The Halloween surprise

Today I am posting a little Halloween surprise dedicated to some special people—my grandchildren. This was a challenge to see if I could write a children’s story in less than 100 words including the words creak, broomstick and pumpkin.

Creak.

What was that? Jenna stared down the long, dark hall.

Creak.

Was it a Halloween ghost?

Shivery.

She tried not to breathe.

Her heart thumped.

Bang.

The broomstick hit the floor beside her.

“MOM.”

Mom raced into the dark hallway. “What’s wrong?”

“There’s a ghost in there.” Jenna pointed.

Mom flipped on the light.

Meow.

It was her orange cat, Pumpkin.

“Pumpkin is the only one here.”

Jenna picked up her cat. “I thought you were a ghost.”

“Meow,” said Pumpkin. She was no ghost.

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IS THERE ANYTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN OCTOBER?

October is my favorite month especially if it doesn’t snow and this year it hasn’t (so far). I am enjoying every beautiful day.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. Albert Camus

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It’s nice when the leaves hang on week after week.

 

I walked on bracken, and dry leaves after/That flamed with color and crackled with laughter. From the poem. Walking By Dilys Bennet Laing

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What fun to watch the little ones fun through the leaves, laughing at the crackling sound.

 

 

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

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In Heaven, it is always Autumn. John Donne

Is October your favorite month? Or which month is? Please don’t spoil my enjoyment by reminding me that if it’s October, winter can’t be far away.

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FOR THE LOVE OF CATS

I love cats though I am not a crazy cat lady.

My grandchildren love cats so I really enjoyed watched my two year old granddaughter play with the old cat the other day.

What I didn’t get in the picture was the young cat wandering by teasing the child to chase him. When she did, he raced away always staying just out of her reach.

Watching cats and kids is one of the many joys of life.

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STATUES TELL A STORY

One of the things I enjoy coming across in my travels is statues. I seldom see one without ‘seeing’ a story.

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I’m sure you can all think of possible stories when you see this wooden man and the totem pole. But it reminds me of a real-life story of my son. How many of you have heard this song?

Poor ol Kaw-liga, he never got a kiss, Poor ol Kaw-liga, he don’t know what he missed,Is it any wonder that his face is red?Kaw-liga, that poor ol’ wooden head.

When my son was young—before he started school, he listened to a record with the instrumentals of that song. No words, mind you. He turned to me and said, “What a sad song.”

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This bear was along a road in Alaska on a trip we made with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Gecko is sitting on the bear’s head. Gecko went with us everywhere and yes, there is a story there that will be written one day.

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 This statue to honor the local firefighters was in Libby, Montana.

I never think of fires without remembering being in a school fire when I was seven years old. My class and others were in the basement classroom watching a play put on my one of the older grades. At first we didn’t hear the fire ‘alarm’ which was a hand bell rung by the principal. He stood at the top of the stairs shouting, ‘Get out. Get out. It’s real.’

We barely made it out before the top floor crashed down to the spot at the top of the stairs where he stood. It was Feb. and so cold outside. We escaped without coats or boots. The water froze in the hoses as the men fought the fire. You might say it was an event that left a fiery memory in my brain.

One more statue:

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Again in Libby, Montana. A brass plate identifies it as ‘In His Hands, Artist Al Youso.’

I love the reminder to pray.

My prayer for today and every day is that people might show the kind of love the Bible implores.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God bless you today.

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SURPRISED BY THE CEDARS

One thing I really enjoy about travel is unexpected surprises. On my recent research trip to Montana I made one such discovery.

I found the Ross Creek Cedars. I had no idea Montana had such stunning beauties.

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Some of these trees are 500 years old.

The protected area is about 100 acres but the trail is a mile long and even accessible for wheelchairs. That was a nice surprise too.

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I am always in awe of such tree—mendous size. (Pun intended for my punny family)

The road to the area twists and turns and twists, and turns some more but it is well worth the drive. And thankfully we did not meet any approaching cars when the road was too narrow for two vehicles.

The scenery was also stunning.

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This is a good reminder to me as a writer. I think readers like surprises in stories. I know I’ll never be able to write the kind of beautiful surprise the Ross Creek cedars were for me but I will work to give as many surprises in my story as I can.

Do you like surprises? What are some of your favorite ones?

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A NEW SERIES COMING

This week I sent in the proposal for the last book in the Cowboys of Eden Valley series. I hate to say goodbye to those I’ve spent so much time with but it’s time to move on.

And I’m excited about the new series I’m working on.

It’s about three cowboys. Here’s the blurb I used to sell the idea to my editor.

Three half breed men as bold as their Indian forbearers, as uncompromising as the Montana mountains. Their mother was a Lakota Indian, Seena. Injured and fleeing the battle of the Little Big Horn, she is unable to continue. Big Sam Harding rescues her, nurses her back to health and strength and marries her. They produce three sons.

