Join me in celebrating my 50th published book. As promised last week, I am going to post ten lists of 5 things. Today my first list is random quotes from some of my books. I hope you enjoy them. The second list is sources of joy in my life.

from gracebig sky homecoming rainbowa Daddy For Christmasfrom the journey homefrom Maryelle

Second list: The other day I was thinking how easy it is to be sad, cranky and unthankful. So I listed some reasons to be happy.I will share only 5.

1. Grandchildren—how can I be unhappy with the joy of having grandchildren and seeing them often though some of them I don’t see often enough.

2. My health. This is not something a person should ever take for granted. Thank you, God, for this gift.

3. Walks with my husband.

4. Friends. Good friends, old friends, coffee with friends, camping with friends, lunch with friends, phone chats with friends.

5. Where we live. I love being only 5 minutes from town and yet having the peace and room of living in the country. I love looking out my window and seeing a moose, or a coyote as he hunts mice and yet, at night, seeing the necklace of the lights of town. I love knowing almost anything I need to purchase, doctors and hospital are ten minutes away and if I need something in the city, it is only an hour away. I love being able to see the mountains and living close enough to a lake to go there for the day.

As you can see, I have only started a list that could be quite long.Can you make your own list? How long would it be?

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I am so proud to announce an important milestone in my writing career.


published book

Yes my 50th book will be out March 2016.

let's celebrate

It seemed fitting that I attended an event at church in which several local authors displayed books. I had the privilege of having a table next to Janette Oke.

Here’s my table.

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For the next few weeks I am going to post 5 facts about me and my writing and maybe my life. My goal is 50 facts. Come along for the ride.

Here are the first five things:

Five steps in my writing journey.

1. In the ‘90s a friend persuaded me to go to a writing group with her. She thought I should write a book about our large family. She even had the title picked out. Surprisingly Normal. I went intending to write that book but soon realized I couldn’t reveal the truth about many things in our family—backgrounds of the children, sessions of counselling, etc. so I abandoned that idea.

2. I began to write for newspapers and farming periodicals. I once had the full center fold of one in which I had interviewed a rancher about his many inventions.

3. My first romance novel was released in 1997 with Heartsong Presents. The Sun Still Shines.

4. My first novella was released in a collection, Prairie Brides. Sorry the picture is such poor quality. The caption on the frame reads Over 108,000 copies sold. August 2004. The story has been repackaged in several different collections and is still available.

 prairie brides 002

5. I sold my first book to Love Inspired Historicals. The Journey Home.This had been my dream market even before the historical line opened. I still feel blessed and privileged that the editors and readers continue to like my stories.

journey home

There are so many others—attending conferences, meeting people who KNOW how to write, finding 2 dear critique partners, being involved in editor-generated continuities, having on-line daily read stories….I could go on and on. I hope I continue to have exciting milestones. Yes, I have some dreams I have yet to fulfill but mostly I wish to write more stories that please the readers.

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I know people who like to redecorate. I call it recreational painting. I don’t like it. I don’t like the mess, the decisions, the money. But at some point it must be done. Like the basement. The walls were dismantled a year and a half ago to do some much-needed work to take care of a water problem. That’s fixed. However. the walls aren’t.

basement renos 005

And of course, it isn’t as simple as fixing the walls. Of course not. The ceiling tiles are in terrible shape. Replace them. The light fixtures don’t work. Replace them. And the walls. Oh my. The walls. Can we say outdated?

basement renos 010 

So get that done too. Here’s a sneak peak of the new walls. An improvement. Yes?

basement renos 012

This week I got a revision letter from my editor and I couldn’t help compare the two events. What might appear on the surface of my story to be an easy fix will be like the basement renos and involve a whole lot more work than one might anticipate and it will be messy and time consuming. I am trying to convince myself that, just like the basement renos, it will be worth it in the end but so far I haven’t quite succeeded. One good thing, at least I don’t have to pay someone to do my revisions…unless there is someone out there who will do it for a few dollars… anyone? You sure? It might be fun. Come on. Where’s your sense of adventure?

