the painful words. She could have been killed for what the townspeople supposed she’d done if Joseph had wanted it.

She gave birth, without a mother or midwife, in a dirty, animal holding pen. And then shortly after, her new little family was fleeing for their lives from King Herod. The same Herod who ordered all of the babies in the surrounding area killed in an attempt to kill her baby. The immense sorrow of those families that first Christmas is unimaginable.

For the rest of her son’s life, Mary would hear the whispers about His illegitimacy and her character. And then the whispers became shouts as people questioned Jesus’ sanity and His audacity to say He was the Messiah. Even her other children mocked Him. And then He died a painful, humiliating criminal’s death.

In the quiet moments, when she reflected on the day the angel told her she would bear the Savior her people had been waiting thousands of years for, she must have questioned God’s purpose and her role. And when she said she was the Lord’s servant, she had no idea what she was getting into or the incredible pain that would accompany her obedience.

So who was celebrating that first Christmas? Who was joyful? Those with a heavenly perspective. The angels. The first angel, the messenger, said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” And the host, the heavenly army, said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The angels had a different perspective than Mary, Joseph, the families who lost their babies, us. The angels knew that Jesus was born on a dirty floor, amongst animals and their food and waste because that’s what He came to save us from. He comes into our mess. He doesn’t wait for us to get cleaned up and get ready for Him, like we would have to if he had been born in a palace or a temple. He specializes in coming into dirty, painful situations to walk along side us, to provide us hope and deliverance. His name, Immanuel, means “the with us God.” He is truly with us in every situation.

We don’t have the perspective of the angels. We are in the middle of our messes, pain filled and hurting. Our messes have no tidy solution in sight. Our pain has no end. We can’t see the joy, peace, and hope that God has promised to His children. That takes an eternal perspective. But our God walks with us through it all. And that is where we find the true joy, peace, and hope of the season. Our God was born into a mess so He can walk with us through our messes and pain. And that’s why we can rejoice this season.

 

 

Need a quick and cheap gift idea?

Finished Christmas ornament

I gave these cute ornaments to my sisters-in-law last year for Christmas. They were well received and didn’t take long to make. Best of all, you probably have all the things you need already!

First Step

I used scrap pieces of wood from our wood pile and cut them using the miter saw. You want pieces that are about three inches in diameter. If you don’t feel comfortable using power tools, you can use a hand saw or just buy wood rounds at the craft store.

I didn’t sand them down much because I was going for a rustic look. But you could do many things with them like painting a message or a scene, decoupaging on an image, or whatever else you can come up with. I chose to transfer a Christmas saying, a different one for each ornament.

To make a transfer, make a mirror image of the image you want and then print it onto a sheet protector. The plastic keeps the ink from sticking to it, so you can flip it onto the wood and use an old gift card or credit card as a scraper to transfer the ink onto the wood. There are lots of ways to transfer images. Just look at Pinterest if you need ideas!

Making Christmas ornaments out of tree branches, step 1

Step 2

Not everything will transfer over clearly or as darkly as you would like. I took a fine-tipped marker and went over the lettering until it was more visible. Of all the steps, this one took the most time!

Making Christmas ornaments out of tree branches, step 2

Step 3

The last step is to attach a ribbon or cord to hang your ornament from. I drilled a hole and used a ribbon, but you could use hot glue or a super-sticky glue and use any kind of ribbon, cording, twine, or rope.

Making Christmas ornaments out of tree branches, step 3

It’s a sweet way to make a personalized gift that won’t cost you a lot of time or money.

Merry Christmas!

 

See you on the other side.

Lucy, a black LabThis is Lucy. Like many people’s pets, she has several names. She’s hardly ever called by her real name–unless she’s in trouble. Lucille (by me), Lulu Belle (by the kids), Visa (also by me, because she’s everywhere you want to be and I’m always tripping over her).

She’s also known as the Dumb Cat. We have two cats, so Lucy thinks she’s one of them. But you can tell when the cats look at her, they think she’s really dumb for a cat. For the record, Rocki is the Bad Cat because she wants to go outside just like the Dumb Cat. Lexi is the Scaredy Cat because, well, she’s scared of everyone but me.

More than anything, though, Lucy’s my husband’s dog. For his birthday, I got him a card that had an image of a man on a boat with a black Lab. It sits on his desk as Mike’s definition of a perfect day. Unfortunately, he sold his boat to put wood floors in our house.

And now, Lucy is also gone. She suffered from cancer of the mouth. And when a Lab is miserable, you know it’s bad.

