Coming out March 2016, the first in a three-book series.

The Cowboy's Ready-Made Family

A few years ago, I read and enjoyed a book about Sitting Bull.

sitting bull

At the time  I wondered what would happen to a survivor of that battle. And so I create Seena, a young native woman who is injured, but escapes the killing. She is rescued by a young cowboy who nurses her back to health. They fall in love and marry and have three sons. This series is about those three sons.

By the way, The Cowboy’s Ready-Made Family will  be my 50th published book. I’m thinking I might have a birthday party before its release.

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Here I am signing a new 6-book contract.

signing contract 001

This series is set in the fictional town of Bella Creek, Montana in the late 1880s where a gold rush takes place. In reality there was a gold rush in NW Montana in the area of Libby and Troy.

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I took a research trip there. What a beautiful area.

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montana research trip July 288

Of course, my heroes are mostly cowboys so I was looking for ranching areas.

montana research trip July 265montana research trip July 270montana research trip July 310

(the cabin picture is, I believe, a photo I took of a postcard). The Marshall family has been born. Watch for them, their friends and their future wives and husbands in this upcoming series. The first book is tentatively scheduled for release in Oct. 2016.

Guess I better get busy and write them.


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Have you noticed all the options we have on Facebook? You can friend, unfriend, go private or public, and you can follow or unfollow. It was the last of these that caught my attention recently.

I could unfollow Joy. I could unfollow Grace. I could unfollow Faith. I could unfollow Hope. Wow! That’s quite a choice to make.

I sometimes think I might have selected one of those buttons. I too often look at the unjoyful, unhopeful, ungraceful things in my life. There’s always something to negative to complain about.

I think what I’d like to find is an unfollow button for complaining and comparing. Or perhaps I simply need to make the choice to follow joy, grace, faith and hope.

I’m posting some pictures to remind me of some of  the reasons I have to follow joy and every other positive attitude.

Banff in May 099colorado 2015 132gardens, etc. July 014jan. feb 056sunflowers 003

Have you ever considered the things you need to follow or unfollow? What would they be?

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The garden has been harvested. The flower beds mulched and covered in preparation for winter. The leaves have fallen from all but the last few trees. The most color I see is the clusters of red berries on the mountain ash. The snow will soon come and the scene outside will be muted white and greys. I’ll miss the colors of the other seasons.

Knowing this I was enticed by the promise of early color in the flower bed.

fall 2015 008

I properly armed myself:

fall 2015 009

I planted the bulbs in clusters right outside my office window.

fall 2015 010

It doesn’t look like much right now but next spring I will enjoy some spring color…at least if everything/anything grows. I have faith in what lies beneath.

It’s a good thing I can envision something beautiful coming from what is now a patch of dirt because I am working on revisions of a story. At the present, it is only an unshaped mess. The ‘bulbs’ of the story are there but like I often say to my critique partner, I have to dig deep to uncover them. Then arrange them in a structure that makes sense. It’s so much like planting bulbs…digging, planting, arranging except for one significant difference… I have no control over whether or not my efforts at planning for spring color will turn out but I trust my process when it comes to story. I will have a well-structured story in the end if I continue to dig and mulch and patchwork. At least, that is the hope that keeps me going.

I am reminded of these words: I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen. by Frank Lloyd Wright

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The last few weeks have been busy with getting our old barn repaired/renewed. I didn’t do any of the real work but I paid the bills, went for missing material and wrung my hands. Lol.

Here is a before picture taken in 2013.

Dec 02 snow 001

Pictures of progress—use of Gene Manlift and front-end loader on tractor in order to get the top pieces on.


Not quite finished but close. No windows yet.

barn repairs 003

It’s been an experience to watch the repairs to the building and then see the tin replace the old siding. The amazing thing is the most important, the most time-consuming work is not visible unless you know where to look. Things like straightening one wall, fixing the footings, bracing the leaning wall, etc. I couldn’t help but think taking a story from first draft to finished product is so much like that. Readers see the book with its beautiful cover and the printed pages. They do not (one hopes) see the twisted, confused raw material that had to be untangled, sorted out and constructed into a solid structure.

I remind myself of how much work went on beneath the surface and find encouragement as I struggle to take the tangled mess of my current story and create a shiny, well-formed book.

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Last evening I watched a fascinating documentary. Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Group of Seven, I quote from this website:

“The tangled wilderness of Algoma and Lake Superior’s expansive North Shore inspired Canada’s most famous artists, The Group of Seven, as well as their guiding spirit, Tom Thomson. Their work defined Canada’s artistic representation of itself for most of the past century. One hundred years later, their paintings retain a powerful hold on Canada’s visual imagination..”

Wikipedia says: “The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933…Believing that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature,[2] the Group of Seven is best known for its paintings inspired by the Canadian landscape, and initiated the first major Canadian national art movement.”