Oh very well. If that’s the way you feel. I’ll be like the Little Red Hen and do it myself. But don’t say I didn’t give you the opportunity, Smile

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I found this quote on Lee Hyat’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/leehyat?fref=photo

start writing

This is a great reminder. Far too often (every day?) I struggle to get started. I have more excuses than the power ball lotto has dollars. I’m tired. I need to clean the fridge. I should go out for a walk before the wind comes up. (Well, it’s true. Often the calmest part of the day is when I need to be writing. Notice how unspecific that is so it can cover any time of the day.Winking smile). I need to throw the load of laundry from the washing machine to the drier. I need to make an appointment for____ (insert anything you can come up with). I should shred the stack of paper parked on the shredder. I could sort out books. My goal is to reduce the number of books in this house. Gasp. But yes, really. I must. Just a few every week so it doesn’t hurt so much. I’ve taken to watching Hoarders—Family Secrets as added incentive to get rid of things. Watching one of those episodes makes me want to empty every shelf and cupboard in the house. But, you know what?, I’ve learned that every time I empty out a cupboard or closet and revel in only 1 thing on the shelf someone sees the space and fills it with their things. But as to the excuses I come up with, need I continue? Wait, something just blinked in my head. An idea. A realization.


Perhaps I should turn all that creativity at finding excuses into work on my story. Good idea. Too bad it wasn’t as easy as simply turning on a tap at the sink.

Am I the only one who struggles to get at my work…work, I love once I get going? Okay to be perfectly honest there are days I hate my work—hate the story, want to kill the characters, want to move to Mexico. But on the whole, I love my work. It’s just getting started that I struggle with.

Any suggestions? What works for you?

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You can probably guess what I’m referring to—New Year’s resolutions. It would seem one of the more popular ones making the rounds for writers is how to increase writing output.

There’s a course offered on Becoming a Productive Writer. It’s only $100. I decided to spend my time and money writing. (as opposed to studying about it)

Amazon is sending all sorts of recommendations my way—Writing Faster, Writing Smarter.

On and on it goes.

I decided to make my own list on increasing productivity. So here goes…in no particular order.

1. Coffee, coffee, coffee. And a sip (glug) or two of 5-Hour Energy as needed.

coffee Rx

2. Turn off the internet. Don’t check email. Don’t check Facebook. Especially don’t follow links in Facebook. I mean really, do I absolutely need to see the most bizarre wedding pictures or watch a video of a baby tasting bacon? Really? I don’t think so.

3. Start early. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done but there is something about getting started that makes it easier to keep going. Just do it. I cannot tell you how many times I have to say this before I get started. What can I say? It’s a case of do what I say, not what I do,

4. Make it a practice to so some prewriting. Again, it’s do what I say, not what I do. But when I do prewriting, it makes #3 so much easier. By the way, this is a trick I learned from a very helpful little book.


5. Still can’t get started? Or need to get more done? Set a timer. I set mine for 15 minutes which about the most I can hope to get without interruptions. My friend sets hers for 45.

6. Be accountable. To a friend. On line. To your family or even to yourself. Knowing how much you can do in your usual writing time, commit to doing it.

7. Limit phone calls to before, after or in the middle of the day when you need a break. This one is hard for me because I do need to call the accountant, order supplies, etc. Businesses aren’t open early enough so I can’t do it before I start. I have to book a time to do it.

8. Spend a day taking care of other things so they aren’t distracting you. Get the laundry out of the way. Run the vacuum cleaner through the house, etc. A clean slate makes for a clearer mind.

9. Prepare and plan meals ahead of time.

10. Enlist the help of family. Someone else can peel potatoes or mop up the puddles. Tell them, too, when you need an hour of uninterrupted time. My rule is family comes first but that doesn’t mean I can’t sequester myself away from them for an hour or two at a time.

That’s it. My ten ways to increase productivity. Now to apply them so I don’t have to keep repeating, do as I say, not as I do.

Time to get to work.

get to work

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One of my goals every year is to do up an annual photo album of the family. It gives me a nice record of recent family history.

But among my family pictures are some that tweak my interest in things historical. Like this map at a nearby museum.

easter 021

The inscription in the left hand lower corner reads: Historical Rendition from the Survey of David Thompson 1792-1812. The artist’s name is also there but I can’t read it and the date of creation is 07.

easter 022

In my visits to various museums across the NW United States and western Canada I often encounter displays by this early explorer.