We spent one last Sunday morning with her. Rocki was stalking her yarn ball as she does most mornings. Lucy thought, of course, that Rocki wanted to play with her, and so chased her under the Christmas tree, barking, completely confused as to why, once again, the other cats wouldn’t play with her.

And so she leaves us with one more memory to string on the chain of those she’s given us over the years. Goodbye, dear friend. See you on the other side.

Yes, I really wrote them (even if it took 15 years)!

Coming Home and Be MineI’ve had some wonderful conversations with friends over the past couple weekends, but one thing has become clear to me: people don’t realize that the books I’ve been talking about were actually written by me.

There’s a compliment in there. I do share and promote works by other authors and past editing clients. In my former working life, I was an editor. So it makes sense that people might not realize right away that I wrote these books. Which made me think that, as a storyteller, maybe I should tell the story of how these latest books came into being.

In 2003, I stood in a hotel room in Houston, wondering if I had made a complete mistake by coming to this writer’s conference. I didn’t know anyone; I had a two year old and five year old at home. And downstairs, when I had peeked in the conference room after registering, the chatter of voices made it seem like everyone already knew each other. I wondered if I could hide in my hotel room the whole the time. After all, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had any time alone.

But the trip had been expensive. And I had a book I had been writing. Finding time to write was hard with two little ones. Was it what I was supposed to be doing? I had prayed before I left for God to show me if He wanted me to continue.

I had always wanted to be a writer. The book I had been working on started as an AP English project in high school. I had written a whole 100 pages and transported my class back in time to 1881 Oregon. Nothing about that original story remained, other than the setting and a few characters’ names. But over the past few years, I had been writing and learning about writing. Now it was time to see if it had been wasted time.

I left my hotel room and continued through the conference. I met some other writers in the same boat I was: knowing no one and feeling alone. I attended my appointment with an editor from my dream publishing house. And she liked my story and wanted to see more of it. And another appointment garnered me a potential agent.

I heard God’s voice: write.

I arrived home with renewed desire to write and improve my craft. Those writers I met? They became critique partners and life-long friends. I was blessed doing what I loved with good friends along the journey.

And yet, my book didn’t get published. I wouldn’t get an agent for several more years. I kept coming close, but no publishing house would give me that coveted contract.

I kept writing. I kept going to writer’s conferences. I kept learning. I wrote other books.

And then I went through a divorce and became a single mom struggling with two special needs children and how to put food on the table. And writing slowly gave way to survival. For nine long years I wondered why God had led me so far just to have it come to nothing when I writing contract would go so far to helping provide for us.

I knew I had heard God’s voice before, but now it didn’t make any sense. I put my hopes and dreams on a shelf and wondered.

Finally, I got my dream job working as a managing editor for Zondervan. Most of my previous experience in publishing had been from the author’s point of view. Now I had a chance to see what it was like from the other side. I got to learn every aspect of publishing.

And when it was time to leave that job, I still wasn’t sure that writing books was in my future. I managed projects and edited and did graphic design.

Until God made it clear that it was time to get back to my books. As my rheumatoid arthritis grew worse, He started clearing my schedule and brought along friends who encouraged me. He helped me realize all my experience allowed me to understand the complete publishing process to get my books published. I had developed contacts in the publishing world who could help me with the parts of the process I could no longer do.

Most authors will tell you their books did not come overnight. And you might be surprised to find that some of them took as long as mine. And now that the first two are out, I’m hoping that the rest of my already-written books will join Coming Home and Be Mine on the shelves. Thank you for letting me share the journey with you.

A Little Grace with Your Thanksgiving

Fall leavesWe’re having 20 people here for Thanksgiving. We just bought a new-to-us house, and since we have the largest gathering space, we are now committed to having every family gathering here ad infinitum. Which is great for a few reasons (no, I’m not being sarcastic).

One, I’m gluten free, which means I get to make an entirely separate Thanksgiving meal for myself. Yay, more pie for me! But also, boo, because I have to be careful if I sample anyone else’s dishes. I don’t want to be sick for three days. It’s nice not to schlepp a whole meal over to someone else’s house and worry that someone will use the gluten-y knife to cut my gluten-free pie. If you have food allergies, you know what a minefield these kinds of gathering can be.

Two, I have a son with autism. With 20 people, even people he likes, it can be too much. Having his own space to retreat to when he’s feeling overwhelmed makes the situation easier on him, and me.

Everyone has their own memories, views, and expectations about holidays, especially one centered around food such as Thanksgiving. Special dishes, traditions, and memories infuse this holiday. But keep in mind that for people with any kind of special need–food, emotional, recent loss, far-away family–holidays can be a bit tough. Treat everyone with a bit of extra grace this time of year, because you never know who will need it.

Happy Thanksgiving!