In this stunningly beautiful movie, the producers explore the rugged location of many of the paintings of the Group, searching for the exact spot of some of the famous paintings. To see the ‘real’ scene and then the painting was eye-opening and moving. I wish I could show a pair for your enjoyment. You can see a bit in the trailer on this site.

I hope you enjoy a few of the scenes I saw last night—at least the paintings of the scenes.

Image result for the group of seven

Image result for the group of seven

Image result for the group of seven

Image result for the group of seven

Members of the Group traveled throughout Ontario, often spending weeks living together in a box car provided by the railway company. They went out every day, hiking and or canoeing through the wilderness with their painting supplies and a lunch and capturing dozens of paintings. Their collection of Canadian scenes is truly awe-inspiring.

To think how they searched for scenes, and recreated them in stunning colors is truly awe-inspiring and reminds me I should seek the heart of my stories with the same abandon and dedication these artists did.

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We’ve had a productive garden this years. Lots of potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, peas and tomatoes.

fall 2015 001

I picked the tomatoes while they were still green because of early frosts and simply put them in the laundry room and waited for them to ripen which they are doing nicely. What, you ask, do I intend to do with them? I’m glad you asked. Nothing too labor intensive. I freeze them. It’s easy-peasy.

Wash them, cut them up and put on baking trays.

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Roast at 350-400 for 1/2 to 3/4 hour until cooked and slightly browned.

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Salt generously. I like a coarse salt. Note: I’ve tried freezing both salted and unsalted and salted is far better. It preserves the flavor.

I then blend/puree them and freeze in freezer bags.

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Lovely in soups or stews. Can also be used in sauces.

Just another day down on the farm.

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Oh wait. I mean Alpaca Escape. lol

We’ve had our daughter’s alpacas grazing here this summer. The other day I glanced out my office window and noticed a strange looking animal heading north on the field across the look. I looked closer. THE ALPACAS HAD ESCAPED.

By the time I found my hubster, they were really gone.

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They know the sound of the quad and started for home but the wide open spaces beckoned and they tried to get around him.

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They were no match for a man on a machine and were soon herded back across the road.

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And back to safety. Wait! No wonder they escaped. The fence had fallen down. A big post broke right off. I guess it was rotten in the middle and the weight of the slab fence in the brisk wind of the day before had brought about its demise.

alpaca escape 009

The animals were moved and are now grazing contentedly.

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Just another day down on the farm.

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I’ve been remembering a few of the things my kids and/or grandkids have said that made me smile. I thought I’d share just a few.

1.This one isn’t from the family but from a mentally challenged young man I supervised.

K complaining that his mom makes him go to church when he goes home, says when he gets married he’s not going to church.

I ask if getting married means him mom won’t still care.

K says I’ll have a wife.

But your mom will stay care, I say.

K looks at me for a serious minute then says, “Well, I’ll move to Chicago.”

Because we all know that mother’s in Chicago don’t care. lol

2. A three-year-old grandson just before his little sister was born tells me, “Mom is going to the hospital where the doctor is going to take her apart to help get the baby out and then he’s going to put her back together.”

3. A son saying grace over left-overs, with no idea what he’s just said, prays, “Bless this food and the hands that repaired it.”

4. My daughter asking a grandson how old he was because she wanted to know when little boys became brats. (I guess the grandson had been rather naughty). He said he was 8 but he became a brat a long time ago at age 5.

5.  I asked a granddaughter on her fifth birthday how old she was now. She turned to her mother and asked, “Am I going to kindergarten yet?” Her mother said, “No, not until September.” Child turns back to me and says with great disgust, “I’m still four.”

6. Grandson #1, at about age 4, was asleep when his parents brought him home late at night and they put him into bed without waking him. However, in the middle of the night, he wakened and stomped into his parents’ bedroom. With arms over his chest, he crossly informed them, “You didn’t read to me.”

I love the freshness of how children see things. I wish I could find the same freshness for my writing.

I’ve shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here as well. I have a Christmas novella being reissued along with a story by Anna Schmidt. Watch for it in Nov.

christmas under western skies

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It’s that time of year. When a person—particularly a gardener—feels the chill in the air or the rain on his/her skin and gets the urgent need to get the garden cleaned up. We have dug potatoes and carrots. They are now in the root cellar but it was very hot the day we dug the carrots and my fingers are crossed that they will keep.

carrots 002

Of course we had lots of help.

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Yup, little Mr. Peanut follows us at every task we do and thinks he’s helping by attacking our hands and feet. He loves when I work in the garden. Aren’t I doing it just so he can chase my fingers?

I love my garden. I especially love the fresh produce. Some of the family was out yesterday to dig their produce and I made lunch for them. A big pot of soup with fresh vegetables. I shredded carrots so one little granddaughter wouldn’t recognize them. I added freshly dug potatoes. Of course I washed them and cut them up. Smile I added green beans, and a bit of fresh dill. And from last year’s tomato crop, I added a container of frozen tomatoes. Yummy.

Yes, I love the garden but it’s a lot of work. I can’t say I will be sorry to see it go to bed for the winter.

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