I’ve enjoyed researching for this series. My research has involved lots of reading and of course, provided an excuse to driving around Montana, taking pictures and visiting museums.

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Here is where the Harding ranch will be placed. Isn’t it a beautiful setting?

 

This might be the house they live in.

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The three cowboys will likely be called Tanner, Johnny and Levi.

 

Although they each deal with their heritage in a different way, they are seeking freedom from their inner struggles so they can get on with their lives. Can love heal this trio?

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ON BEING A WRITER

I don’t know how long a person must write and publish books before that person feels like a real writer. (That person being me!)

But there are a few things that help me believe it. One is research. Traveling through an area, making notes in a little notebook, taking pictures, going to museums all make me think what I am doing is authentic.

A trip to Montana this summer contained all the above and more.

The Libby, Montana museum:

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It’s a beautiful building with displays both inside and out. A big thank you to the volunteers who marked everything with dates and a description.

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But the best part of the research trip might have been the few hours I spent in the Libby library.

There was a very extensive local and state history section. I delved in and had a great time.

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I spread myself out and skimmed a dozen or more books. I the ‘good’ old days I would have been forced to either take notes or photocopy the pages that interested me. But thanks to technology, I simply used my camera to take pictures and capture the information I needed. It sure did make things fast. When I got home, I printed out the pages and created a hard copy of all the research. Here’s a sample of the books I enjoyed.

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These are some of the things that make me feel like a real writer. Of course, there’s seeing the new covers, getting the edits back, having a box of books delivered to my door and best of all, brainstorming with my writing friend, Carolyne Aarsen.

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FRUIT OF MY LABOR

There is something supremely satisfying about working really hard and then seeing the payoffs. For instance, in the garden.

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Take these sunflowers. I dug seedlings out from the front of the house and transplanted them to the garden—in the futile hope the birds would leave my berries alone.

The flowers did really well and I’m sure the birds will enjoy them…just as they enjoyed my berries.

 

Then there’s the apples. I don’t have to do much work before the harvest. Just a little pruning.

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But then there’s picking, peeling, slicing, etc. Thankfully we have a hand-cranked machine that does all that. And I have a client who volunteered to crank the machine. I put 30 gallon-sized bags in the freezer to share with my family.

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Tomatoes, on the other hand, require a lot more care throughout the season. Then there’s the worry about frost. So I picked most of them and brought them inside. Delicious for fresh eating for several months.

Yup, sometimes the work is worth the effort. I felt the same way about my writing this week when I got a sneak peek of the cover for Big Sky Homecoming—the third book in the Bell sister’s trilogy under the flash of Montana Weddings. I can’t share the cover yet but it is beautiful. Makes it all worthwhile.

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THE PERKS

The perks of summer.

Sunflowers and goldfinch enjoying the sunflowers. My favorite flower. I grow lots of them outside my office window (seen behind the flowers) and leave them there for the winter so I can enjoy birds feeding there…so long as I can keep the moose from stealing the flowers during the winter.

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I  have enjoyed my roses all summer long. I have no idea what kind of bush this is. I grabbed it one year at the end-of-the-season sale and it has thrived and rewarded me with stunning clusters of flowers.sunflowers and roses 001

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I know many would wonder that I enjoy a good storm but I do. It was beautiful. Look at the contrasts. You can’t see the hail that feel like snow but it felt like I was in a snowglobe.

I love the many, many perks of summer. These are but a few of them. I also love the perks of writing. I work hard on a story, planning, plotting, writing, rewriting and editing. Two of the best perks are seeing a lovely cover produced by the art department at HQ and the other is getting a box of books delivered to my doorstep.

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What are some of your favorite perks of the season? I know there must be hundreds of them.

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NEWS UPDATE

I’ve been busy with August. You know the stuff—garden, company, going places, the lake, summer camps for the grandchildren, family gatherings, the garden.

But good stuff is happening at the same time. So here’s the news.

1. I received my 25th book pin. Isn’t it lovely? I think so.

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2. I got two boxes of books within the same week. How cool is that?

The first is the beginning of a new 3-book series of three girls found on the prairie and adopted and it’s set in Montana.

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I love seeing the delivery man stop in front of my house and hand me a box of books. I love opening the flaps and looking at my latest release.

 

 

 

The second book is a re-release of my second Love Inspired Historical in large print with a slightly different cover.

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I think the new cover is great. My hubbie and client think the large print is great so we’re all happy.

In the meantime, I am working on the final book of the Eden Valley series. Look for three more books late in 2015 in that series.

One other August bit of news. My granddaughter got a new puppy for her birthday and has named him August in honor of her birthday month. Smile

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So how has your August been so far?

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