According to Wikipedia, David Thompson “was a British-Canadian fur trader, surveyor, and map-maker, known to some native peoples as “Koo-Koo-Sint” or “the Stargazer.” Over his career he mapped over 3.9 million square kilometres of North America and for this has been described as the “greatest land geographer who ever lived.”[1]

In 1811, he navigated the entire length of the Columbia River and mapped it.

In a museum in Libby, Montana I found this display featuring his writing instruments. In my mind I see him hunkered down in the midst of the prairie or next to a rushing river, his instruments about him as he measures by stars and sun and horizon to create maps that are amazing accurate.

montana research trip July 087

I know not everyone is interested in dusty old history but I am awed by men who walked or rode horseback across unknown territory. Can you imagine climbing hill after hill not knowing what lay ahead? Thrashing your way through brush and trees, coming to a deep ravine that you can’t cross and having to turn around and try another route? And then to map it. Amazing.

I struggle with getting my daily quota of words written with the magic of a computer and the instant information provided by the internet.

Sometimes I think people were made of sterner stuff back then. What do you think?

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That’s me. A struggling writer. I have been working on a story for weeks. Okay, months. It just won’t come together. I am lost in the fog of plot.

scenes 002

What I need is light to shine so the story becomes clear.

scenes 004

All I can tell you about it at this point is it is part of the Bella Creek Gold Rush series that I have begun. the first book in the series will be released next fall. This story is about a sick baby, a woman who wants to become a doctor and a man whom everyone believes is the father of this baby.

I’ve decided this story will either be the worst I’ve ever written… or the best. Or somewhere in between.

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Exciting to get a box of books and a new cover within a few days of each other.

The book is my March release. The first in a new 3-book series set in Montana and featuring half-native heroes.

christmas 2015 007

I also got the cover for the second book in the series. It was such a fun story to write. It’s due out in April 2016.

the cowboy's baby bond

I’ve had a sneak peak of the third story—The Cowboy’s City Girl—and I have to say it is one of the prettiest covers I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait until I can share it with you.

A box of books and a new cover are great Christmas gifts to me.

A blessed Christmas to everyone. May the joy of the season and the reason for the baby born in a manger as a Savior for each of us, fill us with wonder and hope.

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Today Hubbie and I went for a walk in our favorite park. It was draped in fog adding to its beauty.

walk in the park 003walk in the park 005walk in the park 006walk in the park 008walk in the park 007The weary sun and the frosted fences were like icing on Christmas decorations.

There is a running stream and an abundance of cat tails.

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And we weren’t alone. It’s a favorite park for many.

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It’s a dog park

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  And here’s our dog. a walk in the park

Yup. I’m going to buy a leash for an invisible dog. lol

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Last night I attended a musical play put on by the local high school.


  This is the picture presented on the website of the Performing Arts Center. Set in 1850 Oregon Territory, I knew I must attend this performance.

The Story (taken from the program):

In 1850, in the Oregon Territory, Adam Pontipee comes to town to trade supplies and find a wife. When he meets the strong, hard-working Milly in a restaurant, he proposes to her. Milly agrees to marry Adam, expecting to have her own place “with only one man to care for.”

However, when they arrive at the distant farm, she learns that Adam is the eldest of seven unsophisticated and unruly brothers. Milly takes it upon herself to educate the brothers, teaching them hygiene, good manners and how to win somebody’s heart.

During the annual town picnic, Mill, Adam and his six brothers go to town and each of his brothers fall in love. However, they have to return to the loneliness of their farm. In the winter, Adam reads Plutarch and tells his brothers about ‘The Sabine Women”. Then he travels with his brothers to town and they kidnap their beloved girls. When they cross a gorge, they provoke a snow avalanche and block the narrow passage. The suitors and the towns folk must wait until the pass opens in the spring to get up to the farm to “hang those Pontipees from the highest tree”, but much happens over the winter.

It’s a fun story and well done. One of my favorite lines was ‘We’ll make those Sabine (they promised it like sobbing) women smile.”

I was impressed by the singing, dancing and acting. It was hard to believe these were high school students and had only begun to practice for this performance three months ago.

Here’s a glimpse of the actors in the grand finale.

seven brides 001seven brides 002seven brides 003

It’s all in the name of research and what a fun way to do my job. Smile 

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